Thank you to all who submitted a Hemingway-inspired entry to Microcosms 81, and a warm welcome to first-time entrant, Zoe Perrenoud. There were 16 entries this week (plus one ‘just 4 fun’ entry from your host).
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.
Nancy M. Beach stepped up to the plate to judge MC 81. Here’s what she had to say:
This is the first opportunity I’ve had to judge, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I enjoyed every minute of the process. It was fun seeing each of your interpretations of the events from Hemingway’s life. I found myself drawn to stories that were memorable, evoked emotion and had depth to them. It was a privilege to read each piece, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – Entertain them. Keep them occupied with stories of the president’s goofiness. They eat that stuff up.
Ell Meadow – No, mon, iz a metaphor how we be strugglin’ troo life.
A J Walker – I’ve not met a single soldier who can tell me sensibly what they are fighting for.
Zoe Perrenoud – A shout crawled up in her throat.
Carin Marais – The smell of disinfectant hung in the air..He looked back at the screen.
Nthato Morakabi – War? To us, it is not war but life. The only life we know.
Kelly Griffiths – From its tiny mouth came a wet sound, like a child’s hands in the mud.
Jeff Messick – War is art and the general’s brushstrokes rivaled that of the masters.
Eloise – It actually looked like they were playing tennis and the victim was the ball.
Bill Engleson – My left knee was shooting pains like a safety pin had been jammed in by a very short assassin.
Geoff Le Pard – He said it was like tickling trout.
Angelique Pacheco – “You’ll be okay,” She said, trying to force calm into her voice. This was a sentence she had repeated hundreds of times during this war. Sometimes it was true.
Kaylee Schuler – He wrote in a messy blend of Portuguese and English, and I thought that was wonderful.
Michael Emerson – Quickly, Ben searched his pockets for a pen and his ever-ready notepad.
JK – We both made a life for ourselves and, you could say, for one another as well.
Steph Ellis – Mithra watches as I fall into the darkness, snorting with satisfaction at the birth of my belief.
Ell Meadow – Reading Hemingway
This story had me in stitches. It reminded me a bit of Huck Finn. I give it a special mention because of creativity and memorability.
Honorable / Honourable Mentions
Steph Ellis – Sacrificial Bull
The story drew me in and kept me interested. I enjoyed the action combined with the depth of the process the narrator goes through from unbelief to belief. I was rooting for the narrator to survive! I wondered what made this run different – why couldn’t he stop running, so he didn’t have to fall into the pit?
Nthato Morakabi – Too Many to Count
I loved the last sentence. Great ending. The story grabbed my heart strings. Great job of showing the pain of war and not just telling about it. I would suggest mixing things up and not using sprawling twice in one sentence. I also wondered if it was meant to read, “the gut..” I had a hard time picking out my favorite sentence – lots of good ones to choose from.
Carin Marais – Last Words
This story had depth, a strong ending and evoked emotion as I read it. It left me pondering the wisdom of old age and the foolishness of the young. As well as how many gems can we glean from spending time with the elderly. I also liked that I got the story on the first read though –sometimes a hard feat with flash fiction. Great title choice – those two words say a lot.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 81.
(insert drumroll here)
Zoe Perrenoud – Out in the Field
Ambulance Driver; Battlefield; Crime
It took Margie three tries to start the van. The real ambulance they’d had at the start of the war was in France now, along with Stuart and the rest of the men. When the engine finally puthered to life, she pulled out of the warehouse and headed towards the cathedral.
Columns of smoke streaked the dawn sky above Sheffield. Last night had been a full moon. ‘All the better to see us by,’ Alice had joked inside the makeshift hospital’s shelter. Then the city’s bones had started to shake. Polly’s sobs had turned to keening shrieks, despite Margie’s efforts to calm her. Exhaustion threatened to claim her now, but there was work to do.
Margie brought the van as far into the wreckage as she dared, and followed Alice to the gaping maw of a building. Other dust-covered shapes had gathered to pick apart the stones.
‘Isn’t that where Mrs Johnson lived?’
A quick nod. Mrs Johnson was Stuart’s old piano teacher. He used to visit her sometimes. Brought her cakes, stayed for a duet or two. Margie had thought it sweet.
The women climbed over debris, shielding their mouths with their sleeves. As she was about to enter the collapsed building, something brushed against Margie’s ankle. She glanced at the hand protruding from under a large slab of stone. A shout crawled up her throat.
Then she saw the wedding band. The woven Welsh gold they had chosen together on holiday in Llandudno three years ago, before Polly was born and the world had collapsed.
She remembered his last message home: LEAVE POSTPONED INDEFINITELY.
Polly’s cries still ringing in her ears, Margie leaned on the stone until the hand stopped twitching.
Microcosms 79 Judge’s Pick
Kelly Griffiths – The Shot
Hours after reading this story, I still squirmed as I thought of the sentence, “Her iron-rich neck and shoulder muscle was, in fact, the dog’s meal”. That’s a home run – leaving the reader with emotion long after the words are read. Great play on words: “I took the shot” meant camera – not what I initially thought. Beautiful command of the English language. A pleasure to read.
Foreign Correspondent; Battlefield; Memoir
Like all the outliers I’ve covered, this planet was named for some dead Earthian. Back then, you could have a star named after yourself for less than the cost of a decent dinner. This man had a hundred stars named after him.
Trump XV looked no different than all the others. When the infrastructure goes, it’s all dust and rubble, looters and legionnaires. The wise stay underground in the shelters.
I came upon a fluffy white Havanese. The little guy reclined on his owner’s grimed and tattered form, nuzzling her neck.
A flimsy, leaf-like hand made feeble efforts to brush away the wee beast. She shook her head from side to side. Her iron-rich neck and shoulder muscle was, in fact, the dog’s meal.
I took the shot.
Took it from several angles. All the while she moaned and uttered the same word over and over. I didn’t speak Svoodian, but I could guess what the word was.
“Just a minute,” I told her as I stepped over her splayed legs to get a better angle. I crouched down for the close-up. The dog wasn’t budging. From its tiny mouth came a wet sound, like a child’s hands in mud.
Probably the woman didn’t understand me, either, so I held up one finger.
I sent the shot to my editor with this caption: Dogs wearing collars become dinner or diners, depending on who kills who first.
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!