Thanks to everyone who contributedthis week. Though one was just for fun from our judge, we had 15 awesome entries this week! 🙂
Lots of good stories. I did not envy his task this week!
Also, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to see so many familiar names – and to keep seeing new ones! It’s very gratifying. I know this is just another weekly contest, but it really means a lot to me to see people contribute. So, please know that you are appreciated!
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.
And many thanks to Matthieu Cartron for judging MC 96. Here’s what he had to say:
I enjoyed reading the entries this week and there were several stories that stood out, and I had some difficulty choosing. This site is a wonderful resource for any aspiring (and established) writer who wishes to improve their writing. We all have to practice. So keep writing!
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Justin J – It was something he could pour heart and soul into, something that made him feel younger every time he finished a story.
Bill Engleson – Big-haired wives are intimidating. They’re always a foot taller.
Eloise – “Where am I?” asked Jayden. “In hell.”
Mark Sadler – “. . . Also, you are changing the topography of my floor. It will take months to repair.”
Angelique Pacheco – Mr. Hakko looked at me and replied, “The drink is complimentary.”
Frank Key – “Jah. It is now.”
Liz Elliott – “No,” I replied. “He wasn’t a renegade. He was human.”
Alva Holland – Like the barges, we floated along, me wishing this could last forever. Nothing does.
Steph Ellis – “Vladimir Vladimirovich, come back here and put your pants on … properly.”
Chapman White – In Paris or New York or London or Taipei you have artists and thinkers and writers and people who want desperately to do something, be someone, make a mark; but these sorts all get swallowed up by the great pulsing neon monument to wage-slavery that is Tokyo.
Geoff Le Pard – She was a carefully selected mark, rich, not likely to be much missed and the perfect age. How the hell had he lost his teeth?
Matthieu Cartron (Entry was just for fun – fave line is my choice. Agree with Geoff that it’s a great piece! -KM) – The rain sloshed and swelled in tightly woven yokochos outside, through mazes of serpentine streets and sinewy weaves of pavement.
M Levi – How could they spend their lives together if he didn’t understand her need to kill her father?
Frank Trautman – Poppy seeds, he burbles. Is there a market for those?
Geoff Holme – “There’s an ‘O’ in ‘Phoenix’, notwithstanding the United States’ predilection for the simplification of diphthongs.”
Honourable / Honorable Mention
M Levi – Wrong and Right
What is unsaid in this story is what unsettles. Sometimes it’s important to remember that good writing often means showing and not telling—and that is done well here. The writing is tight and the dialogue is believable. The interaction and dialogue between Jane and Cameron reveal their lack of moral grounding, which is mirrored by a cold, gray setting.
Steph Ellis – A Load of Borscht
A Load of Old Borscht
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 96.
(insert drumroll here)
It’s a tie!
Bill Engleson – A Winter in Casablanca
300 gin joints
Detective / Casablanca / Life is a Comedy
He was a broken, mostly bald, little fellow who looked like all the love-twisted twerps who’d ever came knocking at my door. They have all pleaded with me to find her, almost to a man, or perhaps closer to a mouse, saying “I still love her,” moaning, “She’s just gone off her nut. I want her back.”
So, you see, he was no different.
“You’ve a picture?” I asked.
“Yes, in DeeDee,” he says, like he’s got a penny whistle stuck in his throat. He hauls out a five by ten and hands it over.
I take a gander. I wouldn’t kick her out of the henhouse just because the fox had entered.
First thing I notice, she had big hair. Big-haired wives are intimidating. They’re always a foot taller.
“Any idea where she’s gone?” I do my patented follow-up query.
Usually these guys know where the lady has gone. Why they don’t go after them themselves is not a question I care to ask. I know the answer. In this case, she had big hair and he was mostly hairless. A massive mismatch.
“Casablanca,” he says.
“Really,” I say. And I’m impressed. She must be a true romantic.
“Do you know why?” I ask.
“That stupid movie. We’ve watched it a dozen times. She asked me to go with her. I said…they filmed the damn thing on a Hollywood backlot. And Arizona. She called me a liar.”
I could see his problem. He wasn’t a liar. He was just too damn practical. Practical men kill romance every time.
So, I said, “Catch a plane. You’re the only one who can find her. She’s waiting for you.”
I hope the schmuck took my advice.
I hate to think I talked myself out of another free winter in Casablanca.
M Levi – Wrong and Right
Wedding Planner / New York City / Crime
The wind scraped at her face and tangled her hair, but she stared into it with her eyes closed. It was loud enough up there that she didn’t hear Cameron joining her.
He ran his fingers through Jane’s hair, smiling slightly.
“Aren’t you cold?”
She shrugged. He took off his jacket and wrapped it around her. Late August, and the nights were just starting to get frigid in New York. Jane didn’t feel it anymore.
“I talked with the planner. They said that if we wait until winter we can get a venue out in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Imagine. The snow might be falling. It’ll match your dress.”
“I don’t want to wait until winter,” Jane reminded him. “I can’t.”
He shifted, his fingers more insistent in her hair. “Janie. Do you ever wonder…”
“I’m just saying. You could let this go. He doesn’t have to die, you know. Just rescind the invitation. We’ll get married. We can move on. Together.”
Jane pulled away from Cameron. It was statements like this that gave her doubts about their entire relationship. How could they spend their lives together if he didn’t understand her need to kill her father? How could she trust him if he didn’t trust her with this, the most important decision she had ever made?
“What are you so afraid of, Cam?”
“They can’t trace it back to us. He’s never been healthy. Bad fish, that’s what the planner says she can get us. There’s no one left that cares if he lives or dies. We just wait until the wedding. And then we’re free.”
A car honked from far below and Cameron smiled slightly and Jane knew that he was Mr. Right, but most importantly, he wouldn’t say no.
Alva Holland – A Life Outside the Pages
Flash fiction—because of its brevity—often makes it difficult to create a sense of place and time—but this story achieves this. The imagery is vivid, appeals to the senses, and allows the nostalgia and loss to be palpable. And at the end, despite this loss, we are left with hope. Well done.
Bookseller / London / Romance
Pieces of me are scattered through the pages stored on these shelves, like the 888,246 poppies cascading from the Tower, filling the moat with sadness, remembrance and beauty.
Beauty, power, history, all reflecting death.
Our walk across Tower Bridge, past City Hall where we took selfies by the black egg, you pulling a goofy face, me wondering what I did to deserve you, riverside. Tourists milling, taking pictures across the flowing Thames that divides, separates, while joining the pieces of this great city in patchwork harmony. Like the barges, we floated along, me wishing this could last forever. Nothing does.
Hay’s Galleria beckoned where we sat under bright red umbrellas, contemplating The Navigators, its sword catching the glinting sun through the concaved dome. Along South Bank, our quirkiness no match for its shameless abundance of gay abandon exploding inside and out of the National Theatre, whose red box temporariness quickly became an icon. Once there, now gone, like us.
The roof garden was a surprise. Queen Elizabeth Hall gave no indication of the delights that lay above until we emerged onto the pathway where you ducked behind purple-painted olive tree planters and I couldn’t stop you snipping some jasmine to carry the garden with us as we left.
We left. You left, and I’m left with my books. The day you walked into my world, for the first time, for that split-second, my books came second. I saw a life outside the pages.
As I turn the sign on the door and pull down the blind, I think I see you standing outside. For a moment, a brief exhilarating moment, I hope. The night is clear, soft rain begins to fall. My feet take me to the Tower where the poppies glisten in the moonlight.
Congratulations, Alva. Please let us know if you’d like to judge the next go round!