Happy Monday, and happy Results Show! I’m sorry to report I’m posting this on a half-cup of very, very bad coffee from a new tin this morning; it would seem their definition and my definition of “drinkable” are at odds. I’d use the rest of the grounds as fertilizer, but I love my plants too much. Please feel free to post suggestions regarding what I should do with it…
A pleasure, as always, to read your marvelous stories, and what a joy to once more see several shiny new faces. Many of you took the out of the box challenge to heart; we had chairs as transfigured aliens; men in love with buildings; metaphor, allegory, Merlin, and even a cameo by Photoshop. Glorious, every last bit. Forgive the crumbs of story at my lips, but one can hardly devour stories such as these in a ladylike manner.
Judge Betsy Streeter (who–did you see?! has a new book coming in March) says: Well, this week was a job – a whole lot of entries, first of all, and an extremely wide range of interpretations of the prompt (hats off to the promptress!)
Thusly, there are quite a few Special Mentions this week:
First of all I’d like to recognize some terrific titles. A good title can set the mood, pique curiosity, and set up the tone for the piece:
Stuart Turnbull, “Song of the Night Owl,” evokes mystery and escape,
A J Walker, “Bishop to Castle Four,” sets up a battle of wills,
Jacki Donnellan, “Cardboard Castles,” hints beautifully at the contrast between past and present,
Taryn Noelle Kloeden, “Sir Erik the Western Star-Hero of Erelia” – I just want to read this. Period.
Next, many writers delved into some wonderful language, clearly taking risks and trying things out. Bravo.
Casey Rose Frank, for evoking the senses: “Then,” with “cracked pepper verve” and “chocolate and tobacco.” Lovely.
Mark A. King, “Castle of the Kurds,” affects you immediately with the phrase, “numb from the weight of armour.” I could really feel that. I now do not wish to be a knight.
Tamara Shoemaker, “Castles of Air,” so much good description here. The mud, the pigtails, the aspects of old photographs and painting.
Brittni S. Hill, “I Take Thee,” read this one for cadence and also for how the consonants of the words work together to make it flow.
Gabor Z, “Yearning,” evokes the senses in so many ways. I could really feel this one. Just read it.
Nancy Chenier, “Re-Inspiration,” for the sharp language that reinforces a tense mood, like “a gust of heat and heartache.” Wow!
Now the Honorable mentions:
Mark A. King, “Crusading on a Sunday Afternoon.” Right from the title, this story is a wonderfully unique take on the prompt. You know it’s unique when you read about “Power Rangers bedding.” And if you know anything about Minecraft, yes, you can spell stuff with the clouds. The uniqueness is subtle though, which is what makes this work. Great job!
Grace Black, “Free Verse.” Wow, there is so much in this story. You can read it more than once and get something different. My favorite phrase, though, is “6000 miles from where his head now rests.” Again, it’s subtle, and lets you draw the meaning out. Just great.
Tamara Shoemaker, “Waking.” This one needs to be set to music. What a wonderful example of a dream state, and the cruelty of encroaching reality. Plus, phrases like: “A sacred revel of dancing shadows and fancy flights.” Lovely and heartbreaking too.
Okay now on to the Runners-Up and Winner. These were chosen for completeness as well as language, cadence and story, and how those elements work together:
THIRD RUNNER UP
Jacey Faye, “Reflexes.” This opens with a wonderful contrast between here (cold) and there (warm), which parallels the narrator’s state of mind contrasted with his or her ex-lover’s perceived better circumstances. That contrast plays nicely into the notion of losing control, flipping a switch, acting on instinct. Being unable to trust oneself. And the tone matches it. Terrific.
SECOND RUNNER UP
Josh Bertetta, “Aperture.” This one brings to mind the horrors of the Middle East for me, and the plight of the journalists there. Weaving the larger story with the personal one, contrasting the messiness of war with the idea of black and white. That’s a great deal to accomplish, congratulations.
FIRST RUNNER UP
James Marshall (JM6), “Persistence.” This piece has a unique twist to it, but it’s served up in a way that blends with the story so it doesn’t feel like it has to explain itself. This is difficult in flash fiction, where a large premise can overwhelm the length of the story so easily. The dialog is spare, which you would expect with characters who have clearly been having the same conversation for a long time. Again, so much accomplished. Amazing.
And now: seizing the fiery crown for his first time at Flash! Friday is
“Like a Dali Painting”
This: “He spent the days lying in bed fully dressed, except for his oxfords which he kept by the door.”
Can’t you just see this person? It is these tiny details that can bring a whole story into view so quickly. This piece then gets dangerously close to magical realism, as the main character forgets his purpose and even his fiancée’s face. I almost expected tiny birds with pieces of paper in their beaks to begin flying missives in from the balcony or something.
And then there’s the phrase, “promised to write her a vow that would make even the apathetic weep.” This conveys the main character’s perhaps overblown sense of his own prowess.
Finally, the environment consumes the writer’s perspective on reality. Time and space bend and lose their meaning. The language here is lovely and disturbing at the same time.
This is a great example of using a metaphor, but enslaving it to the story rather than the other way around. Terrific job, bravo and congratulations!
Congratulations, Carlos! Below is the breathlessly sparkly winner’s badge for your wall(s). Here also please find your winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap so I can interview you for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:
Like a Dali Painting
Three months in the hotel and he hadn’t been inspired to write a single word. He spent the days lying in bed fully dressed, except for his oxfords which he kept by the door.
His fiancée frequently called, and he’d tell her, “just a few more days.” But the days turned to weeks and the weeks to months. He started forgetting why he’d come to the hotel. He’d proposed then promised to write her a vow that would make even the apathetic weep; that, he was certain of. But what he wasn’t certain of was why it mattered. He wasn’t even sure what his fiancée looked like anymore.
Replacing the memory of her was the vista; the long, languorous curtains, the sharp angled doorframe, textures of the distant castle, and the surreal curves of terrace guardrails. It was like a Dalí painting. Lying there he felt forgotten by time, and he was content in letting forever pass him by.