2012 Winners

Flash Fiction Contest 

Graduate Winner: Megan Hesse, "The Hole"

It was down the street and through the alley and squeezed between two buildings of tall and dirty brick in the middle of the city and the middle of nowhere and no one had noticed it but him.  There was a rusted metal stump that a handrail had once grown out of and a flight of cracked concrete steps leading down, down into darkness.  He'd been crouched there, the boy, his eyes puffy and his lip bloody and had seen the hole, had wondered at its innocent strangeness. ...

 

Graduate Finalist: Conner Boyle, "Things Were Different"

Doctor Sullivan had been the town physician since the forties.  He did everything.  Whatever the result, his patients always thanked him like he was a blessing from God.  His sole advertisement was a crooked little sign he'd nailed to the tree in front of his office.  That was a long time ago. ...

 

Graduate Finalist: Donovan Ortega, "Auld Lang Syne"

I swing open the gate and there is my father.  He sits beside a fire pit he must have dug that evening.  The fire is very low and through the pine trees of the yard, I can see his silhouette flicker against the wooden fence, his face lit by the dark fire. Then the gate clanks behind me and he looks up.  With his hand, he beckons me toward the fire.  I walk toward his hulking figure hesitantly, letting my fingers graze the pine trees as I pass them.  When I am upon my father and the fire pit, I notice there is a bottle lying underneath his chair and his face is flush.  I sit in a chair across from him and feel a tinge of pleasure to have come home from a party and find my ordinarily pious father in such a state.  We are both drunk. ...

 

Graduate Finalist: Phil Mazzeo, "Your Lungs are Burning, but Your Mouth is Sown Shut"

Stuck in a slipstream dream, but at sixteen, he doesn't know anything about sleep paralysis. Paralysis from the Latin: Loss of use of one's muscles or another part of one's body; Sleep, from the Germanic: Unconscious, recuperative state regularly and naturally assumed, during which the activity of the nervous system is almost or entirely suspended.  Almost suspended.  Almost, from the uncertain, meaning sometimes your brain wakes before your body; it leaves you vegetative, but contemplative, a coma patient without the comforting beeps of heart rate monitors or family member to tell you that it will all be ok, in the end; it leaves you full of screams of frustration and terror and confusion, yet unable to cry out, like a half-Black-half-White teenage girl in 1950s Mississippi. ...

 

Undergraduate Winner: Amanda Brahlek, "The Gold Rush"

The green fluorescent light snapped, reminding Neil that his Siamese fighting fish, Lou, hadn't gotten his dinner.  On a kitchen shelf, the fish pirouetted as Neil approached with a tiny canister of shrimp-flavored betta pellets.  The fish was Neil's only companion in his South Florida apartment.

"Hungry, aren't you," Neil asked Lou.

Neil crouched down to eye level with the red-flamingo dancing fish. "You're supposed to be intimidating," he chuckled, thinking about how elegantly Lou's skirt fluttered. ... 

 

Undergraduate Finalist: Lisette Alonso, "What it's Like"

"What does it feel like?" we ask her

Lina Guerra is the first girl we know who isn't a virgin.  Her boyfriend Carlos is seventeen and drives a beat up Ford Escort with a cracked windshield. He has a day job and a patchy beard and dropped out of high school the year before when he got his driver's license. ... 

 

Undergraduate Finalist: Sasha Krawczyk, "Happenstance"

Today is the day that I decide to exist.  Today is the day I wake up with a purpose and a smile as wide as Tennessee spread across my face perfectly -- glossed lips (because on days like this, the body and makeup cooperate, of course). This morning my alarm isn't an incessant, whining child who nags at my eyelids to snap open -- no, not at all -- this morning my alarm is a friendly reminder of how today, I am showing up.  How today, I am not a thirty-something woman with a college degree in Peace and Media Studies and therefore recently unemployed, for crying out loud.  How today, the two crows that place their feet in the outside corners of my eyes flutter away and out of my apartment window with a wave of my magic cosmetic wand. ...

 

Undergraduate Finalist: Kristina Forman, "The Black Rose"

The brass bell chimed as the cafe door was opened; a weary looking man stepped in.  He was huddled over a leather box that he held under his left arm, trying to shield it from the pouring rain.  Trudging his way over to a nearby booth,he clutched the box tightly to his side.  The slick leather soles of his mud-stained loafers squelched against the linoleum, each step echoing throughout the nearby vacant establishment. The cafe's only other occupants being an elderly man slowly sipping his coffee at the adjacent counter, and the waitress, cleaning glasses with a dishrag only a few feet away. With a grunt, the man in the trench coat plopped himself down and placed his box in the table in front of him, removing his hat and his coat, which were soaked from rain, and dropping them unceremoniously to the space beside him on the booth seat.  He sighed heavily, resting his elbows on the table; his hands entangling in his thinning, wet curls. ...

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