Wow! What a fantastic round of Micro Bookends. This week’s judge, Jacki Donnellan (thanks Jacki), certainly had her work cut out with 39 stories to judge. We also had the added excitement of a FlashDogs golden ticket up for grabs. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s this:
Now, over to Jacki with the MB results, before I chip in again with the golden ticket winner:
What a privilege and a treat to be given the “task” of reading such a diverse crop of writing. A wonderful collection of scenes, stories, poems, word-games, magazine clippings…such inventive ways to use what I felt was a particularly tricky set of bookends and prompt.
After wrestling with a shortlist that was anything but short, I have managed to pick winners, but I would like to commend and thank every writer who rose to a difficult challenge this week. I enjoyed reading every single entry, and I hope that each story received the positive feedback that it deserved in the comments section on the site.
The Night He Became a Man by KM Zafari
Unfortunately, this story fell two words outside the maximum word count, and was therefore out of the running. However I felt it deserved a mention for the freshness of the story. There is a lot of excellent flash about brutal goings on between people, but less about basic decent behavior. The story was well told and used the bookends seamlessly. Such a shame about those two words!!
Four Letter Words by Casey Rose Frank
The descriptions in this piece stood out for me. “He is rows of buttoned buttons and straight-edged stacks of paper.” I was left with a very clear picture of the father who was being described, and I liked the way the closing bookend fitted this character portrait so naturally.
Mr McHuggleston by Dave James Ashton
There were a few entries that used the POV of a toy. This was the one that immediately made me smile. The classic, satisfying scenario of the mocking older sibling being wonderfully proved wrong. A magic toy sticking up for his underdog owner. A fantastically unexpected bit of bunny-dialogue, to close with. Great stuff!
The Lost by Carlos Orozco
I was so caught up in the sadness of the moment in this story that I didn’t actually see the complete life story that was actually being told to me- “It used to be his favourite song, now it’s hers”- until the final reveal. The ending was desperately tragic, but beautifully written.
One Year, Five Months, Thirteen Days and Seven Hours KM Zafari
This was a simply told piece, which I liked because it told a complete story with a beginning, a middle and a (horribly sad) ending, with a smooth use of the bookends.
Squatting by Brett Milam
This story was an abundance of brilliant images- “this death, squatting in my body” as a description of tortured grief, to pick but one. The final line used the bookend to stunning effect- “a toy disillusioned with the boy”- to allow a glimpse about what might have passed between the narrator and the boy that he mourns.
Wonder by Donald Uitvlugt
I loved how this story beckoned to the imagination, much as the cloth rabbit beckoned Charles. Is the cloth rabbit talking? Is Charles losing his mind? Or is he, in fact, finally rediscovering his sanity? We only find out by holding the rabbit tight, and running away. Wonderful story (pun intended!)
Trinket Box by Marie McKay
From the title to the last line, I loved this story. We are not only told the story of one woman, but of many, and of a whole society, all in less than 110 words, and between two completely invisible bookends. The images of the “distorted rag doll” MC are vivid and powerful, and that last line is an example of flash writing at its best. A backstory, the future story, the present, and a shocking ending, all within six words. Fantastic!
‘Play!’ prods the electronic voice in her head.
She picks up her pace, an hour in and her tits and legs ache. She’s nauseous. Contorting and twirling make the air crawl up her exposed skin. The sensation triggers her synapses. She wonders if the men below still give their daughters music boxes that play You Are My Sunshine while the stiff pop-up ballerina spins.
‘Plaything number 1. You are thinking!’
Before she detaches again, becoming a distorted rag doll in a glass box, writhing for the ‘nice men’, she allows one last lucid thought to fire across her brain:
‘Please make this one a boy.’
Golden Ticket Winner
One Year, Five Months, Thirteen Days, and Seven Hours by KM Zafari
KM submitted two fantastic entries this week. Sadly one was a tad over the word limit, as it would have been a real contender. Thankfully the other was strong enough to bag the golden ticket. I echo Jacki’s words of this being a complete story simply told. The repetition of the missing girl’s name really cranks up the tension. What a terrible situation for the boy: knowing that just being alive is a constant reminder to his parents of that tragic day. Great writing, KM. I know you’ll make a fantastic contribution to the FlashDogs anthology.
One Year, Five Months, Thirteen Days, and Seven Hours
“Play with me,” she’d said.
“Not now. I’m busy.”
“Fine!” she’d shouted, before stomping off.
It had taken him a while to notice that the house was too quiet.
He searched every room, slowly at first, then running in panic.
His heart stopped when he saw the front door was ajar.
He found her beloved, stuffed bunny lying in the street.
And nothing more.
Their parents said that it wasn’t his fault. But their eyes betrayed them.
She would have been six today.
He cradled the bunny in his arms and placed the gun between his teeth, forgetting that, at fifteen, he was still just a boy.