Welcome to results! Many thanks for your long patience as you waited for them; I trust you spent the time WRITING, heh heh. — I find myself here at the close of the day overwhelmed by gratitude for so many things: among them you, my darlings, here in the Flash! Friday community. I hope each of you knows in your heart how important you are, and what a difference you are making in each other’s lives. And in mine.
Dragon Captains Pratibha/Sinéad O’Hart say:
Do we even need to say this? Isn’t it obvious now that this community rocks. Just in case this is your first time stumbling over this weekly contest, you’ve come to the best place for flash fiction, and welcome. I fell in love with the picture prompt immediately. With such awe-inspiring force of nature in front of you, it’s but natural to wonder about the nature as a formidable foe. The writers did an equally awe-inspiring job of capturing the shades of fear and victory over nature in their stories.
The two powerful and meaty prompts this week certainly inspired a flood (no pun intended!) of wonderful stories, and thank you to everyone for sharing their imaginative worlds with us. Pratibha and I were united in our choice of winner this round, and I think it was because of the fact that it took a unique look at the prompts, creating a quietly emotional story out of them. Thank you for the tales of derring-do, the SF-tinged glances at other worlds, the comments on natural resources and their use, the visions of apocalypse and salvation, and most of all for the brilliant writing we’ve come to expect. Bravo, everyone.
Best closing line: Craig Anderson, “Up a Creek.”
Pratibha: I loved the humorous opening line and the surprising closing line.
Sinéad: Nothing I like better than a pompous old fool getting their comeuppance! This closing line made me laugh out loud.
Humour: Holly Geely, “Nature Calls.”
Pratibha: Shades of “Friends” episode where Joey auditions for a Broadway play after drinking copious amounts of liquid. Very funny.
Sinéad: I loved the buildup here, and the uncomfortable knowledge that the ending was inevitable – much like an approaching waterfall! Plus, it tickled my puerile funny bone.
Best story on a topical subject: Mark A. King, “Tainted Love.”
Pratibha: I loved how the writer incorporated the current hot topic in the story.
Sinéad: Well, as an Irishwoman, I had to give a nod to a story which touches on my country’s historical vote over the weekend. A bit uncomfortable to read, at least for me, but I was impressed with the take on the prompts.
Best description of a waterfall: A.J. Walker, “The Falls.”
Pratibha: I was quite taken with the bewitching description of the waterfall.
Sinéad: Like Pratibha, the description of the falls here was captivating, and I loved the energy, spirit and indomitable life-force that pervades the tale, despite its sadness.
Margaret Locke, “A Natural Disaster.”
This story to me borders on being humorous and profound. I loved the humorous tone of the story from the very first word, “Oops!” It was fun to see so many mythological characters crammed into one little story.
This one made me grin, but like Pratibha I felt there was something deeper being described here, about how thoughtless action can lead to unintended consequences. I loved the mythology, the snarky tone, and the sense of fun!
Steph Ellis, “Kept.”
I loved the personification of nature as a vengeful creature. The descriptions such as this, “Tendrils reached out from the vine-bound trees towards the prisoner, placing berries on her tongue, dripping water into her mouth. The wind carried Ania’s cries toward the camps.” are vivid, and kept me intrigued.
This story stuck with me because of its personification of nature, but I saw it as a stern mother, taking a hard line with her disobedient children after they’ve destroyed all the chances she has given them. Her worn-thin patience, and her pained determination, were memorable to me, as well as her calculating cleverness.
Nancy Chenier, “Subsistence.”
This story stood out for the unique and imaginative setting. The language is enchanting with some gorgeous imagery, “And though gestated by tears and howls, the infant Petra emerged swaddled in serenity.”
Well, wow. This one created such incredible visions in my mind, and I adored its SF-setting and its otherworldly feel. These elements were heightened when contrasted with the earthy, bodily descriptions of pregnancy and motherhood, and the ‘pebbles pressed between tongue and palate’, which are so concrete and easy to imagine. Just fantastic.
Eliza Archer, “The Second Flood.”
What a beautiful metaphor for life culminating in a fall over the cascading waterfall of death. Nature always wins when thought of this way. I loved the descriptions of a child growing up from infancy to death.
Life as a river, ending in a final waterfall – and beautifully written, structured and imagined, to boot. I loved the tiny details it picked up on, which made it at once so individual and yet so universal, and the aching sense of inevitability and finality at the end.
THIRD RUNNER UP
I liked the premise of this story: Man has destroyed the earth so much that there is no one left to take when the final flood comes. I love the gentle progression of erosion delivered through a nonchalant voice. This is a good narrative technique. The conflict reaches the climax with the line, “The histories claimed it was a place to live. Now, they knew it a place to die.” I loved the language and the turn of phrases throughout the story.
This story, for me, was a fascinating mix of dystopia and the present day, a window into a possible future where the planet has been destroyed almost completely and a comment on our own time, where keyboard clicks and meaningless ‘social’ interaction have rendered individuals powerless. I thought it employed wonderful language, particularly the line: ‘One by one they dropped, like flies, like people. Silently, into the darkness’, and the final stark image (that of there being nobody left to take when the final reckoning came) was unforgettable.
SECOND RUNNER UP
Marie McKay, “Streaming.”
Pratibha: This story grabbed me from the very first sentence. The movement of the waterfall is echoed in the construction of the story. I love the imaginative take on the prompt. The real problem for the mother and her sick child is poverty, but there is a strong conflict between the family and the powerful yet indifferent nature which slowly erodes the life.
As Pratibha has said, it was this story’s structure and its inevitable flow – so reminiscent of the waterfall prompt – which gave it such power and set it apart. It invites reading aloud, like a spoken-word poetry piece, the rhythm in the words like water running over stones, growing faster and faster until the inescapable end. Its dreadful impact is so memorable, its imagery so clear, and its poignant emotion so palpable, that it had to be rewarded with a podium place.
FIRST RUNNER UP
Geoff LePard, “Choosing a Path.”
This story is told through a dialogue between the son and his father. Father’s lifelong struggle to nurture his son in-spite of the obstacles is conveyed expertly. In the end will the father’s nurturing will win over the son’s melancholy nature? “I am a weight,” the son says. Will the father toss the weight? I loved the back and forth tug-of-war, and the way the water fall is weaved in the story.
As our Dragon Queen may have pointed out, I am a huge fan of dialogue in stories. When used well, it can draw a reader in like nothing else. This story, for me, was a masterclass in how to create a world, and a set of characters, using little else besides the exchanges between them. The beautiful relationship between father and son struck me, and the nurturing love they shared in the face of adversity and abandonment. The wrenching end – with its slightly ambiguous feel – remained with me, and the image of the waterfall as their final triumph, and their end, was a powerful one.
And now: for her FOURTH (!) time, it’s Flash! Friday
I love this story for many reasons. It opens with a woman standing on the precipice just like the one in the picture prompt, but then takes the reader through an emotional waterfall over the rocky mental anguish and the deep waters. An excellent metaphorical use of the prompt and a powerful conflict of a (wo)man against the nature. The author uses some powerful images and the language. I love the line that sums up the primary conflict, “Only one thing remains constant—the light in the mists of oblivion.”
I loved this story for its powerful language and imagery, but it was the repeated phrase ‘Deep calls to deep; all your waves and breakers have swept over me’ which stole my heart completely. I thought the story’s depiction of dementia (which is what I assumed the older woman was suffering from) was beautiful, and heartbreaking, and very evocative, and the story used the prompts in a powerful and unique way. The waterfall is simultaneously her decline and her power, and the story’s end sees the character being decisive, active, and in control. In short, this story rang a bell inside me, and it stayed in my mind long after I first read it.
Congratulations, Tamara! 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:
I stand at the precipice as the light flashes across the sweeping currents. Oceans of emptiness, misty ridges, and forests of oblivion blend into one conglomerate mass that shakes my inner core, shattering it—creeping cracks crawling through crumbling crevices.
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls. All your waves and breakers have swept over me.
Mom, you left the door open last night. The whispers plague me. Doctor visits, the dreaded diagnoses. She’ll need a full-time caretaker, you know.
I study the wrinkles that crease the back of my hand, the age spots that dot the surface. I do remember the whisper of cherubic lips on my cheek, pudgy fingers offering dandelion bouquets.
I don’t understand why I can’t find my children. I search the panorama, but they’re hidden in the mists.
Deep calls to deep…
Only one thing remains constant—the light in the mists of oblivion. All your waves and breakers have swept over me.
I close my eyes and step over the precipice. Tumbling, flying, falling, I hit the emptiness, the ebb, the pull of current. The world says I am lost; I’ve forgotten and will be forgotten.
I wipe the tears from my eyes and swim toward your light where home lies beyond.