Welcome to the results show. A real mixed bag of stories this week. Some people took the prompt literally and we had characters slugging it out with swords and space épées. Some people took a more figurative approach and we had characters battling with their demons. I enjoyed them all. Here’re my winners:
History, man by A.J. Walker
I’m tempted to print this story out and pin it on the wall in my bedroom. Ode to the man who got out of bed. Stirring stuff.
And Yes – He Won by Holly Geely
I couldn’t help but hear lightsabers swooshing and buzzing as I read this. Ben doesn’t speak until the penultimate line but his wonderfully described actions tell you all you need to know about him. I’d love to know how you cheat to win a space-duel against an eight-armed opponent.
Nothing Like A Video Game by Ed Broom
An excellent commentary on the technologization of warfare: the drone controller may not literally have blood on his hands, but he still has to push the button. Love the use of the opening bookend: “Face fits, Flight.”
Song Book by Marie McKay
The Pied Piper of Hamelin brought up to date. A sinister little tale. It opens with that old chestnut, “Face for radio.” As soon as I read that, the image of an infamous, deceased radio DJ sprang into my head. The rest of the story was spookily familiar: the hair like musical notes, the flamboyant dress sense, the adults too busy to notice what was going on. This one certainly stayed with me long after reading.
To Die For A Woman’s Heart Is To Die A Fool (I Know This Now) by R Matt Lashley
What a great title! Oh, the irony that these two men, fighting over a woman, are going to die starting into each others eyes. I love the descriptions of the sword placement: “stowed in the hairless patch on my belly”, “sheathed in his lower right torso.” I also like the anatomically correct (maybe?) descriptions of the wounds, kind of like a first person omniscient perspective. The final paragraph wraps it up brilliantly. “A gasping human kabob of foolish pride…Neither wanting to die first. As if it would make a difference in her book.”
Disengaged by Nancy Chenier
Rather a sad story this. Four short, beautiful paragraphs, denoted by the points of the compass, showing the decay of a culture. Some lovely turns of phrase: “have faith that the embers in your blood can burst into a fire”, “your heritage has drained away, tickling your toes as it goes.” The final paragraph (“extinguish the torches, fold away the costume”) not only marks the end of the story but the passing of a forgotten culture that no longer has a place in the modern world.
Truth Silences Lies by Caitlin Gramley
A figurative sword fight between the voice that tells you you are worthless and the voice that tells you you are everything. So often the former is dominant and we hear about too many young people who have ended up in trouble, or worse, after failing to live up to what is perceived as an acceptable body-type. The conflict between the voices is maintained throughout the story and I found myself willing Cynthia to hear the little voice. I love the description early in the piece: “her hair, frayed yarn, looked as though it had been dragged through wet sand.” On first reading I assumed that the quiet voice had won and Cynthia had been rescued with her name in the book. On subsequent readings I began to wonder. What is the truth and what is the lie? To us the truth is that Cynthia is beautiful, but to her it is that she is hideous. The final line says to me that body image issues are difficult to beat, and once your name is in the book, you have a long battle ahead of you.
Truth Silences Lies
“Face yourself,” The voice said. Cynthia looked in the mirror, “You’re hideous.”
She believed it. Her swollen eyes glared back at her, puffy from sobbing. Her hair, frayed yarn, looked as though it had been dragged through wet sand.
“No one could love you,” the loud voice hissed.
“I love you.” A still small voice whispered in the distance. Cynthia didn’t hear it.
“What did you eat today?” The loud voice filled her mind, gaining volume to attack the truth.
“You are beautiful,” the small voice sang.
Cynthia shook her head.
“Beauty. Precious. DAUGHTER.”
“Fear not my child, for I have written your name in my book.”