I've been sitting on this since December 7th, y'all. I was actually on an airplane when Joni tried to call me (and left messages on both my phones), and I had to call her back. But I finally got the go-ahead to tell everyone, and so I am:
I am a Finalist for Writers of the Future, v32, Q4!
Understand that I fully expected a form rejection for this story. I have no doubt that it would have garnered a form had I sent it in as I originally wrote it. But this is a new and expanded version, with more immersion and world-building, and a (somewhat) happier ending. Final judging is not complete yet, so I'm still being coy about which story it was to preserve anonymity.
This is my second Finalist. The first one didn't win, and I was super bummed because it was a Ben story and I love him. I will laugh so hard if this one does, not because I think it's a bad story (quite the contrary, I love it to pieces), but because I went in with such low expectations. I basically threw it at the wall to see if it would stick. Apparently it hit Dave in the feels, so go, me!
Do the Dance of Joy!