A long journey on a very short path
Yet another Fiction 101 contest is upon us and thanks to social media, we have seen the number of individual entries double this year. Writing such a story is no easy task, however, as one local novelist put it, “I could never write a whole story in 101 words.” With almost 100 entries, the judges — the editorial staff — focused on those that encapsulated a beginning, middle and end in such a short amount of space. These were the best of the lot. Enjoy!
The Blue Girl
By Keith Miller
Billy ran in with hands full of driftglass, and told his mother about the blue girl: “Blue eyes, blue hair and a blue smile,” he said.
“Don’t be silly, Billy,” she said. “Who ever heard of a blue smile?”
The next day he ran in with a veined stone. “The blue girl sang to me,” he said. “She has a voice like the sky.”
“Don’t be silly,” his mother said. She was scrubbing the sink.
The third day Billy didn’t come home for lunch.
Along the beach, where the footprints angled for the waves, his mother found a broken sand dollar.
By Nicholas Deitch
“You in charge here?” That wacko lady in Stephen’s Park wags a boney finger.
Hell no. I walk here on break. I mind my own business.
“They wouldn’t let this happen in the Magic Kingdom!” she shouts, pointing at the dead roses the city can no longer care for.
A cart full of crap at her side, she’s been tending one gnarled bush, tilling and watering the thing for days, muttering crazy shit at everyone.
Cops are coming. I keep walking.
They take her away.
Later, walking back, I see it: a single budding rose on that miserable little bush.
By Erica Walsh
I heard a voice from the freezer.
“A friend,” it said.
Was it a ghost?
“Hurry,” it yelled.
I opened the door and my birthday cake was weeping.
“What’s wrong,” I decided to go along with it.
“You hate me.”
“I love you, but already had a piece of you.”
“Please, I do not want to be in this freezer. The carrots torture me. Aren’t I delicious?”
“Why won’t you eat me?” it cried.
“Alright, I’ll eat you, but I’m only doing this for you.”
“Thank you, you’re a pal.”
That’s what happened to the cake, honest.
The “I’m an idiot” award
by Yvette Padilla
Breathe, I ordered myself. Just speak. Abruptly, and much too loudly, I yelped, “Oh, Mr. Depp. I just adore you! Imagine me sharing an elevator with THE Johnny Depp!”
I dared to peek over at Mr. Depp. He was staring straight ahead, smiling broadly. I actually swooned. The elevator dinged and the doors opened. Stepping out, I turned and waved a short little best-friend kind of wave.
It wasn’t until moments later, as I sat at my desk, that I realized just why Johnny Depp had been smiling so broadly in that elevator: He was, in fact, Brad Pitt.
Finally, someone said it award
by Deanna Nese
Who is going to tell him, poor sap? Today it was onions, yesterday rotten cheese with essence of sauerkraut. It’s a skunk trapped in a garbage truck. Let’s say best of three — rock, paper, scissors — wait, best of five. Maybe let Human Resources handle it. Seriously, even the anonymous gift of mints was no help. It’s dead fish floating on a chemical death cloud. I’m just going to say it, you’re all too polite. Dude, your breath stinks!
The ungodliness award
by Geoff Pocock
Kathleen Murphy sat demurely, gazing from the cafe as Patrick Flanagan placed his hand discreetly under the table. She parted her knees, her skin goose-bumping with expectations of his touch.
Her eyes widened as Sean, her brother, blustered in, shouting “Sis, your bus is coming, hurry!”
Casting him a withering glance and Patrick an expression of regret Kathleen left with a muted farewell.
Sitting in her seat, Sean said, “Top of the morning to you, Father Patrick. A fine day it will be.”
Kathleen sat in the bus fuming. She would say 10 Hail Marys for her thoughts.
Didn’t see it coming award
by Nicholas Deitch
Damned El Niño. Cops and city shirts come down, with vouchers and bullshit, telling everybody to get out. River’s gonna flood — wash us away.
“It’s a lie.” Bobby pulls me back. We hide in the thicket, wet and shivering.
They search our camps. Tilda is screaming. She don’t want to go. They take her and leave.
Bobby snarls, “Just wanna get rid of us. We’re trouble. Makes ’em feel bad.”
Wet, hungry and pissed, we try to make a fire in the rain.
I hear a rumble, look up. A hellish torrent rising.
“Christ almighty.” I reach for Bobby’s trembling hand.
The tragedy of crossfire award
La Pieta (Pity)
by Greg Lanner
The young Juan Diego was carrying red Castilian roses down the hill when he saw the crowd hurling rocks, sticks and bottles at the border patrol agents. Suddenly there was a loud popping noise — the bullets came buzzing like angry hornets from the American side.
The boy lay face-down on the sidewalk in front of the panaderia. “No! … Mijo!” his mother cried, her tears mixing with the scarlet puddle of freshly spilled blood, as she gently covered his body with her tilma.
“It was that sinister steel monster of a wall that killed your son,” the panadero said to her.
The sinister move award
The tree and the tourists
by Carol Fogel
The tourists jostled for position in front of the lone tree. The massive falls roared behind them.
“We need a group shot!”
“I’ll take it. Hand me your camera. Move to the right, everyone. The tree puts shadows on your faces. More. Perfect!”
He clicked and captured the perfect — and the final — group shot. The earth broke off and slid down into the abyss, taking all the tourists with it.
The ancient tree clung to the bluff — all alone — except for the man, who took the photo he had planned all along.
California dreamin’ award
by William Bradford Weidlich
In the lavender dawn, I think about my parents and my damp wetsuit.
The bus driver’s eyes smell like cigarettes. I move to the back. We stop twice.
“Where’s your surfboard?” she whispers.
“My father has it.”
“Where’s your father?”
The motherchild’s eyes are tired. We think about parents.
The second passenger is a farmer. His eyes closed, dreams of sleeping children.
On the 33, I imagine spray-painting a letter on the refinery walls. It ends, “Love your son.”
I exit California Street. I see surfers and parents, but not mine. I pray and bodysurf in the rising sun.
Someone’s trash is another’s treasure award
by Sheri Bischoff
She did it all right. Special soil, special fertilizer, special omega 3 water. Still, her tomato plants keeled over and croaked, same as always. Right away.
Then a sewer pipe burst and flooded the basement. Plumber came, said, “This is serious shit. Raw, toxic waste. You can’t stay here. But don’t worry; your homeowners insurance should cover the sewage removal.”
So they evacuated to a hotel while the guys in hazmat suits came to clean it up.
When they got back home a week later, there were tomato plants sprouting up all over the front lawn.
Be careful what you ask for award
The guitar teacher — Michael
by Phil Mercurio
“Now may we come in?” Sylvania demanded.
“Yes, I’m ready for your daughter’s first guitar lesson,” Michael said.
“Step-daughter,” Sylvania said firmly. “Come, Stevie, don’t be shy. Listen, Michael, I expect Stevie to learn nice campfire songs.”
“OK, um, what would you like to learn, Stevie?” Michael asked.
“I wanna play and sing like Patti Smith,” Stevie said tapping her foot.
Sylvania glared at Stevie, “That’s out of the question, young lady!”
“Then I don’t wanna be here, I hate you and this place!” Stevie marched out.
Sylvania, mouth agape, looked at Michael, who said, “That will be 50 dollars, please.”
The dark side of hunger award
by Cyndy Taschman
“I’m going to kill you, you know,” old weird Harold told the frightened woman as she cowered in the corner of the dark, sealed room.
“You won’t get away with it!” she attempted to bravely threaten. “My brothers are policemen!”
“I’ve succeeded for years,” his evil eyes leered, as he rubbed his massive belly. “I’ll be back for you soon,” he taunted.
Exiting the shelter and locking the door, he turned to gaze at the massive iron pot in his backyard. It would soon be full of boiling water.
You do what you have to do when you’re hungry, Harold justified.
The up for interpretation award
by Grant Marcus
A bar. A mirror. At the bar’s end, a dark glance that says, “Don’t even think about it.”
He’s not here for her anyway. Today, he’s remembering his father — Or is it himself?
Father, the Bircher. He, the liberal. Father, “everything-in-moderation.” He, moderation by necessity. Father, a bad marriage. He, so why go there? … The list, ad-indigestion.
By instinct, he looks over at the skirt, then stares into the mirror. Salutes. Downs the next one.
“Diggs” or “Dodger,” makes no difference.
Like dad, he’ll drink till it kills him.
Need more melatonin award
by Yvette Padilla
I know the dogs are going to be poisoned by the neighbors today. Leslie is headed for a wheelchair. My hands are numb; here comes the heart attack. Was that an earthquake or the wind? I used to be so funny. Sometime this year I should try cleaning out the bird cage or watering the plants. Stop whining: You could be blind, paraplegic, a Republican. Scotland was just a dream, wasn’t it? Are you really going to cry AGAIN? Is that a black widow on the ceiling? Ah, crap: time to get up and go to work.
“I am who I am” award
by Yvette Padilla
Neighborhood children called her “Coconut”: brown on the outside and white on the inside. Her father was covertly proud of her fairer skin and forbade her to speak his native Spanish. Most Latinos avoided her, and she seemed invisible to most whites.
Later, she found herself attracted to both sexes. Straight people considered bisexuals the worst kind of pervert; gays knew that bisexuals were just in denial. “Commit, for God’s sake!” Mark had always said.
Now, Mark was dead and her father, gravely ill. She stared at the ice cream menu. “Make mine a chocolate vanilla coconut swirl,” she avowed.