We would like to thank Judge Paul Beckman for his able assistance in selecting three top stories; and we are, as always, grateful to the 287 international writers who entered this contest.
First Prize: It Came in the Mail by Damhnait Monaghan Second Prize: Princess Party by Jennifer Stuart Third Prize: The Secret of the Snoring Time by Elizabeth Fisher
Judge: Paul Beckman
Theme: It Came in the Mail
FIRST PRIZE: It Came in the Mail by Damhnait Monaghan
Judge’s comments: “The reason I selected this story is that at no time did the author give in and let the reader know what it was that came in the mail. It’s hard to not sprinkle clues but this author pulled it off and finished with a perfect ending. Readers’ imaginations will take them from place to place deciding what came in the mail and that makes this a fun read as well as a creative one. Congratulations.”
It Came in the Mail
By Damhnait Monaghan
It came in the mail, addressed to The Occupant. There were two of us so I waited for my flat mate to get home from work. When I heard her keys jingling, I went to the meet her at the door.
“We got mail.”
We never get proper mail; it’s all advertising circulars and find Jesus pamphlets. I’ve often wondered why people bother with post-boxes. Until today.
She followed me into the kitchen, flinging her bag on the table. I gave her the mail. She twisted it around, examining every angle.
Manon is an ingénue in life’s high drama. Love has gone, she feels alone. As though on some empty stage. Luc had ended things on the day they were to run away together, the timing as perverse as that. She’d sped to meet him through the Paris streets, seen him standing by the roadside all awkwardness and tight anxiety. A part she had never seen him play before. And she’d thought, Oh but he seems like a stranger; had a premonition of what was to happen. Since that moment she’s felt feverish; hardly able to keep still. Already one week ago now but her restless mood goes on.
It is evening. She’s been walking for hours in a circle which began in the Place Maubert then spread outwards. Eventually she arrives at the suburbs. Sees the high-rises in dull unpainted grey, the dome of a church. Now a canal, some factory complex. A gypsy encampment by a railway cutting, the wrecks of old cars. All unreal as stage sets. Her pent-up agony is unabsorbed. Continue reading “ISSUE 10: JUNE 2016”→
I saw her walking toward the Ponte Vecchio again late in the afternoon. Not even her eyes could tell where, so warm and lustrous, but always cast down as if the earth speaking, and her father watching, always watching, though not directly, as if a master guiding a horse from behind that, with the tap of a switch or the flick of an eyebrow or some low whistle in his throat, could make her turn or pirouette. She only had to hear the wind to move closer or more distant from everything around. He could direct her ever so subtly in a new direction like some magician probing a dark secret.
This passionless movement of the earth below her feet and the father’s power to move it and to watch his daughter move with it over the Arno, back and forth, was like some frothy wave of light. Her long brown hair twisted over her shoulder made me wonder. She looked like some melancholic angel fallen to earth, though no words passed between us, only this languid, distant walk, a product of her father’s training, his mind, his thoughts. Here he was with daughter pausing to his reckoning, her face consuming my heart like some wild inextinguishable flame night and day on the streets of Florence. Continue reading “ISSUE 9: MARCH 2016”→
Many thanks to Judge Opal Palmer Adisa for judging this contest. We received 216 international entries.
First Prize: Here Are Some Legos by Joonho Jo Second Prize: Grow Your Own by Deborah Carey Third Prize: The New Frontier by Christine Metsger Honorable Mention: Red, Black and Noorie by Syed Zeeshan Ahmed
Judge: Opal Palmer Adisa
Theme: The Future
FIRST PRIZE: Here Are Some Legos by Joonho Jo
Judge’s comments: “The future is about building and this story effectively does that—builds, destroys and rebuilds again the human pain and triumph, while poignantly showing that it is possible for each of us to create our own reality as children aptly do.”
Here Are Some Legos
By Joonho Jo
Here are some Legos.
Build the house first. Build the living room with the old box TV that you and your brother JJ watched Spongebob on. Build the flowers in the front yard you watered every day and kneeled next to, waiting for something magical to happen until Mom told you to come in because it was getting dark. Build the kitchen where you heard the clanking of pans as you patiently waited for Mom to cook your favorite dish, Kimchi jigae. Build the bedroom where you slept after Dad felt your forehead for your temperature—just in case you had a fever—and then tucked you in.
Then, build the school. Build Mrs. Wiegartner’s class and all your closest friends: Athena, Alec, Jacob, Madison, Natalia, Norman, Yasmine. Build the water fountain that you drank out of every day after recess. Build the seats in the school auditorium where Mom, Dad, and JJ clapped as you let out a sigh of relief after your first cello performance.
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Before YouTube and reality television there was a brief but passionate interest in pain artists. I performed in the cutthroat Rust Belt. Local TV news crews were often present. Men laughed uneasily, women screamed, and children watched open-mouthed. The occasional groupie would even follow me from an Econo Lodge in Buffalo to a Super 8 Motel in Detroit and back again. I posed for photographs and signed autographs. Times really have changed.
My boss, a serious-minded operator, never ad-libbed. “Ladies and gentlemen, according to the FBI you will probably be stabbed, shot, or raped at some point in your life. And if—God forbid—you should resist and injure the man who is attacking you … ” My boss melodramatically paused. “If you should harm that man who wants to kill or rape you, well, you will probably end up in jail. And what will happen to him? He will get your house. He will get your life savings. He will be entitled to a lifetime of government benefits … ”
The complimentary chicken dinners remained untouched. All eyes were fixed on me, standing off to the side, stoic.
In Guiana, a little known country north of the equator, there lived a family of five, in a recently established housing scheme for the low–income bracket. The head of the family, David Anderson, was pacing the living room; as usual, searching for a means to keep the family fed, when he heard someone calling at the gate. Before David could get to one of the front windows he heard his son, Kwame, speaking to the person. As he’d been meandering in that direction, his mind recorded that his wife, Holly, was close to a window; yet she did not look out and answer.
“Good morning to you, sir. How may I help you?” he heard Kwame say.
The visitor looked about, confused. He was a graying, official type carrying a briefcase and obviously thinking himself much more important than he was. The man eventually glanced up, and saw Kwame sitting on a branch of the mango tree growing next to the gate. He also saw, by the look of alarm on his face, three or four wasp nests in the tree.
“Good morning, my boy. Aren’t you afraid those wasps will sting you?”
“No, I learned to share the tree with them. They help keep the tree in fruit throughout the year, so we let them stay. My name is Kwame Anderson. What is your name, and why are you here?”