Happy Sunday evening! I hope everyone’s had a pleasant weekend and you’re all set for a fresh week. Just look ahead at all these lovely days filled with potential! May we all make wise and abundant use of them. With a dash o’ crazy thrown in for good measure, obviously. And plenty of coffee.
She says: Once again I am pleased, surprised and awed at the amount of emotion, adventure, horror and humor you all are able to evoke in 140-160 words. I find myself learning even as I rate the stories, because judging a story I have to go beyond “I like this” and get into “why.” Why do I like it? What did the author do to make their story stand out, and why did they do it? Why does one twist, or point of view or word redefine a story – take it from a good story to a great story?
For me, a great story is like an old friend. The first time you read a story—you’re meeting them for the first time, but there is some quality that brings a smile to your face and makes you seek them out again, and when you do find them again and re-read the story, you remember not only the story but the way it made you feel, long before you finish reading. That, my friends, is staying power and part of what makes a story great.
Before I begin, I would like to thank our other three current judges for their entries – they provide excellent examples of great-stories, and great writers. These ladies turn out some amazing stories on a consistent basis week after week. So, thank you Erin McCabe, Nillu Nasser Stelter, and Whitney Healy for sharing your talents with us this, and every, week!
Zevonesque, “Owl and the Arrogant Giant.” This story is a case of doing research on the actual picture and the history surrounding it and including the tree’s final demise in the weaving of a good fable. This is something that takes a particular talent, not only to execute the story so well, but to make it seem effortless. Well done!
Catherine Connolly, “Interludes.” Through a series of slow dissolves, Catherine tells a tale spanning anywhere from 20 to 50 years from the point of view of a tree. This creative technique allows her to spin a tale with more depth and breadth than 160 words should be able to tell, and gives it a sense of timelessness. This technique allows her to show, not tell the story and is masterfully done.
Charles W. Short, “TreeGate.” This story was an original take on the prompt. “TreeGate” reads almost like a newspaper clipping, sparse in details and very factual, but the last little twist, and implied ending is notably haunting and leaves the reader with a slight shiver that stays with them: creepy, in a well written and haunting kind of way.
SECOND RUNNER UP
Kristen Falso-Capaldi, “iPhone 40TT/S.” Through a resourceful use of dialog, Kristen takes us to a time when Time Travel has been, for lack of a better term… app-ed. But that is only the first layer to the story because it also hints at how the relationship between man and machine has changed. Asking Siri to call him ‘sexy’ speaks to Oscar’s need to feel wanted and cared about, and through him we get a glimpse into life in the future. It speaks of the human condition and the fact that even with the whole of history at hand… sometimes all you really want is a good burger. But again there are layers. Is the burger a burger, or is it a metaphor for a better time, a more innocent time? That question is left as a tantalizing thread that left me hungering for an answer… and a trip to Bob’s Big Boy.
FIRST RUNNER UP
Image Ronin, “Traveling Without Moving.” This story has a slow, almost lyrical pace to it that makes it feel as if it could indeed be the thoughts of a 2,000 year old tree. The first line draws the reader in: “I seek solace within ancient tales, of sap and water, root and growth.” There’s not only a musical quality to the words, but these are things that a tree would value above all else. Establishing this point of view makes the narrator’s final declaration that much more poignant, and leaves me longing for ancient tales of sap and water, root and growth…
And now: raise your glasses with me to our
In “Still Standing,” Margaret misdirects us ever so slightly—making us think that we are hearing another tale from the tree’s point of view. And then in a clever twist Margaret lets the theme flow from the narrator to the tree, allowing them to reflect each other, and the tree goes from a metaphor of the narrator’s suffering to a fellow survivor and monument to the fact that they are indeed… still standing. I have always believed that while there is life there is hope, and this story states that message with such mastery that it leaves the reader with a sense of haunting determination. This story, like an old friend, makes me smile whenever I think of it—and that is part of what makes it this week’s Flash! Friday Winner.
Congratulations, Margaret, on your third win! Your brand new winner’s badge waits, jumping up and down, for you below. Here is your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox for a new set of questions for Wednesday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:
I long to go back. Back to when I was young, to when my roots felt strong, to when I wanted nothing more than to branch out into the world, soaking up sunshine. Life was easy then, back when I was solid, before she ripped this gaping hole in me. Many have passed through since. None have fixed me, though a few tried.
I eye the giant hulk of a tree before driving underneath it. In and out in a flash. That tree and I are alike. Relics of a past life – a passed life -, shells of who we once were, damaged by those who thought they’d found a better way.
I stop the car. I walk back to the tree, touching it, caressing it. “I’m sorry,” I murmur, not sure whether I’m apologizing to it or myself. Spindly forest surrounds us. We are giants among weaklings, the tree and I. Scarred. Broken. But we are still standing.