Yearning for Wonderland
For me, the hardest part of these contests is always the judging. One story, I love because of the lyrical writing. Another, because of the gorgeous imagery or the clever plot or the way it makes me feel at the end.
Ultimately, I could probably choose several sets of winners. Thank you to everyone who entered. Judging is very subjective, so I have to leave it to: who wrote a story for #DFQMND that encompasses the theme and does all of the above. I am very excited to announce these winners. I chose two, one for the Dreams package (Light) and one for the Nightmares Package.
So, without further ado, I present…your winners.
Daniel Swensen, for Annabella of the Spring
Sheer gorgeousness. Daniel, your writing makes it totally worth having to revamp the prize package, since I’m not awarding you the book you wrote. Your story is delicate and yearning and a perfect drop of longing in 400 words. Well done. I will be in touch regarding other prize options.
Honorable Mentions, Dreams
J.T. Ellis, for January in Sunset
Dr. Pete Meyers, for Listen
Holly Kench, for Dreaming Just Enough
Steven Marsden, for The Princess and the Whispering Pines
This is a fantastic surprise, for Steven put up a blog simply to enter this contest. He wasn’t even in the DFQ group before this. Of course, now he is doomed. #MOOGHOOHAH. Steven, your story was lovely and the tempo was classical fairytale, but there’s a dark underbelly that took my breath away. Brava! So glad you entered.
Honorable Mentions, Nightmares
Eric Martell, for Evidence of Things Not Seen
Lyndsey E. Gilbert, for Mother May I
K.J. Collard, for The Coming Winter
Again, thank you to all those who entered! You humble and honor me with your collective talent.
Love to all,
Ma always says, “The devil’ll find work for idle hands to do.” So I work from the second I roll off my old quilt to the last bit of light before it disappears behind the mountain. I sweep the uneven boards of our two-room house, stomping bugs as I go. I take the clothes down the stream and scrub till my hands are raw. In the winter, the wet clothes freeze to the line.
Some days, I don’t even wash. Ma don’t care much if I do. In fact, Ma and Pa don’t talk much ‘bout nuthin’. I’m too big to go to school anymore, ‘cause Ma tole ‘em she needed me ‘round the house. Only thing that makes life okay is Reenie next door. Reenie’s a little older than me, ‘bout eleven, but she’s small for her age. She’s got three brothers and six sisters and has to share a bed with four of ‘em.
I dunno know how to say this but I love Reenie. She gave me my favorite skirt, polka dot bright blue with big flowers painted on. When I wear it I forget how my shrunk ol’ top rides up my belly and the coldness of my bare feet. I stole my ma’s barrette for her soft brown hair. I braid it over and over again.
When Pa heads to the abandoned mine to hammer off enough for the stove, we run to the woods to collect horse chestnuts. We fling ‘em in the pond, then make clover chains and decorate each other. We scavenge from garbage heaps, then hitch a ride to town and smoke cig stubs from the ashtrays outside the courthouse.
In town, we walk hand-in-hand. People always stare, but I don’t care. We swore to love forever and never be done parted. I tole her I’d take a bullet to save her. Though we fight and she makes me crazy, every night I huddle under my thin blanket and dream of her.
Pa caught us kissing by the woodpile behind the house. He shouted, pounding his coal-grimed fist on the stovepipe. Reenie grabbed my hand and we backed against the clapboard siding, feet sinking in cold brown mud.
Pa grabbed up his shotgun – it was filled with birdshot – and cocked it, tole Reenie to git on home now and not come back. I know he just meant to scare her but the gun went off – too close – and a red flower bloomed on Reenie’s faded blue work dress.
I caught her – she jerked and shook in my arms, pale brown eyes staring up at me.
Pa ran for the doctor, but the nearest one’s in Greenville, two miles away, and I know he won’t get back in time. I hum little snatches of hymns I can remember.
I held her on that sawdusted floor till she went still. Pa found me there, two hours later, sticky-dried with Reenie’s blood, “I got the doctor. ”
“What difference does it make? “I said.
Here is my contribution to last week’s Mid-Week Blues Buster from Jeff Tsuruoka.
This was the inspiration song, “Tu Vo’ Fa’ L’Americano” (You Want to be American?), sung by Fiorello, Jude Law & Matt Damon from “The Incredible Mr. Ripley”.
Cigarette smoke billowed through the orange-tinted spotlight, taking on strange undulating shapes as the dancers shimmied their way through the clouds.
The haze obfuscated the true self. Everyone became better looking, more cool, more charming: the ineffable boost that a buzz of booze and a good smoke could confer.
Except for her boyfriend. He oozed through the crowd and managed to look just as sleazy as he was. He grabbed her around the waist and swung her into the crowd, using her as a wedge to lever his way over to Marco, a prospective client.
The club squealed along with the trumpet, wailed along with the clarinet, throbbed along with the deep thrum of the slap bass. The overhead lamp swung with the bounce of the beat, gleaming off Eddie’s sweaty bald forehead.
Naples wore its most vivid colors tonight. Lemon yellows crashed into avocado greens; her subdued cream dress drowned in a sea of feminine attention-seeking. The heat was oppressive; even the walls of Perma-Stone siding had beads of sweat sliding along its face.
“Eddie, I wanna go,” she mumbled.
“Naw, Betty baby, I’ll show him the American way of doing business.”
He pushed her further into the crowd. Her heel caught in a crack in the terrazzo and she stumbled right into Marco’s arms, knocking his partner into another couple.
“Perdono, signore.” she stuttered. She had bumped her nose on his tie-tack, set with a ruby as big as her thumbnail.
Eddie was on them before she could even straighten the hem of her dress, “Mister Bertolazzi, I just wanted to introduce myself, Eddie Mayhew (rhymes with achoo). You won’t want to forget it because I’m going to show you something that’s gonna save you a lot of money.”
Marco held up a well-manicured hand to Eddie and turned to Betty. “Are you right?” he asked, in perfectly Italianate-accented English.
“Yes, thank you,” she said, flustered, retrieving a tissue from her handbag. “Please forgive my clumsiness.”
He offered his arm and escorted her off the dance floor, leaving Eddie in the wake of fifty other jostling couples. “I hear Americans are good to do business with.”
Here are exactly 150 words for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare. I couldn’t pass up the photo this week.
“Bubble, bubble, toil and—”
“Can it, Flo!” Margie barked.
“I’m freezing,” whined Sue. “I want to go home.”
“Not any warmer in Scotland, ninny,” said Margie, fumbling in her purse for a stick of gum. “Chew this. We promised we’d meet again, in thunder, lightning or rain.”
Sue huddled under her umbrella, “My new pumps are ruined.”
Flo stared off at the rain-smeared Manhattan skyline, “Fair is foul, foul is fair.”
Margie resisted the urge to slap her. Flo always imagined herself as the poetic one: Flo is short for “flowers”, she used to say.
“Florence, please get in position.” Margie smiled till her teeth ached.
They all took their place at the base of the courthouse steps.
A man in a pinstriped suit with perfect creased pants hurried past them.
Margie raised her voice, “Mr. Macbeth, who shall be king hereafter.”
The lawyer turned and they had him.
This is for Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction.
The word this week is: Flight.
“Your hair is such a bird’s nest,” said her mother.
She ran a comb severely through Ellie’s ringlets, neatly dividing the curls from one side to the other.
Ellie wished she wouldn’t say such things. When her mother tugged too hard, the birds always took flight.
The birds did make such a mess.