Micro Bookends 1.40 – Results

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Jul 262015
 
The lone protester

Photo Credit: Dan Phiffer via CC.

It’s results time again. Hurray! First a huge thanks to this week’s judge, Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, who has done a fantastic job of picking the winners from another amazing crop of stories. Thanks, Donald. Here’s what he thought of your stories for this week:

A very evocative combination of bookends and photo prompt this week. I counted a lot of stories about actors and other performers. The photo prompt seemed to be harder for people to get a handle on; some stories seemed to ignore it altogether. Going through all the entries, here are the ones that stuck out to me:

Honourable Mentions

Death By Haiku by Dylyce P. Clarke

While I would quibble with the definition of haiku here, there’s something audacious about telling a story in a series of short poems. I like the way the images flow from one poem to the next to tell the complete story as much by suggestion as by straightforward narrative.

The Landings by Marie McKay

I really like that this story takes things in a direction that none of the others do. We can feel the narrator’s desperation, even though we may not know exactly why he wants the invasion as much as he does. I only wish there was a slightly stronger tie-in to the photo prompt.

“Every Man’s A King” by Geoff Holme

The power of this story lies as much as in what isn’t said, in what we know are going to be the logical consequences of what the narrator does, as it does in the words used. The narrator is trying to take back what control of his life he can, and we can admire that, even if we don’t admire what he does.

3rd Place

Easy Street Atonement by Foy S. Iver

Even though I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, there’s something very powerful suggested here. Are we in a world where public atonement has become common again? Or is there something inside the narrator compelling him to this unusual act? Again, the story is as much in the hints as it is in the words on our screens.

2nd Place

The Walk On by A.J. Walker

I find this story to have the most inventive use of the photo prompt. A poignant tale of real life invading the artificial world of so-called high culture, and totally upstaging it. I think we all need to apologize for not knowing his name.

Winner

Stages of Love by KM Zafari

A hauntingly beautiful story with a less than obvious use of the bookends and an excellent use of the photo prompt. We have a life’s worth of passion and heartache between the bookends. Very well done.

Stages of Love

KM Zafari

Stage 1

Was when we met on the subway. You, in your overcoat and hat. Me, sneaking glances over the paper I was pretending to read.

Stage 2

Was when we found out we weren’t alone in the relationship. You, shaking in the doctor’s office. Me, holding your hand.

Stage 3

Was when I asked you to marry me. You, too sick to walk. Me, standing in the snow with a sign proclaiming my love.

Stage 4

Was both the happiest and saddest time of my life. You, beautiful in your wedding dress. Me, in tears both times I wore that suit.

Beloved Wife. The tombstone bears your new name.

May 032015
 
Photo Credit: Dan Markeye via CC.

Photo Credit: Dan Markeye via CC.

Welcome to the results show. First, a huge thanks to this week’s judge, Ed Broom. As always you made judging a tough gig. Ed handled it with aplomb. Here’s what he thought of it all:

Perhaps inevitably given the unfortunate Kaspar Hauser and that rather creepy photo, there were an awful lot of equally unfortunate children in a lot of nasty mazes, sewers and other subterranean structures. Not all of them made it out. Yikes.

At times it felt quite claustrophobic down there in the deep dark dampness of an asylum or breeding chamber or wartime tunnel. I’d guess that the body count reached a new high this week with many other troubled souls left along the way.

That aside, there was much quality writing (including some excellent poetry) and some highly original ideas. Above all, though, I wanted stories. The ones I’ve picked out below all told tales which hooked my interest. I cared for the characters and rooted for them as individuals.

As ever, congratulations to all of you for taking the time and trouble to enter given the huge constraints of this competition: you all deserve a medal. Go print off one now and stick it on your monitor. And three cheers to Micro Bookends Dave, obviously. Anyway, over to the judge and jury for the prizes.

Honourable Mentions

Set Free by Dylyce P. Clarke

A troubled boy – possessed or probably only guilty of being different – is expelled from the city, his home. Some nicely straightforward writing quickly gives us the backstory then cuts to the stranger who utters a single word. Should the boy take his hand? I like the fact that we can’t see inside the boy’s head and that we’re left hanging. Please let that stranger be a good man!

Rat Child Found in The Dales. Chief Inspector to Investigate by Foy S. Iver

It takes something to raise a titter from the story of a feral child, but that line – “That she was raised by cave rats?” – tickled my ribs. As if that Chief Inspector didn’t have enough on his plate, poor chap, here’s something else to sort out. Funny and farcical dialogue, well constructed, and I’d like to hope that the author used this story to flip the bird to a real acquaintance named Kerry.

Dashed Again by Meg Kovalik

The intriguingly named and cloaked Orion presents himself for examination by his spectral father figure through some sort of grate. We sail from the highs of wild optimism to the lows of rejection in a mere 100 words. I love that carefully chosen verb, “flail”, but I especially like everything that we’re not being told. Why does the gate open so infrequently? What must Orion do to succeed? What will happen if he does succeed? An enjoyably enigmatic tale.

3rd Place

Dreams Soaked In Gasoline by Iskandar Haggarty

A heady blend of poetry and prose here with echoes of the late Syd Barrett’s crazy diamond. Plenty of killer phrases and imagery from that “stale cigarette” to the “words of dead poets” and that repetition of “discarded”. Love that title, too. Anyone else reminded of the great Tom Waits? She, the central character, sounds wise beyond her years. Does she really go up in flames? A “damned revolutionary” – good work, soldier.

2nd Place

Life, One Fungus at a Time by Emily Clayton

Mum’s gone leaving Dad and daughter, quickly becoming the image of her mother. Lots to love here: “like a granny without her specs” is a terrific turn of phrase, even more so when applied to a young child. Another well chosen verb, “huffs”, perfectly captures her impatience, and I like the pairing of that “military stance” and “Captain Kaylie”. As if that weren’t enough, we should mention the mushrooms. The evil mushrooms which “ate a child.” I’m not sure I want to know too much more about this: I’m a wee bit scared. Quality piece of writing.

Winner

Away Sweet Child, Ride Away by R Matt Lashley

Maybe it’s the smooth use of not one but two classic lyrics (for which I am a complete sucker) as Bookends. Maybe it’s the way these refer to that single FM station emerging from that “one working speaker.” Maybe it’s that “new-to-her” or “fresh biscuit dough” wordage. Maybe it’s the automatic associations invoked by that ’82 Datsun. It’s all these, of course, and more besides. For me, topping the lot like a bright red cherry, it’s the sheer unbridled optimism of this story. She’s had a torrid past but now she’s getting out: this, people, is the feel good story of the year! Don’t you want to be sitting right there in the passenger seat as she floors the gas or, at the very least, shouting encouragement? Excellent stuff with a top-notch title too. Class!

Away Sweet Child, Ride Away

R Matt Lashley

“Wild thing, you make my …” The Troggs’ tune, barely perceptible over the whir of tires, crackled and popped from the front left of the new-to-her dark blue ’82 Datsun. The radio received one station: classic rock. The one working speaker, like her life, was shattered.

But today, the lonely, abandoned, broken girl who sold five dollar handjobs on the subway would disappear forever.

She wiped the dollar store makeup from her eyes then floored the gas. Hot desert wind blasted her face, baking her cheeks like sticky, fresh biscuit dough. Then she cranked the volume, tossed her head back and howled with Axl, “Woah, oh, oh, oh, sweet child …”