MICRO-FICTION CHALLENGE WINNER

IMG_5128

Is not me.

LOL.

I am out. Lost in round two.

Now that it is over, I will share my two stories.

This story, SIEG, won first place in Round 1:

It had to be suspense, involve taking a photo, and have the word victory in it (sieg in German):

Sieg

Ilse Weber worked on the Graflex for months, perfecting the shutter and the intricate mechanism that would launch the curare-dipped dart hidden within, breaking the cellophane covering she’d fixed in place to hide the missing glass. It would work perfectly. It had to.

Ilse had conceived the plan almost immediately upon being hired by Signal magazine. Eva Braun had seen Ilse’s photographs of Marlene Dietrich, taken before Dietrich abandoned Germany for good, and had insisted that what Signal needed was society photos. She wished Miss Weber to photograph her and “Wolfie” beautifully attired and socializing with the other Nazi elite. Ilse’s initial revulsion turned to eager acceptance when she realized this opportunity would bring her close, so very close.

Wolfie disliked the impromptu nature of society photos; he agreed only to a single photograph, with Eva, as a trial run.

And now, the day had come. Ilse stood behind the Graflex, beneath the black drape. Eva posed upon the sofa, and there was only the man himself, who needed to take his position behind Eva, his hand on her shoulder while she gazed up at him.

He finished preening his mustache, took his place. Ilse was not to speak to him. Just take the photo. 

Ilse fixed him in the frame. Arm raised, she held the bulb. Just squeeze, she told herself, just squeeze. “Victory,” she whispered.

“Sieg für dur Führer!” the hiss, quiet, close to her ear. A hand closed around her wrist, twisting it sharply, expertly.

The second entry did not make it into the top 10.

It had to be horror, have a ghost and a smoke detector that was going off.

Porch Guest

The ghost started visiting Coralee after her son, Boone, was jailed for rape and awaiting trial. His daddy, Macon, went out nightly, trying to figure out how to save Boone. Coralee sat on her porch, alone, sipping a coke-cola, til the night the ghost walked out of the cornfield, onto the porch, sat in the other rocker like she’d always been there.

The ghost was comforting; sat quietly as Coralee talked.

“He’s so handsome. A girl said something about Macon when we was dating, but her family knew better, and she just went away. This girl should too, stop bothering my dear son.”

The ghost smiled, said nothing.

One night Macon returned home early and saw Coralee on the porch with a girl he thought he’d never see again. He dragged Coralee inside and threw her down, and when she hit the past came back to her, the rumors about “Pretty girl gone missing,” and Coralee knew her porch guest finally, saw how Macon had choked her, built the porch right over top of her. Now he was gonna put Boone’s girl there-

The smoke detector wailed. Macon’s head jerked around as the ghost came through the door a newspaper in her hand with her own face on the front page, blazing with fire. Macon screamed, grabbed his gun and shot until he was sure the ghost was dead, but it was Coralee who was dead, and the smoke detector shrieked as the blazing house took Macon to hell.

The second story was inspired by a local “boy” who was convicted of rape, and his mother had told the court that her son was so handsome it was not his fault that girls kept throwing themselves at him. I think, ultimately, I wanted to tell that story of freaking male privilege more than I wanted to write a good 250 word story.

Well you win some and lose some, literally. And life… goes on. 🙂

It’s not at all easy on the ego being a writer, not at all, but, you cannot take it personally, and you can’t quit.

SOMETIMES IT’S OKAY NOT TO KEEP GOING

IMG_5028Let me tell you what you see in this photo above, here, in my first post of 2020.

You see Sophie’s breakfast (white toast, 1/2 banana, and cherry juice).

You see my breakfast (Dave’s Killer Bread, 1/2 banana, and coffee).

And you see a (leave me alone for five minutes) treat for Oliver (who is always all like “feed me! feed me again! fart. snarfle. pee. poop. pee again. poop. rub me. snarfle. can we walk yet? snarfle. I will get you, Cats! fart. snarfle,” in the mornings). Suffice it to say that, while Oliver doesn’t mind me owning books (see David Sedaris, above) he would really rather I not read them (much like Sophie, actually) when I could be interacting with him.

So, alright, not in general getting a lot of recreational reading done.

However, the lovely and appealing tableau above is because:

  1. Dave is in Los Angeles (working hard, making bank)
  2. I had no baby-sitting for 6-8:15am this morning (6am being when I usually leave for school and 8:15 being when Sophie needs to leave for school)
  3. I had to remove Sophie from school @ 1pm today to go to the dentist (which, had babysitting been available, would have meant rushing home from my third class of the day anyway)
  4. I made the decision not to run around like a nut.

And so Sophie and I are both ditching school. After our leisurely breakfasts, mine on my blog, hers on her iPad, gaming, we will work on her school project, go to lunch, go to the dentist, and cook dinner for ourselves and our friend Krissi.

We will not pass go; we will not collect 200 dollars; we will not run around like mad fools to get everything done; we will not do anything prescribed for us besides brush our teeth and go to the dentist.

When Sophie was in preschool, and we were both in Los Angeles, she used to go three days/week. Two of those days I was teaching, and one was to give me a day to grade papers. On the days I was teaching I sometimes spent 2-3 hours getting to a school 40 miles away. Let’s see… if a car on the highway can drive @ 65 mph, should it take 3 hours to go 40 miles? Sophie and I consider ourselves math-girls, but even non-math-folk should be able to figure out that one doesn’t seem right. So, sometimes, since those two days were already fucked, I’d just stay even later at school (or go in earlier) and get my work done, and she and I would ditch our responsibilities the next day. Being in Los Angeles for ditching was, sorry Delaware, much better than being here. We had a zoo membership, and the zoo always had lovely programs, was just 20 minutes from the house, and the weather was always wonderful. We had a huge Whole Foods 2 miles away, where we could get lunch from the food court and go sit and pay Chutes and Ladders. We had the beach. Monterey Park (dumplings! dim sum!). We had a pool in the back yard. We could hang out in the yard in warm weather without being devoured by swarms of things. We had… a lot more options. I mean there’s a reason it’s hella expensive to live there and the commute can take 3 hours. Here there is only even one reasonable diner we can go to that has food we like and passable coffee. But, we can go to the beach when the weather is nice. No, there is no zoo close to here, though we joined the National Zoo. It’s just 2 hours away, and the LA Zoo is much nicer (sorry DC).

It was, to be fair, much harder to make friends in LA. We sucked at it. People were always crashing and burning and going back to Chicago, or people were so filthy rich they just were (whether they considered themselves to be liberals or not) a bit classist (like, Yeah the LA ZOO is right here, but it’s filled with so many brown people. Let’s go to the Santa Barbara Zoo, 2 hours away, to avoid them). Too classist for us, sometimes. Dave and I have very blue collar roots, and we’re broke now, still! LOL.

Of course, here, I am often passed on the road by aggressive white men in pick-up trucks with very Trump bumper stickers, or sometimes drive past little “corner” stores with confederate flags hung out front. So there’s that.

And so, today, when the options were find other people to inconvenience with a very early morning running Sophie around so that I could run to my classes and then back to Sophie and then to the dentist and then…

I just said, to myself, you know, it’s okay not to keep going.

And it’s the second time I have said that in 2020. The first was when I put Devil’s Party Press on hiatus. Yes, the press could have stayed on schedule to publish 6 books this year, and yes, we publish well-written beautiful books. But, we’re running like mad dogs to do it, and we’re not feeling good about the process and the ROI, and, most importantly, the joy. Sometimes, to get to where you want to go, you need to pull-over into a rest stop and re-plot your route.

So, today, here’s to all of you out there who pride yourselves on moving forward, efficiently, reliably, responsibly, and at all costs. May you all decide to take a day to not show up

for anyone but yourself.