Short, short tale of loss is a big winner

| October 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

SHORT STORY by Helene Seifer.

A story inspired by a writing exercise in a class taught by Helene Seifer at The Ebell is among winners in the Summer 2020 Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) Short Story Contest.

Seifer’s story, “The Last Time I Saw Her,” was one of 12 winners from among 265 entries. The winners are posted on the library’s online short story portal — sharing ranks and posterity with the works of Lewis Carroll and Virginia Woolf.

In 740 words, Seifer’s tale tells of friendship, memory and loss.

“The story is an example of Flash Fiction, which is a short, short story,” Seifer adds.

Seifer is on staff at the Larchmont Chronicle, where she also writes a dining column, “On the Menu.” She also has penned newsletters for The Ebell and Westside Jewish Community Center, and she worked for many years in the television industry producing and writing for talk shows, children’s programs and women’s series.

Writing class

The short story format is a new one for Seifer, who ventured into creative writing a few years back and eventually took the helm of The Ebell’s monthly writing class — which she also helped instigate.

Based on an in-class exercise that used the phrase “the last time I saw her” as a prompt to unblock students’ creative juices — Seifer wrote the short, rough piece in 10 minutes.

Months later, the writing group agreed to situate their earlier stories in a train station, or on a train or subway.

“I dug out my old beginning, combined the concepts, and completed the winning story.  It’s the first story I ever sent for judgment outside of my writing group and family, so I’m very excited by the library’s response!”

In the story, the narrator describes the last time she saw her dearest, closest college friend — across the train tracks in a Parisian train station.

“… She didn’t notice me, across the tracks in my tweed coat and angora beret, dressed a little too warmly for the unseasonably mild Parisian day. She, on the other hand, was noticed by everyone, as she had always been. Raven curls, sparkling green eyes, lips upturned in perpetual laughter. And the red scarf. Always the red scarf. Even at — what were we then? — 50? — She was the woman every man noticed. And every woman, too, for that matter.”

The college friend in the story is fictional, Seifer says, although some of the details were true, such as Seifer has been to the Paris train station, the Gare du Nord, and, like the narrator, she did carry Modigliani posters of “thin-necked blank-eyed women” to school.

Anthology forthcoming

Seifer has recently joined two other writing groups and a poetry-reading class.  One of the groups, Western Edge Writers, offered through Eagle Rock Branch Library, is self-publishing an anthology of coronavirus-related work. Seifer will have several stories and poems included in the anthology,  “Viral Voices: Creativity in the Time of Coronavirus.” (She wrote the Gabriel García Márquez-inspired title.)

It will be available on Amazon in 2021. To read her winning LAPL entry, as well as other contest winners and learn more about the LAPL program, visit

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Category: Entertainment

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