Adult winners

2019 Fiction 59 contest

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First place

We Keep Going Around. We Return. We Are Always There.

Eddie takes the roundabout hard. Hard, hard. The tires on grandpa’s Buick—the boat—yowling vehicular limitations. We go sliding starboard across the plump vinyl, centrifugally fused. The warmth of their shoulders. The smell of her hair. Teenage battle cries, V8 growl. Street lamps smeared through breath on glass. That’s how it is: Endless; Infinite; over in a whir.

Emiliano Garcia-Sarnoff


Emiliano Garcia-Sarnoff is a regular contributor to our writing contests. This is the second time he’s placed first in Fiction 59 (also in 2013), and he also has a six-word entry on the opposite page. In addition to writing microfiction for this paper, Garcia-Sarnoff says his days are filled with writing screenplays, working side hustles and being a father.

Second place


Thirty years ago I planned to run away from home by stealing the plane my neighbors had in the field behind their house. I spent weeks learning about flying from a library book before I discovered the plane didn’t have an engine. I remember that seven-year-old boy, but now I think I relate more to the plane.

Jedidiah Woodard


An Iowa native who spent many years in Los Angeles writing movie trailers, Jedidiah Woodard moved to Chico a few years ago to attend Chico State. In addition to his work appearing in the CN&R (he placed third in the 2015 Fiction 59), Woodard writes kids books, website content and has had short stories published “here and there.”

Third place

I Feel Like Coleslaw

Our new body wash smells like pulled pork. I don’t have the heart to tell my wife. She likes it and once she knows she won’t be able to not smell it. I love the smell, but not in the morning when the steamy water is waking me up. It’s confusing, smelling Fourth of July and looking at mildew.

Johnny Stafford


As an English teacher at Plumas Charter School in Quincy, Johnny Stafford is responsible for many of the submissions—and winners—in our writing contests. He says that Fiction 59 is a regular assignment for his students. It teaches them, among other things, how to edit their work. “It’s a puzzle, so they get into it,” he says. The married father of two has had his own work appear as honorable mentions in years past, and says he also enjoys writing poetry and (longer) short stories.

Honorable mentions

Beer Pancakes

On our rare weekends with Dad, he blearily battled his hangover, getting up early to make us beer pancakes for breakfast. Krusteaz pancake mix with Budweiser in place of water. Made them light and fluffy, he said, proudly stacking them high on the platter. Rolled tightly around sausage, smothered in butter and syrup, I could almost forget the bitterness

Sharon DeMeyer


Irrelevant Work Experience

Through sixteen hour days in the sweltering Carolina heat at the dullest first job—the two of us, barely adults, sweating profusely while cold calling constituents. Canvassing clueless septuagenarians on the other end of the line. Surviving by exchanges of meaningful side eyes. We clocked out at 10 each night and collapsed into each other. One summer. My Americana.

Krisann Deaville



I used to love the alchemy of fall; the green skins of trees turning into brilliant faces of blowing gold. Now, fall reaches into every fool thing I’ve done, painting mistakes and old injuries crimson red. New veins appear annually; age rings of a human tree. And sometimes, looking down, I wonder, “Where did all my leg hair go?”

Dale Young


Grandma Always Knows How to Fix Things

My grandma steeps peppermint tea in a pale yellow kettle that whistles slightly too loud when it’s ready. I put half a tablespoon of brown sugar in my tea. While she puts raspberries from the garden on her fingertips before eating them. A smile stretches across my face, as I lean over and greedily take the little red hat.

Maite Schmid


Christmas Eve

Her face was swollen and bruised. “Tripped over the lawnmower,” she said, avoiding my gaze. Dad was impatient and critical, “What the Hell am I supposed to do with this?” holding up a rock I had painted for him. I kept my head down, catching the tears with my tongue as they slid into the corners of my mouth.

Sharon DeMeyer


What I Learned in Fifth Grade

I learned to lean away from his smoky-alcohol breath. I learned to avoid the teacher’s icy fingers, be alert. I learned to wear baggy shirts and long pants to block stares from his desk. I learned not to be alone with him. Attention was risky.

I did not learn to scream my secret, the fear of fermented breath.

Karen Aiken



“You should try the chirimoya. It’s the best one.”

“Really… why? What is it?” Sarah asked, eying the paletas.

Maya paid the pelatero for two, “I can’t describe it. Just trust me.”

Across the paseo, they noticed the young people in the plaza draped across one another. Sarah licked her hand, smiling, as the pink sun slid across them.

Mele Benz


Youth Group

“There is an evil spirit in this room.” Eyes wide with fear, they know it’s me. I am drowning in a sea of righteous youth. The hand of God leaves a weight upon me. My sin anchors me to the floor. The witch hunt beings. My professor said an immersive experience helps you learn. Lesson learned. Time to repent.

Erin Holve


Unduly Doubtless

Vincent said rolling me into a carpet and putting me in a trunk was the final initiation for the Pulp Fiction club. I had doubts, though not the mind to listen.

It’s hard to distinguish which came first, the splash or the frigid water engulfing me. Vincent also told me not to mess with his girlfriend, but I did.

Bill Mash