Sunday, February 19, 2017

Preliminary contest results

This was an interesting experiment in flash fiction. Did you like it?
A lot of you had lovely entries that weren't quite stories though.
Special recognition for using words I had to look up
AJ C. Matson 10:00am
Quiddity: the inherent nature or essence of someone or something/a distinctive feature; a peculiarity.

A gorgeous example of how rhythm is a key element of a good story
Kathy Joyce 9:52am
And hyacinths, then tulips,
Then peonies and daylilies
Roses daisies asters geraniums
Snapdragons zinnias gladiolas marigolds…

Winner of the René Magritte Award
Amy Schaefer 11:16am
I read the poem.
I read it again.
I nodded quietly to myself.
I turned off the computer.
I took my kids to the butterfly conservatory.
We had lunch with my sister and my niece.
I didn’t check my email. I didn’t read the news.
That hard fist in my chest eased a little.
Now I am going for a walk in the woods with my family.
And that is why I’m not entering the contest this week.

A gorgeous line
Shaunna 7:40pm
That night, like every other, Grace climbed into bed and pulled her grief up to her chin.

Special recognition for the perfect illustration of "what isn't said"
Sherry Howard 11:23pm
I saw Dr. Sanders—you remember him. Such good news today! He said it’ll only be a few weeks more now.

A line that is either utterly hilarious or a typo
Just Jan 6:46pm
She adjusted her dimple.

And here are the finalists

Susan 9:48am
I stumble up cracked concrete steps
to a brownstone
caught in shadow,
follow you into the house
where cobwebs drape like curtains
and dust scatters beneath our feet.

On the floor by the staircase lies a single sock,
shredded heel-to-toe,
and a birch broom stands in the corner
by the open door,
splintering at the grip.

There’s a dip in the couch cushions,
an empty wineglass on the table.

“I know this place,” I whisper.
“But it’s been so long…”
I sense the rain within me.
“Can we stay?”

You pause, hand me the broom.
“I never left,” you say.

Sharyn Ekbergh 10:40am
If you are very lucky or very good
someone like this comes into your life.

I’m not good.

pay attention
this is grass
is this grass?
how soft it is, how wonderful

this is a tree
is this a tree?
how high I can climb
watch me, how high

this is water
is this water?
how good, how sweet it is
to drink this water

pay attention!
watch me, watch me now
touch me, touch me now
love me, love me now

How I love my days here with you


there is a time bomb in my chest

Timothy Lowe 12:44pm
I loved accounting. Dimes shimmered between my fingers. I squandered my nights under LED lights, whistling as I paved a road to hell with dollar bills.

Mustang: 42,000.00
Case of bourbon: 349.99
Lady friends: 200.00/hr
Dinner at Rocco’s: 1243.60
Drinks at Tenochtitlan: 3650.00
DWI lawyer: 14,000.00
Interlock device: 200.00 a month

I paid for my mistakes. Price Waterhouse fired me. My friends deserted me. But I met someone at AA who told me that happiness is free.

Now we have another beautiful child coming, our sixth.

But hey - who’s counting?

Kate O 3:47pm
It smells like hot garbage.
Probably because I am in the garbage.
And the day is hot.
It wasn’t always like this.
I began life on a shelf, pristine beneath my plastic packaging. My bright future as yet unspooled.
But I was bought hastily, for a child with too much already. I was one of many.
If I had a heart, it would ache.
The garbage can tips. The indignity of something sticky smearing across my face as we tumble: strawberry jam.
A dog’s hot breath, its slobbery tongue.
But also, sunshine.
And also, a child’s voice.
“Mama, look! A doll!”

Lennon Faris 4:35pm
Two saplings gaze into a pool.
“See my brawny branches,” says Oak, stretching.
“And my ample trunk,” Sycamore preens, digging roots into the Earth.
“Your bark’s like a fungus.”
“Your progeny’s the teats of a fox, who milked too long.”
Why fight? hisses Wind, joyriding between their leaves. What do you accomplish?
Ignoring Wind, Oak roars to his squirrel brigade, “Hurl my progeny at that blasphemous ogre!” Songbirds of Sycamore dive-bomb the squirrels, screaming back insults. War rages in the canopy.

Below, a beaver meanders into the glen. He builds his home.

Eventually, the silent stumps turn back into dust.

Madeline Mora-Summonte 5:01pm
The park bench is hard on Harriet's old bones. Nearby, a little girl begs her mother unsuccessfully for ice cream.

Harriet, her heart long unraveled by regret, recalls her son's voice, how it grated her nerves. She was a lousy mother. She pushed him away over and over until he stayed away on his own. If she could have another chance, she'd grab it, never let go.

The girl wanders over. Harriet glances at the mother, focused on her cell. Harriet stands, holds out her hand. The girl takes it, weaving her fingers through Harriet's.

They walk away.

S.D.King 6:47pm
I think we drove over ninety to Ann Arbor the night he was born. First grandchild.

We were too late.

He was wrapped in a blanket at the graveside. I held him tight as they lowered her down.

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.”

He didn’t cry. I shook uncontrollably.

Months of going through the motions.

Choking despair.

Toothless smiles.


First word: Meema

He sits on the floor playing with Russian nesting dolls, endlessly stacking and restacking. Laughing at a joke only he knows.

His toes flex up in delight.

“Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Let me know what you think of these choices, and if you think I overlooked an entry that deserved recognition.  Final results tomorrow (Monday)


Steve Forti said...

With all due love to Lennon Faris's line about "wind joyriding between their leaves" (great line), and Kate O's opening, my vote this week goes to Timothy Lowe. Maybe I just like numbers. Maybe I like a snarky closing line. Either way, well done.

Also kudos to Amy Schaefer, loved that take on things. Among the non-mentioned this week, hat tip to Claire Bobrow for the opening "50 miles offshore, the “Caroline” foundered." Boom, instant curiosity grab. Nice first line, indeed.

Julie Weathers said...

Well, as usual I am just dumb struck at the talent. I am seriously in awe.

Is it wrong that I had to glance back up at Timothy Lowe's when I read the last line to see if it was Colin's biography? Sorry, Colin.

I love quiddity. Another word to go on my vocabulary list.

Shaunna's line is gorgeous and Just Jan's is wonderful. Well, I could go down the whole list and pat everyone on the back, plus several who didn't make the list.

Good job.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Wow. So many of these take my breath away. Such a talented group. Put them on a dart board, put on a blindfold, and throw. The one pierced can be the winner. Great job.

Just Jan said...

Thanks for the mention--it wasn't a typo! This contest certainly made me think. I loved reading everyone's take on it. Such beautiful writing!

Of the finalists, I enjoyed Madeline Mora-Summonte and Kate O's entries the most. Nice work to all, though, and congratulations.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I also like FlashFriday's. Amy Schaefer's made me laugh and yes, the Rene Magritte award goes to her!
I am tickled pink to be a finalist.
Thank you, Janet, for coming up with these contests!

Johnell said...

The poem itself was stunning. Loved it. And the the "pulled the grief up to my chin" line was one of my favorites as well.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

I loved so many of these... including several not mentioned. But Lennon's made me swoon.

RosannaM said...

I had to read them all again and I waffled a bit, but in the end I will cast my vote for Sharyn's.

It seemed to be telling us to pay attention to the littlest things in life, which is like a gentle breath of fresh air, but then the last line was chilling. I took it to mean a literal time bomb, like an aneurysm, where the paying attention to your beloved is now so urgent as she could die at any moment.

I really loved it and it resonated.

Steve Stubbs said...

This is the best writing I have seen in one of your contests. I had no idea your blog readers were this talented. It is all brilliant, but my vote is:

Susan 9:48am

That entry really is superb.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

So excited to be included among the finalists! Thank you, Janet!

I really liked this contest, using poetry as a prompt for fiction.

Just Jan - glad you enjoyed my entry!

Allison Newchurch said...

My favourite entry is Lennon Faris. Just love the subtle comeuppance at the end.

AJ Blythe said...

Crazy weekend so didn't see the contest and haven't read the entries yet. About to start work so no time to go back to them all now, but of the finalists the one that took my breath away was Madeline's.

CynthiaMc said...

I'm finally feeling like myself again after several weeks of bronchitis from hell and another couple of weeks trying to catch up on everything I lost ground on when I was sick.

Today I sang for Mass, sat in the sun, fed the squirrels, admired the azaleas and orchids in bloom.

I think Amy and I are on the same wave length this weekend.

I love Timothy's. I'm a sucker for a redemption story and today I don't want to be angry or afraid or horrified. I just want to love the sunshine and breathe.

Craig F said...

Yes Cynthia, it has been a brutal winter in Fla. It has been so hot and humid it didn't let us catch our breath.

I should have just stolen "Happiness is a warm gun" as my entry. Since I didn't, I pick Lennon. He outdid himself this week. I could see one of those odd, non-child picture books that hit the market every once in a while after reading his.

Timothy Lowe said...

Honored to be among the finalists this week. I was a huge fan of Lennon's when I read it. Something about the pov, and any ending with rodents bringing something mighty down to size. But I really have to hand it to Amy Schaefer. Georgeous story that wasn't an entry. Except her decision to save that for the final line is what made it stand out to me as a really great entry...

Susan said...

Thank you! This contest was exactly what I needed to dispel the seeds of self-doubt that had been threatening to turn into full-blown insecurities these past few weeks. The original poem (and Ray Bradbury, whose writing I love) reminded me to get back to my roots and listen to my own voice. That's happiness to me. Thanks for this.

And thank you for the vote of confidence, Steve! I wholeheartedly agree--there are some incredible writers in this community. I'm humbled to be among all of you.

Amy Schaefer said...

I've got all the love for Susan this week. Breathtaking.

And merci bien for the Magritte award. I love "Ceci nest pas une pipe". My high school French teacher, a closet surrealist, would be proud. All hail the quirky among us!

Kate Higgins said...

I loved them all and read every entry twice. What talent we have on this reef!
My favorite was S,D.'s because it resonated to a personal sadness replaced by happiness in the form of a baby girl who now has babies of her own.
I'd hate to have to pick a winner here.

Kat Waclawik said...

Wonderful entries! I'm torn between Sharyn and Timothy for my favorite, but I have to thank Steve Forti for the belly laugh. Ha! Penis.

Lucy Crowe said...

Wow, these are all so wonderful! I absolutely loved Susan's, though - a lot of lovely description fit into such a small space - so nicely done!

Beth Carpenter said...

When I was reading over the entries yesterday, I was thinking I'd have a hard time throwing any of them out of finalist class. So much amazing writing. But I think Amy Schaefer's gave me the biggest smile, for more reasons than one.

Steve Forti said...

Kat, glad I could make one person laugh :)

Steve Forti said...

Kat, glad I could make one person laugh :)

Claire Bobrow said...

Impossible to pick a winner from the finalists - they were all excellent. I loved this particular challenge - it certainly brought out a different side to the contest.

I enjoyed the rhythm of Sharyn's; Susan's was beautiful (although I'm not confident I completely understood it); I'd like to ask Timothy why drinks at Tenochtitlan cost so much :-); Kate's was charming; Lennon's fabulously different (excellent protagonists!); Madeline touched my heart with her story of regret (and pre-cell phone parenting); and S.D. King found the silver lining in a devastating situation.

Congrats to all the mentions. Just Jan, I read "dimple" and thought, doesn't she mean "wimple?" I'm delighted to learn that dimple was intentional. Somehow that just makes it funnier!

: thank you!

Lennon Faris said...

Very honored to be in finalists. Thanks Janet and all for kind words.

I think my vote goes to Susan's -so haunting and lovely. But as always, all are so good. Kate's opening lines are hilarious.

Claire Bobrow said...

That "thank you" at the end of my comment was for Steve Forti!!

Unknown said...

Gorgeous writing across the board! I cannot select a favorite. I loved so many for different reasons. Sincere congrats to winners all.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen McCoy said...

I'm definitely rooting for Kate O. That one immediately grabbed me when I read it yesterday.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

AJ and Claire - thank you for your kind comments about my entry!

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

RosannaM, thank you for your kind words. Yes, mine is a love story to an extraordinary cat who broke my heart dying of feline cardiomyopathy at 16 months. He taught me two immense lessons I shall never forget.
Be Here Now
All Lives Matter.