Thank you to everyone for… er… Cohen (sorry again!) to the trouble of submitting an entry to Microcosms 46… 13 in all.
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 Alva Holland for judging MC 46. Here’s what she had to say:
A variety of wonderful tributes to the legendary Leonard Cohen provided me with a hugely entertaining read this weekend. I had massive difficulty choosing just one winner.
Any one of the three top stories could have been my winning pick, so I selected the one which impacted me most on first read. Well done, everyone.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Angelique Pacheco – …as he followed the head-bobbing, spiky-haired youth across the steaming tarmac towards the night club.
Angelique Pacheco – A popular problem of time travel is that you never get to go back to the same place.
Wolf Rich – The interior of ‘Bar Volatile’ resembled an outlaw Biker rally at closing time.
Steve Lodge – He owned a G-string of lingerie outlets under the name ‘This Is Your Thong.’
Bill Engleson – It is a soothing refrain if only because it is familiar, repetitive, expected, undeniable.
Geoff Le Pard – Everyone had a story about food-poisoning, beer kept too long, wine bottles exploding.
A V Laidlaw – …in those innocent days between the invention of the pill and the onslaught of Aids, the ceaseless merry-go-round of affairs and bed-swapping was probably more entertaining than skiing.
Anne Chowdhury – She lifted her long shiny tresses of hair away and tilted her head forward to allow him a look.
Steph Ellis – The two men had gone off to watch an alter-reality show, leaving her and Valeria alone to chat about life, the universe and everything, including their disappointing partners.
Meg Kovalik – She nodded, and was once again enveloped by the waiting paramedics, glints of anger seeping through their steely-eyed professionalism.
Sian Brighal – And she stood there like Nemesis made flesh, each wound in her eyes or announced on her twitching lips.
Caleb Echterling – The dull glint in their eyes brightened after human contact, but faded to panic after realizing arms trump wings as a weapon of war.
Brady Koch – She wiped her nose on a sequined sleeve that matched her skin-tight leotard.
Angelique Pacheco – Joan and Leonard
I loved the fantasy element of this. The frivolity not usually associated with tales of Joan of Arc and the adept way the storyteller introduced modern conveniences – street carts and takeaway coffee.
Honorable / Honourable Mention
Steve Lodge – Another Case for Leonard and McCarthy (Death of a Ladies’ Man)
This clever play on names and the misplaced pulling of shirt from trousers made me laugh – always a sign of a successful story. The creative banter, evocation of empathy for the embarrassed DS McCarthy, and imaginative dialogue made this story stand out.
A V Laidlaw – St. Augustine
There’s a huge hidden story here, so well-crafted and lingering under the written lines. I wanted to know more about the fifteen years that went before.
Sian Brighal – Reincarnation
A truly inventive take on the prompt. The ruminations of an old man close to death, recalling his rebirth at the hands of his long-suffering wife. Regrets, acceptance, a touch of despair. The opening paragraph is winning story material.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 46.
(insert drumroll here)
A V Laidlaw – St. Augustine
Avalanche / Death of a Ladies’ Man / Memoir
The last time I saw Terrance was at the Saint-Augustine resort. We’d been cut off by an avalanche although nobody seemed to mind too much; there was food and plenty of schnapps and, in those innocent days between the invention of the pill and the onslaught of AIDS, the ceaseless merry-go-round of affairs and bed-swapping was probably more entertaining than skiing.
Terrance was in his element. He flirted with the nubile blondes always present at that kind of resort. He rose from his chair to take my hand and kiss the back of it. He made some suggestion about joining him later, as if the past fifteen years had been nothing more than a click of his fingers.
I laughed. I couldn’t help myself. But those fifteen years had passed. Terrance’s eyes were filmed with yellow, and the expensive suits that had always fitted him so well now hung loose over his body. He coughed and dabbed a handkerchief against his lips.
“You don’t have regrets?” he asked. I remember that. I remember that perfectly.
“Never have regrets, darling.”
He died in the night. There was a fuss as they tried to decide where to store the body until the road was cleared. He would have liked that, I think, being the centre of attention, sending the unflappable resort manager into a fluster. One of the maids came and told me what had happened. I didn’t know what to feel. I would blame the schnapps for the numbness, but I still don’t know what to feel.
I went outside on the balcony where it was too cold to feel anything at all. The snow from the avalanche lay perfect and smooth over the slopes, and the ice crystals glittered in the sunlight. The damage lay underneath.
Bill Engleson – I Would Have Stayed Longer but I’d Already Departed. And if I’d Been a Little Stronger I Wouldn’t Have Been So Broken-hearted
This also wins first prize for the best and most entertaining title.
The morose atmosphere of the late-night Tavern fell over me like a shroud through which the rest of this story seeped.
The lonely narrator’s tale dripped from each line until the last when he cried awake until dawn.
With its superb imagery and harmonious flow, this tale won the closely fought battle for my Judge’s Pick.
Closing Time / Death of a Ladies’ Man / Memoir
Some nights, the darkness creeps in like a murky fog. I sit in the shadows of the Troubadour Tavern, way back in the corner where the dust balls fornicate. The smoke from the snuffed-out candle twirls up into the bleak light of the bare bulb. It hangs from a frayed cord, threatening a sharp, snake-like bite of electrical élan, a flash of pity, a skid of sorrow.
Gilles, my man behind the bar, thunders out his usual cry of conclusion. “CLOSING TIME, MY PRETTY LOVERS AND LOSERS. PACK UP YOUR FAILURES AND SKULK YOUR WAY HOME.”
It is a soothing refrain, if only because it is familiar, repetitive, expected, undeniable.
It was not always this way.
Through the miasma of memory that drapes over me like a shadow box, I remember, with a clarity that only a sober man can know, how I once was.
I listened to my women. As they narrowed in on me with their curvaceous turn of phrase, their soft ascent to a sweeter moment, I recall that I was their man.
I was that man.
I swear, I was.
But somewhere, on some twist in the road, on some icy stretch of highway, I slipped off into a ravine. I clung to the damp grass of my inevitable slide, a lover gone to seed, a roué past due.
I now know that the death of a ladies’ man is not a pleasing sight. It is a slow lingering decay, a composing of lost loves, lovers piled high on the fallen leaves of a discontented autumn.
Each night I crawl out of the Troubadour Tavern and wend my lowly carcass back to the two-story walk-up of my fate.
The moon, every so often, speaks their names and I cry awake until dawn.
Congratulations, Bill. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know whether or not you are interested ASAP!