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05 June 2011

New Clash-- Best Description of a Protagonist

Today's host:Amanda Flower

The Protagonist is the heart of any story. Vote for your favorite out of these two excellent submissions!

Excerpt A

Giving the mare a shot to help with the contractions, Tamera prepared for the delivery. Snapping on gloves that covered her from fingertip to armpit, she was ready when the next spasm hit the mare. Reaching in the birth canal, she grabbed the unborn foal and gently pulled, stopping when the contraction ceased, but maintaining her grip on the foal. She allowed his direction when Craig barked orders for someone to get the calf puller should it prove necessary in delivering the foal, then questioned him as to the overall health of the mare, length of term, and condition of this pregnancy. He answered readily, holding and stroking the mare’s head, neither of them fully aware that they were working in tandem and enjoying it. In less than an hour, the tiny foal made it’s entrance into the world. Washing it, Tamera examined the newborn filly.

"Breathe," she whispered. "Come on, baby, breathe," she urged, clearing the filly’s airway passages and stimulating her heart. The filly uttered a small nicker. "That's it, baby," Tamera soothed. "Come on now, keep breathing."

Completing her examination, Tamera pulled the filly into her arms, stroking the tiny head and slender neck. "She seems to be normal. She's weak and tiny, but other than that..." She choked on a sob, but couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down her cheeks when she realized that she held a living, breathing miracle in her arms. "Thank you God," she whispered, knowing she'd prayed more in the last hour than she had in weeks.

"What now?" Craig's voice penetrated her thoughts. The mare struggled to get up. He held her still, waiting for Tamera's consent.

Surprised at the tenderness in his tone, Tamera nodded, raising triumphant sapphire eyes to his. "Let her up. It's the best thing for her. Walk her to keep the blood flowing for a while. Make sure she passes the afterbirth, all of it. But watch her for signs of excessive bleeding or extreme weakness.”

“I'll need a bigger stall; clean, dry, and disinfected, with plenty of fresh hay. And heat lamps. The next few hours, maybe even days will be the most critical for her, for all of them really. They'll need constant supervision. She may not be able to nurse them, and even if she does, he'll probably get more than his share. This little one, though, we'll probably have to bottle-feed. Or you will, if I'm not here to help."

Unspoken question hung in the air; Craig heard it, now perfectly aware of her competence. He wondered if she knew how beautiful she looked? Covered in things most women would find disgusting, her cheeks were flushed from excitement and exertion and her eyes sparkled with triumph. She sat holding that filly as though it were her own baby.


Excerpt B

Will groaned. His eyes still would not focus, though the barn’s spinning was slowing.

The barn door rattled as Master Good left. Will raised his fingers to the side of his head, where he could feel a huge lump already forming. A sharp sting revealed a break in the skin. His fingers were slick and red when he held them up close enough to focus on them.

He would live. Tom’s head had bled worse than this, when the master hit him with the poker two weeks ago. He thought vaguely that he would have to wash the blood off before dinner, or he would get another thrashing.

But as the room slowed to a standstill, the ache grew and spread. He lay immobile on his side with his eyes closed, clutching his head in his hands as if to hold it together.

He thought he might like to die, then. There was only pain—no joy in this miserable, dishonest life. His brother would be ashamed of him, could he see him now. That was why he had not written Johnny for a year, and his brother’s letters had gradually ceased. Will did nothing of worth—he had no future, without a reputation to start a business. He did not even have honor, but had turned into a cringing shadow ready to do what was necessary to get by.

Part of him wanted to kill his master, even if he would hang for it. But there was a fear down deep inside him, ever since the first time the master had beaten him so badly. That was only a couple of weeks after his arrival in Pittsburgh. Will had sobbed and begged for mercy, his eyes swelling shut, his nose pouring blood, rib and fingers broken. It wasn’t the pain, but the degradation of begging, his own weakness—as if the master had reached a skeletal hand down into Will’s soul and closed on it like a vice, so it would never be his own again. The memory claimed him—it showed him who he really was, who the master had shown him he was—a spineless beggar and a slave. A cloud of nausea filled him and he wished for nothingness.
He heard the barn door open and close. Now he had to get up. Master Good had no mercy.
But instead of Good’s serpentine whisper, he heard a sharp intake of breath.

Light footsteps approached, and cool fingers grazed his forehead.

For a moment, he remembered his mother, and let himself fall back into a dream that she once again sat beside him. He could almost hear her soft humming, and smell the honeysuckle that bloomed outside the window that last summer she had been at home, when she would tell stories and then sing him to sleep, half-cradling him in her arms.

But the smell was not right—it was not honeysuckle, but instead the faintest fragrance of roses and warm skin.
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Item Reviewed: New Clash-- Best Description of a Protagonist Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amanda Flower