Howdy, folks! ‘Twas another rip-roaring storyfest here at the ol’ Flash! Friday ranch, and I’m guessing more than a passel of y’all are plum tuckered out. (Yeah. Um. You think that’s bad, you should hear me try accents in real life.) What a MAGNIFICENT commenting turnout–thanks to everyone for pouring yourselves so beautifully into each other. You just wait. A hundred years from now they’ll be looking back at this time going, How on earth did writers then know how to write so well? And won’t we be all mysterious and things? Like Shakespeare. And her brother. 😀
Judge Margaret Locke, strong of heart and judging constitution, says: You know, this judging gig ain’t half bad. Sure, I’m reading an immense number of stories in a very short period of time (and worrying what people will think of my choices), but here’s the catch (ha ha): I GET to read an immense number of amazing stories in a very short period of time (and worry about what people will think of my choices).
Y’all never disappoint. It boggles my mind how one picture and one word can generate so many different tales. But what a blast it’s been to wade through (ha ha) all 84 stories this week. Here are the ones for which I fell, hook, line, and sinker.
Here are this week’s Special Mentions:
Michael Seese, “Finding Peace.” This story was actually on my short list, so I was devastated to discover it was actually two words over the 160 word limit (I counted by hand, I counted by computer). I mention it here to highlight the unique take, that of comparing fishing with negotiating peace. Excellent writing, and I loved the line, “The universe never rewards inertia.”
Great line: Voima Oy, “Next Wave.” Great line! I loved the creative use of the familiar phrase “We are all in the same boat.”
Opening line: AJ Walker, “The Fisher King.” “The politician was not a religious man, but he was sure this freezing hour was ungodly.” “The Fish Were Biting Good That Day” – Voima Oy – “The fish were biting good that day when it fell out of the sky.”
Most Creative Use of Dragon’s Bidding: Pam J. Plumb, “Polly and Titan.” Absolutely loved how this author chose to incorporate the politician. Or not.
Characterization: Brian S. Creek, “Needle in a Haystack.” “You tell me a lot of things, Frank. It’s all just white noise.” These two sentences instantly told me a lot about these two characters and their relationship with each other. So much revealed in so few words.
Title: I love a good title. So many of you found clever ways to work fishing terminology into your titles, and let me tell you, this judge appreciated it. “Catch of the Day,” “Fishing for Votes,” “Fishing for Lost Time,” “The Old Man on the Sea,” “Bated Breath,” “Making Waves,” “The Post-Election Drag.” My favorite title, however, was definitely “Be Careful What You Kiss For.” I wonder if David Borrowdale would let me use that for the title of one of my future books?
Emily June Street, “Hourly Arithmetic.” I found this to be a moving, unique take on the prompt, and thought the weaving of the politicians in from a completely different angle – that of background accompaniment to a horrific situation—was fantastic; their external blathering echoing her own internal feelings. The jarring matter-of-fact manner of the officer, especially when he rattles off “case resolution decreases by fifty percent,” to me underscored the awfulness of it all.
Carlos Orozco, “Death Reversed.” This was a delightfully different take, a marvelous way of interweaving the sea in a different way. That the men are “familiar” to him makes one wonder what is going on; the answer is only revealed as the story builds. When he says the Death card “means an end, for you at least,” sinister shivers sneaked down my back.
Dreaded Thought, Untitled. The rhythm of this piece actually made me feel as if I were in a boat, rocking back and forth along with the words. I enjoyed the repetition in the middle paragraph, emphasizing what had been before versus what is now. The imagery in the second and fourth paragraphs was particularly well expressed.
Luccia Gray, “Silent Voters.” This was a tale of retribution against a politician/politicians, which was an understandably common theme this week, but I felt the statements contrasting the fisher’s life versus that of the politician’s flowed well, highlighting the fisher’s anger and leading us to the wonderfully disturbing line “Ask them to vote for you, when you join them at the bottom of the sea.” The title underscores the creepy ending perfectly.
THIRD RUNNER UP
Annika Keswick, “Dirty Money.” This piece caught my eye with its beautiful imagery – the “gnarled and graying planks of memories,” the “diamond that danced in the waves,” and the “sea of sunlit fire.” We get such an enchanting, pleasant build up of what seems to be a lovely, peaceful scene between grandparent and child. I’m waiting to hear about what I presume to be the grandparent’s happy memories. And then, BOOM, we’re dropped into the realities of politics, dirty in both a literal and figurative sense. The image of the little girl tossing a rock into dirt instead of water really hit me hard.
SECOND RUNNER UP
David Shakes, “Autobiographical Brine.” Many stories made use of fishing analogies this week. This one edged a few others out because of its wonderful word play. The references to fishing and water work beautifully throughout, without feeling over the top to me. You can see the rise and fall of this fisherman played out in language with which he was familiar, and I thoroughly enjoyed the imagery, from “sailing his desk across a sea of paperwork” to “casting out into the future.” Nicely done.
FIRST RUNNER UP
Casey Rose Frank, “Hunt(er).” I loved this from beginning to end. The succinctness of the sentences combined with the short echoes made it feel at first like song lyrics. The echoing words contrasting with the sentences preceding them highlight the point – that reality is often different from what’s believed and presented. The way his “people” work to change the story, for not only the world but also the politician himself, rang true to me with how many of us perceive political maneuverings. Well done!
And now: for his first (but inevitable!) time, it’s Flash! Friday
I. Love. This. From the opening reference to Stephen King, to “The Godfather,” to the plaintive whining about 1,000 versus 160 words, this had me laughing and appreciating the wry humor the whole way through. The cheekiness, the clever references mentioned and then repealed, the conceit of referencing the contest itself, and the hilariously snarky last line’s way of incorporating the required word prompt make this a wonderful piece of flash humor. And yes, I had to look up “honorificabilitudinitatibus.” – it means “the state of being able to achieve honours.” Well, Mr. Bertetta, you certainly may call yourself that now. Well done!
Congratulations, Josh! Below is your very own glowing winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here are your brand new winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap so I can interview you for Wednesday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your story for all to laud!
Stephen King says writers need a toolbox. All I have is a goddamn tacklebox and as much as I’d like to reel a reader in with a lure of a title like “Hoffa,” and hook them with some memorable prose, the tacklebox’s from Wal-mart and ain’t worth the five bucks I paid for it.
All I want is to call myself honorificabilitudinitatibus. There’s a story in there right?
I haven’t read the other stories yet and I wonder if anyone will reference “The Godfather.” I won’t. Oops. I just did. And damn it, my delete button’s broken. Believe me, there’s a story in that too. A whopper of a story.
Oh, and I bought my bait at Walmart too. The worms are already dead and all I can catch is this damn cold. (That’s a true story.)
How come if a picture’s worth 1,000 words all I can write is 160?
Why waste your time?
Oh yeah, here’s the politician.