And the winner is...

Today I am very excited to announce the winner of the Writing Spark Saturday Contest and showcase their piece on the blog!

Ana Louis!

Congratulations, Ana! You can check out her amazing response to the locket prompt below!

So long as metal touched bone, she would live. The locket bounced gently against his clavicle as he climbed, bloody knuckles scraping against broken rock. His breath wheezed out of his burning lungs, the frigid air biting him inside and out. Why the Ancients had thought it best to put their shrine on the most inhospitable mountain in the region, he couldn’t guess.
What had that Scholar girl said? “It’s hard going to allow for proof of worthiness, Sir Khalen.”
Worthiness, schmurthiness. He lacked so many things nowadays, worthiness the least of them. He was worthy of nothing. He was a wretched failure of a man, a prince-consort with nothing of any import to offer this world.
But for her…
His frostbitten fingertips brushed numbly against the metal sphere at his neck. For her, all he was, all he could be—they could take it all. If they asked for his very soul, he would give it without hesitation.
“They will ask for too much, Khalen. You should not go.”
“It’s Andria. No loss is too much for me to bear besides hers.”
So long as the beautiful locket stayed tied around his neck, she would live. That locket, that picture—the very last tether of her soul to this world. The last proof of her existence. All else had been wiped away violently by her enemies, by those who would see her destroyed. Those who had seen her destroyed, silenced, locked in a box. Smothered under too many feet of dirt to allow life to fester inside.
They had made him bury his queen.
The rage of that thought warmed him, bringing some small amount of life back to his hands. He pulled himself up another inch. Again. Again. Again.
They’d made him bury her. And then they’d tried to take away his memory.
Again. Again. Again.
All the world had forgotten her, but never him. Never him.
Again. Again. Again.
His blood trailed down the mountainside, making the barely-footholds in the rock slick. He was wild, unhinged, uncaring in the riotous storm of his grief. If he slipped, he would catch himself. He would fly if he had to. Andria could not afford for him to wait.
Her own mother had forgotten her. He’d seen it happen. In the midst of her wailing, her weeping, she had suddenly gone entirely still. Unnaturally still. There had been confusion on her face, the sharpness of grief turning soft and half-remembered in her eyes. She'd asked why she was crying, and no one could tell her. They had all forgotten too. In a moment, in an instant, his queen was well and truly ended. Without memory, without love, she had no mortal tether. Her soul was lost.
But he held her secret. The locket she’d gifted him on their last night, the locket with her picture tucked inside. Fierce, wicked, and endlessly loving. His queen with him, always. He had never held a thing more precious, and that was before she…
He gritted his aching teeth against the sudden sob that rose up, the tears freezing on his face. He could not think of that now. He could not think of her body, lying prone and lifeless in the heart of the battlefield. He could not remember how the sight had cracked straight through him, straight through their army, straight through the world. He had never known what it was to be broken until that day.
But no longer. No longer. 
He was on his way to the Shrine of Resurrection, where a Saint would be waiting. Which one, no one could say—they all had the power to grant life. It didn’t matter to him. Once the sacrifice was done, his queen would live again. His Andria.
Finally, his numb knobs of hands smacked against a deeper edge. One he couldn’t feel the end of. The summit.
As he pulled himself up, a gust of air hit his face, warm and humid as a rainforest. Nothing like the frozen air of the mountainside. It startled him so much that he nearly fell back down the mountain.
The summit was not the cold, dead expanse of rock he’d expected. There was sun. There were plants abundant. The sky above him was blue and sunny and pure.
As he coaxed his shivering, half-broken body to its feet, blinking ice and snow out of his eyes, he saw nothing that looked so grand as a shrine. 
Rather, he found a garden. And in the center of that circle of herbs and flowers and all manner of plants, there sat a woman.
Simply clad in robes of green and gray, she sat with her back to him, wild red hair spilling down her back. The sight of her sent a fierce pain straight down to his bones, and that was before she turned to look at him. Andria’s green, green eyes met his, her cruel mouth quirked into an unfamiliar, wise smirk.
“Andria.” The name came from his throat as if it had been strangled from him.
He took a single step forward, but was stopped by her suddenly raised hand. “Whoever you see, I am not she,” she said, gently, the look on her face as foreign as her features were familiar.
Not Andria. She merely wore her visage, using her like a shield. All at once, he was angry.
“You’re the Saint?”
“I suppose so. If that’s what they’re calling me; if not, then no.”
“Stop looking like her,” he snarled, his anger only growing worse when he heard the crack in his voice. Seeing her face but not her soul…he could not bear it. “Stop it.”
The Saint tilted her head to one side, glorious red curls spilling sideways in turn.
“Other people have said this to me, too,” she mused. “Tell me: who do I look like to you?”
“My w—” He stopped himself by force of habit. He was not permitted to refer to Andria as his wife—not in public. Not to others. Not even now. “My queen.”
“Queens are overrated. That’s something that cannot be debated. No, this woman is someone you love.” Her eyes narrowed. “She’s dead; that’s why you’ve come seeking help from above.”
The rhymes…the garden…the borrowed face.
“You’re Saint Roselin,” he named her, his rage settling somewhat. “You’re the patron of planters, poets, and liars. That’s why you wear a different face.”
“No, not liars; that word is disgusting. I am patron of the skeptic; you could call one distrusting.” She paused for a moment, then flashed a conspiratorial grin. “I wear the face of who you trust most. Now tell me your plight, and be quick; do not boast. Anyone can climb a mountain.”
He waited for the next line. She simply gazed at him expectantly.
“Where’s the next line?” He asked.
She shrugged, a delicate gesture that was achingly familiar. “There isn’t one. I don’t actually have to rhyme. I’m just very good at it.”
He had to bite down a snarl of impatience. His queen was dead, and this woman was wasting his time—but it had become habit to obey the voice of his queen, even if the inflections and tones were all wrong.
He sat and told Saint Roselin his tale. From the day he was betrothed to his queen to the day he lost her. She nodded sagely when he finished, bracing her hands on her knees.
“And you have brought a tether to me, yes?” she asked, gently.
He gave a quick nod, nervous anticipation setting his hands to shaking. He carefully removed the locket from around his neck and handed it to the Saint, suddenly self-conscious about the state of his hands, of his trinket. The engraved metal was crusted with blood and dirt and who knew what else, but it was here. He’d made it here.
Saint Roselin studied the locket for a long while, letting him sweat for a time. Only when he had begun to quite literally quake in his boots did she speak.
“There will be a great price, princeling of Rho. This, at least, you already know.”
A lump formed in his throat, but he swallowed it down, giving as calm of a nod as he could manage.
“I am willing to give anything for her life, Saint Roselin. Anything.” His voice broke once more. “Anything.”
She studied him for a moment, then returned her attention to the locket. “While a tether it is, it’s a weak one. You’ll need something stronger to bring such a soul back.”
His heart fell. He only had the one tether. How else could—
Saint Roselin’s borrowed face brightened. “Oh, but of course! We can kill two birds with one stone. The price and the tether shall be the same.”
He stared at the saint in confusion. “I…how? What can be used as a price and a tether?”
The saint’s smile didn’t change. “Why, your love for your queen, of course!”

Yeah, I read this submission at 1:30 in the morning and I was so MAD. That ENDING. I was seriously floored by this piece. The characters, the bits of rhyming dialogue, the twist at the end--all of it! Such an amazing concept was stuffed into such a short bit of space and it's incredible.
Ana, you are one talented writer!

Thank you to everyone who submitted to the WSS Contest. I had so much fun reading all of your submissions and it was awesome to see the different ideas you all came up with from the same prompts. You all did so amazing!

For those unaware, I have decided to take a break from social media for the remainder of this week. Lately I have found myself waaayy too focused on my platforms and followers to the point that it is taking a toll on me both mentally and emotionally. So, I'm going to allow myself a detox and stay off of Pinterest, Twitter, and the blog. This means I will not be tweeting, pinning, or writing anymore posts until next week.
If you need to reach me, feel free to email me at
Thank you all for understanding, and congratulations again, Ana!
I hope you all have a fabulous week!