Monday, January 08, 2018

Holiday flash fiction-round 4 results (but not overall)

Absolutely perfect punchline
Crystal Cantabrana 10:05am
"No bother at all. I just put the bird in the oven."
Mom was infamous for never answering her phone. Why today? I lamented inwardly.

"We're in deep...colly," Elisabeth said, looking at her daughter.
"I don't know how to tell you this," I confessed, "but we're all vegetarians now."

I listened. Mom was quiet.
"Do you resent us now?"
"Not as much as the turkey does."

Lisa Bodenheim 3:35pm
Her partner read from the paper, “…a major seabird breeding station.”

Jeanie’s heart thudded as the catamaran rolled over swells and approached jagged green ridges jutting from the North Atlantic.

Kelly glanced at her, “Did you bring them?”

Sure her face was white as a ghost, Jeanie patted the rucksack in her lap.

The zodiac dinghy bumped the pier.

“Don’t collymoddle!” she scolded Kelly.

Jeanie marched beyond the abandoned village’s grassy street, puffed uphill.
Time to be done.

Along Hirta’s giddying cliffs, gannets swirled.

Jeanie said, “Dum and Mad. Home you are,” and sent the ashes flying.

One of the few entries that didn't use building blocks, but the simple elegance really caught my eye.
Mike Wyant Jr 3:28pm
A damned, dirty business, hell. Not a soul consents to it, but they’re here. With me.

Time to punch in.

Here are the entries that really stood out for me.
Barbara 12:16pm
(Round 1)
Was a Christmas miracle, for sure. Hadn't et in eight days. Slinked to the neighbor's pear tree 'cross the way, but weren't a pear on it. Was a bird, though.

(Round 2)
Partridge. Wringed its neck and took it home. We et good that night. For the next 11 nights, I found something worthwhile in that tree.

(Round 3)
Colly birds, milking cows, a parade of pipers and leapers. Gold rings was the best, though. Pawned them for good money. Then come day 13.

(Round 4)
Everything vanished. WTF?!

Cops barged in, but weren't nothing to find. Got me all sentimental.

Yep. Christmas miracle for sure.

Each of the building blocks stands alone, but the power of this story increases dramatially when read in full.  This is outstanding work.

Janice Grinyer
The Cows keep screaming. Smoke hangs in the air. A charred bird ensnared by barbed wire soundlessly cries. Our mercy killing begins.

Wildfire does that.

Every week until snowfall they come. Both wild and tame, staring, damaged forever. Bang! Bang! Bang! Sick, I’m kneeling in blood.

Wildfire does that.

Ash devils spirit away soil, collying blue sky. Clean, repair, rebuild. My fingertip traces pine needles seared onto windows, their trees gone.

Wildfire does that.

“The land will recover,” they say. We know better.

Sentiments don’t apply to survivors.

Wildfire does that too.

This is an entry that haunted me as the contest progressed. It never made a final list; I think it was too subtle and I was reading pretty quickly. But the power of this images and the rhythm just took hold and didn't let go; both are perfect.  This is really great writing and a classic example of quiet, and powerful.

Colin Smith
    We tried warning him, but he kept peering into binoculars, scribbling his notes. He didn’t see it coming. Bludgeoned from behind. He thought we were serenading him with birdsong. Ornithologists!

    We tried warning him, but he called us poulets, fearing our own shadows. It was the shadow behind him he didn’t see. Whack! Fermier fou!

    We tried warning him, but we got the collywobbles. The aviary keeper didn’t hear our coos and purrs over the swish of the cudgel. Eeek!

    No-one warned her. Her husband’s present: three men hanging on two trees. Their sightless eyes the last Mrs. Partridge saw.

This just cracked me up. I love the shifted point of view.

James Leisenring 5:12pm
Bird: “Should we tell them about us?”
Bee: “We don't have the time.”
Bird: “We should try.”
Bee: “Okay, where do we start?”
Bird: *sighs* “So there was this flower.”

Bee: “Orchid. Bird stopped for a drink.”
Bird: “Bee had a few too many.”
Bee: “Still, Bird liked me. Month later, I gave a ring.”

Bird: “Got collywobbles meeting Bee’s family.”
Bee: “But soon wanted our own kids.”
Bird: “Couldn’t conceive though. Then we found Caterpillar.”
Caterpillar: “It’s Butterfly now.”

Bee: “Aw, don’t resent us Kitty Cat!”
Caterpillar: “Boyfriend! Help! My parents are embarrassing me!”
Ladybug: “That’s their job, honey.”

Each of the components were delightful. The story as a whole is even better. The last line is utter perfection. Outstanding, and hilarious!

Jeannette Leopold
The girl squatted by it on the sidewalk.

Mrs. Morrison, passing, noted, “Fifth this week. Stupid animals.”

But the girl touched its broken neck.

And knew who’d killed the bird.


Susannah twisted her wedding ring around her finger. Frank had said if Peter did this again… Through the window, her daughter’s red eyes met hers.


Dad’s Audubon obsession'd kept him from one too many chess matches. Peter placed the final dead bird on his pillow. His colly-covered heart sang.


The girl used drugs. Susannah used to smile. Frank used the letters Peter sent from jail to line his birdcage.

Honestly I've run out of things to say to laud this kind of brilliance. Each piece works. The entire piece is more than the sum of its parts. Brilliant.

Just Jan
“Barcardi has a bat, not a bird.”

I concede, as I’m so toasted my vision’s blurry. Doesn’t really matter, as long as there’s enough to get me to midnight.
The ringing of a clock and the lusty cry of a newborn tell me it’s time to make my exit.

I won’t be going alone.
Attacking colly birds? Listeria-laden fruit kebabs? Drunken driver? The method doesn’t matter. Misery loves company, and there’s nothing so miserable as an old, used-up year.
Except for a baby with malevolent eyes. Call me sentimental. I slink away, unremembered, and weep for the world.

This is an interesting example of a piece where I didn't quite understand the component parts until I saw them all together.  I'll be interested to hear what Jan was getting at here.

Overall results go up at 1pm (Eastern Shark Time)


Joseph S. said...

I like this Flash Fiction format much more than the single entry ones. It's impressive how reiders kept their story lines developing day by day.

Janet Reid said...

I like it to but oh my godiva, it's a real beast to evaluate all the entries. Like 4x the work of a single contest.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

But it was great to keep re-reading the previous rounds and see how everyone built upon them.

Yay! I got a mention!

Janice's really stuck with me, as I remember a comment from her earlier in the year about wildfires.

Just Jan said...

Janet, thank you for the mention. What I envisioned was much more elegant than my execution. I pictured a miserly Old Year who wanted his fifteen minutes of fame before the New Year took over. He decides to do something dastardly--until he sees how evil and devastating the New Year will be. In the end, he does what he considers the noble thing.

Congratulations to all the mentions here! Great fun and great writing! And really tough.