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    BWS Stories - Contest Winners

    Contest Winners - Dream Girl - Feb-March Honorable Mention!

    Katrina Norfleet makes her living as a marketing communications writer and editor, but she feeds her soul by writing fiction and creative nonfiction. Her writing credits include several nonfiction articles and an award-winning short story, written for Fortress, a magazine for African American Christian women. She writes from her home in Maryland, where she lives with her teenage son and daughter, and their black Labrador retriever, Romeo.

    Dream Girl - Feb-March Honorable Mention!

    I have this mental image of what I must have looked like during the last three years of my marriage. There I am positioned like a warrior, heels dug in, hands in a firm grip, holding onto my husband and belting out the lyrics, "You're gonna love me!" like the character, Effie, in Dreamgirls. But in real life, just like Effie's lover in the stage play and subsequent box office hit movie, my husband left anyway and took with him my dreams of a happily ever after.

    A divorce at midlife can shake things up. It can drag you to a place of pain and self-destruction, wondering who you are without the identity of being a Mrs., or, it can represent a launching pad for a life you never expected but are ready to embrace with great expectations. In my case, it propelled me to a place of yearning for passion, the one that was ignited as early as fourth grade when I wrote my first creative writing story. It was indeed a love relationship sparked at the age of 10 that endured throughout adulthood, though largely neglected in favor of the more practical marketing communications writing that pays my bills.

    But last year, as one love affair came to a dead-end, the other became a prominent player in my healing process. Suddenly, casts of characters that had been long forgotten reemerged, ready to take their rightful place on the computer screen inside a tale of universal hope and healing. Just like these characters did, my desire for my first love resurfaced, and today I am entrenched in reclaiming a dream deferred.

    Family lore says I was known as early as four-years-old to engage in long and loud conversations with imaginary people, complete with names, physical characteristics, family backgrounds and interesting livelihoods. It was not unusual for guests to hear me talking in the backroom and ask, "Who's back there with Trina?" and have my sister or brother answer, "Oh no one. She's just talking to herself."

    Seems my ability to create fiction existed before I even learned to write. But the moment I realized, in Ms. Dudyak's fourth grade English class, that creative writing was a way to share these made up people with others, I knew I had found my calling. By then I was already an avid reader, known to be up way past midnight in the room I shared with my older sister, sitting under the window with the shade lifted so I could read by moonlight. It was there that I first dreamed of being a writer who would one day have my own book on a shelf in a library.

    Unfortunately, some 10 years later I would make a misguided decision to choose profession over passion when I changed my undergraduate major from English to communications-public relations. It was like putting my dream in lay-a-way, with plans of going back and retrieving it at a more affordable time.

    Though I have made small deposits on my lifelong dream over the years, it took the grief of losing my marriage to bring me back to that lay-a-way department to claim my girlhood dream in its entirety. A month before my final divorce hearing, I mailed my first application to a graduate school writing program. A month later, I paid for membership in two writers' organizations and applied for a career development grant sponsored by a national women's foundation to help pay for graduate studies. The month after that, I was enrolled in two writing workshops led by a six-time published author with a New York Times Notable Book of the Year under his belt. Then I began reading, writing and re-writing, because I know that nothing, not even a dream, can grow unless it is constantly nurtured and worked at with fervor. It took a failed marriage to re-teach me this essential life lesson.

    So, these days I no longer dream of growing old with my husband by my side. Instead I have visions of realizing the dream of my childhood. I picture myself reaching up on a shelf in a library and pulling down a book with my name printed on its spine. It is the dream of girl becoming the woman she was always meant to be, and living happily, after all.

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