Wednesday, April 6, 2022

“Secondhand Hugs Still Have All the Warmth” • by Carol Scheina

And now the finalists in this week’s Pete Wood Challenge. Taking the silver is frequent contributor Carol Scheina, with:

“Secondhand Hugs Still Have All the Warmth”

I find the hug quivering behind a park bench. You can’t see unfulfilled hugs; you feel the soft breeze of continual love. Some hugs ought to last a lifetime, but there’s never enough time, is there?

I gently coax the hug into a bottle, then place it with the other bottles in my thrift shop. “Free hugs,” says the sign.


Old Mrs. Perez enters, her eyes lighting up at the sign.

It’s not a full hug, with arms and heartbeats, but it’s still warm, still fills those lonely holes.

I feel it, too. With each hug, I give new life.


Carol Scheina is a deaf speculative fiction author whose work has appeared in an array of publications since her first professional-rate story was published in early 2020. That story, Once More With Feeling (Daily Science Fiction), featured a violinist coping with sudden hearing loss. 

Since then, she’s had other short stories and microfiction sales, including: Like Grandma Made (Bards and Sages), The Food Critic (Theme of Absence), The Pieces that Bind (On the Premises), The Midwife (Luna Station Quarterly), The Fruits of Sisterhood (Daily Science Fiction), Death Poems of the Folded Ones (Escape Pod Flash Fiction Contest), I Can Be a Hero Too (Daily Science Fiction), We Wait for a Better Future (The Arcanist), The Sweetest Things (All Worlds Wayfarer), Would You Like Fries With That? (Stupefying Stories), The Family Business (Stupefying Stories), Long-Distance Relationship (Stupefying Stories), and Just Like Before (Stupefying Stories). 

Carol also works as a writer/editor in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. In her career, she has won a Blue Pencil Award from the National Association of Government Communicators and a Silver Inkwell Award from the International Association of Business Communicators and was recognized as an Outstanding Department of Defense Disabled Employee of the Year in 2005. Carol has an amazing husband who is always willing to give her stories a second read and two fantastic kids with the best imaginations ever. She also lives with a tuxedo cat who likes to walk over the computer and mess everything up, but he’s cute so he can get away with it. She grew up in a magical spot in Virginia with a creek and a woods and plenty of scope for the imagination.