Once again I’d like to thank Jeffro Uitto, whose carving talents boggle the mind, for lending us his photo for our prompt this week. As ever, it was a pleasure and privilege reading the stories you all carved out of the white space. Thank you so much! (And happy May the Fourth to our dear #nerd dragons.)
Judge Alissa Leonard says: Wow. What a beautiful prompt picture this week! It was mesmerizing, intoxicating, and powerful while on a different level being restful, peaceful, and serene. It’s like potential energy – at any moment it could become kinetic energy and move, but right now it’s resting with possibility. And OH! The possibilities! From dreams to lunatics, memories to time travel, sculptures to prisons, living wood to tattoos… Here are some of my favorites:
Craig Anderson, “Reflections of Battle.” You set this scene so beautifully, a bellow and a polishing. I’ve been that squire, frantically working at a task that could save people and having no one understand, but doing it anyway. I loved the curse and how it worked. I loved how you tied the title into the whole thing. And I absolutely adored the last line – it’s so rare to be recognized for the tiny things you do. Very fun.
Margaret Locke, “Kindred Spirits.” I appreciated how you took the seeming isolation of the picture and drew from that mood – the battle between the stillness of the statue and the movement of the waves. Your use of language was beautiful. I could almost see the visions she had of riding as a knight or a cowboy. I especially liked the line, “Every day she climbed onto his back, closed her eyes, and willed him to break free, to run, to carry her away. Every night she returned home, broken, bridled, chomping at the bit.” Using horse terminology to describe her prison (whatever it was) was brilliant.
Yanying, “Memory.” Whether the memory was a previous life or just his imaginations while creating the sculpture, this story evoked that feeling of connection between an artist and the art. I could almost see his wistful gaze. His pretense as he said, “I’ll miss him.” His wife’s understanding of how difficult parting with it was for him. …And then the last line. To think that our work, somehow, knows us back… That’s beautiful.
SECOND RUNNER UP
Karen Oberlaender, “Call of Duty.” I loved the progression from nonchalance to action in this story. I could almost see her turn over in her bed and put the pillow over her head! She peeks an eye open and that’s when the adrenaline hits. The world-building had me curious all throughout the story. What’s going on? Why 500 years? And you don’t answer those questions, but we’re given a glimpse at the end. She sets off into the past, fully restored to their true forms. And life goes on. Without that last line, I would’ve been extremely frustrated, but the ordinary-ness juxtaposed with the fantastic really worked well for me.
FIRST RUNNER UP
Dieter Rogiers, “Fire ‘neath the Bark.” I could FEEL this horse transforming! Your imagery was perfect. “Weathered bark broke his velvety black skin. Living, breathing pores clotted into wooden knots. And the sound of snapping twigs reverberated throughout his body.” I could feel the poor animal fighting back as he “fought the curse with vigour, striking at his invisible enemy with his front legs…” Your use of language let me see and feel and therefore empathize, especially when the princess starts crying for him. I wanted to cry with her. I suppose he got her close enough to survive? But I love the glimmer of hope you gave us at the end: a beating heart.
And now: another first! for her very first time, it’s Flash! Friday
The world-building on this is fantastic! The little hints you gave were perfectly portioned to provide me with just enough to fill in all the details of the epic battle, the curse, the sacrifice… I can see it now: The girl “forced him from his chargers back, and…bravely smiled.” I love the feeling of how much time has passed when he “saluted with gnarled hands, battle aged.” His kingdom now “forever secure” he comes to offer her the thanks she’s due. And then the tears… And the switch… And…wow. It felt so full-circle, and I’m dying to know who she is and what she does next! Thanks.
Congratulations on your first win, Ellen! Your winner’s badge waits all nice and shiny for you below. Here is your winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me asap so I can interview you for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:
She looked as vibrant as the day he’d yielded his mount to her.
The knight studied her cheek with its single petrified tear. Drops of gratitude rolled down his face. He did not rub them away, but saluted with gnarled hands, battle aged.
Oh, to take her in his arms again, thank her for his chance at life and more, victory! The kingdom now existed forever secure. He returned to his steed, gathered a queen’s finery, the value of her sacrifice, and lovingly arranged them, an offering. He remembered the moment she’d forced him from his charger’s back, and cursed to sculpture, she’d bravely smiled.
He climbed up the petrified stallion, wrapped one arm around her waist. His tears flowed. He wiped them with his fingers, impulsively touched her lone tear.
She stood on the sand, startled by the statue and knight that rode it. Was it…? Richly appointed raiment caught her eye. And she knew.