Friday, March 20, 2020

Flash fiction contest

I'm lying on the snot green couch trying to wrap my head around the new reality, which we hope is temporary of course, and flailing about.

Seems like a good time to focus on some prompt words, right?

I'm behind on mailing out the prizes cause I'm not leaving my house but we'll figure that out in the weeks to come.

The usual rules apply:
1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:
froward (not a typo)

(NO Steve Forti extra prompt word this week. I have retired from the field of battle. Forti Thwarts the Shark!)

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

9. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE.

10. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.

Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

11.. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!"). Save that for the contest results post.

12. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

13. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.

Contest opens: Saturday, 3/21/20 at 5:23am (NYC time)

Contest closes: Sunday, 3/22/20 at 9:00am (NYC time)

If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid

Ready? SET?

Not yet!

Rats, too late. Contest closed.


french sojourn said...

She shifted to and fro, warding off his advances.

He wasn’t doing any better, stumbling after her down the seedy bar.

The bartender called out “last round”, as Romeo face-planted into a banquette.

He collected himself by springing into a standing position and winked at his Ramona.

She wasn’t basking in his athleticism; she was freaking out about the blood cascading down his forehead.

“Oh-la-la, there’s gonna be stiches tonight.” The waitress said pressing a damp bar towel to the cut. “Hope he has healthcare, baby.”

“You get away from him.” Ramona shrieked as she wobbled over to her husband.

Steve Forti said...

congrats on your parole. how does it feel?

got any asprin? got me a wicked headache. aint easy on the noggin hauling all this around.

that real or a piece?

aint no wig, brotha. shit took me years to grow out. whole crew had ‘em, too. called our cell block in LA the afro ward.

no tat – y?

lice ID you on your tats, man. aint no ink on my skin. hair can be cut, ink don’t wash out, bub.

one more question? what were you in for, anyway?

cut the tag off my mattress before leaving the store.

Aphra Pell said...

Diary of Engelbart Fandabidozi-Plat-Hepplewhite (Prince)

Some bastard has stolen the ladder! B slept on camp-bed.

Found ladder. Susan borrowed it to recapture wyvern basking on Queen Griselda the Froward. Fingers crossed!

Tinned marrowfat an unwise choice.

Ditto frozen. Will consult cook.

Woe! B reports peaceful sleep (apart from wyvern visiting – fire extinguished with cold ovaltine). But woe! I dote on every springy coil of his moustache. Mama adamant about the rules.

Grandma says I am “uneducated hash-making nincompoop”. Peas are for princesses only. Need fava bean to identify true prince.

Lora Senf said...

“I can frow ‘arder’n you.” Joey’s mouth lathered with spit. Three-and-a-half, and Ts gave him hell.
“Well, I can sprin’ gazillions of miles.” My Ts weren’t great, either.
I bolted without warning, hid. Basked in sisterly glory behind the front yard oak.
Joey wailed.
I wouldn’t really leave him – Mom’d kill me. But the turd deserved to cry a little.
A voice made of sugar and strychnine, “Wha’sha’ doin’ cryin’, kiddo?”
I peeked.
The man with the voice leaned over Joey.
I raced, stumbled a bit, snatched his hand from the man’s.
Ran a gazillion miles away, me and Joey.

charlogo said...

To: current husband, individuals I gave birth to, @charliegoldendoodle
Re: Working From Home/Homeschooling best practices
To review first mandatory meeting:
- Going froward, all work (business and classroom) will be proofread not once, but twice. Get tow sets of eyes on it, people.
-Spring inventory: Lathering is vital, but SoftSoap is non-restockable. 3 pumps = too many.
-Team Building Hashtag Contest entries will be posted on refrigerator Saturday a.m. First prize: gourmet gift basket (2 rolls of Charmin, canned chickpeas, pineapple salsa, and cream of mushroom soup!)
NOTE: #bettertogether has BEEN DONE. And IS FALSE.

Brigid said...

"Everyone has had plenty of time for my Mind Serum to take effect, but my test cases just cough and go home. Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"

"I think so, Brain, but what do Sussexit, elections, Pringles, Baskin Robbins, refugees to and fro, war, Doritos, famine and your plan have in common?"

"Pinky, that's it! War, famine, pestilence. Voila--"

"The little corn chips that go on my fingers?"

"No, Pinky, DEATH. It's the end of the world!"


"...that upsets you?"

"Of course, Brain! You're my best friend. If the world ends, what will you take over next?"

Matt Krizan said...

No words are spoken. None need to be said. My adversary glares at me, and I give as good as I get. He’s not backing down, and neither am I.

My wife fidgets uneasily beside me. His pretty, young daughters tremble, eyes shifting to and fro.

War? D
o we fight? Guns drawn, knives out?

No. We hash it out like real men.

A count of three. My hand goes flat. He thrusts forward a fist.

A gasp. Ringleted children weep.

Paper covers rock, and I fill my basket with the last package of toilet paper.

S.D.King said...

“I can’t take it anymore. Every day is the same. Lather up and count to 20. Darting to and fro warding off germs with Lysol.”

He stared out the window, “We’re stuck.”

“I already play piano!”

“Badly, Babe,” he sighed.

“I’ve always known the answers to Jeopardy.”


“If we could leave the house I would go help senior citizens or take a CPR/Heimlich class. I’m such a basketcase I could endure a pushy insurance agent.”

“You’ve been rehashing this since early February. It’s almost Spring.”

“Shut up and hand me the toaster!”

“I got you, Babe”

C. Dan Castro said...

“Hate giving Timmy baths. So froward getting in. Then never wants to come out.”

“He say why?”

I do my best, soft, high-pitched voice: “I like to bask.”

“Except when he springs out and runs around naked, ha!”

“Shhh! He’ll hear.”

From the bathroom, a falsetto whine: “Mama, the wa-tah’s gettin’ col’!

I wince. “Really hate when he calls me—”


Laurie smiles. “Showtime!”

Octogenarian Timmy Barrie hurtles from the bathroom, a wrinkled pink comet with a lather tail spattering the floor.

A tail unable to hide his unmentionables.

Why’d Laurie volunteer us at the retirement home?

shanepatrickwrites said...

“You traduced the Shark,” I said, my hash getting cold. I wanted to bask as the early spring sunshine came into the diner, to relish it, while grinding him down like a spindle on a lathe. But the Reef has rules that even the most froward won’t flounce, like one hundred words or less. “You’ve swum here longer than most, but you’ve fallen out of favor.” I smiled, “I volunteered when I heard your name.” I leveled the silenced pistol under the table.

“Steve Forti, you will be my last target. I have retired from the field of battle.”

Claire Bobrow said...

A receipt for Vegetable Hashe in tyme of Plague -
by a gentlelady

Springe forthe at breake of Dawn.

Go froward in yon greensward
and there culleth barleye and oates.

Hoarde notte, lest thine brethren wax wroth.

Gather also what herbes ye may finde
but prithee bask notte in those pleasante meadowes o’er longe,
lest Queen Mab thee ensnare.

Cast provender in stronge potte.
Stirre in one pynt best ale and sette on fyre.

Divideth Hashe in such vessels as ye maye finde
and delivereth to those wyth not enow,
that they may take comforte
in thine belathed feast.

Amanda said...

I lay on the lounge chair, like wood waiting to be rotated on a lathe . Ok, that’s being kind. I basked by the pool, munching on Reese’s Pringles, while the characters on Days rehashed their same old drama. But hey, you’re supposed to relax on Break, right? So I let myself indulge. My phone streamed more mindless entertainment, the Florida palm trees swayed in the light breeze. Soon, I drifted away like a raft. My eyes, too heavy to keep open, my body so lifeless, all I could’ve done was float… until the rain woke me.

Unknown said...

Marty remembered basking in the sun, enjoying his wife’s hash on his back deck.
But, the world had moved “froward”, as the locals liked to say. When “The Event” had happened, the newspaper posted an ad with a typo that said, “Let’s Start Today Moving Froward”.
No time to waste. He pumped his foot-powered lathe turning another bowl. Cedric would trade one roll of toilet paper for every bowl Marty could create. At ten bowls a day, Marty figured he could become the most powerful man in Chicago. After all, the man who controls the rolls, rules the world.

Mo H said...

Meanwhile in California…

“Forget all that hoopla, the spring basking in sun crap. Up here in the clouds, ahhh the best.”

“I never knew you were so froward.”

“I’m upward not forward.”

“No, it means. Never mind.”

“You tryna impress me with words?”

“No, just relishing that air whooshing by on my skin.”

“I love it. This freedom. Watching the world go by while we soar.”

“Absolutely amazing. I wasn’t so sure when you asked. Never had hash before. Good thing delivery’s essential.”

“Want me to turn the fan up some more?”

Brandi M. said...

Navigator’s Log from the Hellfont—Cassandra

Ship’s tossing to and fro. Wards can’t keep the harpies off the sails.

Captain snapped his ornate peg; no lathe to make a new one; replaced it with a broom handle.

Told the fool not to sail in spring. If we’d waited for early summer, we’d be basking in warm sun and zephyr winds.

“Don’t worry yer pretty head.”

Crew made a run on the rum; should’ve gone after the paraffin, but few men will take orders from the only skirt on board. Sirens practice vocal scales on the rocks. Fortissimo…ha! She’s my ship now.

Michael Seese said...

My eight-year-old feet, well short of the floor, kicked only air as she talked about me in absentia, despite my presence.

"As has happened too often, his froward antics disrupted the class." Sister Scissor-Tongue liked big words. Even the ones she only pretended to know. "I question, and I'm certain you and Caleb ask, how he could be your offspring."

I didn't even merit a name.

Clearly, she didn't grasp the ease with which sharp words can lathe a young soul. Shape it. Etch it.

Mar it.

I think of Sister Scissor-Tongue each and every time the needle finds vein.

Megan V said...

“I was always fond of green and yellow. How I loved my basket…” Nana’s eyes filled. “But it’s long gone.”
“Gone. With my red cloak.” She pulled her needles from the bind-off row, ardently tugged on her bonnet. “I’d wanted my yellow cloak, but Mama insisted—red for spring. Although, why she kept trying to lather me in butter rather than Papa’s biscuits…well...fortunately Papa came. He said Mama shouldn’t have tried to send me to that granny lady and ordered me to my room. They hashed it out and gave my cloak and basket away.” Nana sighed. “Mama wasn’t happy.”

Janice Grinyer said...

I click on the news video; a young Salish girl begins dancing springing steps, brow furrowed in concentration, circling in tall Montana grass. Her Jingle dress catches the fading sunlight, glittering onscreen.

It is a healing dance, they say. Every day at sunset, she dances, each step a prayer. She is requesting from the Creator healing of the world during this awful pandemic.

I pause.

And here I am, online, hashing out political arguments, basking in a froward attitude, my thoughts slathered in contempt for others. My soul suddenly aches.

I click again.

She dances for all of us.

***Many thanks to 11-year-old Salish descendent Aurora O’Neill and all the other Jingle Dress Dancers across the Nations, who are dancing without prejudice for the healing of all people of the world- we are humbled, may your prayers be answered.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Old Nell finds the baby boy in the woods. He's deformed, weak. She's not sure he'll survive. Still, she lathers warm soapy water down his ridged spine, over the odd webbing beneath his arms, christens him Renfrow Arden.

He's more than either imagined.


They drink from a spring, bask in the sunlight. "I wish there were more dragons," Renfrow starts.

Thieves surround them. The leader, wearing a jaunty blue hat, smirks at the old woman, the boy.

Nell smiles.


Renfrow's a fine cook, excellent at charring meat.

He serves the hash while Nell models the blue hat.

Steph Ellis said...

My last courier is still tied to my lathe. An impromptu spit, it makes wonderful kebabs, as does he.

Today though, I had a craving for corned beef hash so I ventured into the supermarket. Sadly, my basket, like the shop is pretty empty. I’ve only managed to snag eggs, Pringles and ketchup despite my to and fro, warding off others trying to steal my stash. These people are sick. They should stick to getting just what they need, like me.

That reminds me. I booked an order online, a fresh delivery. Better get home to take in the meat.

Colin Smith said...

“Aye, a spring bairn, but a froward one at that. Jus’ wait till ees fifty!”

I’m sure the Romani must have said this to my mother that day, among other things. I’ve never seen her dread anything as much as my half-century.

Every year whittled her nerves like wood on a lathe. Slowly peeling away her confidence that the dark-eyed stranger was mistaken.

What has he got coming to him? Blessing or curse? Another candle on the cake, or this time is it a bomb?

Ask all you want. The story’s not complete. Not yet.

We’ll find out on Tuesday. :)

Kregger said...

After thirty years of self-employment, the unthinkable happened.

I got laid off by Governor DeWine of Ohio.

No more basking in the glow of self-proprietorship.

No more hashing out accounts’ receivables or payable.

The spring in my giddyap has gone and went.

Slim has left town.

I trudged to the shower and slathered my hair with whatever product occupied the shelf.

On drying, my hair rose—three gi’normous Grinch sizes—into a giant ball.

Undaunted, I sat before the computer and applied for relief.

My laptop camera flashed to capture my image.

Benefits denied: you’re way too a'froward.

Unemployment sucks!

Karen McCoy said...

Spring Spirit awakens on the Equinox, basking in the meadow. But alas, no one is here to see her newly bloomed tapestry.

Daylight Savings, perhaps? Whose idea was “Spring Forward,” after all? More like Spring Froward. Speaking of which…

“They won’t be coming,” Winter Spirit covers her in icy shadow.

“What are you blathering about?” Spring Spirit rolls her eyes.

“The people won’t be coming outside.”

“How do you know?”

“Winter is still here. Social isolation, pandemic. A re-hashing of sorts.”

Spring sighs. “Why can’t you just hibernate on schedule?”

“And miss all the fun?” Winter Spirit sneers.

Jenn Griffin said...

She thought by now she’d be basking in adulation as those air-headed twits point and gasp: ring on her finger! Instead, Lady Sarah Bellum, penniless, peckish, and froward to a fault, stewed behind the potted palms as the debutantes blathered on about the latest on dit. Lord Greg Rinchmount Crumpet, her intended, had run off with her scullery maid. Worse, pinched the last of the Who-hash.

Craig F said...

I wake hungry in the Spring. Soon I will be >b>bask>/b>ing in lovely provisions, I find my familiar friend.

She is froward about taking me to dine. Says that something has made a hash of everything and I won’t find a thing to eat.

Lathe of hell, I say, I can always find food.

She leads me forth and I see empty, shuttered spaces.

I stand at a crossroads that should be teeming with frolicking college students. Only a piece of newspaper rolls by. I look at it.

Quarantine it says.

I, the vampire, cringed.

Barbara said...

Lizard basks in Spring sunshine, nictitating eyes orbiting separately in their own sockets. One right, one left.


Fly becomes hashmash. Serves him right. Flies should keep to garbagecans and dog doo. Besides, hadn't he heard of social distancing?

Lizard slinkwaddles to and fro, warding off others with her swagger. She mounts a bigger rock. Pandemics can be good things. Survival of the fittest and all that. She flicks her lathered tongue. Alone again. Good.

Eagle swoops. Talons clench.

Lizard squeals.

Stupid creature. Should have stayed under her rock. This is Eagle's territory. Besides, hasn't she heard of social distancing?

MollyKelash said...

The little spring bubbles, filling its stone-lined bed to wear froward rocks into compliant pebbles, to carry spinning sticks, leaves and blades of grass as an offering to the inevitable. Depending on season, rain, heat it flows with tentative dribbles or a gush, but always, over a stone ledge with lathering relief into a pool that flashes and dances with tiny fish, where only slightly larger frogs splash and bask and hash out their differences with croaking too big for their spindly-legged, rubbery bodies. This is what the spring has always done. What it will always do.

Just Jan said...

March 17, 2020

The incessant pounding stops as I open the door. “Pub’s closed.”

A wee man springs forward, smelling like he basked in a vat of spirits. “Who says? ’Tis St. Paddy’s Day!”

“The Governor’s decree.”

“A more froward man I’ve never met!”

“It’s for the greater good. And don’t forget to lather for twenty seconds when you wash. That’s two rounds of ‘99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall’.”

“I can sing about it, but you can’t serve it. Disgraceful! Got any hash?”

“Corned beef.”

“Good grief!” He reaches into his pocket. “I’m gonna need a bigger pipe!”

Ly Kesse said...

Jimmy and Billy were best buds: Jimmy, the rule follower; Billy, the FROWARD one. As opposites, they were constantly daring each other, pushing themselves to grow.

Jimmy dared Billy to spin some table legs with his new LATHE, knowing that Billy couldn't be bothered to read the directions. Not his thing.

Billy placed the wood in the machine, where it kept SPRINGing out of the setting. Jimmy shuddered when Billy screamed as the machine made HASH out of his arm.

Though Jimmy had wanted to BASK in the win, not even he wanted this.

John Davis Frain said...

Outside the hospital, warm spring morning, frosted glass descends to reveal the new statue. Dr. Rosemary Robinson. A hushed murmur from the virtual crowd cascades through speakers.

Jo texted. “Rosemary Robinson?”

Her father has an on-site ticket. “Considered froward in her time, she revolutionized Finger Nips.”

Jo examines her lathered hands. “Wearing mine now.” Even at home.

Father sends daughter a #smile.

Jo basks in the compliment. “But why the stethoscope?”

“Means she died in service. She was front line in the pandemic.”

Pandemics! Class! “Gotta go, Dad.” She switches eyeglasses to catch the opening of Professor Forti’s lecture – “Pandemonium.”

Marie McKay said...

I wrote a letter to my soul. And this is what I said:
Froward, I've neglected you and let you fade this last while. I have made you a dark corner. A withered husk- hellish. Ashamed, I swear to nurture you like the spring does the lamb.
I will put myself to the lathe to reshape you.
Allow you to bask in the warm glow of sunny deeds and raised smiles.
With every tear unshed. With every drop unpoured. I will have you blossom with amends. Amen.

Beth Carpenter said...

Not a kale leaf in sight. The cache held muktuk (a gift from my Athabaskan landlord), a season’s worth of smoked salmon, and a stash of flour with a jar of sourdough starter. My first loaf came out burnt on the outside and doughy inside, thanks to the froward wood-burning oven. Still, slathered with salmonberry jam, it was edible. Unlike kale.

No phone, no electricity, no plumbing, but isolation is a wellspring of writing ideas, so they say. It’ll do, at least until this thing blows over.

Because, decree or no, I will NOT undergo a quarantine in Carkoon.

Alina Sergachov said...

You lather your hands. I spring out of reach.

"Froward," you admonish.

A shameless sheatfish!

Cats bask. We do not bathe!

Fearless Reider said...

The principal’s in a lather again. “They’re fractious and froward,” he snorts and stamps.

“Rowdy and rude,” brays Mr. Burrows.

“Dimwits and dumbbells,” clucks Miss Broodie. “Home Ec’s a flop! They put ALL the eggs in one bask—”

“But,” Mrs. Bovins hiccups, “at leas’ they didn’t count ‘em b’fore they were hashed.” Astringent aromas spring from her breath. She’s been at the rye again.

“Which brings me to their math scores,” bleats Mr. Baaartels. “Awful and atrocious.”

“The kids are alright,” purrs Ms. Kitty. “It’s temporary. And they’re geniuses at Gym.”

Barnschooling is not for the faint of heart.

Timothy Lowe said...

The parents did a back-to-school dance.

Pulled books from their cupboards. Sharpened pencils with steak knives. Cavorted to and fro, warding off snow, dumping in buckets since early December.

So . . . Freaking . . .Ready.

A long stretch. Power cut off January 1st. All they had was word-of-mouth. Neighbor to neighbor. Town to town. School’s closed. Again.

They made fires in the fireplace, huddled for warmth. Blathered at their kids, the same tired demands.

February. March.

The sun emerged.

Basking in sunlight, their parents sent them off: freshly-scrubbed youngsters, ready to rehash last fall’s lessons.

A cheer went up.

“Spring flooding!”

School’s closed.

RosannaM said...

Shadows on the road tell me the sun is going down. I bask in the sun’s waning warmth.

Speedometer drifts upwards, I’m eager to get home.
Radio blather keeps me company in rhythm with the wipers.
Nevada roads are lonely as every gambler knows.
Long stretches of tumbleweed-nowhere between Ely and Jackpot.

The overtime is brutal but I have four hungry children.

Spring snow winks crystal tears upon my TP-laden semi.

Arriving home as she lay sleeping, my froward sprite leaps into my arms. The other three make do by snaking around my legs.

I kiss Ruby and Lucille.


Mallory Love said...

We met on Twitter, commenting on the same hashtag:#Springfroward. We both laughed at the typo and how fitting it was since the time change did make people ornery.

Soon our conversations went from tags to private messages. We debated everything, from basketball teams (Lakers for me, Knicks for him) to handguns (I like the Sig; he used the Glock). He blathered on about detective shows. I was more inclined to "Breaking Bad."

It was a great friendship until we met in person at a bank: me in a ski mask holding my Sig, him in uniform pointing his Glock.

NLiu said...

She paces to and fro. Ward visiting hour ended 10 minutes ago.

The man won't leave.

He and the female patient are having a blub. Asking him to go seems cruel. But patients need rest.

She approaches. "Visiting's over."

He ignores her.

"Ella, the day we met was the best day of my life..."

Oh, no. It's been bad news. She tunes out until the woman's indrawn breath, a frail rasp.

Ring's sparkling on her finger.

Everyone cheers. Phones click.

Now she'll be infamous: the nurse who almost hashed everything up.

She beams, regardless.

Gotta treasure joy before it's gone.