Thanks for joining us at the after-party! A reminder we’ve already had THREE Fridays in May (?! how is that possible?!), which means you may be eligible for the May #RingofFire badge. Details here at the Wall of Flame page.
Come back on Wednesday for our weekly, non-judged writing prompt and chatfest, Warmup Wednesday! Y’all, I’m so crazy about this low-pressure event and the chance to get to know people better. We’d love to have you join us.
Dragon Captains Eric Martell/Carlos Orozco say: Dozens and dozens of fascinating takes on prompts that don’t go together at first glance – the Native American in the photo has no business in what we think of as downtown. To make it work and tell a story which unified the concepts in a nuanced and insightful way took skill, and you didn’t disappoint.
Special note from the judges to the authors: After our initial pass through the stories, the two of us ranked our top ten and we put the lists together – there were 18 stories that one or the other of us ranked in our top ten. So many stories speak to different people in different ways – if yours isn’t on this list, it’ll be on another list soon. Keep writing!
We loved the scene of the November light tricking him. It really sets up the whole story. You have a man distressed over his son’s accident wandering the streets not knowing what time of day it is or what is going on. It’s as if he is in a physical limbo, waiting for the news. Then he has the conversation with the dancer. This conversation gives him perspective on the situation; then the buzzing phone brings him back into the real world.
The narrator tells the story of the weathered Indian figurine that became the landmark of the town. The city plans on tearing the figurine down, and we are shown how the narrator feels about it. We are never told outright, but we see through the face of the Indian figurine the things the narrator feels. The last haunting image of the figurine dripping moisture from his cheeks really cements the story in our minds.
There is so much character building in this story that you feel like a connection to the girl, and her father, and the men outside the liquor store – you can see them, you can hear them, you know them. She’s coming up on womanhood, a mix of innocence and unwanted knowledge, struggling to find balance not just on her dad’s bike, but in life. A truly wonderful piece that didn’t quite integrate the story themes well enough, but will linger on for a very long time.
A lovely, light-hearted piece, full of evocative images and relationship building, plus a nice bit of flirtation. And then an ending line that casts it all in a different light. In the United States, at least, we’re fighting a lot of battles with ourselves about the appropriateness of using Native American imagery in advertising, athletics, etc. Is it okay for MacDonald to wear a kilt and not for Tahoma to wear Zahadolzha’s headdress? A deft touch pulls you in and then makes you think.
THIRD RUNNER UP
We paint the past as a place of innocence, but maybe it’s just our youth. We know the boy here, and we know the world he grew up in. In so few lines, we see the father and his love for his son. We see the son’s worship of his father. We see childhood embraced and childhood destroyed. Were we better off in that “simpler” time, when ignorance was bliss, or if we made poor decisions because we didn’t know enough. The author does a wonderful job of bringing us through different time periods and telling the story of a life gone awry.
FIRST RUNNER UP (TIE)
We clearly weren’t the only ones who read the theme of Downtown and heard the recently departed Petula Clark’s voice ringing through our head, but we certainly didn’t imagine the wonderful angle this story took. And yet…there was something deeper and darker that slowly snuck out at us. Flora (what an evocative name, both in referencing the period of the titular song and bringing to mind the slow decay of flowers in the city) is connected to her great grandfather in a believably magical way. There’s layers here, of magic, of life in the modern world, of death beyond death. So much story in 200 words.
This piece stood out because of tone, voice, and character. After we were finished reading it, it didn’t seem like the character was someone from the story but rather someone we knew or a friend of a friend. This is very difficult to do in novels and almost impossible to do in flash, but here we have the guy known as chief. Through his voice the entire story has that sad humorous tone, which is reminiscent of Sherman Alexie’s work. Bad things happen to the character (he says he is beaten up, works a job he is terrified of doing, etc.) but the way he says them supplants the gloom of the situation with humor.
And now: for her very first time, it’s Flash! Friday
This piece jumped out at us immediately by its simple originality. What seems like a drug trip at first glance, evolves into a modern day vision quest. The vision quest is an approach to the prompt that very few people (if any) took. What worked best for the piece was that the writer does not tell us this outright, but rather shows us this through the words. Instead of telling us everything was a blur, the writer shows us “the gray sidewalk nestled between the gray skyscrapers and gray street.” We also liked the circular nature of the piece. It starts out talking about droplets of rain making rivers on the widow (in that great showing, not telling way) and ends with the voice in the character’s head telling her “No river can return to its source, yet all rivers must have a beginning.” That circular approach is hard to accomplish in flash fiction without seeming too repetitive, but this writer does an excellent job. In the end, we are left with a feeling that something monumental has happened, but neither we nor the character can grasp its full consequence. Wonderful job.
Congratulations, Ashley! Here’s your brand new (careful, it’s hot!) winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me asap here so I can interview you for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story:
I watch the droplets trail down the window from inside my boyfriend’s car. The water makes rivers across the glass, distorting the gray skyscrapers.
We’re tripping on shrooms.
I know, I know, we shouldn’t be driving. I told my boyfriend this, so that excuses my own irresponsibility. I nod at the skyscraper as if they can nod back in agreement. The festival is downtown, so downtown is where our journey takes us.
Plus, the shrooms haven’t even kicked in yet. We’ll not entirely.
We pull into a spot. My boyfriend slides his hand into mine as we walk along the gray sidewalk nestled between the gray skyscrapers and gray street. The rain soaks our hair and clothes and leaves me with the desire to twirl on the sidewalk, so I do.
“What is a rain dance when it’s already raining?” A man asks me from inside my own mind. It’s a gravelly voice and for a moment I smell campfire smoke.
My thoughts flutter, from gray to vivid, colorful images. As we approach the festival, the man’s voice returns, the shrooms kick in. “No river can return to its source, yet all rivers must have a beginning.”
I nod with the man in my head and enter the festival.