Ariel Sharon Short Story Contest: Announcing the Winner

The first prize winner in the first annual Ariel Sharon Short Story contest is Katherine Ludwig. The story is based on what happened to Rachel Corrie, although the story does not require the reader to know this for it to “work.” The story moves at a clipped pace yet flows remarkably well, as it opens up space and time for a reader to reflect on “the event” at hand.

Ms. Ludwig’s understanding of the consciousness of these characters is evident. She is aware of the woman’s (and the other protestors’) possible flaws (e.g., their privelege) as perceived by the driver (e.g.”the smoothness of their pampered skin”).

Ludwig immediately understands how futile it would be for the driver to connect the woman he will bulldoze with his own mother, because it would not make him empathize with the woman in front of him — an assumption clearly made chillingly real at the end of the story, when he thinks of another woman, his sister, but only because it seems he wants to forget what he has just done and relax at home with family. It’s almost as if the author is suggesting that this driver knows “my mother, my sister, are not like their mothers, their sisters.”

Here’s what the judges wrote about the entries:

Benjamin Hollander: My choice for first prize in The Ariel Sharon Short Story contest is Katherine Ludwig. Well, it’s not hard to see this story is based on what happened to Rachel Corrie, although the story does not require the reader to know this for it to “work.” The story moves at a clipped pace yet flows remarkably well, as it opens up space and time for a reader to reflect on “the event” at hand. I’m impressed most by Ms. Ludwig’s understanding of the consciousness of these characters.

Ludwig is aware of the woman’s (or the other protestors’) possible flaws (e.g., privelege) as they might be perceived by the driver (e.g.”the smoothness of their pampered skin”). Through the woman character, Ludwig immediately understands how futile it would be for the driver to connect the woman he will bulldoze with his own mother, because it would not make him empathize with the woman in front of him — an assumption clearly made chillingly real at the end of the story, when he thinks of another woman, his sister, but only because it seems he wants to forget what he has just done and relax at home with family.

It’s almost as if the author is suggesting that this driver knows “my mother, my sister, are not like their mothers, their sisters.” To this end, as I said, I’m impressed by Ludwig’s awareness of the interior (psychological) lives of these characters, even as the story progresses almost matter of factly.

Michele Serros added: I’ve found “The Glory of Might” by Katherine Ludwig to be my favorite. It offers a unique insight from what I have read/heard of “the situation.” I’m thinking the ending may be a bit cliche (isn’t it an unspoken fact that to get published in The New Yorker you have to end your piece with the word “home?”), but the story made me interested in the working man’s perspective, his naivete in regards of position and duty, the threat and tiresome routine of hegemony that confuses him. All in all, it made me think more than the other pieces.

The Glory of Might

This story by Katherine Ludwig of Peekskill, NY has won the Sharon Short Story Contest. Judge Benjamin Hollander was impressed by “Ms. Ludwig’s understanding of the consciousness of these characters,” and Judge Michele Serros wries: “It made me think.” The judges’ full decision is on the contest home page oznik.com.

He pulled back on the hand brake. The vehicle, worth over a million dollars, was brand new, shiny, and yellow. Neither the abundance of power it featured (400 horsepower), nor the air-conditioned cab it offered (very cool), kept him from feeling filthy, or exhausted. He hadn’t had a shower for days or a good sleep for months.

The female, 23 years old, stood five feet away, atop a large, fresh pile of rubble. This mound she stood upon raised her at least ten feet in the air; the bulldozer operator just slightly looked down upon her.

Damn woman, he said to himself. He saw in her an impediment. A figure blocking his work. Another foreigner saying, Don’t do this, don’t do that. He was sick of the fluorescent jackets, the babbling through megaphones, the smoothness of their pampered skin. His work, the demolitions, made people safe. Didn’t it? Just shut up and get out of my way, he thought.

Among the chunks of cement beneath her feet was a silver picture frame, intact but missing its photo and the glass that had protected it; the splintered corner of a bookcase; the painted lamb of a baby’s crib. She was aware of these things. She was always aware.

They looked at each other. She didn’t order or harangue him, like others had done. Don’t do this, she gently pleaded. Think of your own mother, your brother. Realizing what a mistake she had made almost as soon as she made it, she changed her appeal to, these people are not hurting you. But he had already been made so angry his body nearly shook within the growling machine. He had taken his hand off the brake; put his foot on the clutch.

Her blonde hair reflected a morning ray of sunlight that came from behind the bulldozer. She stood with such selfless purpose, like a saint, or an angel. He adjusted the joystick. She will run like a scared rabbit, run to her dirty friends. He and his vehicle advanced. She, with her megaphone, said, Stop. She was sure, absolutely sure, that he would. He kept moving forward. Stop! she spoke with fear, quivering. He was moving toward her.

With jaws clenched, tight, he said, I. Need. To. Do. My. Job. The bulldozer’s track upset the rubble as its shovel struck the girl. She was pushed backwards, knocked off her feet into the shifting pile. He, in his machine, kept moving forward. She thought she would crawl off the heap, but couldn’t move; was folded in, with the crib, and the books, and the dirt, and the cooking pots.

The 25-foot Caterpillar drove forward, hugging the earth, gliding over the toys and the clothes and the trash that now came between the girl and the 62-ton vehicle. And then the driver put it in reverse. He backed it over the heap, over the invisible girl. He couldn’t see the fingers of a small gray hand protrude from the mound, slowly bending in unison at their knuckles, as though in an exhausted wave. He couldn’t hear a skull crush, the ribs splinter, the gasp within a pocket of air.

Back where he started, he sensed the sun behind him, but felt chilled. He put the Caterpillar D-9 in drive. He and his machine drove over the sight of the broken items again, this time more quickly. Heading for the intended goal—a small, concrete residence—he thought of his sister, and wished he was home.

Katherine Ludwig is the mother of a five-year-old vegan boy. Her fiction is included in the anthologies Women Behaving Badly (buy from an independent bookshop, buy from Amazon) recently published by The Paper Journey Press. Fiction by Ludwig appear also in the forthcoming anthology Original Sin: The Seven Deadlies Come Home to Roost, also from The Paper Journey Press. Her essays currently appear at publicscrutiny, americanfeedmagazine and in “The New Voice” weekly paper. She lives in Peekskill, NY and is working on a novel set in the early Eighties East Village of NYC.

More Information

  • oznik.com