Thanks to all who submitted to Microcosms 119. We had 15 entries this time. Welcome to first-time entrant Jennifer F, and a warm welcome back to long-lost Microcosms pal, Caitlin Gramley.
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 118 Judge’s Pick, Kate Giffin, kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what she had to say:
I had so much fun reading through these entries. The stories this time spanned genre and form: mysteries, limericks, AND sordid TV romances all in one week! Yet they all had a clever twist or new perspective that made my job very difficult… I had to stop myself from rereading them over and over and just make a decision. Since I enjoyed each one, I ended up choosing based on the stories that made me think or were especially insightful. Thank you, everyone, for contributing your wonderful words.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – I see her pink little ears perk up, and her eyes start blazing like a dragon’s fart.
Steve Lodge – “You shouldn’t be no toast farmer,” she laughed.
Stephanie Cornelius – He lived for cheese; I just ate it.
Carin Marais – She had no need of silly gold when she had golden sunlight, silver moonlight, and her child.
Arthur Unk – She played on a Stradivarius violin / and to everyone’s chagrin / sounded like someone using the potty
Angelique Pacheco – “It looked like he tripped and fell. Mystery solved.” The others smiled and walked away.
Gabe – He didn’t look back as they dragged him away.
Ted Young – “Be glad it’s a mystery to ya… You can only play the hand you’re dealt.”
Tim Hayes – These humans just couldn’t manage to standardize their machines.
Justin J. – She pulled him into the canvas, his brief scream of fear silenced forever as he became her art.
Susi J Smith – “Next stop, the Hound of the Orient Express.”
Geoff Le Pard – It’s the inability to be alone that we’ve lost.
Jennifer F – She took the time to learn how to paint her face just right, and she studied those ladies who knew how to wear white capris without getting barbecue all over them.
Caitlin Gramley – “The prince caught me before I could fall … I said thank you and continued shopping.”
Caleb Echterling – Run away with me, and let us invade Poland together.
Best Wordplay: Bill Engleson – Laugh and the World Limps Along with You Like a Bus with No Tires on A Discontinued Route
From the title to the name of the pub to the fabulous descriptions (chickadeelight!) this was a fun, witty romp. I also enjoyed the novel perspective on the common man caricature.
Jennifer F – Passing
One of the things I appreciated this week was all of the perspectives on the theme of racism, which vary so much from person to person and across geographical regions. This story stems from tragic, yet very real situations, and I was left wondering if it would – or could – ever resolve.
Caleb Echterling – What’s a Guy Gotta Do To Get A Schnitzel in This Town?
As someone who has experience with the tourism and restaurant industries, I wholeheartedly enjoyed this satire. It nailed the perpetual struggle of balancing “the customer is always right” and tradition.
Justin J. – The Price of Art
This was a deliciously suspenseful tale that ended in a snap. Seriously though, that final line jolts the reader out of their rhythm and immediately demands a reread.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 119.
(insert drumroll here)
Community Pick (A low poll this time… We have a tie)
Bill Engleson – Laugh and the World Limps Along with You Like a Bus with No Tires on A Discontinued Route
Racist; TV Studio; Comedy
So, I’m down at my local, The Scoot On Inn, and there is this little reporter chickadeelight with a long-haired camera guy, all pimply and tiny hands…hey, Donnie, you ain’t the only one, I’m proud to say…and they’re lookin’ for something they call…get this…What the Common Man Has On His Mind.
I’m thinking right away…have they struck gold? You can’t get more common than me.
Lucky bastards. I coulda been rolling some balls down at Leo’s Pins and Pints and missed it all.
But I hold my horses and quaff a couple of brewskis, knocking them back with as much style as I can muster while raising my voice just enough for them to overhear my Common Man speech. “It’s like the Pols are on a different planet from folks like you and me,” I say. “Like Earth is their own pleasure palace, and they can twiddle and twaddle away with her and ignore the common folk.”
I’m thinking “twiddle and twaddle” sounds damn good, especially with the punctuation of common folk.
I see her pink little ears perk up, and her eyes start blazing like a dragon’s fart. She grabs Long-Hair by his nose and pulls him over to where I’m holding court.
“Sir?” she says to me, as polite as an air hostess on the Hindenburg, “Would you like to tell our viewers what’s wrong with the country?”
And I look up at her, almost drooling, thinking, sweetie, I would love to share my darkest, deepest thoughts about the sad state of affairs of our country…and the frigging world.
I can see the sweat on her little brow. She knows she has found the common man.
I’m oozing it.
“Darling,” I say. “I’m your man. We are in a state of irreversible decline. Turn on your camera.”
Arthur Unk – Of Love and Limericks (Less Is More)
Composer/Musician; Japan; Poetry
There once was a little hottie
Who had the most beautiful body
She played on a Stradivarius violin
And to everyone’s chagrin
Sounded like someone using the potty
She lived in a depressive state
Because she could not attract a mate
She tried her good looks
And quoting smartly from books
But could never find the right bait
With great anger, she packed up a van
And drove from Portugal to Japan
It took a very long time
And cost more than a dime
Her method of travel was antediluvian
Just outside of Tokyo
She sat underneath a weeping willow
Her instrument sang a great verse
Because during her travel, she rehearsed
And finally met her husband, Michaelangelo
Geoff Le Pard – Cruelty Dressed up as Kindness
This story achieves success on two levels: richly establishing the scene of bleak WWI France, and then commenting on the restless, often self-destructive side of human nature. The musings of the main character about the dehumanizing war and the inability of the soldiers to be alone really got me. By the final line I was both invested in him and frustrated by him. Captivating.
Racing Driver; WWI France; Memoir
Not many opportunities to race, on the Front. The mud, the lack of a car. Not much enthusiasm either. But that’s what they wanted to talk about, racing. Brooklands, the championship decider. Their eyes, I remember their eyes. Alive, there, living that moment when the flag dropped.
‘Lieutenant, we’ll let you know. Hope you get another chance.’ General Mathers smiled.
It took me a moment to understand he was talking about racing, not the transfer. Another chance. Didn’t he realise this transfer, joining the Royal Flying Corps, was that other chance? A reinvention?
Odd, isn’t it, how the mundanity of one life is the stuff of dreams for another? Racing was fine if you could be competitive, but those last two years were gnawingly frustrating.
‘Why do you want to fly?’
It felt like a trick. To get away, to breathe, to be on my own. I suppose that’s why they asked about the British Championship, the Monte Carlo Endurance. To be in that car, at that moment. To rely only on myself and my machine.
This bloody war is dehumanising, but you know what? It’s the inability to be alone that we’ve lost. Crammed together, holding on to whatever space we can. We can no longer be ourselves. We are the machine now.
‘To do my bit, sir. To use the skills I have, for the benefit of the country.’
Did they realise it was my desertion they’d been asked to decide? My way out.
Mathers turned back just then. ‘Brave, you know.’
‘Flying. Out here. But you chaps. Do you understand the risk?’
I watched him go, leaning into the track’s banking, imagining a reality that didn’t exist. Would he give me what I craved or was he cruel enough to save me from myself?
Congratulations, Geoff. 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!