By Eloise Schultz, with audio : 4th Annual Fiction Contest Winner, Judged by Teague Bohlen
At some point, she stopped wearing the ring. I noticed when I came home from the library, helping her peel wax off the kitchen counter. When I asked, she told me that it had slipped off while she was swimming and sunk to the bottom of the lake. They searched for it, a gold glint in the mud and pebbles, but soon gave up.
By JoeAnn Hart, with audio : 4th Annual Fiction Contest Finalist, Judged by Teague Bohlen
Rare Offering. Paneled library, garden room, Sensational distant views, historical landscape. Gated community. Great room with stone fireplace. Traditional charm, idyllic family setting. Call Leslie for a private viewing. An exclusive property of Brancaleone Realty.
By Anya Groner, with audio
When Etgar wasn’t there, June watched movies. Men had swords. Women had orange flowers clipped to dark dresses, hats brimmed like cymbals. Couples waltzed. Enormous leaves brushed their shoulders. Children, when there were children, held sticks and jumped naked into rivers. The couch curved beneath her, soft and buoyant and, despite the heat, when orchestra would get slow and melancholy, she’d pull a pink sheet to her neck and shiver. Even when she was alone, Etgar’s whispers echoed inside her. He called her precious. A firecracker. A fox.
By Shannon Sweetnam, with audio
Wet-suited, amongst the sea oats, Bernard wept for his mother, wishing she would find him before the sun set upon the shore. He hoped Sally would run his way if he happened to scream, if he and his mind were to become too fearful, though screaming itself was a fearful thing, and he did not want to scream and have Sally find him. He did not want that. He wanted his wispy haired, freckle-skinned, lavender-smelling mother. So he wept, quietly, while he waited, hidden among the sea oats, looking for signs of dolphins or sharks among the lumbering waves.
By David Rose, with audio
She spotted the plot. We’d trundled out to see a Connell Ward and Lucas house in Wentworth (sadly, now demolished), cutting back to the A30 down Callowhill when she pointed up. It wasn’t in fact a vacant plot; there was a ramshackle wooden chalet teetering on dereliction. Which made it perfect. A commanding site, no problems with demolition, and of course close to the A30. We bought it. I planned. It didn’t go to plan. Planning consent for Modernism at its purest was even harder to obtain than in the 30s, as I knew. And the local planning committee more obdurate than most. I managed to win them round on the design by including a fictitious striped conning tower, which I then offered to forgo, but the surveyor had concerns about subsidence, being a hillside site, and the weight of concrete as opposed to wood.
By Steve Edwards, with audio
Your father was a mechanic. His hands dwarfed the wrenches and ratchets they held, the screwdrivers, the pliers, the bottles of Bud, your mother’s limp hand in her hospital bed the night she stopped breathing. The last time you saw your father was two years ago, when he’d come stumbling into the bar where you’d parked yourself in front of a baseball game and a beer. He was alone. You almost didn’t recognize him. He’d been in some kind of an accident and every last inch of him—the skin on his forearms, the backs of his hands, his neck and face and eyelids—was splotched with little flaming welts, like cigarette burns, that he’d dabbed with ointment. “Riding lawnmower cut out,” he said, shrugging off your concern and swigging his Bud. “Bellied down to the blade and, why shit, ended up dry-humping a whole motherfucking nest of ants.”
By Katie Rogin
Jayne Bateman’s travels had become a series of Alice’s rabbit holes. She felt sleepy, slow and ready for a nap at home in New York and then would descend, dream-like, onto the airport tarmacs of other cities and emerge in altered worlds, not quite Wonderlands, but places that made her wonder. As she walked through airports she found the disorientation of this dream-life especially bad. Moving along the length of a terminal she would be absolutely certain beyond any doubt that when she emerged at the taxi stand she would be confronted with, say, the liquid air of summertime Atlanta. But just as she went through the glass doors, she would be shocked to see a checkerboard pattern on a policeman’s cap. Chicago.
By Courtney Amber Kilian, with audio : 3rd Annual Fiction Contest Winner, Judged by Skip Horack
Color has history. And, our sky is black. During the day it melts into a metallic gray, its edges a charcoaled red, as if it has burned too. During the night it glows with heat, tender skin pulled back to expose a wound.
By Hope Coulter : 3rd Annual Fiction Contest Finalist
It began as a “disturbance,” a white blur off the coast of Africa, which the man on the Weather Channel said was becoming organized. “I’m not,” said George cheerfully. Jill, his wife, stood watching the TV in boxers and a tank top. Her frown suggested that she was organizing her own system of turbulence.
By Kristie Letter : 3rd Annual Fiction Contest Finalist
The best time to invest in real estate is when the market’s down. That’s when I got in.They were burying Little Roy, but thinking about that hole in the ground made the space between my fingers feel like poison ivy.
By Joan Kane Nichols, with audio : 3rd Annual Fiction Contest Finalist
Kicking off well-worn sandals, Rose lifted her face to the breeze blowing up from the ocean, cooling off the warmth of the late June day and ruffling the beach grass, bayberry bushes, and clusters of Rosa rugosa surrounding the dune shack’s splintery deck.
By Spencer Hayes, with audio
The elected officials gave the township only 24-hour notice. They delineated the plan at a press conference to the small but feisty babel of reporters on the town hall beat, to the all-seeing cameras. The front-and-center spokesman addressed the crowd in an unnerved tenor, fielded questions.
By Jen McConnell
It wasn’t just me. October 17, 1989, was burned into the collective consciousness of Northern California in a matter of seconds. I was at the beginning of a piano lesson with Brian Wu, a third-year student of immense talent and sloppy habits, when it happened.
By Michael McGuire
It had been Saturday, his day to ride the horse into the mountain. If there was one thing he didn’t want to hear, it was a truck grinding up out of the one ranch that remained. He’d listened ten minutes before the logs appeared.