Tag Archive | Joidianne4eva

Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 35: WINNERS

FACT: did you know Sherlock Holmes never uttered the phrase, “Elementary, my dear Watson”? This is an ongoing source of disappointment to me, as I can quite hear him saying it. (And if he looks like this while doing so, that is between me and the BBC, thankyouverymuch.) He did, however, quite often say, “When you have eliminated the impossible, then whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” 

(Of course, now I also hear the Queen of Hearts reminding us that she always believes six impossible things before breakfast. Wonder what our dear Mr. Holmes would make of her?? #genremashup)

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Judging Sherlock this week (just how does one do that?! takes either great skill, great hubris, or the greatest of ignorance!) were the quick-witted (whew) captains of Dragon Team Six, Steph Ellis & Josh Bertetta. (Josh says he once believed seven impossible things before breakfast; Steph says she ate every last one.) Steph starts us off with a round of thanks:  

My second time already sharing judging honours with Josh and so far – touch wood – it has all been amazingly civilised; we have not needed to haggle or make major trade-offs in choices, there has been no bickering or name-calling or bribes! {Editor’s Note: AND WHY NOT, PRAY TELL?!} And this week in particular we seemed to share a psychic link across the pond with the same stories striking the same notes. 

At this point I would also like to thank Deb Foy and my daughter Bethan for providing us the stories stripped of all identification.

Thank you to everyone who chose to send in their stories this week based on elements from The Hound of the Baskervilles.  We had dialect hammed-up to the hilt, glorious (or gloriously terrible) puns, villains, melodrama and poetry; what more could you ask for?  Ah, that’s elementary, my dear Watson.  You want the results.  Well, here they be …

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Master of Language: Catherine Connolly, “Lord and His Lady.” 

SE: Absolutely stunning use of language in this story; a gorgeous poetry that recalls the lyrical poems of the early Anglo-Saxons (don’t just read Beowolf, read The Wanderer, I urge you).  The use of alliteration and the imagery evoked is remarkable: the contract between Lord and Lady written between ‘marrow margins’, the description of her as a devouring being ‘Lady savours sucking Lord’s soul from its moorings’, taking everything from him until he has no more to give – ‘All things must end’.  I could read stories written in this manner all day.

JB: A work of mythopoesis, something from behind the veil, from within the white spaces between the black words, much like All Hallows itself when the veil between this world is at its thinnest, and something (in the case of this story) much more sinister pokes its head through.

Master Punnery: MT DeckerThe English Detective.” 

SE: When I saw the first pun, I thought uh-oh, spelling error, then I saw the second, and I thought ‘Don’t they know how to use a dictionary, this is Flash! Friday!  Standards are slipping’.  {Editor’s Note: :faints:} And then my brain caught up with what was on the paper and I realised what was going on.  Favourites include ‘Lord Henry stood a loan’, the ‘up keep’ being ‘tall rather than broad’, ‘nomads land’ and that classic ‘defenderer of the realm’.  The final denouement was perfect it was ‘his grammar, after all … he axed for it’.  Wonderful.

JB: I shook my head at the first of several “misspellings,” thinking to myself, “oh, that’s too bad,” because I really liked the story. Then, with that last sentence, I found myself smiling and nodding my head…thinking “way to go!”

 

Master of Groanery: Geoff Holme, “Der Hund von Bach-Steuville.” 

SE: Misunderstandings, jokes and a Germanic play on names with Ohm and Wartzern had me chuckling all the way through.  Loved in particular:  ‘a message attached to the sole of his boot ‘Ah! A footnote’. ‘Vhat has four legs und flies … Two pairs of trousers’.  I am envious of anyone who can come up with this level of humour.  Great fun.

JB: Of all of this week’s stories, I must say that I never laughed as much as I laughed when I read “Der Hund” and after reading so many gut-wrenching stories, to have a little reprieve from so much emotion, this was a welcome break.

Master of Whisky: Eliza Archer, “Entailed.”

SE: I must confess that the first thing that drew me to this story was that classic sentence ‘There were no shrubberies’.  Why?  Because shrubberies are the desire of the Knights who say Nee from Monty Python’s Holy Grail, a film also filled with monks mortifying themselves.  And from then on I was reading the piece as if it were one of the parodies that they themselves would create.  This fitted so well, that regardless of the author’s intention, this was how I interpreted it. 

JB: An almost Lovecrafting setting hovers over this piece of family tradition, desire, and an unspoken arrogance—that what happened in the past won’t happen to me.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Craig Anderson, Clue-Less.”

SE: Poor Mrs Jenkins, sitting there quite innocently to find out she was murdered! Although I must say she took the news rather well (very British reaction).  It was playing out in black-and-white in my head.  And bringing in that classic boardgame Cluedo, ‘Colonel Mustard, in the library, with a candlestick’ was a nice touch to a gently humourous story.

JB: In the kitchen the author pulls the rug out from under me, killing me in turn with his/her computer, with his/her deft skills of telling a story that sucks me in only to turn it all upside-down in the end. I’ll never look at that board game the same again.

Marie McKay, “The Great Detective.” 

SE: A story told from the viewpoint of the victim, describing his imprisonment and how the detective’s deductions are mistakes that will not solve the crime.  The victim has also told us where the answer lies, he has written ‘his identity on the page of me’.  But because the detective is digging in the wrong place, spurred on by the doctor, he will never know the truth.  The last line tells us everything, how ‘The doctor nods for he is happy to keep the great detective in the dark’ because the doctor is the murderer.  The title of the story in this case is ironic.

JB: Another great story where, in a way, the body is text and where those who think they know remain blind, or in this case deaf, seeking, as they do, the truth in the facts and what is visible.

Joidianne4eva, “No Angels.”

SE: A family of standing, a child with a dark secret.  She is sick and is not allowed to play with the servants because they are below her station but the child is not lonely ‘after all I have mother and she loves me so.’  A touch of the Psychos here! Then there is father whose love is ‘heavy and it hurt’, was this a hint at abuse? It certainly sounds as though the family held dark secrets.  Particularly that sentence ‘I hope he’s not like that nasty priest who touched my skin and made it burn. His words made my ears hurt as well’.  This is the devil’s work.

JB: Superiority and inferiority, prejudice, control and other such evils prevail and I want to know why lies underneath—I want to know the what, they why, and the how, but the author leaves me wondering, allowing me to fill in such questions with my own imagination. Chilling.

 

THIRD RUNNER UP

Mark A. King, “Numbers.”

SE: A visceral response to “Numbers.” Reading it, I could feel my stomach contract and my muscles tighten. While I like stories with those ending twists, at times, like this, I knew what the story was about with that first line. And that was the hook. We’ve all heard the stories, the accounts, the histories. We know the horror. Sometimes, it’s almost too much too bear; sometimes it’s just another content of the intellect: yes, I know it happened—and it was horrible. And while nothing I will ever read will enable me to truly understand, if the purpose literature is to make us feel—Numbers, whether I like the feelings (which is beside the point) does just that.

JB: ‘They don’t have names, only numbers.’ You know immediately this is a story of the Holocaust even before it mentions chimneystacks and gas.  And you know who it is about as he searches for subjects amongst the elderly, the unfit, children, looking for twins in particular on which to experiment – Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death.  The man may have escaped the trials and justrice brought to others but he has found he can never escape his crimes.  His dreams are haunted by those he destroyed, they turn his own instruments of torture against him; Mengele has become a number, a fitting reversal.  Excellent reminder of man’s inhumanity to man.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Foy S. Iver, “In the Shadow-Room” 

SE: Such a chilling opening to this story, the room cold and filled with shadow and ‘The stranger has a razor-knife twirling in his fingers because Mommy hasn’t told him yet dark.’  Add a child’s voice to the mix and immediately the creepy atmosphere is ratcheted up a notch.  The child’s reflections on noise, the ‘edges and volume’ of the kids at school and how the man touches his ‘arm-skin’ which screams ‘DON’T TOUCH ME’, indicates the child may be autistic.  Even worse, he notes his mother’s ‘eyes are half-moons and tilted, like in cartoons when it’s dark and there’s a monster next to you’, does he sense something? Then there is the ‘retired’ neuro-surgeon who is dismissive of morality as it ‘lags behind science’ – what is it he is about to do, and is it moral?  A story to make your skin crawl.

JB: First, the images and language are stunning: I can see the short develop cinematically, though in this case, the young child’s thoughts would not be verbalized—all I would hear are the parents and the doctor talking, willing to go the most extreme measures to “fix” their child’s “problem.” But this, of course is no film, and we are privy to the inner workings of a child who, unable to verbalize his pain and suffering, lets his skin do the talking…something I am all too familiar with.

FIRST RUNNER UP

David Parkland, “Dog.” 

SE: Touching picture of that great man, Winston Churchill, in his twilight years with his faithful hound at his side (or in his head).  Known for his love of animals and the dogs he owned over the years, this particular dog could easily be the spirit of those gone before or it could be the ‘black dog’ of depression from which Winston suffered particularly in later life.  Whether the dog is depression or the ghost of past pets, Winston is perfectly accepting of him and comfortable in his company.  And through it all, with time passing very slowly, the clock ‘Marking time like dripping eaves’, they just sit together in companionable silence and ‘listen to the clock’ marking the end of Winston’s days.  An evocative sense of time and place and a life done.

JB: Is the dog real or not? What is real? Does it matter if the dog is “real” or not? I don’t think so, for what is real, it seems to me hear, is subjective—what is real is what we experience, whether or not others experience the same. Much as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is reality. What makes this story work for me particularly is the lack of quotes, even though there is “dialogue.” The author’s deft choice of leaving the quotes out highlights these very issues in quite a thought-provoking piece.

And now: for her FOURTH win (but first since April), it’s the exceedingly fabulous

DRAGON WINNER

NANCY CHENIER!!!

for

Causality

SE: Loved the take on the superstition theme—superstitions most of us have probably heard and probably laugh at. Yet this is no laughing matter. The author is able to generate a real sympathy with his/her main character, Daniel, for whom life just keeps getting worse—how life events can have the most horrendous domino effects–even when, as we learn, the initial event wasn’t “supposed” to have happened in the first place. But then again, things happen as we happen and what should have or should not have happened, don’t really matter anyway, no do they? They happened and much like Daniel, we may curse others for our own fates.

JB: A story that starts with a tragic accident and from then on the boy’s life spirals downwards, each step triggered by an apparent superstition.  Seven years of bad luck because of the car mirror, a thirteenth birthday on which his present of a black cat was killed, walking under a ladder during a burglary causes his capture.  None of this is his fault, if something could go wrong, it did go wrong.  And then the worst thing of all, he discovers that his dad – although he claimed he was trying to help him – was actually responsible for the event that led to resulting misery in his life, by saying he shouldn’t have been in the car his father has admitted to being responsible for his mother’s murder.  Scaffolding the story with the superstitious ‘If …’ was a clever method of showing cause and effect, a chain reaction if you like.  But in the end, none of this was down to an ‘If’, it was all down to a someone.  And then the youth, whose life has always appeared to have been beyond his own control, now takes command.  He does not turn his back on superstition (although he destroys the useless four-leaf clovers), but instead turns to one form, voodoo, which he can control.  A dark revenge indeed.

Congratulations, dear Nancy, Mother of Squidlets! Please find here your updated winner’s page; your winning tale will be found there as well as over on the winners’ wall. And you must keep a wary eye on your inbox for interview questions for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature–your FOURTH! And now, making it utterly impossible for it to go unread (because today is all about the impossible, see?) here’s your winning story:

Causality

If you break a mirror…

I was seven when the car crash happened. I remember my splintered reflection in the rearview mirror. Mom died on the way to the hospital. “The car wouldn’t stop,” she rasped through the oxygen mask. I spent the next seven years bouncing around foster homes.

If a black cat crosses your path…

For my thirteenth birthday, a gift-wrapped box addressed to me appeared on the doorstep. From under the lid, a charcoal face with green eyes mewed at me. My first real present in six years.

Two months, I kept her hidden in the shed. When Ben discovered her, he tossed her into the neighbor’s swimming pool and head-locked me until the splashing stopped.
That night I hit Ben’s sleeping head with a baseball bat. Welcome to juvie.

If you walk under a ladder…

At eighteen, I got busted on a B&E. The house was being remodeled. Even with a four-leaf clover in each shoe, I should’ve been more leery around scaffolding. Three hundred pounds of heroic security guard dropped right on my head.

Then, I got a letter in prison:

Dear Daniel,
We musta just missed each other.
Things never worked out between me and your mom, but I made a vow to help you out. I thought a pet might be a catalyst (get it?) to turn things around. Sorry it didn’t work out.
Love Dad
PS. You weren’t supposed to be in the car.

I folded the letter along its creases, trashed the clovers, and started work on a voodoo doll.

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Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 25: WINNERS

AND NOW it’s time to bid an official, tear-soaked farewell to our glorious first Dragon team: Image Ronin and Joidianne. We haven’t seen the last of them, I’m quite sure: but it’s the last we’ll see of them (for now…!) in their capacity as judges. Their tireless thumb wars over choosing winners from among a community of spectacular writers has been a great deal of fun watching. Thank you so very much, dearest IR and Joidianne, for giving of your time, your talents, and above all, your writerly hearts to this community. We are so very grateful!

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Dragon Captains Image Ronin/Joidianne say: 

So here we are. When the ever supportive and patient Rebekah gave Jodi and me this opportunity, I was terrified and delighted in equal measure. Genuinely reading each and every one of your stories, teasing apart, narrowing down, selecting the few has been a privilege. We’ve learnt so much through this experience, not only in terms of writing, but the reality of what Rebekah has dealt with week on week since @flashfridayfic was forged into splendid dragon being. 

Yet our time has come to an end, and heaven knows I’m miserable now. Yet with every cloud a silver lining.

So firstly a round of applause to this wonderful cabal of fantastic writers. It has been a joy and an honour to collaborate with you all, and we both feel richer for the experience.

And a standing ovation for Rebekah, for without her support, patience and reassuring emails ….

Well, let’s just say you’d be still waiting for our first results to be posted.

So, tears welling, we bid adieu, its been a blast, and now I know it’s over I can simply sit back and panic over what I’m going to submit next Friday.

Till we cross pens again, here are our final finalists.

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

For Morrisey-esque lyricism: Carlos Orozco (outgoing Team 3 Dragon Captain!), “In Limbo.”  –“the simultaneous feelings of being satisfied and not, tug on what most writers would call his heart”

Most Disturbing Juxtaposition: Mark A. King (outgoing Team 2 Dragon Captain!), “The Hospital.” “She comes with her distended belly and eyes of wonder.” “She comes with her skeletal body and eyes of knowledge.”

Ridiculously Satisfying End Line: David Borrowdale, “Respect Your Elders.” “Let them squabble, I thought, as I rocked backwards and forwards on the patio Mam and I had laid together. Her legacy is more than mere possessions.”

The Frankly Mr Shankly I’m a Sickening Wreck Award: Voima Oy (incoming dragon captain!), “The Singers.” They sang of the vanished days of job creators, of a Land of Opportunity across the sea.”

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Brett Milam, “The Darkest Night.” 

J: This was a heartbreaking tale and one that I had to reread several times for the simple twist that came at the end.

IR: A well written, I nearly wrote executed but managed to avoid the pun, narrative that dealt with a complex scenario. Albert’s desires, fleeting memories that evoked the underlying current of a barabarism [that] begins at home.

MT Decker, “Double Edged.” 

J: This left me with so many questions. Who wrote the letter? Were they the ones who had been defeated or were they truly the victors? And the letter in itself was so haunting that I was unable to get it out of my head. Brilliant take and I’d love to have read more.

IR: Please, please, please let me get what I want! Answers, resolutions, something to calm this itch that refuses to be narratively scratched. An intriguing take on the prompt, that left me as beguiled as bewildered.

Clive Tern, A Tower to the Heavens.” 

J: This made me laugh way too much, the tone of the piece from the very beginning reminded me a bit of a Monty Python sketch and it honestly didn’t disappoint when I realized that the construct was actually the tower of Babel.

IR:  A comedic slant that took us into a realm where the certainty of one’s own talents are wrenched asunder by complacency and the might of things beyond our control. Bigmouth strikes again, I can only surmise.

Carin Marais, “Defeated Draugr.” 

J: This take on the prompt was absolutely heart-wrenching, the fact that the ghosts were trapped there, stuck in a moment of such sorrow, one that seemed to be eternal was a harrowing thought but it created such a powerful scene as well.

IR: The Queen is Dead, and I was drawn into this realm of eternal pain and loss. The imagery of the eternal couple, trapped within confines where there is a light that never goes out, was evocative of LOTR. Nicely done.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Maggie Duncan, “Mother of Exiles.” 

J: This caught my eye because of the concept that it explored, the understanding that behind every historical or great moment there are people who have lost and hurt. It was a brilliant idea to interweave into the prompt, and the fact that they were building something that highlighted what they no longer believed in made it even more poignant.

IR: The notion of unwritten history, the history of the common voice, permeated this piece. Like a boy with a thorn in his side, the pain and regret that in turn forged a community, was eloquently delivered. The bitterness at the end, the stains of a past that tainted everything, left me wanting more. A really intriguing approach to the prompt.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Colin D. Smith, “Future Hope.”

J: In the midst of the tales of despair inspired by the prompt, this was a lovely unexpected twist because defeat doesn’t extinguish hope. The writer managed to capture that perfectly with this fill and the image of a half-built pyramid… after all, there’s always next time.

IR: “The gasp of the audience, magnified in the echo chamber of my mind.” Such a wonderful line that took me back to those formative years when the snap of failure recurred more than dreams of victory. My cheeks flushed crimson as I read this piece, feeling for our fallen hero, only to find my heart delicately played with as the father’s true intentions manifest. This charming man whose desire to heal led to a heart-warming and tender tale that took the prompts on an unexpected journey.

FIRST RUNNER UP 

Tamara Shoemaker (outgoing dragon captain from Team 2!), “Potpourri Dreams.”

J: I loved the wordplay here. The utter despair and futility woven throughout seemed to grow with every word, and it left me hoping that there would somehow be a happy ending — even though I was fairly sure that wasn’t in the cards. A compelling read from start to finish.

IR: That opening line, cinematic Imax description of something intimate and laden with regret, drew me straight into this tale. The imagery never lets up, wonderfully capturing a relationship where love has been replaced by apathy and despair. Barbarism indeed begins at home. Elegantly brought back to our petal beginnings, the tale leaves one incredibly satisfied.

And now: for his THIRD time, it’s Flash! Friday

DRAGON WINNER

JOSH BERTETTA!!!

for

“Be Careful What You Wish For”

J: This was such an original take on the prompt and I loved it all: everything from the innate curiosity that drove the group to build without true understanding of what they were building it for, the hopes that each of them had, and then how easily it was flipped from innocence to darkness. This was absolutely stunning from start to finish and well deserving of the winner’s spot.

IR: The characterisation and development of this piece grabbed my attention. From Mary whose desires were based upon fleeing an abusive legacy, to Mo hand in glove, seeking a second opportunity, with each description this group were clearly defined and depicted. The ultimate defeat, how are pride and desire can bring us all low, was wonderfully “executed”. A worthy winner.

Congratulations, Josh! A true pleasure to see you back at the top–and only weeks before you join us as a dragon captain, no less. Here’s your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please stand by for questions for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story:

Be Careful What You Wish For

“If you build it they will come.”

That’s all the blueprint said.

Knowing neither what “it” was nor who “they” were, they built it anyway.

Abe, the aged wanderer, hoped “they” would give him a place to rest his weary bones. On work release, Mo, the law-breaking career criminal, wanted freedom. Mary, a young woman, prayed for a baby so she might give the love she never received. Long ignored by his family, Joe, the youngest of twelve brothers, wanted power and recognition. Justifying her drinking for being bored with life, Teresa the lush sought none other than God.

Upon completion an inscription appeared above the threshold.

Abe read in it “Invitation.”

Mo saw in the word “Instruction.”

Mary, “Incarnation;” Joe, “Interpretation.”

And Teresa? “Intoxication.”

They argued over who was right and who was wrong. They called one another names. Some even threw punches.

And the doors finally opened, a light pouring out from within.

They stopped, their mouths agape. Some fell to their knees, believing their dreams about to be realized.

Then “They”–the demons of jealousy, anger, greed, self-centeredness, and self-righteousness–came.

They saw what had become of the five, how they debased themselves in their wanting to be right.

Then, They conquered.

FFwinner-Web

Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 25

AT LAST AT LAST! I’ve been having waaay too much fun flinging dragon mugs this way and that, flashing dragons on my car, dancing with dragons round my neck…. that I’m (finally!) inviting y’all to join the party. Craving a bit of fiery flash inspiration? Here’s your chance. Note that a small percentage of each purchase goes to support the work of Flash! Friday, so we can continue awarding cash & other prizes as often as possible. (Of course, direct donations are always gratefully accepted; click the PayPal button in the sidebar.) So…. here goes! Click on the image below to visit the Dragon Emporium. And thank you!

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And as though unveiling the Dragon Emporium wasn’t enough, it is now my tremendous pleasure to introduce to you our BRAND NEW PANEL OF DRAGON CAPTAINS!!!! These teams will start on July 3. Take a moment to give them a fiery welcome! (Their fiery new judge pages are linked to their names.)

Team 5
Holly Geely & Foy Iver

Team 6
Josh Bertetta & Steph Ellis

Team 7
Nancy Chenier & IfeOluwa Nihinlola

Team 8
Voima Oy & A.J. Walker

Ring of Fire! Today’s your last chance to earn the May #RingofFire badge — should have been a breeze this month, with its FIVE Fridays. Have you submitted stories at Flash! Friday at least three times in May? Check out the details at the Wall of Flame page & let us know here. Not only can you flash the fiery badge on your own blog (you’ve earned the right!), but each badge means a chance at a Flash! Friday prize at year’s end. More badges = more chances!

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DC2Judging today for their LAST TIME is Dragon Team One: Captains Image Ronin & Joidianne. I’ve loved this pairing this round, their combined quirky darkness, their passion for textured shadows and what lies beneath. They both graciously gave of their time and talents to the Flash! Friday community; the value of their participation and contributions is immeasurable. I encourage you to leave thank you comments on their judge pages (linked above), Twitter, or following your stories here, to let them know how much their efforts are appreciated. From the bottom of our hearts, IR & J: thank you.     

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Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Thursdays.   Now let’s write!

* Word count: Write a 200-word story (10-word leeway on either side) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (min 190 – max 210 words, excluding title/byline) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Monday.

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Thursday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity.

AND HERE IS YOUR TWO-PART PROMPT:

(1) Required story element (this week: theme. If you want your story to be eligible for an award, your primary theme must be “defeat”): 

 

defeat

(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:

Construction of the Statue of Liberty's Pedestal

Construction of the Statue of Liberty’s Pedestal. CC2.0 photo by National Parks Service, Statue of Liberty ca 1875.