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Short Fiction Contest: Runners Up

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Walkabout

by Vanessa Newman

“It’s all about perspective,” said Dr. Reed to the well-groomed woman sitting poised in front of him.

“That is your best medical opinion?” she responded without the emotion this statement deserved. “Last week mother bought sandals and insisted that she was traipsing around Greece. She would only eat stuffed grape leaves and wanted me to call her Athena.”

“Was she happy and content?” Dr. Reed asked.

“Yes. But her life is not based in reality,” Mallory insisted. “Several months ago, new penny loafers meant sitting on park benches, writing poetry and talking to strangers about prose.”

“And was there an incident?” Doctor asked.

“She is not in her right mind,” Mallory clipped. “I know she’s 82 with dementia. Shouldn’t you be prescribing more medications for mother?”

“Perhaps she is having experiences beyond our rational mind’s ability to comprehend. She has been going on walkabouts after footwear purchases for years. And she seems peaceful; almost enlightened.”

“I’m not sure that you are the type of Doctor that can handle her condition,” Mallory interrupted. “You do remember the ski boot incident,” Mallory chided.

Dr. Reed chuckled, “Oh yes. I do believe her arm has healed completely.”

“Just tell me what pill to give her or about institutions. I’m not sure she is getting the best medical attention from you.”

“Mallory, your mother is living with you and I can’t decide for you what to do.” Dr. Reed paused. “However, it’s my heartfelt view that you….really…. need to buy new shoes.”

 

Judges Comments

Chelsea: Too often with the sick, all we want to do is diagnose and treat and put ‘em in facilities and all they want is a new pair of shoes. Just give it to em. That appealed to me.

Wayd: I liked the entire story and that it created that much of a world just with only dialog. I also like that message of ‘Who are we to judge?’ If you’re not harming yourself or anybody else, then let people be nuts.

Josh: This story managed to pack a lot of heart into a small package, showing that there is a world that exists beyond the first and last words of this slice of life. And it did so with a fun comic twist at the end.

 

Maggie

by Kate Lundquist

“From her place on the porch Maggie sees everything. The little Warren girl trip over a stone in the middle of the dusty road. An old Volkswagen trundle by in the mornings, the teenager inside chucking newspapers in the general vicinity of yards or sometimes even porches. At night she watches the street lamps blink on, inviting moths to beat themselves against the glow.

Maggie knows that it’s all about perspective. She sees things the people in town don’t see or choose to overlook.

Maggie has seen the good of babies learning to walk. The sad of long processions in black behind pinewood caskets. The way the first warm day in spring wakes everything up in the front yard, and how rain hushes the world.

Maggie enjoys her view of the world. But lately, out of the corner of her eye, Maggie has seen a dark form. It wears a hat with two points and creeps around the yard. Maggie has begun to worry about Francis. Francis buried her husband a few months ago. Now this form is here. Skulking below the garden bushes or perching in a tree. It leaves omens of death on the front porch.

Maggie wonders if all her years of looking and watching attuned her to the spirit world. Maggie wonders why Francis cannot see the dark form. Maggie has formed a habit of barking at random intervals to ward off the evil thing. Francis has formed a habit of yelling at Maggie to shut up.”

 

Judges Comments

Chelsea: I like the perspective. It let you think and connect your own demons to it, as opposed to cramming it down your throat.

Wayd: The imagery was really clear. I could see what was happening. From the author’s description of that creature, you assumed it was a spirit of some kind. But it kind of let you figure things out and then gave you the answer.

Josh: I think this was a really excellent example of using the theme broadly, using it as starting point and then heading off in a unique direction with a pleasantly clear sense of misdirection.

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