Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 3, 2011

Jock’s story to appear across Canada





The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) is holding a series of three writing contests titled STRANGER THAN FICTION.

A topic is given and aspiring authors across the country are asked to submit 250-word responses. I have entered all three contests and been notified that my third entry will appear on the CBC site sometime after 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 3. Click here to go directly to the site.

In my humble opinion, my first two offerings were better so I will add them here. If you are a teacher reading this post, please consider the idea of writing with your students as they tackle the tasks you assign. It’s a fun ride.

Contest 1 – An Unusual Childhood

I could never understand it. I was different from my parents . . . in so many ways. Outward appearance was the most obvious. I dreaded having friends over. “Wow,” they’d exclaim, “you don’t look anything like your folks!” It was true. Both Mother and Father were the plainest couple imaginable – dull brown hair (‘shirt brindle brown’ I think they called it), pale complexions, medium builds, medium heights, medium everything. I was tall (tallest in my Grade One class, even taller than the girls), I was tanned (even in winter), I was blonde, I was muscular – and I didn’t even lift weights.

But there were other things. Emotionally, we were from different planets. They didn’t seem to have emotions; everything to them was mmmmmmmmmmmm. Dull. I had some zip! I knew and lived anger, sorrow, curiosity, joy, shyness, anxiety  . . . . Never a dull moment for this kid.

The differences got to be quite a burden. I began to suspect they weren’t my real parents.

On a day I will remember forever, I confronted them. I laid out the evidence. Their response was a shocker. They’d been dreading this conversation, feared it would come, regretted not dealing with it sooner.

No, they were my parents. Yes, we were very different. Their generation of droid was an early one. Technological advancements had been considerable by the time I was created. The scientechnocompologists had specifically assigned me to their family unit – but I was . . . adapted.

Contest 2 – Bad Behaviour

Telling Ma that Archie was dead wasn’t so hard. My little brother deserved everything he got. Maybe dying would teach him a lesson.

Ma had made me take him to the swimming hole. “Put a few sacks in the wagon and haul him along,” she’d said. “And keep an eye on him!” Archie was a skinny little runt, a whiner, a tagalong pain who never did what he was told. That day was no different. I dragged him all the way across the Flats, to and over the tracks, through the secret opening, and down to the swimming hole.

It was a hot, Medicine Hat summer day and I was ready for a swim. I was out of my whoopee pants in a flash and into the water. Archie whined about wanting to swim but he couldn’t even tread water so I told him to stay put. I guess he didn’t. When I noticed the empty wagon, I felt sick. Finally, I found him at the bottom of the swimming hole. I dragged him up and dumped his bony hide on the bank.

Oh yeah, he came around all right and coughed up a bucket load of water but I still wasn’t sure he’d learned his lesson. I made him get into one of the sacks. I hauled him home. I threatened to kill him if he made a sound. I dragged him onto the porch, opened door, and threw in the sack. I called to Ma, “Archie drowned.”

The CBC site has, like life, moved on. My entry is now archived in their files so here it is for your convenience.

Contest 3 – Dating Disaster


Everyone said she was gorgeous. She was. And she had said yes when I asked her out.

I took the Greyhound home from university to borrow my mom’s convertible. I made dinner reservations at The Steak Loft. After carefully selecting my wardrobe, I picked Jacqueline up outside the women’s residence. She looked  . . . gorgeous. She was tall and slim; she had shoulder-length chestnut hair. Coppery chestnut. She had killer eyes. I opened the car door for her, she flashed me a smile, we were off. Fall was in the air; spring was in my heart.

When I parked at The Bay parkade, I stepped out of the car. Jacqueline did not. What? Click. She was waiting. She was waiting for me to walk around and open her door. I had already done that once. I paused. I hesitated. I thought. She outpausedhesitatedthought me.

I walked around and opened her door. It was a downhill slide from there. We did a little browsing in The Bay – women’s clothing, purses, shoes, fragrances. We strolled to The Steak Loft. Over dinner I asked her about herself. At no time did she say, “Well, enough about me; let’s talk about you.” The high school-aged waiter corrected my pronunciation of Sauvignon. Steak – delicious, dessert – magnificent, bill – obscene, connection – non-existent.

I sort of heard a little voice say, “Jock, there’s a lesson here.”


  1. Congratulations on your achievement!
    Your blog is at the top of my blog list right now so I hope people will look at your story.

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