Flash Fiction Winners!

Second Annual Online Flash Fiction Contest

This year's prompt was simply "Make Us Laugh." Below is the winner, followed by the two runners-up. All three did an excellent job of blending humor, pathos, and a critical eye at the world around us.

WINNER

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"Period"

by Catherine Lewis

              If you go too long without one you and your sentence may be in trouble. I learn these truths simultaneously. At school, Sr. Dionysius (Dino for short) praises the concise sentence: Subject, verb, compliment—period. At home, my mother reminds me that the subject is sex and that boys will compliment you to get some action. 

              I study. My vocabulary expands. I learn secondary meanings for words like cycle and cramps and new words like menstruation—which I understand to be a kind of Italian soup.

              In May, a neighborhood girl we know becomes pregnant. My mother says she’d rather I didn’t, but that if I did, we’ll visit the doctor for pills. I fear becoming pregnant and labeled a whore: me as subject, verb implied, compliment lacking, period missing.              

              Things perplex when Dino comments that menstruating women are unclean and therefore not allowed upon the altar. Wait, I discover churches are homages to female genitalia: the long vagina-like aisle, sacred rooms like ovaries on either side of the altar and in the center, an altar where the miracle takes place.

              With the pill I entertain compliments without worry.  Time passes. Producing unwanted offspring is replaced by the fear of not producing any, and the missing period takes on a secondary meaning. As I become more assured, men point their compliments toward younger subjects.

              Upon her death I find her marriage license, dated seven months before my sister was born. Small prize for the incomplete sentence laid out before me 

Catherine Lewis is the author of three books, most recently Thrice Told Tales (Simon & Schuster). Her shorter works have appeared in magazines such as The Bellevue Literary Review, South Loop Review and DASH Journal. She is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Purchase College, SUNY. 

 

Runner-Up

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"Missed Connection: Turd-Eating Bulldog"

by Karelia Stetz-Waters

              You: flaxen haired girl walking bull dog in Bellevue Park. Lime green dress with hints of gold. Slender as willow branches, your hair a cascade of sunlight. First warm day of March. The cherry blossoms fell like warm snow. Your bull dog looked like a Louis XIV ottoman. It wedged its whole face – wrinkled like the convolutions of a pale, white brain – into the grass. Then it chomped up something which was probably a turd and ran. You dropped your purse and ran after it yelling, “Mr. Cuddles, No!” When you caught up, you knelt down though the ground was still sodden. Nothing dirtied you.

               Mr. Cuddles opened its maw, revealing a fleshy pink enormity like the mouth of some barely evolved sea creature. (This is what gay men think the vagina looks like.) You reached inside and extricated the turd while Mr. Cuddles waited like a good patient in the dentist’s office. Afterward, the beast slid its flat tongue across your face, over your spring cream skin.

               Then it licked its own eye.

               I said “I’m sorry. I think you dropped your purse.”

               You love the beast. I watched the two of you walk away together.

               You do not have to respond. I am not looking for an awkward date at Starbucks. I just wanted to say that you are both beautiful, and in your juxtaposition the world is whole.

Karelia Stetz-Waters is author of The AdmirerThe PurveyorForgive Me If I've Told You This Before (coming fall 2014) and Something True (coming winter 2015). Something True has the honor of being the first lesbian romance acquired by the Forever Yours Imprint of Grand Central Publishing.

 

Second Runner-Up

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"Sorry Stop!(™)"

by Maureen McVeigh

     

Do you apologize to inanimate objects?  Pets?  Anyone on the other side of any door you’ve ever used?

 

You might have Automatic Sorry Syndrome.  ASorrys is a learned behavior in which women apologize for drawing attention, needing assistance, and existing.  Sound familiar? 

 

Then try Sorry Stop!(™)

 

A sleek in-ear device, Sorry Stop!(™) intones, “Save your sorries for when you need them”, in the voice of your authoritarian seventh grade teacher, when you apologize in situations like these:

 

              Your partner wants Italian for dinner, but you had that for lunch.

 

              You notice the cashier gave you the wrong change.

 

              You won't take your dog out again during the tornado warning.

 

              You left on time, but got held up in traffic or at gunpoint.

 

              Your mammogram results upset your family.

 

              You mean, “Excuse me.”

 

              You have an opinion.

 

Sorry Stop!(™) reminds you words have meaning and you have value.  Order today to learn to apologize only for actual remorse.

 

Available in stylish colors to coordinate with your wardrobe, hair color, and adult obsession with pink since your sister always got the pink one of everything while you had to pretend to prefer purple.

 

Order now and receive a free trial of Giggle Gone!(™).  Turn your self-defeating laughter into straight-faced confidence!

 

*This product has not been reviewed by the FDA, your friends, family, or fellow humans.  They may still expect you to apologize profusely.  Sorry about that.

Maureen McVeigh teaches Creative Writing and Composition in the Philadelphia area. She was a runner-up in the Philadelphia City Paper writing contest in 2013. She is working on a novel set in Spain, partly as an excuse to daydream about Madrid.

 

Judges

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Lisa Fink is the author of the chapbook Her Disco (dancing girl press, 2013). More of her work can be found or is forthcoming in places like The Boston ReviewEcotoneJuked, and [PANK]. A Fulbright alum, she has received grants and fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, RACC, and the University of Virginia.

 

Beth Russell's work has been published in Hedgerows, Threads, The Neighborhood Naturalist, Cloudbank MagazineThe Fishtrap Anthology,  New York Arts Magazine, and the Oregon Literary Review.  She earned her MFA in Writing at Pacific University in Forest Grove.

Brenna Crotty is the Editorial Coordinator for CALYX Journal. Her humor articles have been published at Cracked.com and CollegeHumor.com. She was the recipient of the KIDD Award for Fiction in 2010.

     

 

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