Flash Fiction Challenge: Bench-warmer

Doug looked up at the now extinguished Olympic torch. After three tries, he had finally made it to the big show as an alternate. He never even got to compete.

Mostly, it was the same story his whole life. He was the second string quarterback in High School. Never got to play a game.

He was a bench-warmer on his championship college basketball team. Doug never seemed to quite make it to the top. First place was always just out of his reach. He was good at everything he did. He just wasn’t quite good enough.

This was it though. He was too old now. Whatever glory might have been his was behind him. That extinguished torch was him—over. Or maybe it was a turning point.

In 250 words or less, tell me a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time on Tuesday, October 2nd 2012.

On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted.

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3 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Bench-warmer”

  1. The Forgotten

    When the Olympic torch’s flame has died this day. The fans remember and remind, the competitors embrace their medals and they all go home. For me and for many others, the end of the flame means the beginning of our time.

    Innovations and plans were in place – everything went according to plan. The masses were asked to be responsible, to do their part and give green a chance. For the millions who attended, most did as they should.

    Bottles dropped, wrappers left and even the occasional article of clothing is abandoned by their owners. Recycling means nothing without care.

    For all of those things and more we are needed, I am needed.

    This is not a cry for greener pastors and clearer skies. This is a tip of the hat for those who work in the background. This is for the forgotten.

  2. Title: Two Legs Up

    I’ve had enough of being second best. I can’t see another four years of training only to watch others compete.

    I’m sure nobody noticed my missing the plane home this morning. Thirty. No medals, no wife, and not even a girlfriend. It was time to decide what my future was going to be.

    Sitting alone, looking at where the Olympic Flame burned brightly, my flame for competition was extinguished too.

    “I see you have a Team USA track shirt. Were you in the competition?”

    The voice belonged to an attractive brunette in her twenties.

    “Well, I was a runner on the team, but as an alternate.” I looked at her and then at the young man in the wheel chair.

    “This is my brother Todd. He was in the Marines and was injured in Iraq.”

    “Thank you for your service, and your sacrifice.” I noticed his legs were missing.

    He looked up to where the flame used to be, but didn’t answer.

    “I’m Alicia.” She put her hand on his shoulder. “Please forgive him. The competition brings back memories for him. He was a runner too. He was in the lead vehicle when an IED went off. He’s training for the Special Olympics now.”

    Todd looked up. “It’s not about winning anymore…it’s about competing. Are you going to be in the next Olympics?”

    I realized something in that instant. “Well, I’ll need to improve my performance.” I smiled and offered my hand. “My name is Doug.”

  3. Doug dropped his suitcase in the empty hallway. His apartment looked the same as when he’d left a month ago; the bed was still made, and the chair and table were still folded in the corner. He unzipped his duffel bag and pulled out his team uniform, not even christened with the sweat of competition. He slid the uniform onto one of the wire hangers hooked to the ceiling pipe and draped his Olympic village passport around the neck of the hanger. Then he stared at what was left of 12 years in pursuit of greatness.

    What now?

    He thought of tomorrow when he would go back to the hardware store and trade in his Olympic gear for the orange apron. He would become a carpenter, get a girlfriend, and just be plain old Doug from now on. The donations jar at the corner market would be gone; he would no longer be traveling to competitions. There would be no more spaghetti suppers and bake sales for his benefit.

    So many people had given so much, and the best he could give in return was an alternate spot on the team. That was his only regret, that he had disappointed everyone who had crowded around the television, hoping to see a hometown hero.

    The doorbell rang. He opened the door to a crayon sign reading, Welcome Home, Olympic Doug!, and a crush of neighborhood children cheering like he had won a gold medal.

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