Feb 262015
 

Welcome to Thursday. Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.20. I don’t know about you but this wintry weather puts me in the mood for a bit of good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll.

Blueberry Hill was written in 1940 by Vincent Rose (music), Larry Stock and Al Lewis (lyrics). It was (in)famously sung by Vladimir Putin at a charity concert, and has been released countless times by artists such as Glenn Miller, Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong and – my personal favourite – Fats Domino.

Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr., who celebrates his 87th birthday today, has had 35 top 40 hits, including Ain’t That A Shame and I’m Walkin’. Blueberry Hill remained number 2 on the Billboard for three weeks and was his biggest hit. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. In August 2005 Domino chose to remain at his New Orleans home when Hurricane Katrina hit. His home was flooded and rumours circulated that he had died. He released the Alive and Kickin’ album in early 2006 to prove otherwise.

Three cheers for The Fat Man with this weeks photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Esben Theis Jensen via CC.

Photo Credit: Esben Theis Jensen via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is me!

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with BLUEBERRY and ending with HILL and incorporating the photo prompt.

Who?

Anyone, but especially you!

Why?

Why not! Because it’s fun. Because it’s a challenge. Because the winner will receive their own winner’s page, their story on the winning stories list, a ‘who is the the author’ feature to be posted next week, entry into the ‘Micro Bookend of the Year’ competition, and a copy of this year’s winning stories compilation.

When?

Now! Get your entry in BEFORE 5:00 am Friday (UK time: http://time.is/London).

Where?

Here!

How?

Post your story in the comments section. Include the word count and your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized). Don’t forget to read the full rules before submitting your story.

Anything else?

Please give your story a title. It will not be included in the word count.

Please try to leave comments on a couple of other stories. It’s all part of the fun, and everyone likes feedback!

Remember, only stories that use the bookends exactly as supplied (punctuation is allowed) will be eligible to win.

Micro Bookends 1.19 – Results

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Feb 222015
 
Photo Credit: matthewwu88 via CC.

Photo Credit: matthewwu88 via CC.

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.

Honourable Mentions

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.

3rd Place

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.

2nd Place

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.

Winner

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

Emily Livingstone

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.”

Feb 192015
 

Happy New Year and welcome to Micro Bookends 1.19! Today is Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, and the beginning of The Year of the Goat. The Chinese calendar is lunisolar so the date of New Year varies according to the Gregorian calendar each year. People born in goat years (1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015) are said to be calm and gentle, creative, have fewer health problems, and prefer to be in groups though do not like to be the centre of attention.

New Year is a major holiday for the Chinese. It is traditional for families to clean the house to sweep away ill-fortune and make way for good luck. Houses are decorated with red lanterns and couplets expressing good fortune and happiness. Gifts of money are exchanged in red envelopes and fireworks are set off, at least in places that still allow it. Lion dances are performed to drive away evil spirits and incense is burned to usher in a prosperous new year.

Here is this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: matthewwu88 via CC.

Photo Credit: matthewwu88 via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Deborah B. Foy, winner of MB 1.18. Read her winning stories and what she has to say about flash fiction here.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with SPRING and ending with FESTIVAL and incorporating the photo prompt.

Who?

Anyone, but especially you!

Why?

Why not! Because it’s fun. Because it’s a challenge. Because the winner will receive their own winner’s page, their story on the winning stories list, a ‘who is the the author’ feature to be posted next week, entry into the ‘Micro Bookend of the Year’ competition, and a copy of this year’s winning stories compilation.

When?

Now! Get your entry in BEFORE 5:00 am Friday (UK time: http://time.is/London).

Where?

Here!

How?

Post your story in the comments section. Include the word count and your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized). Don’t forget to read the full rules before submitting your story.

Anything else?

Please give your story a title. It will not be included in the word count.

Please try to leave comments on a couple of other stories. It’s all part of the fun, and everyone likes feedback!

Remember, only stories that use the bookends exactly as supplied (punctuation is allowed) will be eligible to win.

Feb 172015
 

Deb FoyOur latest winner is Deborah B. Foy. Follow her on Twitter, check out her blog, and enjoy her MB1.18winning story again.

Deborah has very kindly agreed to judge this week’s contest so listen closely to her excellent advice:

If the Blue Heeler could talk, she would tell you that girl-Foy spends too much time clicking away on the whirring box and not enough time throwing the “fetch.” All is forgiven, though, with “cookies” and “walk.” At least until girl-Foy wants to play “bath” again.

So, great story. How did you get there from the prompt and bookends? If the host takes the time to post links and wiki-pages then I want to honor that by exploring them. Five minutes into reading about Pavlova, I had my story thanks to that curious word “asserted.” Peering at history from a tilted angle can reveal worlds you hadn’t seen.

100 words ain’t many. How do you fit a story into so few words? Trust your readers are clever enough to understand what’s not being said.

Why do you like flash fiction? Instant gratification. That sounds terrible but there’s a satisfaction that comes from just being finished. No weeks and months of rewriting, editing, and wading through self-doubt.

Been writing long? At twelve, I started strong, writing poems, song lyrics, and half-finished stories, only to slack off during college. This past October, I came crawling back and couldn’t be happier!

You write anything else? Melancholy poetry, limping short stories, and, recently, a full-length Speculative Fiction. Narrative set in our reality is something I usually try to avoid.

Any advice for other flash writers? Don’t let another writer’s skill or success intimidate you. We’re all mortals here and everyone sees through different eyes.

Any interesting writerly projects in the pipeline? Yes, I’ve got this burning dream to write dark children’s shorts. The hero is a past shadow-self of my Mr. Foy. I want to record his adventures for our future Foylings.

I just finished reading a book. Can you recommend another? The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Captivating, unique, and a pinch of Edgy. I can’t praise it enough.

Feb 152015
 
Photo Credit: Melissa Dooley via CC.

Photo Credit: Melissa Dooley via CC.

I hope you’ve all had a great weekend, romantic or otherwise. We had thirty four fantastic entries this week, and judge Nancy Chenier has something to say about each of them. Thanks Nancy, you win the ABCD award – Above and Beyond the Call of Duty. Here’s what she had to say about your stories:

Tricky prompt this week. Ending on a singular “tooth” seemed the greater challenge than starting on “sweet”. Fabulous openings from nearly everyone. With so many entries, I read through twice, reading from front to back then back to front to guard against reader fatigue. It wasn’t necessary. There was such a variety here, I was still engaged by the last entry, and my shortlist didn’t change much between readings. Though I may have bit off more than I can chew (heh), I wanted to say something about everyone’s, so here we go.

Sugar Rush by Susan O’Reilly

Very enjoyable contrast between the dream and the reality (and the seed of the dream that becomes the nightmare). The flippant tone betrays a real disappointment—as she lets slip: “but still hurts today”—one that has been bulwarked with food.

From the Top by Jack

Uncovering the banalities and the real work behind the splendor of a future performance. I like how this piece shows what’s going on behind the scenes with such economy. Favorite bits: “cannon of a cigar from his thick watery lips”, “itch creep across her chest”.

Chris and Mike vs. The Spinning Bird Kick by Brian S Creek

Hey, don’t I know these fellas? Nice use of the bookends enclosing the picture prompt. Here’s a fine crafting of a world, two distinct characters and their relationship (recognizable even if I’d never seen Chris and Mike before).

Armed and Dangerous by Susan O’Reilly

Thanks, I’ll be hearing that song in my brain for the next month (a great song, but a real earwig when it gets in). A fun image with the head-banging to Eurhythmics and a clever use of the bookends. The title as a description for her body in dance-mode made me laugh (especially when contrasting it with the grace of the photo).

Saw by stu06bloc9

I like the playful use of language, especially at the beginning. An intriguing dynamic over the dinner table, here. The chaotic flashes of the individual characters are disarmingly vivid. And that was one of the more unique uses of the final bookend.

From the Bluebird of Happiness by Joe Owens

Ew! Poor Julianna, it never rains, it… poops. I appreciate the warring of body and will within her, her mother’s unwanted attentions, and then, this. And now, that picture of a lovely dancer arching up toward the sky will never be the same.

The Secret by Jaci Coningham

I like how you engage all the senses as she lets go of herself. The secret is kept from us until that last line—and she doesn’t need to meet our expectations to lose herself in the dance. Her pride and happiness is “forgetting the rest of the world” by being very much in the immediate world.

The Dance by Grace Black

Some wonderful language bringing this one to life; “cloying for the stage” “Lithe lines and fluid movement ache inside my weathered bones” “beckons bone to tooth”—which stand in stark contrast to the clichés the MC mulls over, revealing how easy it is to slip into clichés when trying to make sense of pain.

Discounting Danger by stu06bloc9

Packed a lot of intrigue in a short span. Nice use of the wine gums: from gems to poison teeth. I like the idea of the dynamic being an adult take on the beware-of-the-stranger-with-candy trope. It makes for so much mystery.

Scotch on the Rocks by mrmacrum

What a (ahem) sweet opening. The love the MC has for his wife is palpable and sincere in its simplicity. His appreciation that she would try to match him every time (and that she would) speaks volumes about this couple’s relationship.

Tiny Dancer by Lauren Greene

The title immediately recalled the Elton John song—and set my expectations up for a collision with what was really going on here—much the way I expect the mother’s expectations may meet with a similar collision. Trying to live one’s failed dreams through one’s children is a recipe for disaster and you set the stage well. We can only hope Dad can act as an air bag when the time comes. My favorite bits: the seven shades of blue tutus and the Yoda dance teacher.

Lucy by Susan O’Reilly

A fun playful rhyme that on the surface seems innocuous enough. But details like “she beguiles” and “my devotion” and being “wrapped around the finger” of a friend’s toddler treads into menacing territory, such that the gift of a tooth at the end leaves my skin crawling. (I just realized, I might have to caveat that: if the sinisterness wasn’t the intent, we can chalk it up to me being too steeped in psychological thrillers.)

Served Cold by Susan O’Reilly

Revenge and Valentine’s Day, almost as nice as dark chocolate and red wine together. Interesting (and shrewd) choice using rhyme while structuring it like prose. The result gives this piece the rhythm of saccharine Hallmark poesy with a cynical bite.

Fair Trade by TanGental

Fun and inventive use of the bookends, especially the punny mangling of eye-for-an-eye at the end. Loved, loved, loved the climax line (Time hung limply… blood) and felt every word of it. Ouch.

Casting Pearls by stephellis2013

What a disturbing image for that proverb! (I’m squirming even now—what is it about teeth falling out that pokes at my nightmares?). And even so, the last line made me giggle—how can you make me giggle when teeth are falling out???

Steven by Holly Geely

Great job making this guy out to be a real jerk. Clever framing of the notes and the illustration of how Steven resorts to physical solutions to his ire. (And now Sweet Caroline is duking it out with Sweet Dreams in my head.)

Undetected by Rainman

Now that is a POV I would never expect. Another one to leave me squirming (from both the painful verbs you subjected me to in the dentist chair and that lurking SG) and reminding me that under the right circumstances, even Sweet Goodness can become my worst nightmare. Clever lateral reference to the photo, too. Excuse me whilst I go get some dental floss and rinse….

Dance of Life by stellakatet

A dancer’s life-long struggle with food pared down to one dish: sweet and sour chicken. Sometimes we forget the sacrifice that is made to stay the expected “lithe and childlike”. It’s a tragedy that one’s passion would have to be so tied up in the idea of (not) eating—and you set it up so frankly here. I like the framing of this with chicken.

Burning Ambition by janebasilblog

Another mother trying to realize her failed ambitions through her child. The way you set it up here through the eyes of the sister is an interesting choice as she can bring us to feel sympathy for both Eva and Cleo. Sounds like Cleo might have a fighting chance as she’s clearly making her will known (if not followed).

The Garden of Regret by Jacki Donnellan

Nice use of the prompts. I like the turn around, how the character is so sure he is without regret, until… I like the idea of guilt sneaking up and distorting one’s version of reality. Despite being a dream, the last line tugs: “limbs searching behind him for stories unread”.

Rare Beauty by A.J. Walker

The sensual imagery grabs me: bouncing swans, chattering gold crests. I like how you set the MC up for a gentle epiphany, just from catching the sight of a woman dancing. It’s those tiny moments of beauty that ignite our lives.

Love by Emily Livingstone

A turnaround from the expectation, where the mother is the one who so tyrannically wants her daughter to dance. Here you have the father supporting the daughter’s passion against Mom’s sensible med-school aspirations. The added layer to the mother—she’s trying to spare the daughter her pain—is all the more poignant for it running against expectation. The dialogue carries it well. Nicely played.

Morning Memories by Hati

Interesting that you bring us into this sad little story with the scent of strawberries (evoking the playfulness of the Beatles song). You draw us in on sweetness, then we get the punch in the heart. It’s a delicate moment you’ve captured: one for the MC, where the sorrow is no longer the overriding emotion and the memories of a lost one begin to take on a sweetness. The reader feels the loss heavily even as the MC might be experiencing its first lightening.

Rogue by Ed Broom

Trolling for sharks, and what to do when fish guts don’t work. A very inventive take on the bookends. Lines like “Mackerel chum strafes the lake” “oily lightning bolt” along with the Jaws references really… lured me in.

Crooked Dancer howdylauren

Ah, sweet revenge. Not only that he didn’t reciprocate the crush but that he did pretty much the opposite. Wonderful image of emotions being like a bowl of splattered pudding. Slick the way you transformed dancing by the river into dancing on his grave.

Glory Days by mediocremeg14

Nice intertwining of a golden “then” with a weathered “now”. I like how the snide remark from the matron doesn’t have the power to interrupt her mood (while lending truth to the remark). You manage to keep us there with her—not pining, but experiencing the richness of the memory.

Abducted by Carlos

Beautiful opening, probably the most intriguing noun phrase (“ultraviolet light”) I’ve ever seen follow “sweet” tragic hint at backstory that subverted the horror of abduction (as there are greater horrors on earth; really liked the image in the first bookend.

Honourable Mentions

Dance On by Brett Milam

You play the bookends off each other very inventively—sweet becoming decay, much the same way it does for the reader after we realize why she’s dancing and whose the audience. You make me miss what she’s left behind in that second paragraph with its sharp sense of place. The shock of the snowflake on skin is similar to the shock of this woman’s name being replaced by a number after we’ve become acquainted with her through her memories of Russia.

Break a Leg by Geoff Holme

Lured me right in with Shakespeare as Danny takes on Oberon (and perhaps typecast with that temper). Then the dance-prompt masterfully woven in. And then to end up with King Lear. Bravo on the use of the prompts! You’ve won over this English major’s heart right here.

More Than Meets the Eye by Vagrant Rhodia

HM for turning a toilet into poetry:

First I get a bouquet of Shakespeare allusions and now we’re waxing poetic over the porcelain throne! Ode to a Commode. And you play it so delightfully straight! The imagery allures despite the subject—though some of that imagery may haunt me during a midnight trip!

Smorgasbord of Valentines by Michael Simko

How very apropos. And I loved the fantasy world you were able to create in such a small space. You set the MC up well. Him comparing ladies to cars undercuts his sympathy for saving the old man. So, then, the appearance of danger from one of those beauties felt all the more satisfying even as it was mysterious. Fine use of bookends, particularly the final, and the mystery it creates, leaving me wondering why the old man would repay his life being saved in this way and leaving me wanting to know what happens next.

3rd Place

May I Have This Dance? by Marie McKay

Seamless bookends and a satisfying story. Dan Wells did a great 7-point story structure workshop, and though I wouldn’t recommend following it for a micro-flash, one take-away is the character story arc that I find tends to make a story sail: the MC starts at a point opposite s/he finishes. In 100 words that’s nearly impossible, but you manage it. The first paragraph is all about her struggle to gain confidence. By the end, she is the one who can make or break the Goodman’s confidence. Her voice is clear—so much self-doubt. The revisiting of the currant creates the perfect close.

2nd Place

Crossed Wire by TanGental

Ooo, fine use of the bookends. Strong voice in this one, the disgust and self-centeredness can easily be written off as a teen trying to deal with strong feelings (going with hate rather than crushing sadness) or they can be the flat reactions of a sociopath (as his oh-well about the mess on his girlfriend seems to indicate—and the killing). The first three sentences work so well to set this up. He instantly gets my sympathy (because, no, there are very few things “grosser” than that). Veiling Dad’s flirting with his discussion of flowers is brilliant.

Winner

The Dying Swan: Dancer to the Last by DB Foy

Oh, I love how you used Pavlova’s story. I loved the concept and the execution. The known facts are woven into a wrenching little tale, giving new gut-wrenching meaning to the title (the role she made famous). The tweak with Victor is perfect. I caught that “self-ascribed” husband of his biography and you explore it masterfully. The way he forces the idea of dying for her art is so manipulative (and you can just see him scripting it for the biography he wants to write on her after she dies). Just some splendid lines in here: “eyes monitored him” “words crushed hers” “free her hand from the cage his fingers formed”—agonizing! An excellent piece of alternative (perhaps) history.

The Dying Swan: Dancer to the Last

DB Foy

“…sweet, sticky tonic and there’s no certainty it’ll cure pneumonia–”

“Victor?” Anna lost in covers.

Her self-ascribed husband moved bedside, “Dearest?”

“Are they taking me to hospital?”

Victor’s eyes monitored him. The physician answered cautiously, “We can operate but…you wouldn’t dance again.”

“I could live–?”

“Love,” Victor’s words crushed hers. “You’re not thinking clearly. If you couldn’t dance, wouldn’t you rather slip away?”

She tried freeing her hand from the cage his fingers formed.

“You don’t want to be remembered that way. Not when the world could know you as ‘The Dying Swan–dancer to the last.’”

Fear turned her skin hard and white as a tooth.

Feb 122015
 

Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.18. In the mood for something sweet? Read on.

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert with a crisp layer on the outside and a soft, chewy centre. It is served topped with whipped cream and fruit. The dish is named after the Russian prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova, and was created in her honour during her tour of New Zealand and Australia in the 1920’s.

Anna Pavlova was born in Saint Petersburg 134 years ago today. Her passion for ballet was kindled as a child when her mother took her to see The Sleeping Beauty. She was known to shock audiences with her dancing style that often deviated from the rules of classical ballet. During a tour of The Hague, Pavlova contracted pneumonia and was told she needed an operation to save her life but the procedure would prevent her from dancing again. She refused the operation saying:

If I can’t dance then I’d rather be dead.

Here is this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Melissa Dooley via CC.

Photo Credit: Melissa Dooley via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Nancy Chenier, winner of MB 1.12 and MB1.17. Read her winning stories and what she has to say about flash fiction here.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with SWEET and ending with TOOTH and incorporating the photo prompt.

Who?

Anyone, but especially you!

Why?

Why not! Because it’s fun. Because it’s a challenge. Because the winner will receive their own winner’s page, their story on the winning stories list, a ‘who is the the author’ feature to be posted next week, entry into the ‘Micro Bookend of the Year’ competition, and a copy of this year’s winning stories compilation.

When?

Now! Get your entry in BEFORE 5:00 am Friday (UK time: http://time.is/London).

Where?

Here!

How?

Post your story in the comments section. Include the word count and your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized). Don’t forget to read the full rules before submitting your story.

Anything else?

Please give your story a title. It will not be included in the word count.

Please try to leave comments on a couple of other stories. It’s all part of the fun, and everyone likes feedback!

Remember, only stories that use the bookends exactly as supplied (punctuation is allowed) will be eligible to win.

Micro Bookends 1.17 – Results

 Results  Comments Off on Micro Bookends 1.17 – Results
Feb 082015
 

Photo Credit: [Duncan] via CC.

Photo Credit: [Duncan] via CC.

Evening, all. What a great weekend. It turned out to be England delivering the lessons in rugby, and you lot delivering the lessons in how to write great flash fiction. Here’s what this week’s judge, Emily Livingstone (thanks, Emily), had to say:

There were a lot of really striking entries this week and it was difficult for me to choose only a few to highlight. I enjoyed reading the variety of responses to the prompt. The ones I chose here had the strongest impact on me, both with their ideas and their language, but there were others that also packed a punch.

Honourable Mentions

Aberfan (1966) revisited by Geoff Le Pard

This story presented an interesting perspective, that of the journalist struggling to bear witness to tragedy. The passivity in some of the language (“letting the images try and explain,” “morning rendered mute”) emphasizes the feeling of the speaker that he “should help.” Nice job.

Unwelcoming by Susan O’Reilly

There is an experimental feel to this with its rhyme and the harsh, cynical tone, competing with the pain and yearning in the speaker’s situation. Interesting play with language.

Drowning Ghosts by Steph Ellis

I like the idea in this one of the warning they’re attempting to heed, and I was especially impressed with the last line, “As if in answer, the howl became a roar and the waters rose again, a merciless torrent conducting the men in mocking chorus towards the cage and the rescue’s gate.”

3rd Place

The Shoot by Jack Koebnig

I was fascinated by the dystopian idea that provides the center to this story. The author did a lot of world-building in a short space, and created a chilling atmosphere that made me see the prompt in a new way. Good choice to end with the image of people treating death as a spectacle—this highlights a real, though unsettling part of human nature.

2nd Place

Passing Through by Brett Milam

This one really disturbed me. Really. I can’t deny its power, with lines like “My wet orange jumpsuit seemed to add an amphibious human to my back, but one steeped in the history of…that place” and “scraped my carcass from the cold, damp floor.” Great imagery. Strong impact. Thought-provoking. A close call between this and number one.

Winner

God of the Diggers by Nancy Chenier

The author created a really haunting idea of the two brothers entering the mine, and praying to it for safety, then being betrayed by it in the end. I like that the mine is positioned like an older family member, called “Tio,” one who might “protect” or “poison.” There’s something very intimate about this scene because of this familial language. Some fantastic, powerful lines in here: “Tio’s poison fingers reach for me” and the ending—“A man mutters the Lord’s Prayer. Foolish. Only one power reigns within the shaft’s gate.” Their sacrifice of water was not enough, and Tio got his blood in the end. Well done.

God of the Diggers

Nancy Chenier

“Water?” Ricardo shuffles. “Blood’s better.”

“It’s all we got.” I make the offering. Tio, protect us.

“Behind me, hermano,” I warn, but he hustles ahead. The recent discovery of a zinc vein convinced him there’s silver ore hidden in here. Foolish. Tio hasn’t spit up silver in years.

Ricardo halts, drops like a coal sack.

No!

Tio’s poison fingers reach for me, but I can’t leave Ricardo. I tug him toward the main tunnel. Talons claw my throat. I cry out.

Answering shouts. Hands hook my armpits. But Tio’s breath is deep in my lungs.

A man mutters the Lord’s Prayer.

Foolish. Only one power reigns within the shaft’s gate.