Fiction 59: adult winners
How It Came to Pass That Blossom Felt Her First Earthquake
Headed to The BIG TV CONTEST, she hugged her backpack while her thin thumbs punched: Greyhounds r skeezy. Butterflies, paint-penned down the straps, shone in the phone’s ghostly light. Now—in a Chinese dragon costume of queued-up contestants—the ground briefly dances. Angelinos don’t mention the tremor. When it’s finished, though, she’s sure she’s been shaking forever.
This is Emiliano Garcia-Sarnoff’s first time entering the CN&R’s Fiction 59 contest, but it’s not the 34-year-old’s first time in the paper. The former film critic for New Mexico’s Santa Fe Reporter used to write for us as well, reviewing restaurants. The UC Berkeley grad says he is “currently having a blast trying his hand at fiction in Molly Emmons’ terrific creative-writing class at Butte College, from which he hopes to one day transfer to high school, where he never graduated.”
Chez Beau Cauchemar
Night cracks sun on rim of fry pan cul-de-sac. This Eagle Heights, Highlands at Windmere, suburban anywhere, of extra-wide streets fronted by lawns clipped to lidless eyes statuesque with emptiness. Startled by the mist, remote signals charm from snakehead sprinklers, there, inside that white picket fence hangs the statistical fifth of a kid we never should have had.
To say that Kiara “Ki” Koenig’s life is focused on words would be an understatement. She works in the English departments at both Butte College and Shasta College, she coaches the forensics team at Butte as well as sits on the steering committee for the school’s annual WordFire Creative Writing Conference (happening April 6), and she’s on the editorial boards of two online writing sites, Floodplane and The Haberdasher. When she’s not immersed in words she says she can be found on the tennis court or hiking trails, in the lap pool or “indulging in her sweet tooth for television.”
What She Did
She pancaked herself against the wall. When the door opened she knew she would be totally unseen.
He flung the door open, went right for the kitchen.
When the refrigerator squeaked she had 60 seconds to make it out of the house. If it slammed, it would be too late.
She’d wait two hours. It’s how they settled arguments.
Karen Aiken has been entering the CN&R’s writing contests for years, and she says that this is the first time one of her pieces has been chosen. Even though she is obviously committed to the process, the Chico psychotherapist says that writing is mostly a gratifying hobby: “Practicing creative writing or poetry is a nice place to go. … I just love words.”
She stood on the curb, shivering from either excitement or the cold; she couldn’t tell. Her heart pounded in her ears as she surveyed the passing headlights. After what seemed like an eternity, a red Mustang rolled to a stop in front of her and she reached for the door. “Hi, I’m Kevin,” he said as she opened it.
Ten bucks a week, bathroom down the hall. Butter and onions sauté on a hot plate. Big queen bed, old Victorian walls, solid dresser, old desk, single-pane window. Heat some chicken bouillon next. All in the Crock-Pot with a cup of dry vermouth. Time to go work in the orchards now. French onion soup in the Alaskan Hotel.
Usually, she imagined The Seven Dwarfs building her a cottage with their gentle tapping hammers. This time, with curtained eyes, she felt her way to the rooftop. When the green radar invaded her further, she glowed; a golden-green dancing holograph.
Below her, workers could not drill holes in the city of her body and hammers struck only air.
Snowflakes on the Autism Spectrum
I sit in my rocker watching snowflakes and rock in rhythm to my small son, who quiet as the snow falling, rolls back and forth on the sofa. We echo silence. He locks himself into repetition of invisible patterns. Why does he give me silent messages I can’t understand? No design alike, the flakes fall—undecipherable codes for me.
The Time Was Never Right
The time was never right. The bare, boney grapevine needed its mercy cuts, calculated for maximum yield. The park path needed her foot falls, pushing dead leaves and deer dung into earth. Deadlines stood like tilted tombstones, locking her to a screen full of words—but not the words she wanted, not the words she knew she could birth.
Who’s Afraid of False Hope?
Martha wakes to hear him playing the piano for the first time in many months. She smiles. George’s medications and therapy are finally working. Now things will return to normal with lattes at The Upper Crust, walks in Bidwell Park, and evenings listening to him jamming with friends. Abruptly the music ends and the DJ announces, “This is KZFR.”
The leafless branch snapped and swung through the window. Rain followed it into the house. The wind was suddenly freight-train loud. At any other time, this would have been seen as catastrophic. At 2:35 p.m., on that January day, it was nothing. Everything had already happened, minutes before, in that hospital bed at the center of the room.
She held onto a compliment from an appealing man, the way one grasps a banister beside a creaky stairway. She discovered her latest object of attachment in conversation with a handsome poet under a southern moon.
She stepped back into the shadows first. She would not be a beggar; but a keeper of dreams to fill her hollow spaces.