This year 758 writers submitted their brilliant work, and our editors had a difficult time choosing a shortlist of 15, as well as the top three prizewinners. Congratulations to everyone who earned a place on the short and long lists this year.
First Prize: Brittle Battle, chosen by Editor Charline Poirier
Charline’s Comments: “Brittle Battle” transports readers into a mesmerizing and unique world. The story opens with Minerva, a warrior, leading a battle on an alien planet at sunset. The glass miniature soldiers are shattered into pieces with transfixing energy. The sensory details of the combat are so rich and vivid that they engulf the reader, yielding for her a memorable experience. Cay Macres’ voice, hauntingly melancholic, adds a layer of complexity to the violence of war. The imagery and figurative language float like an iceberg, hinting at deeper meanings beneath the surface. The combination of Macres’ eloquence and imagination makes “Brittle Battle” an impressive achievement.
Judge Pamela Painter had the difficult task of choosing a winner, two finalists, and shortlist for this year’s writing contest. We received over 1,000 international entries that kept our editors busy for months. Special thanks goes out to Assistant Editor Charline Poirier for her tireless efforts and, of course, we’d like to thank every writer who submitted an entry.
FIRST PLACE: MARSH OMEN AUGURY
Judge’s Comments: “The unstable situation is introduced right off in a superb first sentence when thirty-three egrets appear as an omen and the locals call in the narrator to interpret it. The natural world of the narrator is filled with the sun, swamp flies, silky mud, reeds and tidal creeks, a keeled water snake, a gator and a hard-shelled turtle—and the egrets that s/he reads for The Truth, which the locals really do not want to hear. They are happy with a half-truth they celebrate with spaghetti dinners and swallow as easily as communion wafers. The startling ending arrives but the writer has prepared us for it well.”
Marsh Omen Augury By L. Michelle Souleret
Thirty-three egrets flew into the salt marsh last night and lined up in a perfect row along an old, slanted pier. The locals chattered nervously at this omen and called me in.
I wade out, ankle-deep then to shinbone in the sun-warmed water, and stand all afternoon, watching. The white birds flap and preen and shuffle, but stay in formation. I wait. The sun passes overhead and swamp flies patter against my arms. My feet sink further into the silky mud. A keeled watersnake ripples past. I wait and I watch and I wait until, at last, a pattern emerges in the sinuous curves of the egrets’ necks and their awkward shifts from foot to foot. Meaning jangles into my brain with the snapping jaw-strength of a gator and the rightness of a hard-shelled turtle in the sun. I fall to my knees, choking, and cough out a glossy tangle of Truth.
Many thanks to Judge Charles Rammelkamp for choosing our contest theme and volunteering his time to select the three prizewinners. Thanks also to the 250 brilliant writers who entered this contest.
FIRST PRIZE: Andrew M Stockton, Sunday Lunch (Again) SECOND PRIZE: Lesley Middleton, Little Joe THIRD PRIZE: Mark Warren, The Cleaner
Judge: Charles Rammelkamp
First Prize: Sunday Lunch (Again) by Andrew M. Stockton
Judge’s Comments: Sunday Lunch (Again) is like an oyster concealing a pearl. Just as the food smells are described as “invisible but powerful,” so is the secret of incest that’s only alluded to. Is it the daughter’s father? Her uncle? Both? All that’s certain is the shame and the “naked, remorseless memories” behind the sham of the family dinner.
Sunday Lunch (Again)
By Andrew M Stockton
Walking into cooking-smells, cabbage, the roast, food smells, invisible but powerful, making me salivate. “Hi, it’s me; your daughter’s home for Sunday lunch! Feed me!”
Dad’s laid the table, and the tablecloth is so bright and white it could warn ships about hazards. Wish I’d had such a hazard warning years ago. Mum checks the cutlery and moves the bottle of wine that uncle Danny bought to hide a small stain on the cloth. Continue reading “CONCEALMENT – WRITING CONTEST RESULTS”→
Many thanks to the 450 international writers who entered this contest—and we extend our deepest gratitude to Judge Abigail Favale for offering her time and expertise to choose the top three prizewinners.
First Prize: Erin O’Loughlin, Brother Fox Second Prize: Susan James, Home for the Holidays Third Prize: Anne Anthony, Bathroom Break
Judge: Dr. Abigail Favale
FIRST PRIZE: Brother Fox by Erin O’Loughlin
Judge’s Comments: This piece does everything a flash fiction piece should do. A benign yet beguiling beginning, zooming out to reveal a potential tragedy unfolding in real time. I read it with a slow-dawning dread that climaxes at just the right moment, the moment of the “flash.”
By Erin O’Loughlin
Imagine the fox, the only spark of color in this bright landscape. All that endless powder white, broken only by a flash of red—there—then gone again. There is more life than you know, under all these layers and layers of snow.
Imagine how he cocks his head listening (the skill is not unique to the male of the species—vixens do it also). You can see he is straining his senses, listening for the soft scrabble under the snow. Then, ears high in the air, he dives headfirst into the snow, body flailing awkwardly as the front paws find purchase under all that cold white. And he will come back up with a limp little mouse in his jaws. So far this might be an acute sense of hearing, an expert dancer’s timing. But the strange thing is that nine times out of ten, a fox that dives to the north will catch his prey. A fox that leaps and dives to the south will lose it. Somehow a fox’s body is aligned to the magnetic north. In tune with it. If his quarry lies that way, the hunt will be good. An innate geo-location, gift of the wintry gods that govern small creatures. Continue reading “AFTERMATH – WRITING CONTEST RESULTS”→
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.