Thank you to all who returned to post their entry in Microcosms 37. For reasons unknown, the number of submissions fell to single figures this week… You know what to do: please keep returning to Microcosms, and retweet / spread the word about this contest among your followers and friends.
Don’t forget that Microcosms exists primarily to provide a platform for the flash fiction community to hone their skills, and secondarily to give entrants a chance of receiving an accolade from that week’s judge. We also have the vote button for anyone, not just fellow entrants, to register their favourite/favorite(s) and thus establish a Community Pick.
Remember, you can reply with a comment to any and all of the entries AT ANY TIME: It’s good to have feedback.
Many thanks to Bill Engleson for judging MC 37. Here’s what he had to say:
The September rains have arrived in my little rain forest corner of the world. In the past day or two, whatever bits of lingering summer balminess there may have been have departed. We have returned, inexorably, to drizzle: damn wet, woeful drizzle. But no matter if the Autumn rains are cold, or even teasingly hint at a false memory of warmth, I find this season full of ancient thoughts, memories swirling about like leaves collecting, lonely and discarded, on the mournful earth, sparking remembrances of various lives lived, both in truth and in fiction.
And, of course, the times ahead.
The beauty of writing, the absolute exquisiteness of it, is that we writers can travel through time and place, draw on the mysteries we have lived, or thought about, or may yet create.
And then there are the bits of barminess once summer departs. Which brings me to the array of microcosmic flash that treated me, and you, dear reader, this week. (And, co-incidentally, and this has just struck me with probably less import than I am giving it, next Wednesday, September 21st, I will chair the 37th AGM of my favourite volunteer activity, serving on the Board of Directors of the HDCHCS – aka The Hornby & Denman Community Health Care Society. I can’t speak for all writers, but I find that, plodding along in my later years, I need to remain grounded in the real world.)
But back to the matter at hand. We had a somewhat smaller turnout than expected this week . My judging rule of thumb, which I have just made up and am quite happy with, is that the number of recognitions should not be more than half the number of entries. I hope no one thinks I am doing this because I am a lazy bunny. All the stories were fun and creative; a few more entries would have engendered more awards.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Alva Holland – She caught up with him, courted him, stepped on him, crushed his ambitions and replaced them with her own.
Steve Lodge – Truth is, I am a pensioner and I have to chew soup.
Holly Geely – “Warning: lie detected. Self has been confirmed to be ‘a ton of fun’.”
Geoff Le Pard – Dugald joined the local authority a day before Donald and was granted a pay rise and his own stapler first.
Steph Ellis – Whispering voices caught his attention, the tannoy was crackling into life.
Richard Edenfield – Returning home is like a poem in the rear-view; things are larger than they appear.
Geoff Holme – I immediately recognized the composition: the graceful positioning of one hand on the chair arm, the other above, the enigmatic play of a smile on her delicate lips.
Honorable / Honourable Mention
Holly Geely – Home with Self
Back in the late 1970s, Julie Christie starred in a wonderful film called ‘Demon Seed’. There was a futuristic quality to it; a house that thought, that made decisions, that exercised control over the lovely Julie. Unpleasant, intrusive decisions.
It made me want to live in a technology-free tree house… with Julie, of course. Neither happened, needless to say, although we do have a tree house on our property.
But, as some say, frequently, I digress.
I love the banter in this piece. Man and Machine. Husband and Machine. This morsel of dialogue cracked me up, and I am a sucker for a spaceship-trapped love story:
“You’re no fun,” said Captain X’d.
“Warning: lie detected. Self has been confirmed to be ‘a ton of fun’.”
Steph Ellis – We Apologise for the Inconvenience
Many years ago, I found myself waiting on a train station at a place called Pivka in the old Yugoslavia. I mention it to friends whenever the trials of travel rear up in conversation. Or whenever I read fine stories such as this. Of course, I left Pivka more or less unscathed, albeit hungry for a meal. And really, the stopover issues were more of language than marauding, somewhat polite flesh eaters from hell. All that rambling aside, this was a pleasingly dark set piece on the dangers of pretty much everything, but certainly of train stopovers.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 37.
(insert drumroll here)
Alva Holland – The Boy Next Door
Politician / Childhood Home / Romance
She loves me, she loves me not. She must love me – she gave me a cabinet position. Don’t be an idiot, the voice inside me hollers – just shrewdness on her part – keeping me in my place. Next door at No. 11, not at No. 10. Never at No. 10.
Funny, that numbers thing. Who knew that No. 10 Cranley Place would be the former home of a future Prime Minister? Who knew that the boy next door at No. 11 wouldn’t get the kiss he always sought until he gave up and found another willing to give? The girl at No. 10 knew where she was going alright – she had her sights set on yer man up in the ‘poshy’ square. He was on her path and ultimately in her way. She caught up with him, courted him, stepped on him, crushed his ambitions and replaced them with her own. Dirty business this.
But I loved her and I loved her not. Still do and don’t, if truth be known, depending on the day. Can’t let her get a whiff of that – ruination of me guaranteed. As I watch her run the country in her clean-cut business suits and ‘efficient’ hairdo, can’t help but see the little girl in the tomboy pants and flyaway curls. Scrambling up the trees, guarding the treehouse door with an iron fist, dismissing those who didn’t pass her strict muster. Always first up that tree. Should have seen the clues back then. Always ahead of us.
There she goes now, head down into the shiny Merc. A lightning turn of her head has her looking straight at me. She’s waving. Oh shit. She knows.
Microcosms 37 Judge’s Pick
Richard Edenfield – Happy Hour is on Prozac
It wasn’t just the rain or the fact that the narrator is a writer that drew me into this somber tale. There is such sad poetic beauty here or, perhaps, sad, dark, frightening (yet strangely comforting) tricks of the mind, in the detailing of his characters inner life, a life returning to his days of yore. Whatever it is, the language is rich and full of sounds. They enter the narrator’s brain and rumble about like too many coins in his pocket.
He arrives, he wallows, he is lost. Is there anything sadder than his lament? “I am homeless in my hometown.”
There are anchors of reality. The bench, perhaps, the bar, possibly. The inheritance, if it really is?
In any case, I whirled about in this tale as if captured by a cyclone and it suited my judgmental mood today.
Homeless Person / Train Station / Memoir
“Nature fights by disappearing.” That was carved into an old wooden bench here at the train station. The bench itself was disappearing, worn from decades of waiting. I have my writing in a container. An old typewriter paper box. It is my memoirs, my train station bench engaged with tree rings turned into answers.
I am homeless in my hometown: Cabot, Vermont. But there is a place waiting for me. My mother passed and left me the house that I haven’t seen in 30 years.
There’s a bar/restaurant on the small Main Street. It’s covered with a first snow. It looks like a child getting dressed up for the first time. A bit awkward and noisy. The sound of a pool table. Laughter. Television. Fine crystal glasses torching air with a delicate siren. Bottles rattling conversation.
I enter and sit at the bar and get a whiskey. Returning home is like a poem in the rear-view; things are larger than they appear. The thud of a dart hitting a board the sound of a large chunk of snow falling off the roof. A flame in a fireplace pointing to every direction of freedom. A soul devoured Grand Central.
Returning is leaving with a chaser. A subdued tranquil assassination. Falling up. I turn the key. Lock breaks. I open the door. And I skid into a tree. There is a loud horn that rips through the sky. It pierces the night with a monosyllabic cry.
My Memoir is called ‘Happy Hour is on Prozac.’ The story of a bipolar alcoholic writer. I will stand here and listen to the sirens as they come to visit the place I once called home. I will follow thier song into the rocky shores, as if death was nothing more than a reckless toast.
Congratulations, Richard. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know if you are interested!