Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Year 1, Week 29: Results!

Rin here! Just wanted to give a shout out to everyone who participated in this week's competition. Y'all are awesome! Several creative tales and a nice variety in them. Alas, only a few winners can be chosen. Now, on to what you're here for: the announcements!

Honorable Mention

Carin Marais with Dust to Dust to Life

The descriptions were vivid and beautifully done, pulling me into the magical, otherworldly setting of the library. I could easily picture the ripples in the dust, the way it behaved like water, and how it all disintegrated. Speaking of time, I like how it was used as the antagonistic force in this piece. I do wish that we’d found out why, after all that time, the library’s outer wall was finally breached. What I liked most was the very last sentence, that sense of unconquered hope of a new beginning in the face of inevitable destruction. Great job!

First Runner Up

Maggie Akhurst with Lost City

The plot concept of searching for a lost city of riches felt nostalgic, reminding me of The Mummy, one of my favorite movies from my childhood. The descriptions, like the failing light and the weathered carving of the hero, were chosen well, easily transporting me into a fantastical place with magical, hidden cities, tomes, and ancient maps. The tome’s passage was enjoyable, in both word choice and the way it rhymes. I loved the mental image of glowing mist, but I felt the tension was lost when the city randomly showed up. I wish that she’d done something that proved how she was worthy-hearted or found something more to trigger the appearance of the city. All in all, a good, fun story. Well done! 


Benjamin Langley

with Mother Knows Best

The possibility of this story being a glimpse into someone’s reality makes it a real gut-wrencher. How many of us out there have had grandmothers and mothers who can fruits and veggies? Or ones that are critical or believe they’re incapable of fault? Simone and her mother were clearly distinct from one another, through both the small bit of dialogue and in their responses to Jason’s illness; the mother blaming Simone and Simone blaming herself. I can hear the grandmother’s judgmental, know-it-all voice in my head and just see the critical lift of her chin without it even being described. I loved how the scientific name for botulism was used and real symptoms of it were given, because I’m a nerd like that. I appreciated how well the prompt was used, woven into the story’s conflict rather than being just the beginning sentence. The guilt and pain that Simone is going through is well shown through her actions and numbness of emotion. The last line wrapped up this grim story well, giving the feeling of curtains closing on a scene that will continue on in the character’s life for some time. Fantastic job!

Mother Knows Best
Dust. All around her is dust. So Simone scrubs the floor with a homemade solution of borax, white vinegar and lemon juice, using a brand new toothbrush. She rinses it under hot running water, before dipping it back into her cleaning fluid. But her cupboard full of hydrochloric acid, ammonia, Tri-Sodium Phosphate, peroxide and a host of solvents, detergents and enzymes and all of the scrubbing, cleaning and dusting; all of the calluses and sores; they don’t change a thing.
Once, the rings on the cooker were islands in a brown sea of hardened spills. The sink was full of dishes in murky water, which were wiped only with a filthy rag before being put back into grubby cupboards. But that wasn’t all that was different. Once, it was noisy. Now the house is clean, but quiet. But it’s all too late. Jason’s dead, aged six.
“No wonder he always got a stomach upset,” her mother would say as she trailed a finger along a dusty shelf. But when Jason was struggling for breath, and her mother cried out that the filthy house had made him ill, she was wrong. When Jason’s nervous system was attacked by clostridium botulinum she blamed the unhygienic kitchen. She was wrong. 
Her mother, who’d canned her own produce all of her adult life, didn’t know what lurked in those bulging cans in her cellar. Her mother didn’t need to be told how to can in a hygienic manner, she’d done it all her life. 
So Simone scrubs and she cleans to punish herself, thinking mother knows best. She dusts and she polishes unaware that it would have made no difference at all. And whilst she holds herself to blame for the death of her son the sores and calluses weep, because she cannot.

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