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The Buffalo News Spotlight section 2011 short story contest

All local writers are invited to take part in a story writing contest for a chance to have their work appear on the cover of The News' Spotlight section Dec. 25.

Stories can be up to a maximum of 1,750 words. They must be typewritten and double spaced if not sent electronically.

Send your story to: Melinda Miller, Features Editor; The Buffalo News, 1 News Plaza, Buffalo NY 14240, or email to Entries must be postmarked by Dec. 2; emailed entries must be received by Dec. 5.

Each story must begin with the following paragraphs. Where it goes from there is up to you:

He was alone.

Last year, he might have predicted things would work out this way. Someone who had been given such a gift -- entrusted with it, really -- would never simply continue life as it had been before. He should have known.

And here it was again, this holiday time of year. The calendar told him it was 2012, and his life was different.

The change went much deeper than a season or being a year older. It went under his skin, as deep as his soul -- if he permitted himself to believe in such a thing.

Life was like that, he thought. It could strip everything away from you in the blink of an eye. And then it could restore everything you had lost -- give you even more, in fact, than you had ever had -- with the same lightning speed.

He knew that, now. ..........