Photo Credit: Michael Coghlan via CC.
Welcome to the results show. There’s a treat for you this week. Judge, KM Zafari, has given feedback on ALL stories. How great is that? Thanks, KM. Here, have an Above and Beyond the Call of Duty award. Here’s what she thought:
Judging this week’s entries was unbelievably difficult. There were so many good ones! And I don’t mean that in an “you all deserve a ribbon because everyone’s a winner!” kind of way. I mean you all honestly blew me away with what you wrote. What a roller coaster ride of emotions!
It’s important to note that I, as one person, tend to gravitate towards particular types of stories. I did my best to put that tendency aside and judge everything objectively, but I’m only human.
In the end, I went with my instincts and narrowed the field down to those that had that extra “wow” factor for me.
If you didn’t make the official list, please don’t feel bad. Really, I wanted to throw around HMs like glitter because there were so many worthy stories. There really, truly were.
And if you won, you should be extra proud of yourself because the competition was fierce!
Whenever I enter this contest, I do my best to comment on each and every entry. I decided to do so again here because I really feel like you all deserved it.
Caring by Carlos Orozco
I’d like to know more about these two. Who they are, what their relationship is. Why does she want to get away? To get high? Or because she feels guilt? The ambiguity makes this intriguing. Nice visuals.
Butterfingers by Jack
If only more mothers were like this. lol I love her playfulness and that she doesn’t take things too seriously. I wonder where her child gets their seriousness from.
Hell’s heaven by Firdaus Parvez
Oh, wow. Nice incorporation of the bookends. Feels very natural. Sad and disturbing. “My tattoo covered arms camouflage my juvenile delinquencies.” Makes me think this person is still young. How sad.
INTEL by Steven Stucko
It never would have occurred to me to think of things from a cop’s point of view. Clear portrayal of his/her feelings without feeling like we’re being “told”.
Picture this… by Firdaus Parvez
Sad juxtaposition of the children playing and their mom’s actions. How awful for them. I just saw a commercial for Intervention where a boy is banging on the car door for his mom to open up, and she’s like “Just a minute” as she’s shooting up heroin. So this story is a reality for someone, somewhere. I just hope these kids can maintain their childlike innocence for a bit. At the least the girl. I think it’s too late for the brother. 🙁
Thump-Thump by Craig Towsley
I love picturing the girl as the needle. Really interesting take on the photo prompt. She’s withdrawing vitality instead of injecting something, which is how most people read the needle. There’s something so intriguing about people like this, isn’t there? I’ve always envied them.
Frankly My Dear by legreene515
I like the incorporation of the catch phrase and that it’s a different take on things – i.e., insulin vs drugs. A nice moment in time with someone who doesn’t let their medical issues hold them back.
Connections by Marie McKay
Poor Jimmy. Drake seems like a mean brother. What’s worse is that he feels guilt because Jimmy obviously cares about him. And yet, he doesn’t really seem to return it. Maybe somewhere inside, he does. But I don’t think so – he does think of him as “hopeless” and “useless”, after all. I’m not sure Drake deserves him!
High School Rejects by Foy S. Iver
Subtle. You have to search for meaning to understand she has diabetes “too many Butter Fingers”. That’s really nice. I like that she wants to be cool. Tries to pretend she’s a druggie, when she has no idea what drugs really are. lol
Childhood by Pattyann McCarthy
I love the focus of this piece. Yes, there are horrors going on. Yes, there are dangers. Yes, the adult world will intrude. But innocence still exists. And it is lovely. I adore this.
Food by Stella Turner
“It had been so easy, pounds shed like leaves falling off trees.” Nice incorporation of the photo prompt. Like the situation.
Bald-No-More by Holly Geely
Ha! What a unique take on the prompt. I love the imagery of the doctor being reduced to a pile of hair. Humor is so often ignored in our little contests, which makes me sad.
(Re)purposeful by Steven O. Young Jr.
I had to read this one a few times (in a good way). Beautiful language. I’d like to know more about their situation and why they’re where they are. Could be a good candidate for exploring further.
Broken Skin by Pattyann McCarthy
This reminds of me of Dick Van Dyke’s notorious British accent from Mary Poppins. lol Without knowing who the author is, I can’t tell if it’s a Brit making fun of themselves or someone else making fun of the British. We have so many Brits in these contests that I assumed it was the former, but the quotation marks lead me to believe otherwise. I never in a million years would have thought of a drum and piercing the skin. I love it when people surprise me like that.
Dope by A.J. Walker
“I can see you’re full of poison, burgeoning thick and black through your veins like an algal bloom choking up a river.” What a gorgeous line. And ha! Superman picking on Arnold! Hilarious title.
The Evening News by Dylyce P. Clarke
Haha I think anyone who’s been in a bad relationship can find the humor in this piece.
Hope by Jacki Donnellan
I love the wordplay, here. “She sounds as fiery and golden as autumn.” vs “I sound as rusted and dry as autumn.” I think she is speaking to her reflection. Why does she see herself as more hopeful than she is inside? I’d love to read more.
Downward Spiral by Dylyce P. Clarke
Rhyming poetry (in English, especially, with our limited rhymes) is quite difficult. As such, I don’t always care for it when people try. (I realize that sounds snobbish.) But this is well done. It evokes emotion and tells a story, while doing very little poetic cheating.
When Words Are Not Enough by TanGental
This is beautifully written. The descriptive language is awesome.
Little Brother by Matt L.
“I’d go from little brother to living brother just like that.” Chilling. Ugh! I don’t understand why he hates his brother so much. This is very well written but leaves me sad.
Just Once by Iskandar Haggarty
“The needle kissed my veins.” Love this line. Good morality tale or words or warning. So many people die from just trying something once, don’t they? Frightening.
Untitled by Nancy Chenier
Oh, how I wish this didn’t exceed the word count. What a lovely story. So much world and emotion. Fantastic writing here. Blast that one extra word. This one will really stay with me. Excellent.
CHRIS AND MIKE vs PNEUMONIA, WEREWOLVES, AND A FOREST FULL OF FAIRIES by Brian S Creek
Awesome use of the bookends into this story. “Damn,” said Chris. “He’s already taken the formula.” Such a clever way to incorporate the needle. There is so much story implied in such few words. Great world building.
Mind Over Matter by Marie McKay
What a depressing tale. In a way, I feel bad for Johnny. Trapped, alone with his thoughts. His life is essentially over, and now he has only time to think upon his mistakes. I love the staccato style of writing, which reads just like thoughts. Really well done.
Chasing the Dragon by MT Decker
Ooh, this is really cool. Great imagery. Reminds me of a spider bite that numbs its victim. Here, the victim of the dragon (or drug?) is taken in by the euphoria. I’d never heard the phrase “chasing the dragon’s tail” before. Like this one a lot.
[insert drumroll here]
The Chase by Rebekah Postupak
Whimsical and fun. I love this. Not only is it an unusual subject matter, it’s charming and sweet. The playful banter is really well done. And yet, there is a story here, too.
When Childhood Ends by Steph Ellis
Wow. I’m always caught by stories of innocence lost, which seems to be a running theme this week. I love how the children don’t see the needle as a threat but a plaything. This story highlights the real danger of these needles. “I’m Sleeping Beauty!” So sad and prophetic. And you can feel the mother’s heartbreak. I can’t imagine seeing my child holding up a needle like that.
A Winter’s Tale by Geoff Holme
Tragic, sad, and beautiful. This had all the hallmarks of what I look for in a great story – emotion and excellent writing. It’s beautifully crafted from beginning to end. The protagonist is lamenting the loss of his brother – not necessarily his physical life but the life shared with him. There’s a lot of genuine emotion in here, especially the crying/laughter that comes along with fond memories while you’re grieving. Lots to love here.
A Winter’s Tale
“‘Catch me? You couldn’t catch a cold!’ Remember you used to tease me with that when we played tag as kids?”
My breath condensed into clouds in the railyard where I’d found him . I cradled Benjy in my lap as he stared into the distance, eyes like glass beads.
The syringe fell from his arm.
I thought my older brother was too wasted to hear my words, until I heard him whisper, “Momma always said life was like a box of chocolates: when you reach the bottom, you don’t have many choices.”
“Yeah, man.” I choked, a tear rolling down my cheek. “She always was good for a memorable phrase.”