September rolled in with bells and whistles! You all are amazing and should be proud of the pieces you wrote. If you missed any of them, go read them here. Done? Great! Now let's read what the judge had to say:
Wow. 8 fantastic entries this week, and I couldn't have imagined a more varied response to the prompt. This judge was overwhelmed by the quality and creativity of each piece. I am a judging newbie and want to make sure I comment on every entry so here goes:
Richard Edenfield - "The Method of Fried Chicken"
This one took me back to the annals of high school drama classes everywhere and made me smile. Part Psychology of the Theatre, Part Samuel Beckett, this piece was a beautiful layer cake of meaning. I loved how the performer finally dug down, and we were treated to a beautiful vision of hazy southern summers and the comfort of town-famous chicken. Well done.
Holly Geely – "Medusa's Wish"
I never thought I would say this but, poor Medusa. This piece was very reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad and it is always great to see a story from a "villain's" point of view. Moreover, that Athena! What a fickle goddess. I love the telling detail in arachnid's thoughts, and the transgression my Medusa as she totally owned the slithering reference by the end of the piece.
Carlos Orozco – "Small"
This was a descriptive masterpiece that kept me genuinely wondering until the last word. I love how this story looked at the negative memory aspect of the olfactory system. It was an emotional, focused piece that drew the reader in—and left me wondering what had happened to this woman. I would love to read more.
Geoff Holme – "Fowl Play"
I love the double entendre of the title, and the interesting take on the prompt (though some of the required elements of the first sentence were absent, but the story was so good I let it slide) My impression of Elizabeth wavered from "brat" to "poor kid" to "oh my God, she's eating her feelings the poor thing" I was left wondering if Nando's had a subconscious role—a family meal shared in happier times perhaps? The wavering thoughts about all the characters made a very real piece about the family struggles after a break-up and was thought-provoking.
ParkInkSpot – "O'Malley's Exotic Poultry Supply"
Great job illustrating the multiple (and somewhat jumbled) thoughts that run through a person's head during a crisis. I did find myself strangely attracted to the weird chicks and wondering if they were bred to suicidal tendencies or if this was a naturally occurring phenomenon. They are obviously curious creatures given the way one jumped up on Tessa's desk. This story left me with questions about their origins—and the mysterious O'Malley. Perhaps a subconscious need as humans to create a breed of chicken eager for the slaughter rather than the horror stories one sees on the news?
Lauren Greene – "Don't Be a Chicken"
I think "alight on my nose" was my favourite quote of the contest. I appreciate a piece that can completely encompass the special challenge with vigour and make 436 words about KFC sound appealing. This story successfully evoked the smell, texture, taste—and gut wrenching guilt involved in consuming a bucket of fried chicken. I laughed at the justifying thoughts many of us women feel (and possibly men too) about how much bad food we can get away with following a session at the gym. Funny, and endearing (aw Marco – you are fallible like the rest of us!) I really enjoyed this story.
Quenby Olson – "Only Rebecca"
This story was very Paltrow-esque in a Sliding Doors kind of way and I love stories that detail how a missed moment (or gained opportunity if you're a glass-half-full type of person) can completely change the trajectory of our day—or even our life. Why is it that our clothes always seem to have a funky smell when we're feeling bad about our appearance? A real story about a flawed heroine and I loved the telling detail about her unraveling chignon. It did leave me wondering how many handsome millionaires are taking the subway for fun (and how I could get in on that action!)
Michael Simko – "Persuasion"
The ingenuity here which breathes new life into an ancient myth was bloody fantastic…and anything that mentions Canada's national dish gets a nod from me J I was impressed that the omniscient being was female, and a role reversal from the typical man-God aspect, yet the story still emitted faint wisps of the reality of mundane married life (No you can't watch the game because [insert wifely comment here]) Nonetheless there's a brilliant layer there revolving around a tiny spider, and the vulnerability only a wife would know. The modern setting was brilliant—though the image of babies smacking into concrete did awaken a visceral reaction in me. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Wow – these stories were all brilliant, and I had to read each several times to pick up the intonations in each. There can only be one Grand Champion however (and a few runners-up) so here we go!
Honorable Mention – Holly Geely
The multi-faceted, and unique spin on Medusa's curse was too brilliant to ignore. I truly enjoyed how this piece had elements that in just a few words took the story to much deeper levels, and provided a fresh look from the perspective of Medusa. It reminds me of the final lines of the Phantom of the Opera "He had a heart that could have held the empire of the world, and in the end he had to content himself with a cellar. Surely we may pity the Opera Ghost." Anything that lets us see a base need in a villain is a great read.
Special Challenge Champion – ParkInkSpot
I love how this story took the special challenge and rolled with it (no pun intended) in a unique direction. Part expose on the chicken factory business, part human nature, this piece was really unexpected and utterly refreshing.
Grand Champion – Lauren Greene
Though one of the lighter pieces, I think this story highlights the vulnerability of the human body as we try (and fail miserably) at striking a balance between indulgence and discipline. I loved the happy ending and the use of imagery that used very raw language to invoke a palpable sense to the piece. I felt like I was standing under fluorescent lights, out of breath and sweaty in workout clothes, while a bead of grease tricked down my chin. There is something special about a story that can transport you to the very scene itself. Great job!
What a ride! Thank you all for allowing me to experience the inner-workings of your mind with these fantastic stories. I think flash fiction has a real advantage in producing real work that highlights a writer's personality, and I was thrilled (honoured) to be a judge this week!