Results time again. Thanks to everyone who continues to contribute to this little contest. I hope you have as much fun writing for it as I do running it. Now, before we get down to this week’s winners I have two announcements regarding this week’s contest, MB1.26:
Enchanted by Michael Simko
The link to the photo prompt is subtle but present, and the bookends are used well. Poor Gadjo (a term for a non-Romani person) is smitten, but you suspect the feelings are not mutual. I love the lines “lavender, coriander, and cilantro assail my tastebuds” and “she giggles, which always costs me money.” A fun story.
Springs Eternal by Casey Rose Frank
The innocence of childhood explored beautifully in 100 words. The MC obviously has a harsh life but finds joy in little things. I particularly like the optimism in the line “she sees a broken dish and imagines the mosaic it might become.” The closing line is a warning to us all not to judge people on appearances alone.
The Vagrant by Rebekah Postupak
Extremely clever wordplay. I did wonder how the restaurant guy knew the kid had his homophones muddled if it was a spoken conversation, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this fun, clever story. The story also has a serious message with the restaurant guy turning the kid away and blaming the system for the kid’s hunger when he was in a position to help.
Eye of the Beholder by Steven Stucko
A sweet story, this. I like the concept that anything you see for the first time is new. Sadly I suspect that most western children would disagree and certainly they wouldn’t see an old tyre traded for some rope as a toy. The final sentiment is of course universal: “new toys were better than new clothes.”
Home by Grace Black
Beautiful, poetic writing (I wasn’t surprised when I saw who’d written it!) The prompt photo is incorporated nicely (“the Iraqi boy with hunger in his eyes”). Like some of the other entries this week, this story shows how such simple things can bring so much pleasure, like a pink Hello Kitty sweatshirt, a soccer ball and pens. I like how the detail of the pink sweatshirt stays in the soldier’s memory to the extent that he describes his wife as his pink sweatshirt; the thing that brings him pleasure “in the midst of beige bile fear.” The contrast between the hunger and fear of his tour and the joys of home are expressed wonderfully in the final line: “I hold new life today. New love. Little toes, pink clothes.”
Ancient Sound by Marie McKay
I love the contrasts between the new architecture and the old muezzin watching his world change around him. “The physical world is no different at eye level” also says to me that while progress may be made for some, nothing changes at the bottom of the food chain. The photo prompt is used well: “children impoverished still naively play, kicking up the dust of decay.” It is not only the sights of the city that are changing, but also the sounds, perhaps closest of all to the old prayer-caller’s heart, since he’s been replaced by a recording. I love the repetition of ‘layer’ in the final line: as a new layer of architecture rises, so another layer of the ancient city’s “old but colourful clothes” are stripped away.
New layers of architecture rise beyond the minarets. The old muezzin looks up to see the changes, for the physical world is no different at eye level: children impoverished still naively play, kicking up the dust of decay.
The muezzin sits mute. He draws his eyes down knowing there are other changes for those who stay the same. The cacophony of the city’s noises are transformed. The diminished soundscape tires him: the blend of chants for prayer now a single electronic voice.
Taciturn he shakes his head, another layer, another coat that strips the ancient city of its old but colourful clothes.