Thank you to all who… er… Putin (sorry!) an entry to Microcosms 45… a total of 14 this time.
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 Christina Dalcher for judging MC 45. Here’s what she had to say:
One of my favorite things about the Microcosms prompts and resulting stories is the joy of finding bursts of creativity shooting out in all directions. What a treat to read so many spins on the Dostoevsky prompts—and to see a few fairy tales, twins, and jealous husbands thrown into the mix! This week we covered the heartbroken and the simply broke, the evil twin and the lovelorn idiot. Believe me, it made my judging job a challenge! Ready? Here we go…
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Geoff Holme – …she said it was a soul that God wasn’t ready to let go of…
Alva Holland – Shit, yea, she owned the place.
Nicola Tapson – “I am your wife” they shouted.
Nicola Tapson – “Your sister? But you told me you were an only child.”
Angelique Pacheco – A woman can sometimes lose all hope of discovering love.
Angelique Pacheco – Theories of a Robin-Hood-type had circulated for years and he was okay with that.
Steve Lodge – “Dr. Lumbago, you say? Julie H Christie!”
Steph Ellis – “Do you think we would allow a politician to tell us what to do?”
A V Laidlaw – How could Isabelle be the most beautiful woman in the world when there, in the looking glass, was a woman as equally beautiful?
Geoff Le Pard – She has rules, both verbal and written, involving matters as diverse as the proper way to fold a counterpane and the hours when the communal toilet can be flushed.
Bill Engleson – …she has ears like the Prince Consort, large flapping appendages that need restraint in large breezes.
Caleb Echterling – “I’ve been meaning to ask the landlady for my Dale Carnegie tapes back…”
Meg Kovalik – She swallowed disappointment as her fantasy shattered.
Brady Koch – Not from the pain of the tattoo gun, but because she’d been on the phone the whole time arguing with an electrician she was convinced was overcharging her.
A V Laidlaw – The Mirror
Authentic fairy tale voice made this situational irony piece very strong, and my favorite of all the Jealous Husband/Double entries!
Honorable / Honourable Mention
Steve Lodge – Are You Being Swerved?
Oh, the full names, the malapropisms and mistranslations, the fabulous “Julie H. Christie!” exclamation, and the vaudeville-esque puns made this a very close contender for the number two spot. Great fun and tight writing.
Geoff Le Pard – Top Floor Tryst
Madame Poulet’s beady eyes and Procrustean rules regarding the folding of counterpanes and the flushing of commodes make her the perfect dominatrix-in-landlady-clothing. Wonderful voice here, and a creative spin on the prompt. Well done!
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 45.
(insert drumroll here)
Geoff Holme – Accident of Birth
Idiot / Gentle Creature / Drama
Friday, June 14th, 1946
First day in my job as a midwifery assistant in NYC!
When I arrived, the midwife was in a private room, attending to an expectant mother.
I glanced at her notes: Jamaica Estates – fancy Queens neighbourhood. She seemed agitated, so I stroked her forehead.
“How you feeling, Mary Anne?”
The midwife scowled at me. I still hadn’t gotten used to calling well-to-do expectant mothers by their surname.
The labour didn’t go well: I could see the midwife was getting concerned. The baby’s head finally appeared, the umbilicus wrapped around its neck…
I was a child again, in my village near Tijuana. My grandmother took me with her when she helped expectant mothers too poor to afford hospital care. Whenever she found the cord distressing the baby, she said it was a soul that God wasn’t ready to let go of…
The midwife’s yell brought me back. She cut the cord and handed me the silent, unmoving scrap of humanity. I took it to the table in the corner of the room, while the midwife tended to the exhausted mother.
As I spread the blanket with one hand, the baby slipped from the other; his head hit the table. The violent jolt must have open his airways; he let out an almighty scream.
“Baby sure has a strong pair of lungs,” the midwife said to the mother.
“¡Gracias a Dios!” I whispered, relieved the baby was breathing, but fearing what damage the blow might have caused. I wiped him, and wrapped him in the blanket. I was shaking as I handed him to his mother.
“I-it’s a boy.” I stammered. “Wh-what will you call him?”
She beamed at her son, and replied,“Donald John.”
I gave her the regulation response: “That’s a lovely name, Mrs Trump.”
Alva Holland – Len’s Gamble
Len’s pathos drew me in immediately, as did the light-handed sprinkling of Dostoevskyan references throughout. What I love most about this short piece is its subtlety: I am left not quite sure whether Len is a supreme con artist or simply a lovestruck tenant whose object of desire will never be within reach, no matter how many bouquets he throws at his landlady.
Landlady / Weak Heart / Romance
‘My pacemaker’s giving trouble,’ Len sniffled into his blue cotton handkerchief as he handed $150 in grubby 10s to Maggie Sanderson who stood at the door of his flat as if she owned the place. Shit, yea, she owned the place.
‘Oh for Christ’s sake, Len, pull yourself together. If it’s not your heart, it’s your cat or your ex-wife or estranged children. For once, can’t you pay your rent on time and in full? I’m not running a charity here.’ Maggie pocketed the squashed notes and wagged a skinny finger topped with pink polish in Len’s face. ‘I’ll be back tomorrow for the rest, Len. Don’t make me throw you out.’
Len watched as she turned on her leather pump heels and with a swish of her ample skirts, flounced down the narrow staircase to the front door. As soon as he heard the door slam, he gathered himself, climbed the two flights to Maggie’s attic apartment and let himself in with his copied key. Heading straight for ‘The Gambler’ on the second shelf of the bookcase, he reached inside the mock book and grabbed a bundle of notes. He was back downstairs before Alexei, his long-suffering cat had time to mewl for breakfast.
Maggie’s long strides took her to the coffee shop where Ed was sitting waiting, cappuccino in hand.
‘Hello, darling, sorry I’m late, I had to deal with Len again. He says his heart is playing up. Thanks so much for your flowers yesterday. They’re gorgeous’
Ed said nothing. He hadn’t sent flowers. Shoving his glasses onto the bridge of his nose, he listened to Maggie.
Len left the house and went straight to ‘Petals’ on the corner.
‘Two days in a row – she must be special,’ the young girl winked.
‘She is,’ Len sighed.
Congratulations, Alva. 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!