2021 Micro Fiction Contest Honorable Mentions
by Melissa Gaudet
Lifeless blossoms surrounded by yellow, wilting ferns were all that remained. A sympathetic gesture, replaced by a stomach-churning reminder that he too, is decaying.
Drained of tears, she hit play on her answering machine.
“You have no new messages. Main menu. To listen to saved messages, press seven. To-” The press of a button interrupted the synthetic voice.
“Hey babe, I’m on my way home, but I might be late. Traffic is a killer today. Love you.”
A brittle pedal slowly fell from its stem, and a new storm of tears developed as she hit play, again.
by Bethany Brengan
My body doesn’t understand metaphors, or faith. Pain is only like itself. An arm is an arm. A rock is a rock. Blood is blood is blood is. I am supposed to fear, to crouch down when I hear a howl. And move through the tall grass with respect for the copperhead. If my body is capable of belief, then it believes in shelter and huddling close when darkness drops. Bring everyone in. Lick your bowl. Kiss your mother. Spend as much affectation as you can afford. They may use a different currency where we are headed.
by Donald Carriera Ching
Outside, sour notes of rotting mango. You walk. Fresh grass clippings and sun-bleached ʻulu leaves clustered along the curb, damp and moist. You can’t see it. Charcoal burning, savory and sweet from the Korean BBQ. Further down, tobacco lingers. Then, the choke of ehaust like burnt oil in your father’s garage. On the ground, plumeria petals, bright and fleeting. From over the hill, ammonia? Bleach? Pungent and chemical. Soon, others pass. One like rose, heady and overwhelming. You continue until a wall of earthy brush, milo and kukui. The breeze comes again, bringing rain. Fresh, clean, ʻĀpuakea. Return home.
First Night in the New House
by Laura Theis
I count the stars from under the skylight: ten without moving my head. Did the people who slept here before me give a name to this constellation?
The house won’t say. We’ll have to be patient with each other, both grieving our exes.
But it’s a good sign that it made me stub my toe on its stairs when it caught me thinking about the old home too much. I got the message, scrubbed its floors as well as I could.
The house forgave me with sunset, birdsong on its roof and the soft drums of October against the panes.
Watershed by Birth
by Cameron Quinn
Where brine suspends itself in fog, almost amniotic, and the sun is filtered through overcast stretched thin as skin, pregnant with someone else’s rain, I am tethered to this land by a short umbilical cord. My roots are rudimentary. I have no tap that’s been digging since the last glaciation, ancestors raised as cousins to the oldest Cedars. My hold in this land is shallow as a tree who’s never wanted for water, easy to blow down. Transforming winds are overdue. If I fall here with grace I can make a home, for saplings who belong, closer to the sun.
by Tracy Davidson
He collects stars in bottles, shakes them up, lets them go. They burst forth, a cascade of would-be constellations, spreading upwards and outwards across dark skies.
He waits and watches as they settle into their final formations. Patterns only he can see. His fingers trace their intricate shapes on paper for me.
He names them as he draws. I write them down where he directs me. Spelling, he struggles with. But who needs to spell when they can create new worlds instead?
My son asks for more cosmic dust. I refill the bottle. He shakes it, lets it go…
by Miranda Cooper
After the next deluge—for there will be a next one—we’ll cry and wrestle with God in hopes that the foundation will hold. It will not.
We’ll look up at the sky and out at the sea, once crystalline aqua and now oil black, and we’ll consider what we did, what God did, and whether those are connected.
When they ask if it was worth it, our lips will turn to tar.
Did we really have a choice?
Come hell and high water, it was our home.
We regret everything.
We regret nothing.
Every brick was rubble.
Every brick was sacred.
by Laura Brown
You can’t park here overnight.
Ma’am, these restrooms are for paying customers.
Now they’re here with me, going nowhere, idling on a bridge over the Atchafalaya Basin. South, beyond the inky swamp, something monstrous churns in the Gulf. I see my reflection in the dark windshield, knuckles against my temple, bags under my eyes swollen like the bags in my trunk. Home is further gone in my rear-view mirror than theirs; that’s the only difference between us anymore.
Ahead of me, taillights stretch on endlessly, like two strands of rubies in the night.
by Melanie Maggard
Waiting, I’ve befriended the weeping rain on the window. I search for his melting image, slippery with apologies and different beginnings. Earlier, I sliced carrots, loud and sloppy, as our words fell like rotting black walnuts. Now, my finger’s screams are muffled, the honey-basted cut smelling of hay and orange blossom, the farm-stand we visited. We had sipped hot cider walking through the fog covered gravel, peered at heaps of apples, tucked our noses into their small dry navels, scrutinized their perfection, felt the weight of each in our palm, to try and find a pair less bruised than us.