Reading your flash fiction entries was a lovely respite on a rainy Sunday. Normally I go to MoMA on Sunday but I also like to stroll down Fifth Ave after my visit, and the rain today just made that sound...soggy.
I read all of these of course, and the first cull is usually based on whether the entry is a story. This is not a hard and fast rule, there are some exceptions, but generally you need to write a story with a beginning, middle and end.
There were some terrific scenes, but scenes are not stories.
Here are the entries that made the cut:
C. Dan Castro
Then I go back and read the semi-finalists again. I try to give it some time so I read with fresh eyes.
Here are the sem-finalists:
Crusts of old dinner stuck on cast iron
Mold and dead roaches ruled this environ
Then like a ghost, and odd sheet did appear
When it spoke, I admit that it struck me with fear
“I am the Clorox, I speak for the sneeze
Mold spores disrupt how my Auntie Seuss breathes
Clean yourselves up, or I’ll end you all. Please.”
No harm intended, a case of false figuring.
“Your slime and your scum keeps on biggering and biggering!”
The sheet came with vengeance, it cleaned up wi thneed
The Clorox did wipe us out with great speed.
I'm always a sucker for a hat tip to Dr. Seuss, and odd points of view (is this one really from dinner scraps??)
Becoming a tiger wasn’t as difficult as she’d been told. She simply untucked herself, stopped ironing her soul tame. Her claws – unfolded now from their polite velvet – rent the sheets, shredded the casement of her dungeon window. She roared herself free and streaked across the snow outside, bright as gunpowder and flame.
Huddled unseen on the tower, the hunter cocked his rifle. Master had paid for this one in rubies with blazing hearts. Quiescent talent, he’d said – don’t lose the girl. But better dead than liberated.
More than his life’s worth if she escaped.
Eyes blurring with tears, he fired.
This is brilliant.
Tuckleberry Fawyer’s house had gone mad.
I ran into a dead-end room.
Behind me, Injun Joe: “You gotta settle!”
I tore back the one bed’s sheet.
I yanked it open, revealing gold coins. And vanishing half the room.
A river appeared. Nearby sat fence sections.
I dropped one into the river. It dissolved.
Joe unfolded his spring-knife.
Under the bed, I spotted a can.
I slapped it on fencing. Instantly white.
I dropped it into the river, jumped on, and floated out of Joe’s murderous reach.
And to the next escape room...
Deeply imaginative, AND a hat tip to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn!
In the clamor of her leaving, I didn’t realize it was Halloween.
I just stood on the buckled sidewalk, pleading for her to stay, as she tucked her life into that trusty Civic.
I staggered back to the rowhouse with her departing words boxing my ears. She had stripped sheets from our mattress, leaving a case of Iron City to prove her point.
Now, every October 31, I put her favorite candy in a plastic pumpkin with a “Take Two” note.
Inside, I open a tallboy and remember: “You were a hand worth folding long before I met you.”
This isn't quite a story, but the writing is so vivid I just really loved it.
Jason couldn't tell if the perspiration on his forehead was from the heat of the forge or the delicacy of his work. The tiny shoes threatened to slip from his smallest tweezers. A fold in the ultrathin sheet of iron here; a tuck there to fit the mount's feet. With a pinhead for a hammer, he completed his greatest work.
He'd asked the fae why she wanted to shoe the insect she'd flown in on, in case it affected the shape.
"I tried to ask the wizard something. He said, 'Shoe fly,' waved his hand, and I was here."
Jane carefully folded her resume—two sheets of neatly typed ivory paper—and tucked them into the envelope. Taking her premium Parker from its case, she inscribed the address on the front.
Donning her shawl, she braved the street to find a mailbox.
In her day, she would have seen at least a couple of those iron boxes within five minutes’ walk.
After an hour, she slumped into a bench seat, took a frail handkerchief from her sleeve, and dabbed her eye.
Almost a month. No job. No money
Silently, she pleaded for another time storm to take her home.
Nice twisty ending! Plus, mailbox woes!!
Some people would see being stuck in an elevator with a beautiful woman as an opportunity. James saw it as a case for his anxiety to spiral. He spent his days with spreadsheets; she looked like a centerfold.
A few awkward glances ensued, then stilted starts of small talk. Eventually the conversation began to flow. James forgot about being trapped.
Suddenly the iron hinges lurched.
He was about to ask her out, when she turned and whispered.
“I’ve wanted to tell you something for a while.”
James leaned in and smiled.
“You have a piece of spinach between your teeth.”
Oh the humanity!
“I thought I’d go to Ron’s Place tonight?” He always assumes I mean my cousin Rhonda’s apartment. If he finds out, I can say I wasn’t lying.
I finish all the dinner dishes, then tuck a roll of bills under the tampons in my purse – he never searches that section.
“Your shirts and the sheets are ironed. Everything’s folded and put away.”
I park along Rhonda’s street, in case he’s checking the GPS tracker, and take a bus downtown.
The bartender waves me on.
I clean up at Ron’s Place. Now I finally can afford my own.
I really like the ambiguity of clean up.
Does she vacuum and dust?
or dose she fleece suckers at the poker table?
And the subtle, but utterly compelling way she builds our sympathies for the main character.
This is superb work
There are three entries that really stood out: NLiu, BJ Muntain, and Amy Johnson.
I let those three sit again, but it was clear right away that the winner this week has to be Amy Johnson.
AmyJohnson, drop me a line and let me know what kinds of books are on your wish list (or if you have an Amazon wish list, send me the link.)
Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and post entries. It's a real pleasure to read your work.