Great job, everyone!!! If you missed reading any of the stories, go here to catch up. Done? Great! Now read what the judge had to say:
The Siren’s Song
By Audrey Gran Weinberg
The star-crossed love of two kids from different worlds plucked at my heartstrings. The setting of a family vacation gone wrong worked well to emphasize the plight of a daughter driven away by a strict/emotionally detached father, which isn’t far from reality. And I liked how the sister empathized with her sibling and supported her dive for freedom. However, I must gently point out that the first sentence didn't follow the one given in the prompt, so the story couldn’t qualify for any awards in this round. Otherwise, I thought it was great.
This tale of a mother’s long-suffering sacrificial devotion is endearing and filled with tender moments. How she remained with her children until the last one leaves despite the pain of her marriage, as well as the loyalty between the two friends. The language is beautiful, e.g. “The night shone with the milky light of the harvest moon. The shadows of palm trees danced under the opal sky.” And it’s sad that taking her life is the only way out of her misery. This was an interesting look into the harsh reality of a different culture. Well done.
The Perils of Poor Éliane
By Geoff Holme
I liked that a real sea creature was chosen to represent the dangers of the deep. The intertwining of current events, facts and past actions to tell the story of the doomed woman held my attention from start to finish. And the way she died gave me goose bumps. The ending sentence with “her long, blonde hair trailing like the tendrils of the jellyfish,” reminded me of a scene from The Lady of Shalott, acted out by Megan Follows in Anne of Green Gables.
SPECIAL CHALLENGE CHAMPION
Chicken of the Sea
By Madilyn Quinn
Though not a fan of the horror genre, I actually enjoyed this unique take on the old mariner’s tale of sailors drawn by the siren song of mermaids until their ships are dashed upon the rocks. The use of the MCs inner dialogue and mounting trepidation enhanced the suspense build-up until the final fantasy-horror twist of an ending. The mer-creatures repeated utterance of the single word, “food” is chilling. It/he was a great SPECIAL CHALLENGE invention.
Beginning of the End
This story, told in twenty-four words, is four times the famous “For sale: baby shoes, never worn,” short story attributed to Ernest Hemingway (although his authorship is in dispute). It accomplished the feat of raising questions in my mind. Is she a compatriot or foe of the downed soldier she takes her frustration out on? She could kick a fellow soldier to rouse them into rejoining the fight. And does her destiny involve bringing an end to the “sea of destruction?” This is a well crafted piece of nano-flash fiction.
Father of the Deep
I found this reversal of the Little Mermaid fairy tale fascinating. Following a young girl through her desire for a father’s recognition and approval, until it morphs into a woman’s vengeful assault, created a lifetime in just five-hundred words. And turning everything on its head when she realizes he might not be who she thought he was, was brilliant. This was a great job crafting a fantasy tale with strong emotional elements (hope, longing, frustration, anger), a champion-worthy piece indeed.