In the spirit of generating new work in the new year, Writing By Writers held our fifth annual Short Short Writing Contest in 2018 to win free tuition to the WxW Generative Workshop in Boulder. The rules were simple. 250 words and the short short could be fiction, non fiction or memoir, but it had to contain a mountain range, an animal that comes in more than one color, a lyric from a seventies song, a red food, and a belief system.
Our five 2018 winners are Sara Cutaia, Courtney Harler, Amy Karasavas, Olivia Scofield and Anjali Vaidya. The entries appear below and all winners will be reading their work in Boulder. Come join us!
The Day Something Died by Sara Cutaia
You can see Mt. Hood from the parking lot of the clinic. It towers over the city, but I
always thought it looked flat, its pinks and oranges bleeding into the sky around it like a
stamp. I was waiting for Kennedy to show up, popping Red Tamales in the driver’s seat
like it was a sport and I was winning. She said she’d do this with me, a declaration of
moral support, but she’s twenty minutes late and I’m getting tired of listening to the
picketers at the edge of the property. I flick on the radio, and American Pie starts
crooning, singing about the book of love, and having faith from God above. No radio,
then. I turn off the car completely, start marching to the front doors, wishing humans
were like seahorses, where the men had the burden of carrying life, knowing there
wouldn’t be any picketers out front if we were more like that. Care. No Matter What, the
sign says, and I choose to believe it. I stare at my own reflection in the glass, the pointy
peak of Mt. Hood roaring up behind me like a protector, a warning, a beginning and end.
The spicy aftertaste from the candy coats my tongue, and I cluck at myself, pulling open
the door and sweeping the mountain away, out of sight – possibly gone forever, who can
say for certain – easy as that.
Horse Mother by Courtney Harler
Most people don’t know how to say Appalachia. It’s like Nevada—you say it differently
if you live there, if you’ve ever lived there. Nevertheless, a horse lives in Appalachia, high in the Cumberland Mountains. She descends into the valleys to eat red apples off stunted green trees. Those trees, they twist, and she, the horse, rears on her hind legs to get at her favorite fall fruit.
I met her there once, in the apple orchard. Like many Scientologists, I believed the horse could be my mother reincarnated into a free, wild being. My mother always said she’d come back, so I hiked the hills around our farm until I found my mother in her new horse shape. I recognized her by her haunches—plump and bouncy. My horse mother galloped away at first, but I sang her a song: “Appaloosa, runnin’ wild in the dead of the night. Appaloosa, you’re the message of love and light.” She didn’t have any spots on her new coat, but the song still worked. She came closer and closer to me as I sang, nudged me on my shoulder. I pet her black mane, tapped her knobby knees. I don’t know why, but her knees, they fascinated me. They were black like her mane and tail, not brown like her body. I guess I’d call her a bay, quite a common horse. If she hadn’t been my mother, I wouldn’t’ve looked twice at her, much less broke and rode her.
Flip Was In The Paddock by Amy Karasavas
Flip was in the paddock when he heard it – a thud as if the beams of the stable were
tumbling down. Dancing in the Moonlight floated from the wind-up radio as Flip ran
inside to check on Absaroka.
“Everybody here is out of sight”
Dust swirled in the air and it took Flip’s eyes a second to adjust to the dim. Absaroka
had kicked her oak gate off its hinges. But the Thoroughbred hadn’t left. She stood
there, eyes to the ground, apologizing for her outburst. Flip stroked her neck and
she nudged the pocket of his flannel overcoat, where he’d stashed an unfinished
cherry hand pie.
Flip’s father subjected Absaroka to daily runs through the fields, building muscle
and stamina for the man coming to see her – the man who’d decide if she had a shot
at the Triple Tiara. She’d be shipped to Texas and Flip’s dad would chalk up the
ensuing bounty to the power of prayer.
Flip studied Absaroka and whispered, “Do you want to be a racehorse?” She blinked
and nuzzled his pocket. He removed the crumpled paper concealing the pie and
offered it up. She lapped the crumbs with a soft, deft, tongue and looked past him at
the gate lying on the hay-pocked floor.
“It’s ok – I’ll fix it. We won’t tell Dad about this.” He opened the cupboard and
removed a hammer, a Phillips head, and some wood glue. She’d kicked it clean and it
wouldn’t be difficult to repair.
Excerpt from Muscle Memory by Olivia Scofield
I listened to the boat driver say over and over, “Once you get the feeling for it the first time, you’ll be able to do it every time.” I kept trying until I couldn’t breathe. “Muscle memory,” they said. It was the summer I climbed to the top of a ropes course but couldn’t go through with it, did what they called an “Indian Run” through the forest—an appropriation I didn’t yet understand, learned about the songs of different breeding northeastern birds.
Excerpt from The Garden at the End of the World by Anjali Vaidya
The fire is a red god racing through the Morro Hills, spreading across your online map, flickering on the horizon. You have stopped answering the phone to authorities telling you to leave. You offered tea to the baby-faced police officer who stopped by with the same warning; he respectfully declined the tea. Nobody asks, so you do not tell them, about the garden that is your life.