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‘A Plea to Michael’s Maid’ on Doorknobs & BodyPaint

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I’m so happy to report my short “A Plea to Michael’s Maid” won first place in the Doorknobs contest at Doorknobs & BodyPaint. Check it out here.

The story had to be about a saint and the miracles they call for. The Doorknobs contest had the following restraints, er, guidelines:

1. Maximum length: 250 words.
2. The sub-theme is: miraculous.
3. The year is: 1943.
4. Within the story, this text must be used: exceptional deeds.

The hoops were especially daunting this round, and I wasn’t sure I was going to enter. But inspiration struck over pizza and beer the night before the contest deadline. What saints did I know? Was Teresa a saint yet? Wait, I knew a saint! I’d write about Joan of Arc! Of course!

As a kid, I was fascinated by the story of St. Joan of Arc, the girl captain who led France to several victories during the Hundred Years’ War. I can’t tell you when I first heard or read about her: Saints and their miracles, for the most part, were lost in my Protestant upbringing, but as an eager reader in fourth and fifth grades, I learned as much as I could about her through young-adult fiction, dusty biographies, home’s World Book and the library’s Encyclopedia Britannica. For a fifth-grade history project, I made a presentation dressed up as the Maid, complete with a sword and breastplate made out of cardboard and Reynolds Wrap. Somewhere in my basement, or perhaps in my parents’ attic, is a black-and-white photograph of a gap-toothed me — in full homemade armor — looking every bit as distressed and frustrated as a 10-year-old wannabe warrior could look when she finds out that she’s not nearly as cool as her favorite heroine.

Skipping forward 30 years, a sausage slice and a refreshing Kölsch helped me remember a saint, now I just had to figure out what to do in 1943. Joan was the patron saint of the French army, so I’d write about a French soldier in 1943.

“The French were getting their asses kicked then,” my husband, the historian, reminded me.

Even better. All the more reason for St. Joan to call for a miracle.

And so she did. And you can read all about it here.

Author: Jacqui Barrineau

Jacqui Barrineau is a writer and editor who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., with husband Trey, a Shetland Sheepdog, and two unhelpful-but-funny cats. Her work has appeared in "So to Speak" and "Calliope," and she's a regular contributor to the flash-fiction sites Paragraph Planet and Doorknobs & Bodypaint. Once upon a time, she was the audience engagement editor at USA Today. Now she does other fun things that involve advertising, marketing and social media. The views expressed here and in other outlets are hers, not her employers'. Outside of work, she's proud to serve on the Northern Virginia Community College Marketing Advisory Committee. As a committee member, she joins industry leaders in lending their knowledge and expertise to ensure the college's Marketing curriculum is relevant and responsive to the needs of the students and the surrounding business communities.

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