Jul 122015
 
Photo Credit: Tekniska museet via CC.

Photo Credit: Tekniska museet via CC.

Welcome to the results show. First, a couple of announcements:

There will be no Micro Bookends this week (boo) because I’m going on holiday (hurrah). The next contest will be on Thursday 23rd of July.

At 5am BST Tomorrow (Monday 13th July), voting will open for the best stories of this quarter. You’ll be voting for your top three stories from MB1.27 to MB1.39. The authors of the top three stories will each receive a copy of Doing Creative Writing by Steve May (that’s a real book with paper and ink and that new-book smell), and will also go forward to the Micro Bookend of the year contest to be held at the end of year one.

Now, back to business. A huge thanks  goes to this week’s judge, Iskandar Haggarty. Here’s what he thought of it all:

I’ve got to say it; you all have not only the talent, but the bravery as well! One look at this week’s photo prompt had me stumped, and yet I read the various and diverse ways in which it was incorporated. Hats off to you all; I’m severely impressed. Choosing a winner was incredibly difficult. But it had to be done, so without further ado, here are this week’s standings!

Honourable Mentions

Drive by Emily Livingstone

I loved the creepy undertone of this one; the excitement of the girls and what they hoped to encounter made it realistic and relatable (and who doesn’t love a character named Laurel?) while the hostile ending leaves you on the edge of your seat; what happened? I want to know more! A quality story.

Hairpins and Hurricanes by maielizabeth

Okay, so I might have a weakness for the strange/outlandish, but this one caught my eye immediately; the description of the girls who controlled the earth was interesting and borderline whimsical (which is wonderful!) and a very fresh approach to the photo prompt. The description of Dolly as being the oldest by “a billion years” is so simple and outlandish that I actually believe it; interesting, quirky, and a formidable piece all in all.

Spontaneity by Numbers by Geoff Le Pard

This piece reminded me of the late-great Ray Bradbury because of its futuristic approach to problem solving. The piece managed to stay fictitious while sounding close enough to reality for it to sound like a plausible future. All I can say is that after reading this, I think I want a Hu-maid!

Seventh Hope by Holly Geely

This story had me hooked from the first line; its matter-of-factness pulls you in, and the writer uses this to expand on their sci-fi world in a manner that loses no momentum whatsoever. The excitement at finding a new and livable home is palpable, which makes the last line all the more devastating (and in its own sense, even a little tragically funny). I don’t think I can praise this piece enough.

3rd Place

The Switch by Marie McKay

This piece included it all; a creepy and gripping plotline, beautiful descriptions (‘scarlet words’ and ‘rooms that had sunnier aspects once’ made me gasp in awe) and an all-round sense of completeness. What the narrator has to go through on a day-to-day basis is traumatizing, and one can’t help but feel horrified while realizing what is going on. The writing in itself is the type that takes a hold of you and doesn’t let go. An absolute pleasure to read.

2nd Place

Newtonian Mechanics For Beginners by A V Laidlaw

Description. The description in this piece is so masterfully crafted that I could see absolutely everything while reading; I felt as if I myself were a satellite! The use of both short and long sentences gives the piece a variety that keeps each and every line interesting. The last sentence almost made my heart stop; it is so simple, so chilling; so strong. This wasn’t writing, it was painting. It was art. I am in awe of the author. Incredible job.

Winner

In the Control Room by Donald Uitvlugt

This piece is a winner and rightly so; it took me on an emotional rollercoaster. Its concise, dialogue-intense beginning felt top-secret and mysterious, which then melts into slight confusion at the mention of a hazy picture, which packs an immense punch with the final two sentences of the story. The bookends were used seamlessly; it feels as if it wasn’t even written for this week’s competition! An excellent story worth its weight in gold.

In the Control Room

Donald Uitvlugt

“Six Five Seven through Seven One Nine — no response.”

“Reroute through the Eight Hundred block, but keep trying those pathways.”

“Received. Wilco.”

The center worked furiously, busy hands moving wire after wire. But no matter how fast the girls worked, the systems collapsed faster.

The supervisor turned toward the monitor. A hazy picture showed the face of a woman. She should know who the woman was, but…

“Not getting through on the Eight Hundred block, mum.”

“Keep trying. The answer is there. Somewhere.”

***

Barbara kissed her mother’s cheek. She would not cry. Damn Alzheimer’s. Damn that death by degrees.

Jun 182015
 

Welcome back to Micro Bookends. Something shrouded in mystery for you this week. Enjoy:

An urban legend is a tale of contemporary folklore that purports to be true and is often designed to elicit an emotional response. Like traditional legends, urban legends are rarely traced to a single author. An urban legend often revolves around a strong central character or social issue of contemporary interest.

One urban legend, with a bit of a conspiracy theory thrown in, is that Paul McCartney, who celebrates his 73rd birthday today, was killed in a car accident in 1966 and was replaced by a look-alike. Whole books have been written on the subject, but a few of the clues cited by those who believe the story are:

  • On the Abbey Road cover Paul is barefoot and his eyes are closed.
  • A white VW Beetle on the cover of Abbey Road has the registration number 28IF, suggesting Paul would be 28 years old if her were still alive.
  • On the back cover of Abbey Road are eight dots, which when connected look like a 3, followed by the word Beatles.
  • On the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band there is a wreath in the shape of Paul’s famous Höfner bass guitar.
  • On the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band it looks like Paul is being blessed by a priest.

McCartney denies the story of course. But he would wouldn’t he…

Three cheers for ‘Paul McCartney’ with this week’s photo prompt:

Endless

Photo Credit: Hernán Piñera via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Geoff Le Pard, winner of MB1.35. Read his winning story and what he has to say about flash fiction here.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with URBAN and ending with LEGEND 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, including hyphens and apostrophes, is allowed) will be eligible to win.

Who is Geoff Le Pard?

 Who is the author?  Comments Off on Who is Geoff Le Pard?
Jun 162015
 

Geoff Le PardOur most recent winner is Geoff Le Pard. Follow him on Twitter and check out his website. If you enjoyed Geoff’s winning story, you might want to check out his book, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle. Geoff has a second book due out in mid-July. Watch this space and read on to find out more. Geoff has kindly agreed to judge this week’s contest so pay attention:

I once worked as a lawyer. I woke up and thought, I’ll write. I took that leap and here I am, blogging, writing and wide awake (and not a little scared).

So, great story. How did you get there from the prompt and bookends? The ranks of the dead came as a thought from the picture – I try and concentrate on the pictures first. That lead to the dying and the awful scenes from Sierra Leone and Liberia during the Ebola epidemic.

100 words ain’t many. How do you fit a story into so few words? Painfully. I usually go well over then slash and burn my way back to 100. The gems I have to lose!

Why do you like flash fiction? Because I have to concentrate on the absolute essentials it teaches me precision.

Been writing long? Since 17th July 2006.

You write anything else? My blog, my novels and some poetry outside of my regular FF prompts.

Any advice for other flash writers? Read others for tips and don’t be disheartened.

Any interesting writerly projects in the pipeline? My second novel – My Father and Other Liars – which is a thriller with themes around dysfunctional fathers, the misuse of embryos in genetic research and a transatlantic love story.

I just finished reading a book. Can you recommend another? The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

Jun 142015
 
Photo Credit: Kamyar Adl via CC.

Photo Credit: Kamyar Adl via CC.

Welcome to the results show. If you didn’t click on the Two Ronnies link in this week’s contest waffle, I suggest you do. It’s comedy gold.

You gave me 27 fantastic stories to judge this week. There were a few comedic turns to lighten the mood, but most of you gave me car wrecks and death. C’est la vie! Here’re the winners:

Honourable Mentions

Teenage Kicks by @dazmb

Fantastic title. I read the rest of the story listening to this on repeat. “Double math, it even sounds airless.” Great opening line. I’m sure we all felt like the narrator at one time, but I suspect we all come round to repeating the father’s advice. Great final couple of lines: “Because I don’t have a map. But I know it’s time to act.”

The Car Wreck by Lynn Love

Clever title, referencing not an actual car wreck, but the car wreck that the MC’s friend’s life has become. I love the descriptions of Lexie: “eyes like headlights on full beam, lashes batting like hummingbird wings. Her backside…a hypnotic pendulum in zebra print.” But Lexie’s lifestyle has caught up with her and “the headlight eyes have clicked off.”

A Foreign Country by Steph Ellis

I assume from the marching reference that the MC is a soldier suffering from PTSD. The foreign country is not only the place where he saw action, but also his mind, and perhaps also the place he used to call home but where he has become “inconvenient, beyond repair.” The final lines, where the MC fails to recognise his visitor, probably his wife, are very emotional.

The Car Auction by Mai Black

Macbeth is my favourite Shakespeare play. I loved this humorous interpretation of the three witches speech and a few other choice quotes thrown in. “Is this a Jaguar I see before me?” Genius!

3rd Place

Wreckage by Marie McKay

“Double entendres and the aroma of cheap coffee would have sullied the air here once.” Such a good opening line. No, it’s not Professor Tim Hunt’s empty office, but a garage in a post-apocalyptic future. I love the little details of the obligatory page 3 pin-up (“Courtney (19) loves dolphins and hates the wars in the Middle East” is great) and custard creams. The final line cruelly leaves the reader wanting more.”‘Jess. Driver’s seat. 3 o’clock. Act!'”. I’m thinking zombies. But then I often do.

2nd Place

Letting Go by @dazmb

A tear-jerking story of the final moments of someone’s life. I love the contrast between “I’ve been dreaming. Of fields rushing up into the first scuffs and scratches of childhood”, then “the blink of an eye and it’s all neon beeping, needles and catheters.” Nice use of the photo prompt: “All this technology…can’t save the clapped out bangers in this car park.” Goodness me, those final three lines hit hard. Sniff.

Winner

Kiss of Death by Geoff Le Pard

Excellent figurative interpretation of the photo prompt as a mass graveyard of those dead or dying from a terrible disease. There’s some great description here, such as “serried ranks of decrepit bodies”. It’s a sad truth that in death people become anonymous, especially after an epidemic or disaster. This is shown wonderfully in the line, “Now in the throes of death we are ubiquitous, homogenised by decay and depersonalised by disease.” The plight of the dying is evident when even knowing the disgust of those who are ‘taking care’ of them they still “crave the careless spray of their spittle to moisten parched lips.” The final lines round the story off brilliantly, ending on a seamless use of the closing bookend.

Kiss of Death

Geoff Le Pard

Double vision, nausea, bone snapping pain.

They stack us up, serried ranks of decrepit bodies, left to corrupt.

You see it in their eyes. Once we were unique, individual. Now, in the throes of death we are ubiquitous, homogenised by decay and depersonalised by disease.

If you didn’t know they had abandoned you before, the perfunctory response to any request screams the truth. Yet even knowing their disgust, you still crave the careless spray of their spittle to moisten parched lips.

The irony isn’t lost on any of us for it was the self-same sharing of fluids that brought us here. Death determined by such a simple act.

Micro Bookends 1.33 – Results

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May 312015
 
Photo Credit: gfpeck via CC.

Photo Credit: gfpeck via CC.

Welcome to the results bit. A huge thanks to this week’s judge, Marie McKay. Here’s what she thought of it all:

This week, the bookends and photo prompt did a great job of fuelling your creative juices. There were common threads in many stories, but there was a huge amount of diversity, also. I was looking forward to reading soap-inspired stories based around feuds, romance, betrayal, adultery, and domestic turmoil! You did not disappoint; indeed, you went a step further, handling these themes, as well as others, with great expertise and originality.
Needless to say, I found judging incredibly difficult but here goes:

Honourable Mentions

If Walls Could Talk by Steven Stucko

I enjoyed reading about the interconnected lives of these neighbours as their situation had a quirky set-up with one set of neighbours inadvertently providing relationship counselling for the other as a result of a thin set of walls. I liked how this author uses one of the conventions of soap opera- characters overhearing one another- for the purposes of good!

A Last Hurrah Geoff Le Pard

The poignant imagery in this piece drew me to it.

‘She spreads her hair like rationed butter barely covering her wholemeal scalp.’ Time has passed and this couple’s relationship and circumstances have changed, highlighted in a description that made me ache: ‘Her eyes glisten, rummy where once their twinkling killed me.’

Later, we are made aware of the absence of someone, and the sorrow that the story is steeped in becomes even more apparent:

‘…space…too cramped for three but now we struggle to fill.’

Neighbourly by Steph Ellis

This is a sinister tale of deception. I love how Frieda masquerades as a Good Samaritan while all the time she is stealing from her dying neighbour.

‘Pleasantries, goodbyes.’ These two words, for me, are a wonderful social commentary on the fleeting nature of our neighbourly interactions.

3rd Place

In the Billow of the Storm by Lynn Love

The language of this piece made it stand out for me. ‘My brain tumbles.’ This line indicates the impairment of the main character’s thought processes. This is further highlighted with a focus on their vision of the world- ‘the droplet’ caught in an eyelash ‘cuts daylight into rainbow ribbons.’ Their perception, probably as a result of hypothermia, is distorted. ‘Snug in the cold as flakes melt to music’ is beautiful and tragic. Eloquent writing!

2nd Place

Shed from Grace by Foy S. Iver

I had to do a little research for this one, but it was worth it. The theme of purity is explored in this original take. A goddess is thought to live inside the Kumari before the onset of puberty.

‘Soap bites at Sajani’s eye-flesh’ as she is washed by her servant. The pain experienced physically, here, mirrors the inner turmoil the young girl is feeling at having become ‘impure’ with the onset of menstruation. The character’s awkwardness, now, in her own body is revealed in the line: ‘She squeezes her thighs tighter as the cleansing hand drops below her waist.’

Ironically, the physical development of the girl does not spell progress for her; instead, now that the goddess has left her ‘vacant’, ‘…hovel will replace her palace. A dirge will silence her opera.’ Wonderful use of language and bookends.

Winner

Thud by Jessica Franken

I found this winning flash piece outstanding. The story had me wince throughout because of its use of onomatopoeic words to signify an old man’s fall in the bath.

The opening dialogue is deliberately disjointed, displaying Jean’s anxiety at her husband’s fall and providing the reader key information right from the outset, ‘Soap…he…slipped…his head.’

The details of ‘backwards nightgown, barefoot in the snow’ are raw and distressing.

One of the main features of this story is that – again through thin walls – a neighbour, the narrator, hears the noise of the man hitting his head.

‘So close I shot out my arms to catch him…’ This part of the story is so authentic, I almost wanted to shoot my own arms out.

Even in such a short word count the reader is given a taste of what the narrator’s backstory might be when s/he wishes her/himself away from urban life and its interconnections, imagining ‘tending sheep on a quiet hillside.’
This story will stay with me for a long time for many reasons but especially because of this line:

‘… but walls are still solid and living still cruel.’

Well done on an excellent piece of flash fiction!

Thud

Jessica Franken

“Soap…he slipped…his head…” Squeak—thud. Ten p.m., my neighbor Jean at my door, backwards nightgown, barefoot in the snow.

Squeak—thud. I heard it through the bathroom wall. Squeak. So close I shot my arms out to catch him, but walls are still solid and living still cruel. Thud.

Squeak—thud. I heard it and knew Jean would come. In the seconds between thud and knock, even as I moved to the door I imagined myself far away, tending sheep on a quiet hillside.

But then the knock, then a deep breath, then Jean in my arms, her grief an aria in life’s savage opera.

Micro Bookends 1.27 – Results

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Apr 192015
 
Photo Credit: Mark Hillary via CC.

Photo Credit: Mark Hillary via CC.

I hope you’re all enjoying Sunday. Here are the MB1.27 results. Thanks to this week’s judge, Marie McKay. Here’s what she thought:

First of all, thank you for allowing me to read your wonderful work. It has been a pleasure reading so many different interpretations of the prompts. From a personal point of view, had I been taking part this week, I think I would have found the bookends easier to work with than the concrete blocks. However, you turned those blocks into mazes, laboratories, film sets, torture chambers and even a cafeteria. Your stories were varied, and I enjoyed reading each one of them. Needless to say, I found selecting the top stories very difficult as the quality of your writing was so high. However, in the end, these were my thoughts.

Honourable Mentions

The Price of Silence by Iskandar

The closing line of this one made it stand out for me. It gives us an insight into the killer’s character and ego. An understated story with a dark, wry last line.

Being Creative by Stella Turner

The domestic setting is not immediately apparent. The main character seems to be hiding from an adversary. But in a pleasing turn of events, equipment and chaos he refers to in the story become the toys and contraptions that accompany babies- the proud father is in need of sleep.

Left to Go Cold by A.J. Walker

The bookends were used exceptionally well in this piece. The life of a man is depicted in one incredible sentence, and the final image is sad and beautiful.

3rd Place

Don’t Speak When You’re Spoken To by Geoff Le Pard

The clever title and line, ‘An odd compliment for a child’ made this an interesting piece from the outset. Jaroslav is the leader of an underground group. His boastful nature becomes quickly apparent. He takes credit for the child’s ability to keep the group’s secrets. His cruelty towards the boy is disguised in the idea he has ‘Trained…’ him. That training it would seem has been extreme. The group, once made aware of the boy’s treatment, understand why, in the end, the boy murders Jaroslav. The use of ‘could’ in the line, ‘why he could keep silent.’ has very sinister connotations. This was a very well constructed story.

2nd Place

Trial and Error by Emily Livingstone

The concrete maze inspired a number of stories about laboratories of one kind or another; however, I liked this interpretation very much as it was both dark and humorous. Ms. Wainwright’s lack of attention to detail and perhaps even her arrogance, is underpinned when she calls the intern ‘Sonia’ rather than ‘Sofia.’ The disastrous results of Ms. Wainwright’s approach to the experiment she is conducting become apparent when ‘the [giant] rats [are] halfway across the field, their tails sliding heavily through the grass behind them.’ The lab rats, it would seem, will be allowed their revenge. A beautifully paced, witty piece.

WINNER

Just Maybe… by NJ Crosskey

I thought this was an excellent piece of micro fiction. It builds to a very disturbing idea: ‘Maybe I’ll smash your skull in with a freakin’ shovel… I’ll bury you on the hillside with the other cows.’ Yet, the pain and frustration in this internal monologue becomes clear in wonderful lines like, ‘…I Don’t and I’m Not because of YOU.’ The repetition of ‘maybe’ ensures that we are aware that the ugly words and violent threats do not take place outside of this character’s own head. They seem his way of releasing the tension and unhappiness of being in a relationship where he feels controlled and undervalued. With the author’s seamless use of the final bookend, the main character resigns himself to keeping silent- even though constructive dialogue might be a better solution- and merely turns the volume up on the film. A clever story that I thought worked exceptionally well.

Just Maybe…

NJ Crosskey

Silent treatment, that’s what she accuses me of. Then it’s all: You Never, You Don’t, You Aren’t.

Well maybe I don’t and maybe I’m not. But maybe Glynis, just freakin’ maybe, YOU don’t and YOU aren’t either.

And maybe, just maybe, you sound like a flock of constipated pigeons. Maybe you’re a shrill, controlling harpy who kicks me when I’m down, so MAYBE, just maybe, I Don’t and I’m Not because of YOU.

Maybe I’ll smash your skull in with a freakin’ shovel. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll bury you on the hillside with the other cows…

…Or maybe I’ll just turn the sound up so I can hear the film.

Micro Bookends 1.24 – Results

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Mar 292015
 
Photo Credit: lisa rigby via CC.

Photo Credit: lisa rigby via CC.

Thanks for dropping by for the results show. I must admit I thought PREJUDICE as the closing bookend was a step too far. Of course you all rose to the challenge and came up with a crop of fantastic stories.

A huge thanks to Foy S. Iver who has not only done a splendid job of judging, but has given feedback on everyone’s stories. Thanks Foy! Here’s what she thought of this weeks entries:

Wow! I think this week might have been particularly challenging with the bookends but how I loved the prompt and introduction. Paring Pride and Prejudice (one of my favorite books) with Photoshopping (one of my least favorite societal sins) is such a deliciously difficult juxtaposition. With that being said, the winners were those stories that evoked emotion, smoothly incorporated the bookends, and captured that sense of life being “retouched.” Thank you to everyone who dared to pick up the challenge and to Dave for laying it down!

Relaxed and Messy by Sal Page

I’ll never be like that.” Such an oft-repeated phrase that usually means someone will be just like that. Great final bookend with the double meaning on prejudice! Is her family judging the “bits on the carpet” or her decisions in a partner? Unfortunately, probably both. Well done.

Of Love and War by legreene515

A sweet tale of love temporarily torn apart, it felt especially poignant because it’s something I might need to be brave through in the future. I loved the beautifully descriptive line “The chopper’s flurry, like a manic butterfly evacuated him from his memories.” Lovely.

Sepia Day by michaelsimko

I adored the uniqueness of this flash! The line “[t]he site of a lady in a wedding dress using a plasma cutter is frightening and exhilarating” says it all.  Who wouldn’t want to see that? Beautiful phrase “sepia moon light.” Also, the fact that the zombie bride’s name Kamili means “perfection” tickles my linguistic brain. Fun Trivia: If you look up the name Kairu on Urban Dictionary the 2nd definition is “A human piece of Swiss cheese.” I hope that wasn’t his fate…

Daddy’s Girl by N J Crosskey

How true this is “the silence cut deeper than any scorn ever could.” It’s that feeling of being cut off that destroys. Many of the stories this week dealt with the pain that comes about from a clash in worldviews and this one was particularly moving. Great job.

A Wedding by Susan O’Reilly

This was one of the few stories that gave us delight and happiness. A beautiful portrayal of prejudice left behind. I loved the structure of this piece; the way the writer styled it looks like columns inside a church on a wedding day. Thanks for bringing some light. 🙂

State By State by stevenstucko

All I had to read was “bacon-rolled mushrooms and tiny crab quiche” and I was hooked. Pair that with a great music selection (kd lang), and I want to be there! This story did a nice job of showing us more than politics and regulations; we see human emotion behind the change. The penultimate line (“tardy Justice of the Peace finally arrives with the paper work”) feels rather indicative of the current process. Good job.

Runaway Vows by Susan O’Reilly

I read this poem out loud to fully appreciate it; the rhyme is lovely. Both sweet and solemn, the writer’s words paint us a picture of young love not to be restrained. I was happy they found peace after “their vows [had] been sworn.” Very touching.

Pride & Greed by Holly Geely

Your wife-to-be ran off with your brother” a ready-made episode for Jerry Springer! I loved the contrasting opening and closing lines; we start with Mandy’s sin (pride) and end with society’s (prejudice). My heart went out to the MC but the last line was hopeful so I’ll imagine she was brave enough to speak up. 🙂

Tradición No Más by stevenstucko

¡Qué pena! Of all the people to “no-show” your wedding, your father is one of the saddest. “He won’t give her to a Mexican” this line snatched my heart from my chest. I wanted to scream, what’s wrong with you people?! A patch of levity with “tuxedo stuffed groomsmen” gave quite the amusing mental image. Overall, heart-breaking write.

Differences by Mark Morris

With the prompts many types of prejudices were brought to the forefront and this story’s might’ve been the most relatable for me, especially the sentence “he’s a little more tanned than everyone else in my family.” Being of Irish-Welsh decent, almost everyone in my family are all gingers. I married a very tan Thai-American and “Differences” made me appreciate all the more not having to struggle against a hateful ignorance like this. Job well done.

CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE BRIDES OF VENGEANCE by Brian Creek

Chris and Mike are becoming a weekly favorite of mine and this was no exception! Usually, all fun and games, this episode explored tragic themes. We get a glimpse of  Chris’ dark past (“before I was institutionalised”) and watch as he struggles to handle the death of a former colleague. I hope you get your ghosts, Chris.

The Trespasser by stephellis2013

Wow! So many chillingly beautiful phrases throughout this piece: “Pride had crept through the house for centuries,” “a greedy grasp that mouldered its way down barren corridors,” “it scented something new, and as yet, uncorrupted,” “[m]urmured their displeasure,” and my favorite “only the house could decide who stayed” Eeeeee!!!

I debated and debated whether to place this and bump one of the HMs but ultimately, decided I couldn’t find the Photoshop element. I would give this a Special Mention for most fear-filling entry if I could. 🙂

What’s in a Name? by Stella T

“Pride Ann Joy” Oh so painful! But such a sweet tale of fatherly love and pride in his daughter. This was one of the few uplifting stories this week and I enjoyed the smile. I’m certain that the sister is loads more thankful that she didn’t get tagged with “prejudice.”

Pride Left or Right? by stu06bloc9

Great commentary with this piece! Now we’re shipping robotic women and do you want one who can think for herself or one who panders? At this point in our history the antecedents of Pride104 are only just outselling Pride107. Let’s hope intelligence and reliability win out over that “extra-sensory responsiveness.” Also, I loved “she computed” in place of “she thought”!

The Happiest Day of My Life by Geoff Holme

This flash did an amazing job of painting people in less than 150 words. The voice was captivating and emotions soar to know that they’ll be together, only to crash again on reading Mum wasn’t there… Dad tore up the invitation.” I liked that it presented support in the face of differences though, ending on a laugh with the words, “100% heterosexual but not a trace of prejudice.”

Taking Stock by Ed Broom

It’s funny that some professions are seen as less despite the massive paychecks they draw in. Just reading “I spent yesterday morning in a bluebell field pretending to use a laptop, and that’s my mortgage covered this month” made me ask where do I apply? I loved the final bookend (“her academic prejudice”), too. Very fresh.

Mrs. Martin’s Lonely Heart’s Club by voimaoy

This was one of the stories that utilized the bookends seamlessly! The line “not necessarily beautiful,” is painful and made me feel for those sad hearts entering Mrs. Martin’s Club. Also, I did wonder at the high mortality rate in the female founder’s men…

Regrets by mediocremeg14

With the rise of Bridezillas, this apology (“I was so caught up in my “Perfect Day” that I didn’t register how unhappy you were”) is unfortunately relevant. These days, even the flower arrangements are more important than the groom. 🙁 I was happy though that she knew enough to see her mistake!

Photoshopped Out by zevonesque

What began as bride contemplating her “day of days,” the writer slips in an intriguing turn on assumptions with the phrase “[s]he corrected her thoughts; not alone – with her husband”. As the tale closes, I’m left with the sense that she’s getting married more for her sister’s pain than for her own happiness. Well done.

Wedding Crashers by davejamesashton

Goodness, having your wedding crashed is never a good thing but when the crashers are half-raised corpses, I’d wonder about what bad luck is in store for the rest of my marriage – if I lived that long! I liked the closing line on this one (terminate with extreme prejudice!”) because it was the first example of prejudice as a very good thing! Fun write.

Honourable Mentions

APPROACH WITH CAUTION by Jacqueline Pye

I thought this would be a little story about rivalries until I read “man” in quotation marks. Then that “satanic finger” pointed and the world spun on its head with a vindictive explosion. The author gave us a smooth use of bookends (“Anyone else for prejudice?” LOVED this!), and an excellent allusion to the Photoshopping bit (something hidden because it’s not what the mundane world wants to see). It definitely deserves an honorable mention.

The sins of the mothers by Geoff Le Pard

This was one I kept rereading, knowing each time I would find something I missed. The bookends were invisible (what I look for) and we clearly see two worlds (or more accurately, “two women” in the same body), one that society wants hidden and the other that’s accepted. The truth is good girl and bad girl are part of her and “sometimes [she’ll] need them both.” The wordplay and repetition of going back to the dictionary also won me over. Stellar job.

SAMSARA by Jessica Franken

This story was one of the stands out for cleverly incorporating that sense of something hidden, something edited. The beautiful title and line “As kids we played mirror image” clue the reader in that Vivian is more than her sweet and proper exterior.  Her “evil twin” will be away for the honeymoon but not divorced from the cycle, and perhaps in the future Vivian will once again be the reflection rather than the reflected. Bonus points for the gorgeous line: “as if not to wake her wedding dress.”

3rd Place

Without Prejudice by Geoff Holme

As soon as I read this, I knew it had won a placing. What a perfectly original piece and format. The bookends were quiet – though that name, (“CHOLMONDELEY FARQUHARSON”) I had to look it up and see if it was real. It very much is – and though the story strayed from the idea of retouching, it made up for it by resurrecting the spirit of Pride and Prejudice. Some of my favorite parts? When Mr. Darcy “suffered impairment to his pride” and when “Miss Bennet’s unwarranted prejudice…was rekindled” and of course “{undecipherable scrawl}”. A worthy flash.

2nd Place

The Family Way by Marie McKay

What an opening line:Pride is the colour of a cheap gold band.” Volumes spoken in 9 small words. Oh how these phrases sprang into heart and memory: “secrets scurry into ancient alcoves that reek with the stale stench of tradition,” “new spun funereal tones,” and “pursed lips of prejudice”! Flawless bookends and a quintessential tale of retouched history. Whether this was an arranged marriage or a shotgun wedding, we’re not told but the ache at the last is the same because she lies but “he lies too.” Brilliant flash.

Winner

My Life in Sunlight by Jacki Donnellan

Wow… So much of this imagery swept my heart away, “Pride bathes my life in sunlight,” “white freesias cascading,” “tears draggling my wilting bouquet” and “rustling white crepe.” The use of italicized text reveals what’s real and what’s “reprinted.” One woman’s struggle as a single mother to raise her child, pay rent, and “ward off pre-judgement” for lack of a man. Her life re-imagined to better suit a society where diamonds, husbands, and babies come in that exact order. I have not had a harder time picking between two stories for the winner but “My Life in Sunlight” won thanks to its MC. My soul wants to wrap this woman in a hug. Masterful work.

My Life in Sunlight

Jacki Donnellan

Pride bathes my life in sunlight; my memories reprinted in white.

I joined you beneath the honeysuckle bower, white freesias cascading from my hands.

I didn’t wait and wait in a draughty corridor, tears draggling my wilting bouquet.

I kept the dress- for our daughter, one day! A wardrobe brimming with rustling white crepe.

I didn’t sell the dress to pay rent on the bedsit in which I gave birth, alone.

I took care that those diamonds on my wedding band didn’t scratch against my baby’s face, or my husband’s hand!

I didn’t wear a brass curtain ring to ward off pre-judgement; to fend off the cold sting of prejudice.