Thank you to all who, in Microcosms 79, submitted their take on one of the favourite/favorite lines from the previous 13 weeks of the contest. A warm welcome to first-time entrants: Anne J., Chirayu, Camden Goetz, yaz c., Kimberly, Kaylee Schuler, Kara Schuler and Andres Esparza; and a hearty welcome back to returning long-lost friends Nthato Morakabi, Sal Page and Steph Ellis.
A huge leap in the number of entries this week – just like the last time that I tried this exercise. Once again it would be interesting to know if people prefer the freedom allowed by not having the slot machine of elements: if you have an opinion, please leave a comment below.
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.
Dana Faletti stepped up to the plate to judge MC 79. Here’s what she had to say:
This was a tough week to judge. It was so much fun to see how all of the talented flashdogs incorporated their lines into their pieces. It was a fun change not to be tied to genre and prompts, but it was also challenging. When the prompt is wide-open, it can be even more difficult to decide what to write about. Thanks for having me on as guest judge. I enjoyed reading all of the entries!
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – The air was summer dry. There was no wind. He rocked, sweated, wiped his brow with a checkered hanky, told me to sit opposite.
L. Meadow – I turn and walk down the hill, and coming up was my neighbour limned in the early light, I nodded to her, absent in my thoughts – directions – they are everywhere, we just need to know the local language.
A J Walker – Close window. Delete History.
Nthato Morakabi – Waitresses in translucent skin, shades of jade, emerald and gold, carried trays stacked with drinks.
Alva Holland – They returned your skateboard to me like some sort of memento.
Sal Page – One pound fifty for a dusty bottle with a sad-eyed creature in. Poor little thing was trapped in the viscous liquid, hands pressed against the glass.
Geoff Le Pard – It’s them axles of devils. Korean.’
Kelly Griffiths – The engineering marvel rescued lower backs and killed jobs, but Cal wouldn’t know anything about that, being seven.
Angelique Pacheco – Sally grinned as she sat down, ready. It would be a night to remember.
Steve Lodge – Hideous events had occurred there – ten ghastly murders in three months – but I’d already bought the bungalow.
Chirayu – where the torch / of fear is standing in the way / with an illusionist message in / a bottle are the way of the mark,
Steph Ellis – So I drew her a picture made by the words hooked onto my heart. I didn’t notice her tears watering the page
Nancy Beach – Am I crazy? I am. Just tell me. I’m crazy, aren’t I?
Eloise – He had lit the match, and now his life was in cinders.
Anne J. – Whispers of anger and sadness tore through him as he remembered the first time stepping into the house. That time the breeze was a welcome friend and there were hundreds of items that accompanied the wardrobe.
JK – He went to bed that night exhausted, waking up a few times drenched from sweat and horrendous nightmares
Sian Brighal – She’s caught sight of my reflection. Her breaths come stronger, and it seems to me she’s rubbing me out
Camden Goetz – The stilettos boosted his frame and confidence; he was fine being stared at tonight. At least he would be seen for who he really is.
AJ Aguilar-Van Der Merwe – She could go from happy to miserable, and vice versa, in a matter of minutes.
Bill Bibo – “A griffin, a kracken, and a minotaur walked into a bar…”
yaz c. – …reaching for the calories that she had ate, telling them to come back. You don’t belong there.
She flushes the toilet and walks out of the bathroom, silently.
M Irene Hill – Under love’s heavy burden do I sink. For never was a story of more woe.
Kara Schuler – No one knows terror unless they’re claustrophobic, short, and surrounded by giants
Kaylee Schuler – “I try to get my mind off it by working hard,” he said. “That’s why I’m always ahead of everyone.”
Andres Esparza – Her skin was pale and lifeless, her eyes empty and white, and her face smirking, exposing broken yellow teeth inside.
Kimberly – Dipping into the bathroom, she shape-shifted into the sluttiest outfit she could imagine, which ended up being a low-cut black shirt paired with painted-on leggings. It was the best she could think of on short notice and with low energy.
Honorable / Honourable Mentions
Sian Brighal – Still Here in Each Breath
This story had such a poetic tone to it, and I am a sucker for this flowy language. Melancholy, melodrama, emotion. This is a story that you feel when you read it. Even though there is little action, there is a ton of feeling, and I loved that.
Kaylee Schuler – Ants
This was just such a cool way to interpret this line. I loved the story from the ants’ point of view. I loved how they referred to the “creatures who live on the blanket.” Such a creative idea!
Steph Ellis – Word
Because it is evocative and creepy.
I loved how the story had a timeline and unfolded. I loved being in the mind of the crazy person who doesn’t realize she’s crazy. This story was definitely well-thought out and displayed great voice.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 79.
(insert drumroll here)
Alva Holland – Joining the Dots
#68 – The rain seems to be writing cryptic messages on my window panes.
The rain seems to be writing cryptic messages on my window panes. I haven’t left the house in days, no, weeks it seems. Or so they tell me, these people who tell me I should go out, carry on, move on, accept, remember with love not hate, forgive, forget, dismiss, lighten up, lose the grief, open up to someone, smile more. The list is endless.
When you feel my pain, that’s when you will all know how futile your advice is, how insulting and unhelpful you are. Do I make your lives more miserable by being miserable? Am I selfish? Are you selfish? Which of us is more selfish?
Why do you think I should ‘snap out of it’? Maybe you should snap out of your comfortable, not-yet-invaded-by-grief-ridden life, and try to imagine what it might be like.
I’ve taken to deciphering the rain’s messages. Non-judgmental as they wind their way down the pane, the snaking rivulets are cool and meandering like a spring stream bubbling from earth’s well, fresh with ideas and life. Like you, they don’t know how soon their end will come, theirs on a rubber seal at the bottom, careening off the sill into oblivion.
They continue to run and chase, forming calming messages, riveting me to my spot, not asking, not suggesting, just running and sliding, like you were, my love, when life’s cruelty snatched you away.
They returned your skateboard to me like some sort of memento. It sliced me in two, like you were, my love, ending your life and mine. Except yours was supposed to outlive mine, not the other way around.
Not long now, my darling. The messages are clear. I believe in the rain’s words. Not so cryptic now, the clues all point to reuniting with you.
Microcosms 79 Judge’s Pick
Kelly Griffiths – The Gift
This was so creative. I thought Cal’s child voice came through from the beginning. The fear of the garbage truck is something common, but the story was really unique and brought that fear to life in a personal way. I loved the dad’s idea of placing a gift-wrapped box on top of the garbage to help his child fight his fear. Great job!
#73 – It moved slowly down his skin like a finger hesitant on a trigger.
Cal feared the new garbage truck: its dinosaur bellow of steel on steel as the automated arm plucked the blue plastic containers like weeds, flipped them upside down, and dumped the contents with an explosive crash. The engineering marvel rescued lower backs and killed jobs, but Cal wouldn’t know anything about that, being seven.
All he knew was the men were gone.
Until the horrid business was done, Cal stayed inside. No amount of cajoling would get him out on garbage day. One day the truck never came. Lucky it was summer.
Cal’s dad decided this couldn’t go on.
On top of the can was a gorgeously-wrapped box, tied with a purple bow. If Cal didn’t take it, the garbage truck would.
“What is it?”
“Go find out.” Dad winked.
Cal feared. Feared and coveted and the warring emotions dueled inside his young mind for preeminence. Desire began to get the upper hand; it moved slowly down his skin like a finger hesitant on a trigger. Cal placed his hands around the doorknob.
“Better go, son. I hear the truck.”
The sound of squeaking brakes in the distance. The sound of dinosaur arms.
“They wouldn’t throw it away?”
The dinosaur was on his street. Cal could see its scalpel blade slide through the loops of a can. Still fear rooted him.
At the neighbor’s.
Something in him broke. He gripped the doorknob fiercely. Then realized: the bolt. Frantic, he jammed his fingers in his haste to undo it. The monster was right in front of his house now, about to take his present. The bolt slid free. Cal threw open the door and sprinted like a jack rabbit.
The blade came screeching out. It grabbed. Cal grabbed.
Just in time.
“Hey kid, watch it,” said the driver.
Congratulations, Kelly. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please click HERE to let us know whether or not you are interested!