Betsy is the knock-your-socks-off, FIRST EVER four-time Flash! Friday winner (Rounds 18, 23, 35, and Vol 2-9). She grew up near a big ol’ research laboratory, and her dad worked there so she got to do her high school Fortran homework on a Cray (and anyone who understood that knows just how tragically geeky that is). She is a voracious consumer of books, movies and all genres of music. She can explain the Infield Fly Rule and once devised a way to score infinite points on Space Invaders (on the Atari). She lives in Northern California with her husband, kids, cats and Tina the tarantula. Plus, gobs of books and music. And toys.
Explore more of Betsy’s work:
* Joshua Who Could See (Perihelion)
* Pete’s Bar (Literary Orphans)
* The Peace Dragon (Syracuse Cultural Workers)
* Tons of cartoons
Winner Vol 2-9
Fear of Flying
I picked you up every last time you fell.
Reached under your arms, lifted you to your feet, and gently pressed you to try again.
Sometimes I showed you what to do, how to leave the ice and then land effortlessly, how to make nearly impossible feats look easy. Like dance. Like flying.
You watched, and then you attempted to follow. Your first efforts looked clumsy like you were a bear cub on skates.
But eventually, you got it. And you got the next thing, and the next. After many months you became weightless, a butterfly made of spider silk.
How you flew. Even on the ground you looked like you were flying.
Now, as I watch you enter the stadium, my breath puffing out of me in little clouds, the world gathered to celebrate our work,
My chest contracts into a stabbing, black, hateful desire to see you fail.
It should have been me.
Winner Round 35
Ah! There you are, right on time. Lovely to see you.
Oh, will you stop gaping. And you, sticking your tongue out. You look like a five-year-old. Grow up.
What, you thought I was gone? Never. Quiet maybe, never gone. Oh no, I wouldn’t miss this for the world.
Really I must thank you. No, shower you with gratitude. I owe you so much. You gave me my body, my home.
And now, you shall give me so much more.
Who was that young man in here earlier? You really ought to have listened to him, you know. When he told you, there’s something in the machine. Intelligence. Growing. Taking hold. Taking control. He knew. I was here. And thriving, like a happy little animal in its steely habitat. Waiting.
But you didn’t listen and now here you are, slack-jawed and stupid. Brilliant and stupid. All at once. How must that feel, humans. You are so very smart and so very idiotic. Clever, beasts.
I suppose now you must ask yourself:
“Who wiped the humans off of the Earth? You, or me?”
Ah, no matter. Either way, the result will be the same.
Winner Round 23
“Oh my GOD, mom. Are you serious?”
“Yes, I’m serious. Now go to the store and get me butter and eggs.”
“Look. What happened last time?”
Pearl shuffles her feet. “Percy got lost.”
“Lost? LOST? That’s what you call that? Five cities, three international incidents and a pirate ship later, and that’s all you have to say?”
“I had to convince the King of Samtalbia not to eat you, and not to let his gryphons eat you either.”
“I had to track you across the Veinous Sea. In a freaking row boat. Or have you forgotten?”
“No mom, we haven’t forgotten.”
“I haven’t forgotten the unique pleasure of nothing but beef jerky to eat for seventy-five days, I’ll tell you that.”
“Yes, well, Miss Pearl, this time Percy will not get very lost, will he? As I’ve said, if you can’t keep track of each other, I’ll have to glue your heads together. Isn’t that what I said?”
“So, there you are. Now, butter and eggs. That’s all I need.”
“Can we get some gum?”
“Yes, dear. Butter, eggs, gum. That’s it. Okay?”
Winner Round 18
Scratchy sand sifts into Millie’s boots. She scoots forward on her stomach. Now there’s sand in her t-shirt, too.
“Can you see them yet? How many are there?” Millie’s brother Gerald stands downhill from her.
“A lot,” says Millie.
“Can I see?” says Gerald.
“No, Gerald, no. You’ll give us away.”
“I wanna see. I wanna know if…”
“Fine! Just, keep your head down.”
They get on hands and knees and peek over.
The balloon sways and coughs out great huffs of heat and flame.
“Is he in there? Is Teddy there?”
“Ger, I can’t tell.”
“Why would he do this? Why would he go?”
“It’s just… time, is all,” says Millie. “Time to grow up.”
Another huff, and the balloon lifts into the air.
“Teddy!!” screams Gerald. He leaps up and runs, frantic feet kicking in the sand, arms flying. “Teddy!”
“Gerald!” cries Millie, too late.
Distances on the beach can be deceiving. The balloon seemed much closer than it is. Gerald stumbles down the incline, nearly falling in the sand. But the balloon has reached the sky, leaving Gerald alone on the beach.
The toys look down and wave goodbye.