§ Foy says: Results day! Results day! And the final mad word dash for all our NaNoWriMo participants. Whether you wrote 50k or 50 words (mine was closer to the latter), I hope you’re celebrating what’s been written and energized for what will be written! We’ve only three Sols left and the last Fire&Ice Flash contest promises to be a spectacular one, so bring your best writing tools and most luminous selves, and we’ll be right here waiting for you. ❤
Quick note on judging: Six pairs of judges across multiple nationalities and genres are taking turns reading your submissions (meet the judges here). As soon as each contest round closes, your stories are first stripped of all personal info before being sent on for judging. This represents our effort to maximize every story’s chances, whether it’s the first or hundredth story you’ve written. ♥
SOL 16’S JUDGES SAY:
Voima Oy: Greetings– I want to thank the Dragon Queens for doing Flash! Friday again. It’s such a gift! This is a good place, an opportunity to write and comment on other stories, We are creating community and connections. It’s truly an honor to be part of this as a writer and judging. I’m thankful for my judge partner AJ Walker, too. It’s been a pleasure! And you, the writers, thank you for all these worlds that were not here before. Thank you for sharing your stories.
This time, I found I was really paying attention to how people used the photo. For some, the photo was a starting point for the story. For others, it was the story. In Bill Engleson‘s “Mumbai Idyll“, the photo inspired a family history, a bittersweet reverie. In Brett Milam‘s “Sweet Death“, the picture is deceptive–it seems innocent, but it’s horrifying–the sweetness and poison of antifreeze. And in Firdaus Parvez‘s untitled story–“The city was a smudge”–it really could be about that photo. There’s even a photographer in the story! It feels so real–the heat, all the people on the road. The pandemic is part of the story, too. It is happening now, yet there is this moment of sharing and kindness.
A.J. Walker: It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have been asked by the dragons to be part of the judging pairs once again with this lovely community. None of the judging has been easy and it’s nice to see the variety of stories that can come from the same prompts. It’s also been lovely to see so many of the old Flash Dogs still out writing very well indeed. But also good to see new people finding the Flash! Friday Fiction thing. All in all the dragons done good again – thank you.
Nancy Chenier‘s “The Three“—Competition, Generosity and the truth; yes indeed. It always surprises me how the first stories can be so strong after having hardly any time to put together (we judge the stories blind after that are sent to us by the wonderful dragons so I assume it’s first if the dragons have provided the stories to us in the order they were written). Well done. Really enjoyed Laurence D‘s “Player 1“. I’m not a gamer and haven’t been since back in the day with Final Fantasy VII and early World of Warcraft, but I totally get this story (made me think of the great Otherland series by Tad Williams). Helen Laycock‘s “Counting Moons” – Woah! What an emotional rollercoaster and a fantastic story. I loved it the first time I read it and even more on subsequent reads. To pack a punch in so few words is a wonderful piece of work. I can see that being turned into a great longer story. Do it!
VO: So well-done–the setting, the descriptions, the details–the smell of scorched jackal fur. The sister running through the room with a blaster. In the game, three children are sitting quietly, sharing a banana. I loved the contrast of violent reality and the peaceful moment in the video game.
AW: Loved the idea (lets face it we’ve all had it) that people, the gamers, are missing so much of reality all around them (this year maybe not a bad thing), funny that Arin was so made up to get his characters to get a banana whist all sorts of big things were happening around him with the boring game and exciting real life somehow being swapped. Neat.
VO: Here is a parent and child sharing love of video games—and a real connection in the real world.
AW: Neat story of a proud parent passing on the video game gene and the nice old style idea that not everything you do needs to be seen and documented by others as long as you know you’ve done it. You don’t need to run it over to Facebook, TikTok or Instagram. So say we all.
Silent Partners by Tinman
VO: Such a sad and powerful story. Told in gestures, the friend sighing next to him on the bus. The friends sharing lunch together. You can feel the weight of things unsaid, The things no words can say.
AW: Beautiful, well paced story of childhood, of friendship and emotions. I loved Samir watching the football and life just going on before Neva and Renuka come on over with their bananas and silent friendship with their buddy.
And now: it is our pleasure to present to you our
VO – This story is pure magic. I loved the how the three friends are introduced–“Shahla played her game and never packed a lunch. Amal ate his food and but was still ravenous. His crow bright eyes watched every bite Malia took from her banana.” The description of the marvelous banana is so vivid and real. You pause and savor the single line paragraphs. How does a magical banana taste? Oh, the sweetness! And you wonder, too, if the Malia can bring another one tomorrow.
AW — A story of a lunchtime friendship and a magically replenishing banana; ‘… sweet. Almost like honey.’ The story was told through Malia’s eyes and with few words she painted the friendship and differences between them: Shala never having a packed lunch, Amal never having enough. The matter of fact acceptance of the magical fruit and Malia sharing her bounty with her friends is a nice touch. It could have been so easy to make her keep her find to herself. I hope that she gets a magic banana again the next day – everyone could do with a magical banana. The story was sweet’ almost like honey.
Congratulations, Eliza! Here’s your winning story:
Shahla played her game and never packed a lunch. Amal ate his food and but was still ravenous. His crow bright eyes watched every bite Malia took from her banana. Her friends hungry silence made Malia’s jaws stiff.
Then she noticed the banana, which she thought had two bites left, emerging slowly from the peel, growing longer as she watched.
Trembling, she broke off the bitten tip and quickly ate it.
The banana continued growing, normal looking, yellow fruit.
Her friend’s seemed unaware of the miracle. She divided the newly grown banana into three portions.
“Want some?” She asked.
Thin brown fingers blossomed on either side of her.
She gave them the larger two pieces, popping the remaining chunk in her mouth.
How would magic banana taste?
It was sweet. Almost like honey. As she swallowed, sweetness seemed to grow inside her.
The empty peel lingered in her fingers, strangely warm.
She felt as full and happy as when she ate a holiday feast.
“Thanks,” Shahla murmured, smiling.
“Best banana ever!” Amal said. “Can you bring one tomorrow?”
“I’m not sure,” said Malia. “Maybe?”