There were a couple of entries that I liked but didn't quite understand.
Herewith the results:
Not quite a story, but amazing!
Not quite a story but deliciously clever
Ly Kesse 7:23am
Nominees for the Steve Forti Amazingly Deft Word Prompt Manipulation Award
Tea Leave 3:56pm
I’ll die in the cold and the dar
The very idea that Her Grace, the Duchess of Yowl would seen near, let alone atop a dumptster boggles the mind!!
Kudos for just cracking me up!
Sarah Jensen 11:05am
Special recognition for a lovely and lyrical post that resonates with those of us who know the backstory
Melanie Sue Bowles 3:03 pm
Special recognition for a great line:
Timothy Lowe 6:41pm
I am still lithe, thin as a shadow, softer than murder on black, muddy feet.
Here's the long list:
Barbara Lund 11:30am
Jennifer R. Donohue
Colin Smith 11:37am
D Willadsen 12:21pm
John Davis (manuscript) Frain 2:00pm
And the short list:
I rose today in Dar es Salaam. Yesterday, it was Newark.
(New Jersey has no idea the debt owed it. Dayweaver has a sense of humor.)
But Kilimanjaro was tough to summit; I’m tired. I trudge across this beehive of a city. Hot flesh chafes; lives shout and whisper in Swahili.
All lost if I do not reach him.
Finally! I see it, a sunbird, purple, blue, yellow. It leads me to him. In his magic loom, the Tapestry of Tomorrow is fully woven. Intricate. Resplendent.
“Ravi.” Dayweaver smiles. “You’re here.”
And so I will rise again tomorrow.
One of the things I liked here was how the prompt word dar was worked in to a location. I love maps and knowing where things are is a real passion.
And I love the concept of this story; rebirth, journey, rebirth.
The writing is crisp and elegant.
Countless cameras flash as I step onto the red carpet and into the glare of scrutiny.
I spackle on the magic smile, and they buy the act. They can't see the shadow of shame consuming my flesh. Starstruck, they weave realities, imagining what it's like.
Some of us made deals with the devil.
“You can be a star, darling. I just need one thing...”
Others said “No deal.” But he took their soul anyway.
I escape into the lobby. And breathe. Surreptitiously eyeing the other Beautiful People, I wonder how many are thinking what I am.
This is both topical and timeless.
The writing is utterly splendid (of course, it's Michael Seese, we've come to expect no less)
Amy Johnson 12:32pm
Young girl dream weaver
Wannabe high achiever
Sleeps on a creaky cot
Wants her frozen waffles hot
Electric’s shut off
Hand-washing brother’s socks.
Forget it all
Life’s a joke
Take a toke
Take a jump
Off a wall
Along comes neighbor lady
Says that she’ll watch the baby
Won’t charge your mom a dime
Just get to school on time.
Now she got the magic key
Night and day
Turns each F into an A.
Dream weaver’s going far
College on the radar
Gonna be a superstar
I love the rhythm of this entry with all my heart.
Amy Schaefer 1:16pm
It took a long time to realize what was happening.This writing is so clear and precise you can see what's happening in your mind's eye. And that lovely twist at the end (love's magic not being all that romantic!) makes this entry very special.
I trod our regular route through the park. Bought cheddar scones. Went cycling and to the movies, just like when she was alive.
I was more shadower than widower.
But when I was ready to try a new path, invisible claws gripped my flesh and spun me around. My mouth ordered black-coffee-no-sugars. I only wore old clothes.
She used to weave red-nailed fingers through my hair. “I curse you to be mine forever.”
Words we chanted countless times – our call-and-response.
I guess love’s magic is real.
Lady Octavia Summers was known for two things. Being very not nice; and being ever so good at it.
She was also rich, which was why two young bucks stood before her.
Lord Flourish was so well turned out he was almost in again.
‘My lady. How handsome you are’.
In contrast, Mr. Townsend’s feature was his silence. He nodded. She nodded. He nodded. She nodded. When he went to nod again she rang a little bell, which thankfully did the trick.
She made her decision.
But alas, a daring shadow magic flesh-weaver’s wayward steamroller flattened her.
The villagers rejoiced.
This is hilarious and utterly lovely at the same time, which is a real trick.
Joey was a greenhorn; a kid, really. Ed was older, but not necessarily wiser. She killed them slowly, while they struggled helplessly against her silken bonds.
She’s a master manipulator--a weaver of webs so complex most never catch on until it’s too late. And she’s coming for me.
“Darling,” she says, her voice dripping with saccharine, “come closer. I can’t see you.”
I remain in the shadows, poised to pray, until curiosity gets the best of her. She scuttles forward. I work my magic: One strike and her flesh is mine.
Wherever you are boys, this one’s for you.
As you know by now I'm a sucker for off-beat points of view and this one is a gem. I'm sure you all get that "she" is the spider, but do you know who's telling the story? One word is a clue.
“Flesh forms a prison. Bones call to the reapers.”
“What of blood?” the Darkness asked, fading to grey in eagerness.
I dared not breathe.
“Blood is mercurial, but the threads of reality beneath the fingertips of weavers is a magic neither dark nor light.”
The unspoken hung in the black. The Darkness craved infinite unseen mornings. Baited and hooked, it stitched itself to my heels. Darkness became shadow.
“We cannot go on eight legs,” I whispered. Breathless.
“Sixteen,” it countered but obliged.
The fiber of my being unraveled; a familiar ache. I stood rewoven. Woman again. Arachne again.
I'm not exactly sure what this is, but the imagery and the writing is so compelling I can't stop reading it. It's almost a poem, really.
How are you? I’m okay. I spent the day cleaning cobwebs—pushing back the shadows, mom always said. I found your baby doll—such a darling find—real eyelashes, porcelain softer than flesh. I don’t believe in magic, but I stood it on the bedside table and slept all night without dreaming.
I want you to have it, but I can only send letters, and you never visit. Are you still angry? You know how hard it is to tell the difference between a weaver and a recluse. Surely the scars have faded by now. Come soon.
Oh sweet mother of Godiva! What is left unsaid here! Talk about letting your reader fill in the spaces. This is VERY hard to do well. Miss a single beat and your reader falls away.
A gorgeous example of what I think of as spider-web writing. The writer spins the filaments and the story is in the shapes those filaments creates.
Mallory Love 1:49am
We called him Weaver because his web of lies had more tangles than Rapunzel’s hair. We didn’t know his real name, only his stories which consisted of an old lover who broke his heart and stole his son.
“That boy is my flesh,” he’d say nightly over a pint. Dark shadows resided under his glassy eyes. We were apt to feel sorry for him until he started talking nonsense about helping the queen magically spin straw into gold, them bonding over being outcasts.
Someone jokingly suggested he build a new son out of enchanted wood. Never saw him after that.
This just cracks me up.
It's funny, and also poignant.
Very nice writing.
At awkward, inconvenient times (a meeting, a phone call, an interview)the time-weaver slips from my mental shadows and, with vile magic, sucks me back.
A cold, wet bus stop; a family friend with a warm, dry car.
“How’s school?” “Are there any boys you like?”
A fleshy hand rests on my thigh, a moment too long and a fraction too high to mistake intent.
A frozen heartbeat, a change of breathing and a single word, “Out.”
A bullet dodged, I walk the long way home.
I never tell.
But, in awkward, inconvenient times, I choose the darker path.
There's nothing to add to this.
It's gorgeous, haunting and deeply moving.
That last line is what elevates it to truly amazing.
"Don't trust a redcoat, Sallie," Papa said.
"James is different, Papa."
They eloped in shadow.
DAR lineage - check.
"Flesh is weak," James said...again. "You'd kill me if you could get away with it."
"Drat modern forensics," Sallie said.
Her tapestry was a hit at Yorktown re-enactment.
"She is quite the weaver," DAR President gushed.
"Magical," said James, resplendent in his redcoat. "We could walk right into it."
Just for fun, they did - right into the Battle of Yorktown.
"You said it wouldn't work again," James said.
"I didn't think it would."
James reached for his bayonet.
Sallie gave it to him.
The ability to tell a story in flash fiction is HARD. Now, telling it in two different time periods? Yea, that's really hard.
And yet, she makes it look so easy. That's real skill. I'm rather in awe.
Each of these finalists has a great deal of merit. They're all different so one set of standards isn't going to cut it.
Let me know what you think, and if you disagree with me (about who didn't make the cut)
Update: I know you all are enjoying my consternation here at having to pick just one from this amazing array of work. I can hear you chortling and giggling as you oil your rodent wheels for future workouts, knowing you've had your revenge of sorts. It's a plot I tell you, a plot.
The first winnowing got me down to the final six. Each of them were different, each had things I really loved. All of them deserved to win.
Then I let the entries sit for a bit, went back and read again. (At this point, I'm cursing the talent in this group and looking on CraigsList for someone to come choose for me)
In the end I had to go with the entry that I found more and more to think about each time I read it.
The winner this week is Sherin Nicole 10:18pm.
Honestly, this is entirely subjective.
Every entry on the long and short list was winning quality.
Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and post entries. You're making my life wonderfully miserable.
Sherin Nicole, if you'll email me with your mailing address I'll send you the ARC of Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly.
Andyes, we'll have another contest on Friday. I'm a sucker for your work, damn you all.