Monday, April 29, 2019

Flash fiction contest results--FINAL (updated)

I read the finalist entries again this morning, and then again this afternoon.
Every single time through I thought "how the heck am I going to pick just one?"
The idea of a random number draw crossed my mind but that seemed a bit unfair. Arbitrary is easy, but the work that went in to these entries deserves the effort of a hard choice.

So, I looked again.
I just can't get Morgan Hazelwood's entry off my mind.

That phrase "their drama had outstayed their welcome" was just perfect.
And the ambiguity of it is something I appreciate because it's VERY hard to do well enough to lead the reader to the finish without revealing too much, or worse, not revealing enough so the reader doesn't get it (a lot of entries are too elliptical for me.)

So, Morgan Hazelwood takes the prize this week.

Morgan, drop me a line with your mailing address and what you like to read, and I'll get a prize in the mail to you!

Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and enter.
The work here is insanely good.

And if your entry wasn't singled out, remember, this is entirely subjective and often mood-driven. It's NOT a comment on the caliber of your writing. Or you. Or your story.  

We had a very low turnout this weekend!
But there was no drop in quality entries. You guyz really brought your A-game (unlike the MTA!)

First and foremost, I just frigging surrender. I have met my match and his name is Forti.

What’s the country code for Netherlands, Ma?
>>NL. Y Dee?
DSW - O man. LYW or DS
? The hell do these codes mean?
>>Light yellow. Dead stock. Geez, ur no sneakerhead, Dee. Text me pics.
Ugh. How bout these pumps? DSW only ships from the Netherlands. Shoe Depot has them in East Baltimore, tho.
>>Fatti maschii, parole femine
>>Nvm. Those r cute. O, btw, shop called. Alterations r done on bridesmaid dresses and your gown.
Sweet. Made appt to get these snarls blown out, too
>>Good. Fixate on prep. Matrimonial tunnel vision. Ur dad and I r so excited!

Hits too close to home, Timothy Lowe!

Claire Bobrow
cracked me up.

Madeline Mora-Summonte scares me

The Duchess of Yowl is certain Pen Name should  the winner, although she curls a sardonic whisker at the menu here.
The Duke of Snarl could not fix this. He had ruined his prospects at a happy, easy life with one untimely feast.

He had eaten the Doritos, the sour-cream-and-onion chips, the sandy old snickerdoodles, and even things truly uneatable. The drinks, he knocked over, spilling soda and lemonade on the kitchen floor. Super Bowl Sunday? Ruined.

He had an excuse, of course. Manly deeds, womanly words. Too bad his servant didn’t know Catlingish.

She would be looking for him. Good thing he had a tunnel under the bushes down the street.

And good thing he ate her car keys.

Here are the finalists.

My life has been determined by prefixes and suffixes.
Prefix: un
Un-satisfactory, Un-acceptable, Un-important
Me. Myself. I. The least.
I am—
Prefix: im
Im-pertinent, Im-possible, Im-pressionable
Never going to live up to their expectations, always going to believe their snarled words though actions speak louder on my skin.
Suffix: ly
Man-ly, Woman-ly, Irrevocab-ly.
Manly deeds, womanly words. His hands. Her venom. Never going to change. Because kindness comes with tunnel vision and firm hands fly fast.
Suffix: y
Blood-y, Sleep-y, Sand-y
Dad strikes. I dream of beaches again. Maybe this time I won’t have to come home.
Suffix: ed
I always appreciate this kind of playfulness, particularly when it makes a point.

Colin Smith
Sandy took everything.
Everything I thought was a fixture in my life:
The house. The car.
She even took the kids.
The worst part is, I never saw it coming.
I sat for a week asking what I did wrong.
What sin had I committed against her?
What provoked the snarl that tore our lives?
But there are no answers.
Just an east wind over an empty lot
As I take the Holland Tunnel away from
The wreck of my past.

This is so deliciously subtle I had to read it twice. 

Nice work!

Morgan Hazelwood
She stood transfixed by the edge of the woods until I cleared my throat.

"Carlos and you were supposed to be gone hours ago." As house guests, their drama had outstayed their welcome.

"Long gone. He should be beyond the tunnel by now." Her hand fluttered vaguely toward the road.

Oh no he didn't.

"You know you can't stay here," I sighed, defeated.

"I wasn't going with him while he was snarling. Again."

"I'm not blaming you, I just have to --"

"Let me clean up the blood, and then I'll be gone. It's the least I could do."
oh man oh man oh man.
I love this twists!

Just Jan

I start by asking what they could have done differently.

Lance tunnels a hand through his sandy hair. “We shouldn’t have had intimate relations until she’d gotten divorced.”

Tristan nods solemnly.

“I shouldn’t have faked my death,” says Juliet, clutching her crucifix.

I call on Lois, our newest member. She’s been beastly ever since her boss insisted she attend group therapy.

“What do you want me to say?” she snarls. “That I should have asked if he was an alien with superpowers?”

“What about you, Cleo?” asks Heathcliff.

“Time’s up,” I say, checking my watch. “See you next week.”
This just cracked me up!
I love the inventiveness of the concept, and the subtlety of the name Cleo.
We'll have to ask Jan if that homage to Clio was intended!

Michael Seese
As a child, Tony the Tiger scared the hell out of me. Ferocious beasts should snarl, not wax poetic about glorified Corn Flakes. And don't get me started on Cap'n Crunch, whose eyebrows weren't affixed to his head, but rather, hovered mysteriously in front of his hat. But I dealt with it.

Until that bird ogled me with its googly toucan eyes.

I snapped.

Grabbing my official Red Ryder air rifle, I took aim and Pollocked the kitchen walls with its flavor-bursting reds, oranges, and yellows.

Thus began my runaway train ride into the dark tunnel known as cereal killing.
This is funny, it was Pollocked the kitchen walls that made this stand out. A perfect turn of phrase.

As usual, I can't decide.
You guys read these and let me know what you think.
Every time I read them I pick a new winner.


Kitty said...

I vote for the cereal killer, Michael Seese.

Aphra Pell said...

Seese for me too - combination of clever writing with the ultimate dad pun.

Huge amounts of brilliance as always.

Aphra Pell said...

Although of the ones not of the shortlist (I'm reading posts backwards today) I want to wave extra pom-poms and throw cupcakes at NLiu (love the female minotaur), and Sherin Nicole (love the witches in the microbrewary).

Jennifer Mugrage said...

The cereal killer.

Marie McKay said...

They are all great! Well done. The stand out for me is Megan V's. I love it. It is so poignant.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Janet - thank you for the mention! And, believe me, sometimes I scare myself. :)

Well done, everyone, and congrats to the finalists! My vote is for Michael Seese.

Kitty said...

There was something about Michael Seese's story that reminded me of Daniel Tomasulo's memoir, Confessions of a Former Child. I loved that book.

Brenda said...

Pollocked the kitchen walls?
I vote for Micheal Seese

Claire Bobrow said...

Cap'n Crunch - I never could resist that stuff, so I'm going with the cereal killer :-)
Congrats to the other finalists and mentions. Great work! (I want a story about the DoY and the DoS.)

I'm delighted to get a mention. Thank you, Janet! But I'm horrified to confess my entry is missing the word "east." In a frenzy of last-minute editing on too little sleep, I cut the line that included the phrase "East River." Oops, and sigh.

RosannaM said...

Seese made me laugh, Colin made me cry.

Colin Smith said...

Oh, wow! Thanks for the shout-out Janet!! :)

Michael's is clever, but Megan's almost made me not enter. I usually don't read other entries before I post mine. But my eye caught hers and I thought "Oh well... no point, now!" So Megan gets my vote. But everyone did well. Congrats to all!! :)

nightsmusic said...

I genuinely laughed out loud reading Seese's entry. I thought it was brilliant.

Steve Forti said...

Surprised by the low turnout. Anyone got ideas why? I always liked the high number of entries in the past.

I think I slept too little, since I'm just not getting Morgan or Jan's entries. Someone smarter than me care to enlighten?

Katja said...

Steve, I usually don't participate because I know I can't reach the high standard. The last few occasions, I didn't even read the prompt words any more - just the results later.

I happened to see the prompts this time and had an idea; it was 1am here. Then I hesitated but Fiance encouraged me. I typed, then read it to him. Then he said "post it", and I said "It's embarrassing". But he insisted so I'd practise :).

It's good to practise, isn't it... hm..

Megan V said...

Really liked Seese's entry, he has my vote.

I also liked Hank's entry as well.

shanepatrickwrites said...

i could say that the first sunny alaskan day in too long was why i didn't enter but the truth was that i chewed on the forti (the leo kottke of our little group) challenge phrase and just couldn't make it taste good.

the hurricane ending of a relationship did it for me. so that's a vote for colin smith.

french sojourn said...

Thanks Megan V...

Although after re-reiding them again, it's tough. So many great ones, I think Megan V and Seese are neck and neck? (so to speak)

nightsmusic said...

Steve Forti you are not alone. Every contest, there are always two or three that I don't get. :/

Just Jan said...

Colin, nicely done! I also liked John Frain's entry.

Mr. Forti, I had my doubts, but I must tip my hat to your brilliance! Janet is wise to surrender. By the way, my own entry involved a "Star-Crossed Lovers" support group, with Cleopatra as the moderator. No conscious homage to Clio, but that works, too.

I really enjoyed reading all the entries. Thanks for the fun, Janet!

Steve Forti said...

@Katja - never let your fear prevent you from entering! All of us struggled when we started (and still struggle, of course). It's only the practice that improves entries. This community is hugely supportive, and will only further encourage you.

@Jan - thanks for the explanation. Guess I just wasn't cultured enough to get a number of the references.

Morgan Hazelwood said...

Oh my! I got a mention. <3

Considering how much the site did NOT want me to post from my phone, I'm VERY glad I persisted until I got it working.

@Steve Forti

Mine was a story about a dating couple who were house guests who'd been fighting.
The narrator thought the guy had left without the woman and driven through the tunnel, back to the city.

Until the lady guest mentioned the blood. He went through a more permanent tunnel... And the lady guest had been gazing off into the woods where she'd dragged the body.

Claire Bobrow said...

Katja: I second what Steve said!

Morgan: thank you for the explanation. Somehow I thought the guy and gal guests had killed each other, but even as a ghost, she didn't want to go through the "tunnel" with him to the other side because he was a snarling jerk, so she offered to stay behind and clean up the blood first!

Lennon Faris said...

These were all great! Just Jan's might be my favorite. I could be wrong, but I think it is a bunch of legendary folk who made mistakes in love. I was thinking "Cleo" was Cleopatra, who didn't want to admit to any wrongdoing herself so called time.

I like the ambiguity of Colin's. Is Sandy the wife? or the hurricane??

I read the prompt words, thought of a couple weak stories, and couldn't make them stronger. My mind was not flashing this weekend!

But clearly others were. Congrats to everyone who entered and also to those mentioned. Very well done.

Kate Larkindale said...

Another rather wonderful bunch of stories. I had to laugh at the cereal killer one; I love the Pollocking of the walls.

Katja said...

Thank you Steve and Claire, it's nice to get encouragement from the masters themselves :) !

And guys, when you say there're always two or three that you don't get... OMG, that's probably as many as I GET. I didn't know Pollocked (but guessed it was some insider), so I asked Fiance and he said it's a painter. We just Googled him - Jackson from Wyoming.
I guess this is also some handicap - I come from a different world (both language-wise and country/continent-wise); I just don't get so many things. (I did know what/who Sandy was though!).

Did you guys get my story? Did you know who Erich was? Erich Honecker - the top guy of the DDR/GDR (German Democratic Republic - former East Germany). He and his people were the only ones who had all the nice food/things in the GDR.
The woman in my story fled the GDR at the cost of her young child, leaving it behind. Then, 25 years later, when the Berlin Wall (and the border between West and East Germany) came down, the grown up child leaves the East to find their mother in the West.

Then they take revenge on their mother for abandoning them and take over her house and all nice things.

Just in case you didn't get it, ha ha ;).

Thank you again, Steve!

And congrats EVERYONE!!!!

Timothy Lowe said...

Great entries, like usual. I do love Seese's -- reminds me of a similar one by Jd(ms) Frain a few years back. Any of these deserve to take the prize.

Colin Smith said...

Thanks for the votes, but congrats goes to Morgan. Well done! :)

The Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest is up-to-date.

Michael Seese said...

Nice job, Morgan. A haunting story.

I also was pretty fond of MeganV's entry.

Finally, thanks to all for your kind words.

julie.weathers said...

I don't enter because I have just accepted flash fiction is not my forte. There are so many of you who do excel at this.

I loved the deft way Megan did her entry.

Michael Seese and his cereal killing for me wins this time. I'm a sucker for a good pun. And with this on my mind I had to pick up cereal when I stopped by the evil empire to get prescriptions.

Claire Bobrow said...

Congrats, Morgan!

Just Jan said...

Congratulations, Morgan!

Marie McKay said...

Congratulations, Morgan.

Megan V said...

Way to go Morgan!!

And thanks everyone for your kind comments about my entry :)

Jennifer Mugrage said...

OK, just to make sure I get it ...

The wife houseguest killed her husband, Carlos.

When she first mentions the tunnel, the hostess thinks she's referring to the physical road out, and fears for a second that Carlos has taken the car, stranding his wife.

But she is actually talking about the tunnel through which we "go toward the light."

Is that right?

I guess I'm a little slow on the uptake 'cause I don't read as much crime fiction as Janet.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

PS Katja, please don't feel bad. The shorter the work of fiction, the more it has to draw on shared cultural knowledge. "High-context communication."

In your story, I did grasp that the child had been abandoned behind the Berlin Wall and had come back to collect his/her dues, even though I did not know who Erich was.

I wasn't clear if the grown child was planning to kill the mother in revenge or just take over her house ... but that's probably because of the context provided by this web site. It leans toward crime fiction and, shall we say, darker fiction. (I remember reading about a lot of horror creatures recently.)

John Davis Frain said...

Hey hey, Morgan, you're the captain. Well done.

Not only could I have not picked a winner, but I couldn't even get back to the neighborhood until y'all had done the hard work.

Great job, Morgan, Imma go read you again.

And Mr. Forti (I'm bowing in your general direction as I type this, which is supremely difficult), congratulations on stumping Le Sharque. I hope the terms of surrender you negotiate include a maximum number of syllables in prompt words. And as long as your have her signing treaties and such, maybe see if you can get us 105 words.

That's just for starters. If it works, we'll come up with more. Like, we make her utter the words "fiction novel" once an hour during conversation at New Leaf as if she's coined the phrase.

None of these are my ideas, mind you. No, not at all. No way. Ummmmm ... someone emailed me with them. Yeah, yeah, they emailed me and they asked me to pass it along to you, and they said not to mention their name. Yep, that was it.

julie.weathers said...

I missed the winner's announcement. Congratulations to Morgan and well-deserved. That, indeed, was a memorable line.

Good job.

Morgan Hazelwood said...

I just thought to check back and I'm thrilled! So glad it struck a chord with you.

I'm over the moon. (But not through the tunnel ;) )