Ready for the MB1.19 results? It’s another ABCD (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty) award for this weeks judge, Deborah B. Foy, who has written comments on all of your wonderful stories. Thanks! Take it away, Deb:
Before anything else, thank you, Dave, for hosting. I can’t imagine the consistency it would take to pull this off so well every week. Perhaps this says something about me…
Thanks also to each of you who submitted and who keep coming back, commenting, encouraging, and making us young writers feel comfortable sharing our passion.
Judging gives birth to anxiety. Not the crippling kind. The one that whispers self-doubt in your ear. There’s a fear of offending, disappointing, or simply picking “the wrong one” (as if there is a wrong one with this crowd). Brian S. Creek expressed it well on his blog a few weeks back. Anonymity is a fine security cloak but it can’t chase all the demons away. Please know your tales were kept with care.
Without further blahblahblah, and from beneath the cloak, here are your stories back.
Chao by Jack
Poor Chao. 🙁 Through his unfortunate accident, we sneak a glance at the awkward emotions of sympathy (or pity) one human can feel for another. Clearly there is far more tale lurking behind the observations of the MC and wanting to know what happened 12 years back is killing me.
CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE LESSER-SPOTTED DRAGON by Brian S Creek
Not only was this another thrilling installment in the adventures of Chris and Mike, the use of bookends was fantastic! They fit seamlessly and made me forget that they were even required, exactly what I’m looking for with MB stories. Well done!
Rebirth by David Shakes
Another story that incorporated “Spring” and “Festival” as naturally as if they weren’t borrowed. This tiny tale of romance lured in my soul only to chew it up and spit it back out at that penultimate line: “I’m sorry for what came next.” WHAT?! What came next? What happens to Dani?! Please, don’t leave it to my imagination! *The author of this piece must see me afterwards*
Too Close by Sydney Scrogham
This one was impressive if only because every line of dialog was formed in the interrogative yet it still felt real. Both Voices are clearly caught up in their own heads and if they only took a moment to listen to the other, maybe they wouldn’t have had such a close call…
Celebration by Susan O’Reilly
The title of this poem was so perfectly at odds with its message; the Voice rejecting life and its insistence on celebration as entropy sucks joy from his/her bones. As a privileged witness to that burden, you feel the weight of aging and leaving behind the things you once cared about that are still important, just not as consuming.
My favorite line? “Losing mobility along with my hair.”
Father and Son by stellakatet
Best hyperbole with “I had small feet; his were the largest ever to walk this earth.” Here, there’s an entire lineage of sons trying to fill their father’s mythically sized shoes. At the last, his only hope is to pray his mother doesn’t realize it isn’t him dancing beneath that mask.
Waking the Dragon Woman by F. E. Clark
How temperamental dragons are and especially when roused at the improper time. Even Spring cannot not come without their bidding, you know. Moral of the story? Let sleeping dragons lie.
Spring Cleaning by Susan O’Reilly
Being a *tiny* bit of a neat freak, I enjoy spring cleaning so while it was hard to relate to this woeful husband, I did feel sympathy for him…until I read the line “do it wrong on purpose day.” Really bro? Not cool.
Spring Festival by ladyleemanila
I loved this little poem for its contrasts. While the rest of the world is waking, unfolding, gathering energy, the third stanza hints that not all are as caught up in the rebirth. One soul at least is being exhorted to “Forget the past,” and “Be brave.” Ending on such a positive third stanza means that soul could relinquish what’s already slipped away (I hope).
direction by stu06bloc9
The amount of alliteration almost melded my mind but something about this Voice stuck with me. Not everyone is keen on direction and less so when coming from a “dragon of a man.” It spoke strongly to the types of leadership that will and absolutely won’t get results. I’d have walked straight out of there.
For Sale by Susan O’Reilly
The title of this piece is even funnier on second read through. Maybe it’s the early morning coffee buzz but now I’m picturing Randy as dejected and selling what he couldn’t woe with his “oozing oils.” Another writer that chose names well.
Fight of the Year by stomperdad
This one snuggled deep into to my child-heart. I felt like I was running right beside those two warriors, crouching in the dark, then….inspiration and fierce self-defense! Quite the adventure epic in less than 150 words. 🙂
Seasonal by Susan O’Reilly
Like mother, like daughter, no? A sweet tale of “a good witch” and her helpless children. While all four names together in one family are certainly “cringe-worthy,” separately they’re adorable.
Transition by Marie McKay
I’ve got to say, I did not anticipate this ending. Poetic imagery like “suppleness returning to muscle,” “unfurling from endless night,” and “dewy flesh,” drew me in and the last line sealed it, “I am cannibal, and this is my festival.” Gorgeous!
Opportunity by mrmacrum
Creepy Chongun! A brother’s greed is well-hidden until the second paragraph. This tale gives new meaning to optimism and opportunity.
Finding Fen by Lauren Greene
An endearing quest to find the one that got away, I liked that Chao represented a self-sufficient spirit, exhorting his friend to make his own luck, while the MC leans on traditions of animal-years, certain that “Good things will come.”
Who Says Youth Is Wasted On The Young? by Geoff Holme
Another story that made me laugh! I loved the interjection “Mormon…no alcohol” and the allusion in the title that perhaps these aren’t spring chickens gone wild, but instead septuagenarians set loose.
Wicker Dreams by Michael Simko
Intriguing to say the least. These lines sprang from the screen “Summoning rage from my losses,” “anger from my shame of fleeing,” and “My hoe carves into the beast,” presented a visceral feast for the reader. Major props for the original twist at the end, human as centerpiece.
Penhold by Ed Broom
Penhold perfectly plays out the frustration that comes with achieving your goal after long hours of persistence, only to find the camera wasn’t rolling. And as they say “Pics or didn’t happen.” I weep for you, Danny Boy! Also cleverly subtle tie-in to “Year of the Goat” with Danny stroking his goatee. Confession: I had to look up penhold. Happy to have learned something!
Chinese Whispers by Geoff Holme
Ahhh the importance of listening… I learned a new name for Telephone with this story, so thank you! Wang’s enthusiasm for helping is adorable and only makes the “stetson, checkered shirt, bandana and cowboy boots” all the more funny!
A Breakable Promise by Steph Ellis
A quote from William Tecumseh Sherman echoed between my ears reading this, “I tell you, war is hell!” War for a good cause is painful; war for a pointless cause is torture. The last line carried so much: “a ceasefire is a breakable promise and…in times of war, man makes death a festival.” Beautifully tragic.
Supplication by Nancy Chenier
I’m a sucker for poetic prose! Gorgeous lines throughout “spiky resin,” “labyrinthine ribcage,” “myriad mouths,” and “shrieks…blister” leapt out at me. The conflict was all laid out in the title, a people bound by violence to worship a being they hate. Gorgeous prose.
Spring in Jerusalem by howdylauren
Those that know me well, are privy to the fact that I LOVE finding deeper meaning through character names. This story has that in spades! “Clemency,” “Kippur,” “Eli,” and “Lina” all display their purpose or personality through the names they bear. As if that isn’t enough, it goes on to play out the harsh reality of Spring in Jerusalem, while there is joy in forgiveness, sadly it’s through death alone.
Culture Clash by Geoff Le Pard
Building a world, let alone a clashing world through dialog (almost exclusively) is difficult and this writer makes it feel easy. As if that wasn’t enough, so much of the lines made me bust out laughing, “No 76 will complain,” “They’ll want MSG,” “You sold his cannabis cookies,” and of course the side-splitting justification that it was “harvest Festival.” For all these reasons, Culture Clash demanded a nod.
Supreme Dragon by Holly Geely
Another story that incorporated the bookends flawlessly, Supreme Dragon, clinched its place in my heart with that final line, revealing that for a creature who is “beyond [our] mortal ways,” he’s quite human, “bummed” at the invitational oversight. The majesty and humanity of this piece at the least deserves an honorable mention.
The Awakening by Donald
The Awakening is a fine example of a story that’s good for what’s not said. Why someone would want to wake such a terrifying beast is left to the imagination and identifying the summoner (or who I presume it was) takes careful reading. Fantastic use of bookends as well.
Leave it Alone Mrs Lee by A.J. Walker
From the bright personifications of early-morning spring and bubbling kettle, to the surly happiness of the MC, this story instantly won a sliver of my heart! It earned an even larger slice after reading how Mr. Liverpool blared his Mercury and didn’t give a sheep’s head for the dragon next store. By the end of it, I wanted to sit and have a beer and pub food with this delightfully grumpy MC and find out what other bands he blasts mid-morning.
The Gaps by Brett Milam
Oh, Melancholy, my first love! From that first glum phrase “carcasses of winter” to the chilling description of those in The Gap as walking “without the maggot bite marks to indicate their decay,” I was hooked. Jonathan’s downward spiral is hauntingly depicted. The line where we are told that he’s doing the “things…you’re supposed to do (and not)” followed by mention of the psychiatrist with her persistent pen, opened up his story to a whole other meaning, adding another layer of tragedy.
The Risk of Living by Emily Livingstone
Outstanding! Meaningful, layered, with characters that breathe, this story became more wonderful with every read through. It reminded me of that C.S. Lewis quote, “To love [and to live] is to be vulnerable.” Leah knows this and chooses to keep living, carrying out traditions that have long been wiped out by an unwritten tragedy. Paul, meanwhile, is cautious. He can’t see the value in setting off fireworks and dancing in honor of a time past. The risk of living is exposing yourself, being vulnerable. Well worth it. Masterful story.
The Risk of Living
Spring came after months of huddling together with generators, fires, and blankets. They explored, invading the privacy of the dead, looking into houses and yards.
Leah believed they’d found treasure.
“But you know nothing about this.”
“Paul, it’s human tradition.”
They looked out the window at the empty streets. It had been two months since they’d seen another person.
“It’s risky, Leah. It could attract attention.”
“I miss people.” She donned the intricate lion head and danced toward Paul.
He removed it. “You don’t know what kind of people will come.”
Leah took a precious match and lit a stick of incense. “Tonight, fireworks. We need them—a festival.”