Flash Fiction -1st Place
by Rebecca R. Block
Once braces came off & bras on my confessions became more complicated. No more I really hate our new neighbor, Dad, I was the eyes and ears other family members still forgot to notice. I collected the she’ll leave him if her father dies and he’s cheating like Buffalo quarters, spending them only to catch attention undivided.
Apparently, he’d been good to me when I still celebrated only single digits. He was a camping horseback field trip theme park pull you as long as you can hang on laughing kind of dad. But by age 11 I was screaming Mom I hate him, why won’t you leave him, please after he slapped me in the parking lot of the ski resort; by 16 a broken I promise I won’t tell your mom honey, no matter how bad it is had me vowing never to trust him again, never, not even if every sentence started I’m sorry; by 18 the memory of my 9th birthday, when he’d wrapped my split and gushing thumb and rushed me whitefaced to the hospital, had been moved over to make room for seeing him with his blading partner in our pool.
She wore mom’s favorite ocean-striped swimsuit.
Less than a year: mom left him. And by my 19 we were legs dangling off ledges, pouring his 20 screaming messages left by nightfall through wine glasses dropped 80 feet down, glittering ruby.
Then, at 24, the ambulance stood me in the hospital glare. I stared at her brain rendered black black white on the screen thinking that doesn’t look like blood that much darkness.
And he stood behind with one hand bridging my shoulder, crying I know, baby I know.
Flash Fiction – 2nd Place
No Safety Net
by Betsy Packard
“We want you to come to New Yawk for The Parade! We can be balloon handlers.”
“You know, the helium balloons — The Parade.”
“Oh, wow! Can we be on Bullwinkle?”
“Don’t know for shew-ah,” says that New York accent. “My boss, the buyer for sportsweah, she’s runs balloons, so I’ll see.”
Her boss is a relative; I’m hopeful.
Anxious faces peer over mufflers and from under caps of every shape and color. The wind’s up. A Nor’easter hammers Boston; and Manhattan catches its share. No balloons go out in heavy wind.
We’re handling Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Assignments are seniority-based. Rocky’s cool. Not as cool as steering antlers between skyscrapers, but there’s always next year.
“Love the mittens,” says Linda.
“Silk and angora,” I say. “A silk strand is stronger than steel of the same diameter.”
“Really?” She takes a sip of her Starbucks.
“You should have learned that in Textiles class.”
She shrugs and grins.
“Look here,” I hold up one hand. “Sewed my mittens to my parka. No gaps for cold air.”
She rolls her eyes. “Oh you!”
“Wind’s down!” blasts the speaker. We cheer. My family in Kentucky will watch for me on television.
On the street, the wind returns. As we pass the reviewing stand, Rocky is pulling hard.
“Let ’im go!” yells our captain. We check each other’s faces. “Dammit, let ’im go. We can’t hold him!”
All our palms open, but my tether catches in the angora of my mitten. The strong silk bears my weight. Rocky is up, and I am the tail of this kite.
Gasps, then silence. Watchers in windows gape. Up and over the water. Liberty is below. I hear a helicopter. A Guardsman leans out, aiming at Rocky.
Can’t we discuss my options?
Flash Fiction – 3rd Place
The Gas Station
by Amy Hadley
I got fired from a gas station once. I loved that job. I wore an apron and made just over minimum wage. My apron was green. I worked alone for the most part. I built elaborate castles from cigarette boxes. I chatted with the regular lotto players, all which looked like they could have better used that dollar on some shampoo. I never sold a ticket to anyone that won. As I handed them their dollar’s worth of trash disguised as a scratch off, I always wished them good luck. I meant it too.
Dick sold rugs outside next door. He was a Christian Scientist. Dick said that any word I didn’t understand was a lie. He said that people use language to confuse and connive. He bought tons of Sugar Babies. A Sugar Baby junkie he was. After several conversations, just for fun, I told him he was undeniably the most obtuse person I had ever met. He asked me what I meant. I knew he thought I was lying. I told him it was the truth even though he may not understand the meaning of that particular adjective. I told him if he was on a recruiting mission to send someone that could talk to me, someone smart and charismatic like David Koresh. He still bought Sugar Babies. He brought me books. He told me I could visit the same center as Tom Cruise and also gain spiritual enlightenment. I reminded him that his whole religion was based on a science fiction author.
Dick called me a juvenile delinquent maker. I didn’t understand what he meant and jokingly thought, “Big, fat liar.” As the cops came toward me with their badges out, Dick reminded me I hadn’t carded that guy with a beard.