Fiction 59: adult winners
Masters of brevity
In Colorado we had dormitories with tile floors and skylights, an adobe chapel with wooden pews. We crushed Adderall to snort it and practiced perfect college essays; I learned to hide handles of vodka in the hamper. Each afternoon I played field hockey in a plaid skirt, edited poems, and studied what happens to you if you aren’t beautiful.
-Sadie Rose Casey
Third time’s a charm, right? After coming in second place in two previous Fiction 59 contests (2011, 2014), Sadie Rose Casey is our top finisher this year. Since we last spoke, Casey closed her vintage clothing store and has thrown herself into writing. Her main outlets are The Bohemian Collective, “a lifestyle blog and magazine for the free-spirited artists and boho babes,” and Annapurna Living, a blog and e-course site started by actress Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix series).Second place
Mark finished lighting the cigarette, oblivious to the fact it was backward, and said, “Hey man, regardless of what people say, you’re a good guy.” Ben smiled unevenly and nodded, the gears moving slowly in his head. The words “regardless of what people say” slipped through and seemed to grease them up. “Well, ay!” He shouted. “Who’s talking crap?”
In both the adult and the high school divisions, you’ll notice stories attributed to writers without last names. These winners are/were students at the Table Mountain School inside Butte County Juvenile Hall, and as per policy their last names can’t be used. Table Mountain is a fully accredited high school operated by Butte County Office of Education, and its mission is to ensure that all students succeed academically, socially and vocationally and develop meaningful, individual transition plans. Zak is a recent graduate from the school, and his work has been routinely published on the Writing Exchange blog, a multiple-facility juvenile hall writing program: www.writeyourtruth.blogpot.com
The End of Summer
The corn leaves cut our skin as we ran laughing through the cobwebs and strobing sunlight, but we couldn’t feel it. The frog pond where we took our lunch was just ahead and we slowed to catch our breath as we approached. Neither of us saw your Daddy waiting. I still wonder what would’ve been different if we had.
Iowa native Jedidiah Woodard lived in Los Angeles for a dozen years before moving up to Chico to pursue a degree in creative writing. The married father of two is currently applying to MFA programs and says he’d one day like to be a professor, but not before he tries his hand at publishing his work. Maybe this third-place finish in Fiction 59 will get the ball rolling.
I watch The Walking Dead with the volume all the way up. No matter how horrendously a character dies—how graphically he’s ripped apart. He’s an actor, and I know, he’ll be okay. In Baghdad the volume knob on my office TV was broken so we watched noiseless Iraqis slaughtered in Technicolor. Though, the explosions outside were always loud.
Pruning the Orchard
“I’m going out to prune the orchard,” she says, adjusting the ragged straw hat she inherited from her mother last year. She won’t be back for hours, he thinks. He sighs, eying the 158 emails in his inbox, the stacked forms on his desktop. She’ll need help with the big branches, he says to himself, shoving back his chair.
Strong Arms and Snorting Laughter
Cement flooring soothed her skin on a desperately sweaty day. She loathed the clock’s tick, waiting for Dada’s return. It was the first of the month and he would bring popsicles home.
Sweetness that dripped to the floor may have been lost or forgotten, but thoughts of strong arms and snorting laughter remained as present as the concrete floor.
Hide and Seek
1… 2… 3… Go ahead, run. Scatter. Pretend to hide, I don’t care. I like being alone. 18… 19… 20… Wonder where they’re all going this time? Johnny’s house? Holly’s? 31… 32… 33… Oh well, doesn’t matter anyway. 39… 40… 41… It would be nice, though, if someone else was still around. Listening, counting with me… 57… 58… 59…
In Verona fair where The Bard laid the scene some 420 or so years ago, those two sad sack, sorry star-crossed lovers lost their lives. If you nutshell it, minimize it, summarize it, text it, Tweet it, or Instagram it, it boils down to one sentence: two teens meet, fall in love, get married, have sex, and die.
Dawn Treader, Alley Runner
The migrating geese, sounding. Together we navigate the grey rim of sunrise, flying and running.
How strange to be a bird, hurling your body against limitless space. How much faith birds must have in themselves—their world unbound by barriers, landmarks, distractions. Nothing to call them to rest except their own fatigue.
The ceaseless sky swallows all; forgives nothing.
Your Daughter Is Struggling
My knees are above my gut. Beside me her little fingers manipulate red scissors, following lines that traced her fingers. When excited she balls up her hands and shakes. I imagine hands at sides, watching peers’ seeming ease cutting projects. She sets the scissors down. I reach to pick up the scissors, but ball my hands.
“Let’s try again.”
Head on a Stick
In the daytime, you’d never guess they were cannibals. Tonight, the firelight sparkles in their eyes as they dance, undulating, teasing the men who beat the drums. I drink the ceremonial tea, feeling its fire creating heat and ferocity in my blood. I rise and they turn their interested eyes upon me. I quickly leave and hail a cab.
I woke up at nine, showered, checked my email, made oatmeal for breakfast, then watched football for six hours. I couldn’t tell you who won, or what any of the scores were, but I can tell you that not once did I think about my job, my brakes, or my health insurance, or the fact that death is inevitable.
“War rockets murdered me,” shrieked the homeless woman from her tent in front of the Starbucks. Her dog-tagged, unlit cigarette, puffy-eyed, camouflaged face accented her tattered Army uniform flawlessly. She grabbed my leg. I dropped my latte at her sidewalk door. “Help me,” she begged with leftover gunpowder.“No,” I screeched over my shoulder, “your war’s boring.”