Fiction 59: adult winners

Word artists

Danielle Lang

Danielle Lang

First place


I lie on my back, body twitching—losing, maybe finding—my way in the dotted ceiling pattern, which appears to be an untraceable labyrinth. These dots are tricking me; certainly, there must be a designed escape route. When the doctor returns, she’s wearing bad news, but I’m distracted, lost in the maze, determined to find my own way out.

Danielle Lang


Danielle loves to write, but the only time she’s been able to make space for it in her life in recent years has been for Fiction 59. A full-time counselor at Butte County Juvenile Hall and a part-time reading/writing tutor, Lang has entered previous contests and after an honorable mention last year, she moves up to the top spot. When she’s not working or sporadically writing, she likes to cook, read and spend time outdoors.

Second place


The Point Cafe was humming with Saturday morning wait service and conversation.

Justine sat alone by the window watching raindrops patter against the glass, while an overhead ceiling fan twirled like a tiny pinwheel in the silver spoon beside her coffee cup.

By now, he would know she was gone. Justine could feel her life changing, minute by minute.

Poi Purl


Poi is new to Chico and, in fact, says, “This is my first attempt at fiction.” Normally, he gets his creative kicks as a songwriter, playing both guitar and keyboards as a rock musician. A real estate investor by day, Poi came to Chico from the small arts- and outdoors-friendly So Cal town of Ojai, and says his new home reminds him a little bit of his old stomping grounds.

Third place


My sister has talon-like toenails. Sometimes we walk barefoot in the orchard behind our house. If she walks behind me, I get stabbed by her toenail-knives. They’re so sharp, she should keep one in her purse in case of an emergency. If her arms were ever tied up, she could lift one leg and cut herself free.

Aubrey Whitely


When she was in high school, Aubrey scored an honorable mention in the 2015 Fiction 59 contest, and last spring she took both second and third in the CN&R’s Poetry 99 contest. Now that she’s taken the leap into the deep end of the pool of the adult division, she’s still one of the top finishers. These days, she spends her time learning Spanish and gearing up for a much-anticipated move.

Honorable mentions

Real, Arabic Jesus

Poi Purl

Jesus gets a lot of calls from people.

Sometimes he just wants to relax, smoke a little potent weed and listen to some chill music.

I can picture him (real, Arabic Jesus), swiping his iPhone to send his calls to voicemail because he knows if he doesn’t take care of himself, he will have nothing to give anyone else.

Brittany Tucker


The Commuters

They traveled for years in his old car they called the popemobile. They talked many hours within safety glass. Secrecy was sworn. No topics were off limits. They laughed, cried, sang. They choked on confessions. They were not lovers, more than that. Naked souls.

The car crash totaled the popemobile. Their secrets were crushed into 2,400 pounds of steel.

Karen Aiken


Lighthouse Road

I left you standing on Lighthouse Road because you said we were done talking. I hid my face and walked away in the cold. You were watching for his white pickup.

It’s been three days now, and they’ve yet to find a trace of either of you. They’re asking me all these questions I have no way to answer.

Jamie Candiff


The Flight

For ten thousand years the rock has sat by the riverbed, brooding. The mighty river had risen and fallen over the eons, yet the rock remained, immobile. Now it was flying, launched into the sky, and the rock felt elation at the sublimity of flight as it hurtled across the sky before disappearing forever into the watery depths below.

Mike Birch


Her New Digs

She got the sheriff knock and escort off the property in blizzarding mid-December. Payday seemed as distant as the warm weather. Nevertheless, she had her gym membership: 24 hour. Staff grew concerned when she asked for multiple lockers.

Steam room sleeping proved difficult, but round the clock jacuzzis, warm showers, and curl bar eye candy were most luxurious.

Scott Bailey

Aubrey Whitely


Blind Date

Beads of pearls and sweat around her neck. Her fingers dance in her flyaways. Her hopeful, yet hopeless, eyes constantly gravitating to the entrance every time she heard the bell above the doorway.

30 minutes pass. She stirred the ice in her glass of water. Her stomach: empty. Her heart: empty.

Two hours come and go. He did not.

Audrey Thao


They Said We'd Get Them

I think we got them. They said we’d get them, if we did it right.

They always told us if we did it right, we’d get them, and we’d be safe.

We did it right, as right as we could. The way they came at us though; it wasn’t like they said they would.


We didn’t get them.

Josh Cozine


Serrated Edges

The placement of her next words were as logical as the placement of a bright yellow sun in the corner of a child’s drawing. The illusion of ordinary was caressed in a neon white shard of sidewalk paint, it was peeling from papier-mâché skin, forming leopard spots on a dangerously red nose, and resting in egg shell eyes.

Alena Fletcher


Strikes, Spares, and Turkeys

Shaking hands held burning nicotine firmly against the stroller. Her feet were among those that could walk on coals. “Don’t you worry about your child’s health?” the affluent do-gooders would chant. Peeling back the overhang, Olivia revealed her belongings, and in the seat, her prized 10 lb bowling ball. She blew smoke in the thumb hole for effect.

Scott Bailey


Sara woke suddenly and crawled to Billy. Frozen, she listened for his breath, felt relief when he sighed. Then, nothing. Disease blew through him entirely just then, like wind through a house, slamming the door. Billy had passed into another dimension. Sara looked at the face of death. She touched its cheek, and felt his warm touch on hers.

Marie Altman