Thanks to everyone who submitted a story to Microcosms 101’s Casablanca-inspired contest; I’ve no doubt that those who didn’t enter will regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow… (Come on! Someone had to do it.)
There were 13 finely-wrought entries 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.
We encourage everyone to reply with a positive comment to any and all of the entries AT ANY TIME: It’s good to have feedback.
MC 100 Judge’s Pick, Geoff Le Pard kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what he had to say:
This week, not surprisingly, romance seared the air. There were several stories which, as reflected in my favourite lines, showed your skills at heart-touching tales in a fumble of words. Many of you found ways to incorporate the special challenge quotes, and at least one linked the ‘Here’s looking at you, kid’ to a passing goat. It had to happen.
What is always a pleasure when judging these little micro-jewels is to be reminded how there are so many ways to create a story: from those that are exclusively dialogue to the simple prose. Each can uplift or crush in a few well-chosen phrases and leave me wanting more – the true test, I think, of great flash.
As usual being a judge is a pleasure and a bummer. But, bravely, I’ve made my choices.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – Who would go to the trouble of remembering the bottom line of an eyechart?
Alva Holland – With eyes as deep as a barrel of black silk, his cheeky smile bounced back up at my suspicious glance.
Steve Lodge – Reg, meanwhile, looked at his palms, slightly grazed by Marta’s retreating foot.
Jane Lomas – A year ago they’d held hands, walking along the Seine and padlocking their love to the Pont des Arts.
Eloise – “I don’t know, but the rose is here every day since my wife died.”
Liz Elliott – “Time runs forever, but space… Space is everywhere.”
Angelique Pacheco – A soft melody rose, wrapping the air in comfort.
Nancy Beach – Jose flashed a steeled look. “Don’t make me lose character.”
Stephanie Ellis – A cowboy. He had always wanted to be a cowboy. A pity this was as close as he would ever get.
Ayanna Palmer – Those are the only spots on Lili’s body not yet drenched in multi-colored ink.
Sian Brighal – He watched as the officer told her to empty her pockets, which she did: hunger makes a prison spell a dream come true.
Dave Allen – I fell in love with her instantly, and in that moment lived a lifetime with her.
Geoff Holme – “Yeah. He’s looking at Euclid.”
Honorable / Honourable Mention
Stephanie Ellis – Red Hat
I enjoyed the hat on the Eiffel Tower, the surreal sadness of this piece. What was Jake hoping for by seeking out the hat? A missed chance? If only we knew.
Geoff Holme – As Time Goes By
Any story that manages to incorporate ‘Of all the Jean Joints…’ and especially ‘He’s looking at Euclid’ deserves high praise. Add to that some marvellous dialogue, and this is an unlucky week not to win.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 101.
(insert drumroll here)
It’s another tie!
Alva Holland – A Boy, His Grandfather, and a Bar in Casablanca
Bar Owner; Casablanca; Drama
‘Nice socks,’ he whispered.
My cotton socks with playful blue dolphins had caught the little boy’s attention.
‘Have you seen them?’ he whispered again.
‘Seen who?’ I bent down so he could hear me.
‘The dolphins! They come out to play, just like on your socks. You need to watch carefully, peer through the railings, like me. Down here. Look, like this!’
He gestured at me. Bending my knees, I watched the boy’s eyes light up as two dolphins broke the sea surface.
Surrounded by beat-up vans packed solid with worldly possessions, roof-racks stacked high with bicycles, wheelbarrows, chairs, wheelchairs, crutches, suitcases and duffel bags, I was on the ferry from Algeciras to Ceuta.
I was squashed between a mama and her brood and her father and mother, all returning home, carrying the fruits of their Spanish labours, keeping a fragile way of life struggling, wanting to sit once again outside their only real casa.
As the coast of Spain disappeared, I felt a small arm wrap itself around my calf. With eyes as deep as a barrel of black silk, his cheeky smile bounced back up at my suspicious glance.
‘What’s your name?’ he asked.
‘Hugo. What’s yours?’
‘Louis. Louis Javier Mahjoub. The dolphins are the best part of this journey home.’
I pulled a spare pair of dolphin socks from my bag, handing them to Louis. His smile lit the deck.
‘Mama! Look! Dolphin socks!’
His mother smiled, tugged the arm of the old man next to her. He gave the boy a thumbs-up and said something I didn’t understand.
‘Abuelo says you should come to our bar tonight.’
I shook the old man’s hand and turned back to the boy.
‘Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’
Geoff Holme – As Time Goes By
Piano Player; Bar; Your Choice – Comedy
Rex Barr, manager of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne franchise of a men’s clothing chain, sat at the bar of The Casablanca–the dive next to his store–and mumbled into his fifth pint.
“Of all the Jean Joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into–”
“Mine‘s a ‘arf o’ shandy, please, pet,” said Louise, the resident keyboard player, as she walked up to him. “Thanks for askin’. I wish you’d stop bangin’ on aboot that woman. What was ‘er name again?’
“Isla… Isla van Utha.”
“She sounds a reet dipso. You’re betta off withoot ‘er, pet.”
“Probably, but I still miss her.”
“Ah knaa, pet– ‘Ere, where’s that canny Maths student who works for yez at weekends? Got ‘is nose in a book again?”
“Yeah. He’s looking at Euclid.”
“Ah divn’t knaa what that is!”
“Me neither,” chuckled Rex, before his face crumpled, and he began to weep.
“Aw! Divn’t carry on like that. Ye can allus taak to me. Ah’m a good listener, like.”
“Can I come back to yours, Louise? I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
“Why aye, man! Ah thought you’d nivver ask. See yor drink off, pet. You’ve pulled!”
Jane Lomas – We’ll always have Paris
What does it for me is a story that makes you want more.
Here is a simple tale, on the face of it, of bad choices leading to disappointment; but, as in some many areas of life, we can judge too soon and, while condemnation can be easy, forgiveness and understanding need more depth and courage which we find here in abundance.
Clara wonders if her mother is right; has she been so besotted, so easily duped by Danny? Yet, crook he may be, but lover he certainly is. Flawed hero and heroine in a fully developed love story in under 300 words. Well done!
Petty Crook; Market; Romance
‘Have you seen the daffodils on the riverbank?’
Clara hadn’t. She’d been too busy missing Danny. A year ago they’d held hands walking along the Seine and padlocking their love to the Pont des Arts. He’d received a fine for that proclamation, but he said he didn’t mind paying the price for love.
‘Paris is the only place to be in the springtime,’ he’d said. She hadn’t realised he had little money and she put his strange gestures down to impetuousness. He casually picked a bunch of daffodils from a market stall when the owner wasn’t looking, and laughed at her dismay. They’d swiftly left a pavement café, but Danny swore he paid the bill – he was just in a hurry to get her back to their hotel. Clara found him charming: even when he produced the entire contents of the minibar on the ferry home.
‘He’s a petty thief and you need to keep away from him,’ her mother said. And Clara did wonder when he stole daffodil bulbs from their local market and was finally locked up for a while.
‘Why did you do it?’ Clara asked him when she went to visit along with the other wives and girlfriends (she felt like a criminal herself). ‘Why didn’t you just buy them?’ His silence confirmed her mother’s assessment.
Clara walked home along the riverbank. She wanted to see these daffodils. As she rounded the bend, she saw the bright yellow shoots dancing in the breeze. As she grew closer she noticed they were strung out in a haphazard pattern. And when she stood directly opposite, she understood. The flowers were planted to form a sentence: ‘We’ll always have Paris.’
Clara’s heart swelled. Here was proof, Danny was impetuous. And she loved him.
Congratulations, Jane. As Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms this coming weekend. Please click HERE to let us know whether or not you are interested!