A Writing Contest Update

I mentioned here, a goal of entering five literary contests this year. In the middle of it all, our local library sponsored a “Flash Fiction (or Not) Contest”. The rules: limit of 750 words, theme based on hiking, camping, or travel, fiction or non-fiction. Journalist from the local newspaper were to be the judge.

So I entered.

April 15th the e-mail came letting me know I did not win. They sent the kindest rejection letter I ever read. I love librarians for many reasons. And that is one of them.

For the record, I did not expect to win—my humor is not for everyone. However, I wanted to read the winning entry to see what kind of pointers I could glean.

The library posted the winning story on their website on Tuesday, along with honorable mentions and finalists.

My heart shifted into second gear. My palms sweated. I clicked the link. My husband leaned over my shoulder. We read the winning entry together.

You know when you mind meld with your mate and say the same words at the same time. We both said, “Huh?”

I reread the story two more times. It has beautiful imagery, but I’m still confused. If you read it, please share your thoughts with me in the comments. What am I missing here?

(I read all the entries listed. Because of my personal tastes, I favored several of the finalists entries instead. I know I must be missing something.)

Here is my contest submission, it’s a little over the top.

A Bear Ate My Shirt

“Fannie, get up,” Richard said, shaking my shoulder. “We’re gonna be late.”

“Five more minutes,” I said, pulling the blanket over my head—my pillow disappeared.

“You’ve said that for the last half hour. It’s 5:05.”

I jumped out of bed like a spring loaded jack-in-the-box. I snatched my shorts and rugby shirt and day pack.

I stumbled into my boots on the way to the Love Wagon, a red F150 with futon and disco ball in the back. My eyelids mimicked prunes; my hair, Phyllis Diller.

“I swear you’re allergic to morning,” Richard said, handing me a bagel and a water bottle.

“I’m only allergic to Sunday mornings,” I said, taking the offering.

“I’m not convinced.”

“That’s because you’re a morning person.”

“What does that make you, a mid-day person?”

The look intended for Richard u-turned at my eyelids.

* * *

The August sun shot rays over the Cascade foothills. The scattered clouds grew pink. A few cars raced the Fife curve toward Highway 18.

* * *

A used car lot lined the road leading to the High Point Road turn off. “I’m glad we’re not gonna slog up Tiger Mountain,” Richard said, as we drove passed. “How fun is it to shuffle up a trail?”

“I’m glad Sarah and Charlie agreed to meet us at Mount Si.”

Three cars sat in the parking lot near the trail access. Sarah and Charlie leaned against the bumper of their brown Bronco, drinking coffee.  They wore matching tan REI shirts and shorts. Sarah waved.

Charlie said, “You’re fifteen minutes early.” Shaking Richard’s hand, “What happened?”

“I lied about the time,” he said, in hushed tones, glancing over his shoulder at me.

“Hey guys, we’re gonna use the port-o-potty before we head up the hill,” Sarah said. “I have no interest in using a port-o-bush.”

“Yeah, leaves of three don’t make good TP,” I said, laughing.

* * *

We hiked under the power lines into the trees. Juncos flitted overhead. Their music drowned out the intermittent traffic sounds below. The damp smell of fir needles intensified as the sun crested the trees.

Charlie lead us up a switchback off a sharp rise into a level, open area outlined with a rough hewn rail marking the route up the mountain.

“Hey Charlie hold up a minute, I have to make a pit stop,” Richard said. “I’ll be right back.”
Richard ducked under the rail. He walked down the hill into a thicket of trees. His red t-shirt disappeared from sight.

We leaned against the railing, and greeted fellow hikers.

Two minutes elapsed. Fifteen people walked up the trail. Three more minutes ticked by. Twenty more hikers.

“I’m getting worried about Richard,” Sarah said, twisting a lock of her curly brown hair, “what if he’s been eaten by a bear?”

“There are too many people in this area for bears. We make too much noise,” Charlie said, adjusting his wire rimmed glasses.

“Aren’t you worried, Fannie?”

“Nope. If he were in trouble, we’d hear him,” I said, nodding to the next group of hikers.

Richard emerged from the thicket. He scratched his arm below the tattered remnants of his sleeve.

“Richard, what happened to your shirt?” Sarah asked, the pitch of her voice rising like the trail.

“Sarah, you won’t believe this, I was attacked by a bear and barely got away,” Richard said, flashing his devilish grin. “Don’t worry, all it got was my shirt sleeve.”

Charlie and I gripped the rail—our bodies pulsated with suppressed laughter.

“We have to warn people,” Sarah said. “Somebody else might not be so lucky.”

“It’s a pretty good sized shirt sleeve. With that much fiber it’s gotta be full.”

“I’ve got to warn people, it’s not safe.” Sarah rushed toward the head of the switch back.

Recovered enough to chase her, I grabbed Sarah’s arm before she reached the next group of hikers.

“Sarah, stop.”

“No.” She pulled back. “We have to warn people.”

Taking her chin, I forced her to look at me. Her pupils dilated.

“There’s no bear. Richard made it up.”

“What?” she asked, focusing on me.

“He heard us when he was doing his business—we forgot toilet paper.”

Deep color climbed her cheeks.

“Let’s join the others,” I said, guiding her back.

Sarah’s brown eyes threw bear claws at Richard.

* * *

Unseen by fellow hikers, hungry bears roamed Mount Si. Before we reached the summit, Richard’s shirt survived two more bear attacks.

 * * *

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 😉


About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
This entry was posted in Humor and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A Writing Contest Update

  1. kerbey says:

    I did not see that one coming. He used his shirt?

    Fannie/Tracy, I just went and read the winning entry and although I usually don’t “get it” in life, I REALLY don’t get that. I liked the pie scene and images of the beach, but I didn’t like italicized him, and I got zero closure at the end. I hate zero closure. I want things to make sense.


    • Kerbey you crack me up. Richard is very creative that way, he did use his shirt. Don’t want to worry about those leaves of three. 😉

      Thanks for the feedback. I, too, prefer stories with closure. I’m still muddling this one over for sure.


  2. amb says:

    Fannie my love, I know I’m not a librarian, but your sense of humour just made me spew coffee all over my keyboard, so, you know, there’s that. 😉


  3. Smudgey Paw says:

    I entered a writing contest this year and recently read the winner’s story. I don’t think my short was necessarily better or worse than the winner’s, but at least I thought their story was interesting and had depth. After reading the winning story for this contest, and as a complete outsider, I must say you are not wrong in questioning why this was picked as number one, but sometimes it’s not about being a better story, sometimes it’s just about being different. This may have been the only abstract story they received so it stood out to the judges, don’t let it get you down, use it as fuel to try harder!


  4. aplscruf says:

    First of all, I loved your piece, but because I’ve read it before, I did not spew coffee all over my keyboard. Ha! Secondly, the winning piece made me go “Hmmm,” as I had a few unanswered questions. I did like the poetic style and imagery. But why was ‘he’ in italics? I first thought maybe ‘he’ wasn’t there at all. A memory? Then I thought ‘he’ must be very special, and it sounded like they’d been through a lot of heartbreak together. Then I wondered if their grandchildren were with them, not because it was only a vacation, but because the parents died! So much left for interpretation. So it made me go “Hmmm”.


  5. Liz says:

    Like 🙂 Am off to read the winning entry now–you’ve made me curious. Kudos for you for putting yourself out there. Brave brave woman you are.


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