We held our first flash fiction writing contest in January and we were both surprised and excited by the response. The rules were simple, 250 words and you had to include mention of a Volkswagen Beetle, an actual beetle or The Beatles. Our top three winners received free tuition to the WxW Generative Workshop @ Boulder from March 14-16, 2014. Thank you to everyone who submitted a piece.
Congratulations to Kathy Conde, Timothy Davis and Leigh Rourks for their winning entries!
By Kathy Conde
When I got pregnant we bought a house with rounded corners inside. We shopped for furniture with no sharp edges, which we found at the chain store that sold only oak. We traded our Jeep Cherokee for a Volkswagen Beetle, with its sloping curves. We wanted our child to be safe, nothing sharp to run into.
When I was a kid, people didn’t worry about safety. Beating a child with a belt was called spanking. Nature was bad. Science was good. Breast milk was bad. Formula was more hygienic. Doctors said not to pick up a crying child or she would have you wrapped around her finger. She could be trained with just one or two nights of screaming in vain.
I wanted a lot of things for my baby, most of all to do it differently. I prepared my little nest.
The moment his head crowned I knew exactly how to give birth to him. It seemed to me the best way to get him out was standing, listening, hips swaying like a belly dancer, catching.
But dancing was against hospital rules. The nurse kept shoving me back onto the bed saying, “Push like you’re mad as hell!”
The doctor dug his hands into my vagina like he was trying to dig the baby out of the earth. I would have kicked him but I couldn’t find my foot. I could only locate the baby, as if I were he, coming boldly out in spite of it all.
Kathy Conde received honorable mentions for fiction and creative non-fiction in the 2013 Salem International Literary Awards. She won the 2011 Rick DeMarinis Short Story Award and has recently been a finalist at Glimmer Train, New Letters, and New Millennium Writings. She has lived in the Southeast, the Rocky Mountain West, where she herded cattle and trained horses, and in Spain, where she taught English as a second language.
Why I Love Yoga Pants
By Timothy Owen Davis
We were in the garage when I saw her out the window. Randy, my battle buddy from Basic, said “Look at them fancy yoga pants,” and he slapped his thigh, adjusted himself, and went back to work searching the radio for a good song. I couldn’t agree more. Look at them yoga pants, I thought, and tapped the hood of an old VW Bug Randy had bought in a police auction. We had towed its rusted and bullet-ridden carcass from the auction; that was five years ago, and before Yoga Pants moved in across the way. Before her, Randy and I planned a drive down to Wilmington or the Outer Banks; after her, I only wanted to wipe the grease from my hands and face and yell out at Yoga Pants so she would stop, and I could ask her name and we could cruise Westchester Avenue in a practically brand new VW Bug; I wouldn’t tell her how the previous owner had been found at the Sundown Drive-in; Randy and I had spent the better part of a year getting those stains out. My hands still reek of bleach and lava soap. Today her hair was auburn and glinted each time the sun caught it as she power walked down Sinclair Avenue, and it would glow like a phoenix on Westchester with the streetlights and neon signs streaking by like comets. I bit my lip, Yoga Pants had walked out of sight, and asked Randy for a socket wrench.
Timothy Owen Davis has a Masters of Fine Arts in fiction from Boise State University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Idaho State University. A native of North Carolina, Tim moved to Idaho with his family (his wife, Jennifer, is from Idaho) after his discharge from the Army in 2001. Tim has been teaching for roughly four years; he is an adjunct instructor at the College of Western Idaho and Broadview University. Tim’s writing has appeared in The Storyteller, Black Rock and Sage, Plain Spoke, and Cold-Drill. Currently, Tim is working on his doctorate in education at Boise State and his novel, a collection of stories, I Finally Understand those Songs on the Radio.
By Leigh Rourks
Elma set her cigarette on the edge of the soap dish. She examined her thinning hairline in the mirror, her ears, left eye, right, lifted each breast, ran her fingers across the skin her husband loved to nuzzle before his death. She put the cigarette back in her mouth and sat bare-assed on the commode to check her feet, between her toes.
There was a tick. Somewhere.
Or bedbugs. Lice. Bot flies. Fleas. Mites. Scabies.
She itched. Not just her skin. Her brain. The sharp, fiberglass splinters of last night’s television, Parasites: Monsters on Your Skin, lodged there, pricking.
She knew it was the show driving her nuts. The new nurse had put it on. “Do you mind?”
She liked the girl. Never in a hurry. Elma’d learned to ask about their days. To offer tea. To keep new ailments to herself or they’d nurse-up the whole night.
On her inspection, she skipped the painful area behind her knee. The one she’d been ignoring. Keeping quiet about. That patch, sore to the touch for a month at least, wriggled and writhed, but she didn’t look.
Instead, she scrubbed ticks from her hair. Mites from her breasts. Scabies off her skin. Even when she nicked the spot with her nail and the beetles tumbled out– again– their hard carapaces clicking against the tile floor, the last one catching, pinching on the way out of the wound, even then, she kept flicking her hair, fingering her scalp, searching, never looking down.
Leigh Camacho Rourks lives in South Louisiana and, on her best days, can be found lazing in the sun, doing not much of anything at all. She teaches English at Southeastern Louisiana University, where she is also the assistant editor of Louisiana Literature. Her stories have been chosen as finalists for the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival Fiction Contest (2012) and The American Fiction Prize (2013), and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of journals including Kenyon Review and Prairie Schooner.