UPDATE: Title and Illustration for SteemShort #7 (2018-06-16)
The Title of SteemShort #7 is:
Labour of Love
proposed by @ablaze, one of the three authors of the story.
There was only one valid illustration, proposed by @sistem:
SteemShort #7 - Post 4: Request for an Illustration and the Title of the Story
SteemShort are short stories written collaboratively by three different authors and illustrated by an artist/photographer.
The process to create a SteemShort is described in this post, slightly modified by this post. The rules to select the authors and illustrators have been modified in this post.
The full story can be found below.
This is the request for an illustration and the title of the story.
Each of the three authors may propose a title for the story, in a comment.
If more than one author propose a title, the chosen title will be the one with the largest number of upvotes four days after this post has been published.
Artits and photographers that want to submit an illustration should send 0.001 STEEM or SBD to the @steemshorts account, with the URL of their proposed illustration in a memo starting with the character '#'.
This summary must be between 100 to 200 words. Any proposed summary that is shorter than 100 words or longer than 200 words will not be considered.
It is important that the memo starts with the character '#': that makes this memo readable only by the author and the @steemshorts account. The character '#' should not be preceded by any space.
Example of a valid memo:
Note that it is recommended to send the 0.001 SBD/STEEM with the memo from steemit.com using a web browser, as we have seen several cases of "Invalid memo" when it was sent using an app such as eSteem.
The width should be between 1,000 and 1,500 pixels.
The height should be between 500 and 1,000 pixels.
The image/photograph can be in black and white or in color.
For the chosen illustration, the artist/photographer needs to be the single author and has to agree for a "Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike" (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode).
There can be only one proposed illustration per artist/photographer. The proposed illustrations must be received less than 4 days after this post has been published.
After sending their illustration, artists/photographers should tell in a comment that they have sent their illustration, so that they can receive confirmation that their illustration is valid.
So, artists and photographers, send your proposed illustrations.
And authors, send your proposals for the title of the story.
Here is the full text of the story by @ablaze, @no-won and @goldencrown
Growing up in Millville, Kentucky was difficult for Mason. He was different. While his classmates were outside pretending to be the latest sports star, Mason would be inside reading Dickens, Hemingway and Dostoyevsky. He had a brilliant mind and it craved constant expansion. What could he learn from sports that he did not already know, he pondered one day in the yard? That was the last day he bothered with sports.
To be different at twenty years of age is considered quirky. However, to be different at eight years of age is quite a cross to bear. Mason was often the brunt of jokes, but he was much too clever for the bullies. Eventually, they left him alone as they were always made look extremely foolish by his razor-sharp responses. It wasn't that he lacked social skills. It was just that he knew what he wanted to do and had no qualms about doing it, regardless of what others might think. He carried this precociousness through childhood and into adolescence.
Mason felt that his parents never really understood him. When he learned at the age of four that he was adopted it all made sense to him. Of course, they don't understand me, he thought to himself as he came to terms with the news. He knew though that they loved him more than anything in this world. This is why, for once, he obeyed his moral compass and ignored his innate curiosity. He never sought out his birth parents. He felt that it would be a betrayal, especially to his Mum - he had made his decision that day and never gave it another thought as the years went by.
After high school, Mason received a scholarship to Harvard Law School. He scored the maximum 180 points on the Law School Admission Test. Having lived in a cocoon for many years in Millville, a butterfly was born at Harvard. He went from a town famous for its horseshoes and the "Hillbilly Daze Festival" to the city of Boston, where he spread his wings and felt truly appreciated for the first time in his life. The transformation was profound.
Mason excelled as he rubbed shoulders with like-minded people from the four corners of America and beyond. He had found his niche. He was blessed with a photographic memory that drove him. He needed only to read something once, and could recall it verbatim. This made the coursework a walk in the park for him. He would often challenge lecturers on incorrect information or argue a point until they had to come around to his way of thinking. At first, they disliked him for it but they soon realized they had a genius in their midst. College life was also fun for Mason with the usual nights out and fleeting romances. None lasted more than a month though as Mason was obsessed with learning.
When his third-year placement came around, it was not so much a case of Mason looking for a Law Firm but rather the big five law firms in Boston trying to attract Mason. Even at his young age, it was clear to see he was a future Supreme Court judge in the making. He could make a lot of money for one of these firms on his journey to the top. That was certain. Mason would make it to the top. His intellect, sharpness and ability to think outside the box was a rarity, and value increases with rarity.
In the end, Mason chose Jones and Maguire LLP for his placement. He went home to Millville for a weekend and told his parents the news about the placement. He could tell that his mother was about to burst with pride. After dinner, she brought him to a tailor and spent two-thirds of her meager savings on two new suits for the big job.
"You've got to look the part Mason", she said
"You know what I think about ties Mum!" he responded with an awkward smile.
"You can't climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure Mason!"
"Ah Mum, give it a rest. Have you been reading those self-help books again?" He chortled.
She smiled at her son with his cheeky little face. It was the very same as the day she first set eyes on him.
"Come on, let's get home to see your Dad before you go", she told him.
Monday morning arrived and Mason begrudgingly put on one of the new suits. He had to admit though, he did look smart. He felt ready. He arrived at the offices of Jones and Maguire at 7:45 am. He waited in the reception area with the other interns. He made some small talk about the weather and then time stood still.
Perfectly still. No sound. Then there was nothing but sheer elation.
"Mason, Mason, Mason....", a well-dressed man said as walked towards him.
Mason snapped out of the daze he had been in.
"Come on, it's time for your induction", the man said.
They walked down the corridor to a small conference room. Mason was short of breath but he managed to keep it together. The eight interns all sat down. A tall man in his early forties introduced himself and gave the quick history lesson on the firm. He then introduced their mentor:
"This is Mabel, she will be your mentor for your summer work experience. If you have any queries, she is your girl"
Yes, she is my girl, Mason thought. The room was spinning again. Mason did not know what was happening but as Mabel began to speak, her soft sentences washed over him like a warm blanket. He hung on her every word. Over the following days, Mason and Mabel quickly struck up a close friendship. They had lunch together and often left work together in the evenings. They had so much in common. Their sense of humour was perfectly aligned and it was clear to see that there was serious chemistry between them.
It was the Friday of the second week and, as per tradition, there was a big night out planned for the interns. They all went for dinner at a Sushi bar in the city. There were a few revellers who stayed out and went to the bar next door and most of those ended up at a nightclub until the early hours. Mason and Mabel were among the late nighters.
The next morning Mabel woke up startled. Where was she and whose bed was she in? She thought. She could smell the freshly brewed coffee and crisp bacon. She got up and followed the smell downstairs. She walked into the kitchen and Mason smiled awkwardly.
"Good morning", he said.
"Ahh, hey... about last night, umm, did anything.... umm happen?" she responded uncomfortably.
"Oh thank god! That makes two of us! I had a complete blackout as well. Those bloody Jagerbombs!"
They both laughed it off and had some breakfast. Their friendship continued to blossom over the coming days and weeks. For the first time in his life, learning was secondary, unless it was learning about Mabel. Mason was infatuated with her and knew for sure that he was madly in love. However, he felt he didn't know for sure if his feelings were reciprocated. They spent a lot of time together after work and had some really deep conversations. It turned out that they were both adopted. Mabel told him about seeking out her birth parents and all about meeting her birth Dad when she was twenty-two. It was a life-changing experience for her. She finally knew something more about where she had come from. Her insatiable curiosity had demanded it.
"I released so much angst and frustration that day, and Magnus has turned out to be an amazing man. I have accepted why he had to abandon me and I see him at least once a week now." Mabel explained.
Her eyes lit up the room when she talked about him and Mason listened in silent reverie. For the first time in over twenty years, Mason thought about his own birth parents. Over the next few evenings, he opened up to Mabel about why he chose to never find out who his birth parents were.
"It would break my mother's heart in two if I decided to seek them out," he said
"Are you sure Mason? Did you ever ask her?" Mabel questioned.
Mason thought about this and his brow furrowed. He had assumed it all these years, but maybe Mabel was right, maybe she would be happy for him?
The day arrived three weeks later. Finding his dad had proved surprisingly simple. His mum had helped and wept tears of joy that he was finally going to find out after all these years in the dark.
He knocked on the big Oak door. A tall wide-shouldered man welcomed him through the door. The man smiled awkwardly and Mason smiled back.
"Mr. M. Crawford?" Mason asked.
"Call me Magnus"
No, it couldn't be...
Tears rolled down Magnus's face as he explained to Mason the intricacies of why he had to give him up for adoption all those years ago.
Time stood still.
Mason found Mabel at her desk, meticulously going through a file. He was not surprised by the carefulness with which she examined each page. He knew Mabel quite well and had learned that she was always extremely diligent about everything. It was one of the things he loved most about her, in fact.
As he walked towards her desk he could feel his heart thump, his mind walking back to that night after the club. What if something had happened? He thought. What have they done!? Why must life play these damn cruel ironic jokes on people?
Mabel had her face buried in the files but still somehow managed to sense his presence.
"We need to talk," Mason said, his voice as low as he could make it.
"Storage room in ten," Mabel's replied.
Exactly ten minutes later Mason paced back and forth in the storage room awaiting Mabel's arrival.
"Sorry, I got caught up with the Clinton case," Mabel said, announcing her arrival. "What's the matter? You look worried."
"It's Magnus," Mason said. "Aren't you worried? Just a little bit? I mean he's -- I mean did we -- did we commit incest?"
Mason's shirt was wet with sweat, and his voice revealed the trepidation he felt all over.
"Relax," Mabel said in a most soothing voice. "Relax. Nothing happened."
She said the words as though she wasn't sure of them herself. Then, as if trying to convince herself, she repeated again. "Nothing happened. But Magnus, my God he's- - he's our --"
"Yes," Mason said, a bit calmer. "Yes, he's our father."
The words sounded bitter in his mouth.
"But -- but how --?" she questioned.
"I don't know. I ran out before he could finish."
"We have to go back Mason," Mabel said. "Together."
Later that evening they both went to Magnus' house.
Mabel confirmed it was the same house she had met her biological father. When Magnus came out to the porch in black overalls with dishevelled grey hair, all their doubts were cleared. It was the same Magnus- -they had the same biological father.
He invited them in, offered them tea and snacks--which they politely declined--and he narrated the story of how they came to be separated.
"Oh your mother was so beautiful," He said. "The most beautiful creature I'd ever seen on God's own earth. First time I saw her I stared at her all day without having the guts to speak to her. She walked up to me and said 'hey shy one aren't you going to buy me a drink?' I was so weak in the knees. She had that effect on me for the rest of her--"
Magnus was on the verge of tears now and Mabel offered him a handkerchief.
"The son of a bitch who ran the light, he died too! Lucky him. I would have hunted him down and gave him a gruesome death anyway. See, after your mother died I was never myself again. I found solace at the bottom of a bottle, then two, until the bar became my house. I lost my job. I couldn't..."
He was crying almost profusely now.
"I couldn't take care of you. They were all complaining and threatening to take you both away from me. I had no choice. I was not fit to be a father."
They both looked at him in amazement, feeling relieved, angry and confounded at the same time.
After he had dried his eyes Magnus went inside and brought out the family album. They all looked at the photographs in utter amazement. Every time they saw their mother teardrops materialized on all their faces.
"Oh, she's so beautiful, so so beautiful!" Mabel remarked.
"Oh isn't she!" Magnus said.
"And here, here you are, as a baby."
In the photo was baby Mabel in their mother's arms. Then on the next page little Mabel on her third birthday and her fourth birthday and fifth.
"Oh, you haven't changed a bit!" Magnus said. "You look just like your mother."
Mason was about to agree until he took a closer look at the pictures, opening and examining the previous pages of the album as rapidly as he could. An unexpected jolt of adrenaline rushed through his veins.
"Lift your hair, Mabel," He shouted suddenly, rather loudly and maniacally. "Now Mabel, let me see your neck. Lift your hair, lift it."
"My neck?" Mabel asked innocently. She didn't quite understand what was going on.
"Yes!" Mason shouted. "Yes, your neck. Let me see."
Mabel, still unbelievably confused yielded to his request. She lifted her hair and Mason took a quick look at her neck. A smile so bright gleamed on his face.
"It isn't you!" He exclaimed joyfully, grinning largely. "It isn't you, haha!"
Magnus and Mabel said simultaneously.
"Look," said Mason. "The pictures. The baby, look at that mark. That little red birthmark on her neck. You don't have it. Look. Marks like that don't just disappear," he said.
His statement was more to himself than to them. "It's not you," He looked at Mabel with so much joy in his eye, and for a moment she smiled back to him, not quite knowing what or how to feel. Is this true? Could this be hope after all?
On their way back home, inside the cab, Mabel and Mason sat quietly beside each other. They were bot thinking intensely, but oh how their thoughts were different. Mason was thinking about how he had hope, after all, whereas Mabel's thought went entirely in a different direction.
At her junction, Mabel exited the cab and Mason followed. They hugged each other, Mason planting a very passionate kiss on her forehead. "We'll be fine," he declared. "We will."
Mabel smiled affirmatively and after Mason re-entered the cab, she went up to her apartment. The plan has failed, she thought out loud, pacing up and down her room. She was scared and her heart was beating fast. That damn stupid, stubborn -- she gritted her teeth. Why couldn't he just take a hint and let everything be?
You see it had been a plan all along.
It all started when Mason first joined Jones and Maguire LLP. Mr. Maguire, the firm partner, had taken one look at him and decided he was going to be a problem for his brewing sinister plot. So he had assigned Mabel to him, to keep an eye on him. Sure enough, Mason had started to snoop around, making suspicions and asking questions. Until finally, he got the intel about the takeover Maguire was planning. The one that Mabel was helping with. The intel was an encrypted memo Maguire had sent to the other partners who were in on the takeover. The details on how the vote would go down, everything, was on that memo.
With the help of his computer tech guy, Mason had gotten access to the memo. He had also gotten the software to decrypt it. When Maguire and Mabel realized this they came up with the plan--get close to him, take him out, get him awful drunk, go back to his house and wipe his hard drive. Everything.
The plan was a success but to prevent him from snooping further, they had to keep him busy with Something else. So, Mabel convinced him to find his birth parents to give him something focus on. They planned and planned, controlling Mason like a rat in a maze until they led him to Magnus. Magnus was an ex-lawyer turned con man and their go-to actor in cases like this.
God damn Mason. He had to notice a frigging mark in a picture. Now the plan had failed and as Mabel paced up and down the room, she knew she had to face Maguire.
The next morning they met at their usual location.
"What the hell do you mean he knows?!"
"The little baby had a scar."
"Shit. Shit, shit, shit. Damn it, Magnus that amateur wannabe bastard."
"What do we do now sir?"
"Well, this is on you! It's your mess and you've gotta clean it up. By ANY means necessary."
"I really don't think its come to that yet, sir."
"You don't think it's come to that? Are you kidding? The kid has proven time and time again that he is relentless. He will not stop. No matter what we do. I say its time to END this once and for all."
Mabel looked down at the floor. It was sad for her to admit it but she knew Maguire was right. Mason had to be taken care of, once and for all. He really is a nice kid, she thought. He is curious and restless, but nice. She'd miss him but something had to be done. It's just business after all.
Meanwhile, as Mabel and Maguire held their meeting, Mason also had a meeting of his own. He was sitting across from Mr. Melvin Jones, named Partner, in a restaurant on the other side of the firm.
"So you mean to tell me, that you've been on to them all this while?"
"Yes, sir. You see, I was naive at first but thanks to the fact that we can handle our liquor where I'm from, I wasn't as drunk as she thought. Although I was quite drunk, I was well aware of my surroundings. I saw her switch my hard drive but unknown to her, I had it switched back."
Jones smiled a proud smile.
"So you mean to tell me. That you still have the file?"
"Yes, sir! I sure do."
They both smiled again, joyfully and proudly.
"Alright then, hand it over and I'll give you your sweet revenge."
Mason dipped his hands into his pocket and handed over the incriminating file to Mr. Melvin Jones. He wondered what Mabel's face would look like when she found out he had been one step ahead of her this whole time. In a way, he did feel bad for her. At some point, he hoped and wished that what they had was real. I guess I'll have to settle for the next best thing, he thought to himself, smiling devilishly. Revenge! Sweet, sweet revenge!
Steemshorts contest is supervised by @vcelier
Click on the coin to join our Discord Chat
Witness proposal is here:
Go To Steem Witness Page
In the bottom of the page type: adsactly-witness and press vote.
Use small letters and no "@" sign. Or, click here to vote directly!