Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 19: WINNERS

Howdy, y’all, and welcome to Monday! The Team Three judging captains have arrived at the ceremony hauling carts spilling over with jewels. I apologize in advance if their eagerness to fling them every which way leaves a few bruises. It’s a wild and insane sort of day in the world of flash fiction. (Or are “insane” and “world of flash fiction” redundant?)

Don’t forget to let us know if you’ve submitted stories three Fridays this month and have thereby earned the Ring of Fire badge! Details over here on our mega sparkly Wall of Flame. LOVE seeing this list: y’all are a talented, interesting, and wildly diverse group of writers. What an honor to read your work and get to know you a bit. Thank you! 

Finally: let me encourage you again (warning: you’ll hear me repeat this frequently over the next couple of weeks) to consider applying to take a turn as a dragon captain judge for the next term. I love the apps that have already come in; wheeeeeeeeeeee doggies, are we going to finish off Year Three in style! Details here

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Dragon Captains Eric Martell/Carlos Orozco sayWhat a great week of stories. This round was one of the most difficult to judge. Not only because all the food references made us hungry (ok, we won’t lie. That did have something to do with it), but because every story had something unique that made it difficult to count out. This week our top tens only had one story in common (goes to show how great all the stories were). As a reminder, we favored those stories that used the kitchen setting the strongest. Your story could have been phenomenal, but if it simply mentioned a kitchen (doesn’t really count as setting), it wasn’t rated as highly. We should note that if any of you ever go to prison, we’re not eating what you’ve cooked up. 🙂

Now see if your story was sliced and diced or if it made its way to the winners circle. . .

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Should be a TV Show: Nancy Chenier, “Palladium Chef.” This is a show we would definitely tune in for. The commentators are phenomenal.

Best Bait: Taryn Noelle Kloeden, “Trespasser.” First line we bit, second line we were hooked. It was a simple yet enticing intro.

Kill-tacular: Mark Morris, “Death by Caramel.” Lots of deaths this week, but this was one of the most creative. We hope we are never left alone with this writer (we kid…maybe).

Chubby Checker Award: Nancy Chenier, “Keep Out.” This story packs a twist that would make Chubby Checker proud.

Thank you for posting an untitled story Award, Part OneKaija Marasðottir, “Untitled.” “Adeline could see the docks…” Fog hides the secrets we wish we could see and the ones we wish would stay hidden forever.

Thank you for posting an untitled story Award, Part TwoColin D. Smith, “Untitled.” “I hear the voice of Miss Scully…” Childhood is hard, but sometimes we’re told right from wrong, and can choose the better path. When we’re adults, however…

Best Use of the Supernatural AwardCarin Marais, “Fairy Cakes.” What’s on the other side of the wall? Which side are we on? How tasty do those cakes sound? Very tasty.

Best Use of a Dragon Queen AwardMark A. King,The Superhero Alchemist.” All of you are alchemists in your own right, spinning gold out of less than straw. And to our Dragon Queen, you’re all superheroes. {Editor’s Note: ❤ ❤ ❤ times a million.}

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Liz Hedgecock, “Ping.” What we liked about this one was circular nature of the piece. It starts off with someone buying a microwave dinner for one and ends the same way, but in between there is lots of character development. In a few short lines the writer makes two characters come to life which is always impressive.

Casey Rose Frank, “Too Awful to Eat.” Worrying about a child that is constantly in trouble is every parents’ nightmare because that one mistake that makes it impossible to go back lurks right around the corner. That’s exactly what we have here. We could envision the mother slaving away in the kitchen trying to drive out the stress by baking, but finding her food didn’t offer any respite. This was a very believable and well portrayed mother character.

Reg Wulff, Someone’s in the Kitchen With Dinah.” This was a beautiful little story, interspersing the lyrics of what is primarily a children’s song with the story of heartbreak, loss, abandonment, and moving on. So much of a world painted in just a few lines. You can’t help but be a little happy for Dinah that she finally found a man who didn’t see her as a backup to his job.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Voima Oy, “Hell’s Kitchen.” How can you not wonder at the otherworldly skill of a chef who uses ingredients such as the breath of a three year-old child or the tears of a woman in love? You know that he has powers which enable him to do great evil in the service of an artistry that perhaps only he can see. And then to weave his story into that of this prison, whether literally or figuratively Hell, where the only food he can prepare burns like the lakes of lava, but the guards live a life of comfort and ease, took a writer of great skill.

FIRST RUNNERS UP (TIE)

Josh Bertetta, “Cell Block.” The tragic story of a man trapped in a prison of his own making. This story masterfully integrated the two prompts this week, setting the whole tale in a kitchen which also served as a prison for a life-long sentence. The prison this man works in as a guard has damaged him, but less so that his secession from his life and his marriage. Matching the first and last lines took us from what could have been a pretty straightforward tale of a man at his post, guarding a prison of ice and snow, into an inner world of suffering and loneliness. The kind of a story which can break your heart, because you want to reach out to the characters and help them find their way back together, but you just … can’t.

Sherry Howard, “Our Father’s Grace.” This story had the best title this week. After reading the story, the title definitely seemed fitting in both the literal sense (the story opens with a father saying grace) and in the sense of it being ironic (the father is very mean). The description of hungry children around the kitchen table is sharp and poignant.  The father’s character is made real by the children’s matter-of-fact descriptions of him such as “Begging by one resulted in restrictions for all” and “He’d ruined many a night with his three-year-old enthusiasms. He’d learn eventually. We all did.” 

And now: for his 3rd win, it’s massively talented Flash! Friday

DRAGON WINNER

CHRIS MILAM!!!

for

“Sanctuary”

This story did the best at fulfilling the required story element. At first, we are shown a kitchen in which there is not much, but it is a happy kitchen nonetheless. Then the father gets there and the once happy kitchen changes into something ugly. It’s almost as if we hit a daily double with the setting, getting two settings in one.

Describing the times of plenty as “Foodstamp Nirvana” really strikes a chord showing us how little these characters have. Also the description of the bananas as “fibrous wafers of a solidified disease” and the fragile hand pouring milk seems to hint at some underlying problem. We get another hint of a problem when we read that “She dissolved” toward the end of the story. The fact that the main character never fully states a problem helps set up a certain mood. We get the feeling that something’s wrong and it pulses at the back of our minds. This was good writing and it was well executed.  

Congratulations, Chris! What a blast seeing you at the top again (that dragon crown looks mighty fine on you). Here’s your fancy dragon winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox with interview questions for this Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

Sanctuary

There was love in the way she poured milk on my cereal. The plastic jug tilted by a fragile hand, filling the bowl halfway. Just how I liked it. A motherly wink when she prodded me to eat the banana slices sitting atop the sugary concoction like fibrous wafers of a solidified disease. I ate them for her.

The first of the month was our food jamboree. The bologna and tuna casserole were replaced by fresh ground beef, homemade tacos with a dollop of sour cream, and an unhealthy dose of raspberry sherbet. Food stamp nirvana, she called it, before vanishing for the graveyard shift. When she cooked, she seemed happy, like she was making up for lost time. Our kitchen was her aromatic church.

When dad was released from prison, mom changed. The kitchen changed. Pop would smolder at the table, chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes, while accusing her of cheating when he was gone. The neighbor, a coworker, anyone with testosterone. Eventually, she retreated to the bedroom, forcing us to survive on cheese and uncooked hot dogs.

She dissolved after that. My father’s insecurities turned her into a human stew of anxiety. But, decades later, I can still picture her in our kitchen, her luminous smile a bursting peppermint star.

FFwinner-Web

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3 thoughts on “Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 19: WINNERS

  1. What an honor to place among such great writers. I’ve been lurking on this site, just tiptoeing in occasionally. Flash is my best love! Thanks for providing this forum!

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