Thank you to all who joined in the birthday celebrations in Microcosms 38 – a goodly number this week… 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 Richard Edenfield for judging MC 38. Here’s what he had to say, starting with an original take on the preamble:
Interviewer: How do you find judging, Mr. Edenfield?
RE: Make a left at Greenland. (Pause) It makes me feel uncomfortable. Like suddenly becoming the mirror I am looking in.
Interviewer: How was it reading the stories?
RE: I felt like I wanted to hug all the writers and tell them how wonderful they all were. I wanted to invite them all over to my house. I wanted to make dinner for them.
RE: I know how it feels waiting for feedback. It is like asking someone out on a date, and then that pause while the answer is pending. If I had them all over to my house we could read poetry together, then watch football while eating butterscotch ice cream in front of my fireplace!
Interviewer: How long did it take you to pick the winners?
RE: About 40 seconds.
Intervewer: Being from America, and growing up in places not far from where Springsteen grew up and wrote about – do you like him?
RE: ‘Born in the USA‘ was required reading for my ears, and my ears became dog-eared from listening to it so much, like the well-worn pulp novel by Dashiell Hammett that I carried around in my faded blue jeans at the Jersey Shore while eating sausages and clams. But my favorite album of his is ‘Born to Run.’ And I have been inspired by great songwriters as much as by any literary writing: Kurt Cobain, Prince, Buddy Holly, Jim Croce, John Lennon… Springsteen, etc.
Interviewer: Will you want to judge, again?
Richard Edenfield: God no! I secretly pray every week that I will lose so I will not have to judge. I got unlucky this time, but maybe next time fortune will smile on me.
[ Note to Richard: Judging isn’t compulsory… If you’d prefer doing the creative thing, rather than giving your opinion on everyone else, just decline the offer! 🙂 ]
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – It’s like his lungs are full of tears.
Alva Holland – Somehow she guessed and led me to a waterside bench where a weeping willow hung over us like a suspended umbrella.
Steve Lodge – “If we gonna have all these dates, mister, you gotta stop calling me Cuddles, Kitten, Doorstop, Honey… my name is Amanda.”
Sian Brighal – His voice saunters up the dark staircase, casual like a welcomed visitor, and the bullnose creaks under his heavy foot.
Carin Marais – The everlasting dance lured me away from the shuttle, sung its siren song, made me turn off the communication so I could better hear the stars and planets’ silent music.
A J Walker – These docks were like some lead-lined box, and mobile coverage was as fleeting as a moment of truth in the race to the Whitehouse.
Nicola Tapson – I had never heard of a Bhut jolokia but I knew my hubby would love it.
Voima Oy – I remember tall grass, fireflies dancing in the dark.
Carlos Orozco – The savagery of little boys in full display as we took turns running through kids swinging like pendulums, legs extended, ready to knock us on our asses.
Geoff Le Pard – It was her and seventy-one cadavers, plus however many were in the loading bay to be tagged, logged, sorted for identification, examination and autopsy.
Steph Ellis – The moon leered through the French windows, licked at the casket with its silver tongue.
Stella Turner – He taught me to hunt, swear and beat my sisters before I could read.
Stephen Shirres – Embers burning out in time to their steps.
Geoff Holme – Yeah, I’m goin’ down / To my hometown / Where I spent my glory days / ‘Cos I’m on fire / With a strong desire / That has set my soul ablaze.
Best Story Title:
Bill Engleson – The Hitchville Examiner – The Buddy Rocket Story
Best Use of Song Title ( I’m on Fire ):
Nicola Tapson – I Am Afraid of no Ghost
Best Spirit of Springsteen Award:
Geoff Holme – Too High a Price
Honorable / Honourable Mentions
Voima Oy – Citizen
Mad Max meets THX 1138. Men in Black? We are all aliens here in earth space. I liked the remote desolate feel of it. And the Born in the USA’ angle used in a timely fashion.
Carin Marais – Dancing in the Dark
The planets sing and the turntable spinning records of one comet hit wonders. I like the space take of this piece.
Alva Holland – Let’s Dance
It is not an eventful piece, but it is sublime. And it reads well. It flows. It is smooth. This lends to a sort of calm storytelling that is pleasing. There are no fireworks, but this writer could write like this for 300+ pages, tweaking it here and there with their own unrestrained passion, and make it into something really special. And extra points for including a Bowie song in with Springsteen, intentional or not.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 38.
(insert drumroll here)
Bill Engleson – The Hitchville Examiner – The Buddy Rocket Story
Glory Days / Memoir
“I don’t wanna talk to you. Beat it.”
Sandford Scoot, the angry man berating me, is wearing a ratty tartan robe, picking purple grapes with one hand, waving me away like I am some bug with the other.
He lives in the south end of Hitchville. The real growth’s been in the north. The south end’s been sitting there for years, abandoned, decaying, waiting for the bulldozers.
I step into his yard. He’s half hidden by the grapes vines curling around the veranda.
“Mr. Scoot, I don’t mean to be disrespectful. You were Buddy Rocket’s High School coach. He woulda been the biggest thing Hitchville ever produced… if he’d been… able.”
“Get offa my property. You newspaper leeches make me sick. That boy… he sank before he had a chance to swim.”
“Yes, Sir. That he did. That’s the story that needs telling. Baseball phenom… world by the tail… fizzled like a comet crashing into the moon.”
As I weave my garish language arts, I witness Sandford Scoot, cranky curmudgeon and retired high school baseball coach soften like butter in the sun. He’s just another old fart who loves to talk, who wants to tell his glory days story, who’s waiting to be courted.
“Like a comet…” He mimics my words, but they don’t sound like me. It’s like his lungs are full of tears.
“They’ll keep coming, Sir. People like me. Tell me now and save yourself the aggravation.”
He’s hooked. Or tired. I can’t tell which.
“There’s no story. Never was. Oh, Buddy had skill… more than most. It’s just, he didn’t have the heart. He was a simple kid… smart enough not to join the circus. But not smart enough to stay off the sauce. The simple boy became a simple man… and died a simple drunk.”
And I’m thinking: I can work with this.
Microcosms 38 Judge’s Pick
Carlos Orozco – The Gauntlet
It reads like a swing with a hypnotic swaying of story elements and solid reminiscing. It is it’s own world without really trying to impress, so it does make an impression, like a child sitting alone in the corner of a room. You just want to know more.
Dancing in the Dark / Memoir
I stood beneath the swing set in the rapidly dissipating light. Somewhere between the corrosion and the multiple coats of paint—red, blue, yellow—I could still see the original pale green paint from 15 years ago.
That evening on the playground, I remembered you. I remembered the gauntlet we used to run. The savagery of little boys in full display as we took turns running through kids swinging like pendulums, legs extended, ready to knock us on our asses.
I looked at the swing set, missing all but one swing, the frame bent and bowed. In the abandoned schoolyard, it looked like the exoskeleton of a giant beast picked clean. It felt wrong to see it in that condition, dying in the mangled weeds. I knew you wouldn’t have liked to see it either.
I sat down on the only swing and slowly rocked. The swing squelched, protesting my gentle motion. It was far too old, and I far too heavy for it. I sat there until the dark skies were peppered with stars. In that darkness my memory replayed the last time I ever saw you.
You only had two more swings to cross before you passed the gauntlet. You dodged the penultimate kid leaning back hard on the backswing trying to knock you out, but the last kid connected with a kick. I ran toward you to see if you were okay. You immediately got up and started dancing. I laughed. You always made me laugh. Then the bell rang, and we went into our classrooms. I never saw you again.
But that night in the darkness I saw you dancing—knees bending and extending with no rhythm. I laughed hard, and the swing laughed with me. Only this time your dance wasn’t interrupted by the bell.
Congratulations, Carlos. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know if you are interested!