Honourable Mention, NYC Midnight 250-word Microfiction Challenge 2023
Item: Unmarked Journal Found After Eureka Earthquake, December 21st, 1954 (waterlogged)
8/23/1954 - America, California, Humboldt County, Our Cabin! Mama is having the new baby downstairs and I’m to teach myself until she is better. Fact: Humbol-d-t is NOT spelled wrong, it’s the name of a German naturalist which is a plant scientist. I am making a Scientific Study. I found three new leaves (see sketch). Pa didn’t know the names so I labeled them #1, #2, #3. 9/29 - Rain! Pa said don’t keep mushrooms, they rot. Ma said wash everything, some plants have EFFECTS which I want to know more about. 10/1 - New leaf! #33 (see sketch). Very oily green gleam (can’t sketch gleam) 10/2 - #33 has EFFECTS!!! Covered in red blisters. 10/20 - Baby J threw up again. Mama cried. I searched for more #33. Testing Effects! 10/21 - The itch is MADDENING. Stayed at the creek all day dipping hands in cold water. 10/21 - STILL ITCHING. Bundled rest of #33 & hung by the wood stove to dry. 11/11 - Pa brought a new radio! Said, today is His Day. It turned on and right away there was music - Mama danced with Pa & me. Even Baby J didn’t throw up. 12/21 - Saddled with Baby J AGAIN, stuck - it’s my fault Mama when you find this you will know it is my fault everything was shaking & the chimney cracked & my Samples caught fire & baby - It’s my fault the smoke was poison if baby doesn't ever wake up please don’t come find me
Finalist, NYC Midnight 250-word Microfiction Challenge 2020
Lumena Paxte, or, Philomena Practicing Beauty
“Please,” she’s down on her knees, face turned up like a daisy. “One more rib this time; I want to resonate inside.” The needle never stops; the artist refuses. "Blurred silhouettes move across the window, impossible bodies merging into chimeric shadows - Lumena Paxte’s famous golden glow pours across the street, warm candlelight against a galaxy of neon." - Frommer’s The Milky Way, ed. 3035 ‘No scars, I’m walking without pain after a week. Five stars!’ ‘bonework came out so well, if you want meatshop glamor-cool don’t come here P takes time but it’s worth it.’ - Lumena Paxte, Reviewed “I have worked it out, the pelvis will hold it - ribs vaulted to a point, arches buttressed on the shoulders -please,” she holds out crumpled blueprints, begging the artist’s back. “I’m so cramped inside - ” “We are born - basic. The earliest desire is a desire to change. And now the body is no longer a trap. Instead of one aesthetic, we have many...Not so glamorous! I do my own cleaning. An old-fashioned habit - what do you call the leftover bits of saints? I am a reliquary for what my patrons leave behind. But really it is mostly blood and fat and bone!”- Paxte, Illuminated! “Please -” she turns towards the door “ - I am unfinished.” Her back folds open, ribs vaulted out in gold-plated bone, the warm light of the shop glowing a soft rose through stained-glass veins in windowpane skin - abruptly cut off at the shoulderblades, her flesh still thick & opaque. The needle stops. The artist turns and takes the pages. The machines resume their motion and her shoulder blades bloom open.
Finalist, NYC Midnight 250-word Microfiction Challenge 2020
The Setting Sun Is Beautiful For All It Makes Us Lose
“Clean?” Edith nods, mouth closed tight, tongue stopping up the wounds where her fillings used to be. A pale gate arcs ahead, the security guard’s dark uniform blotting the waiting ship’s glow. “If you’re contaminant -” -if you’ve walked barefoot in the mud, eaten mushrooms fried in butter, washed your skin in the ocean. If your body has absorbed the metals of the world. Her sister, kneeling, scrubbing at her feet with the spud brush: Don’t sweat, Edie. Sweat excretes & collects. It’ll spark the gate. Tinfoil in a microwave. You might make it if you don’t sweat - “- the gate’ll ash you. If you’re a mudcrawler.” Edith’s hands clench the crumpled ticket. If your hair shines antimony, if there’s copper creased into your hands. Her sister, packing Edith’s clothes, their mother’s shawl, a photo album, a box of seeds: Don’t look back, Edie. You’ll cry. Tears excrete & collect. You cry cadmium. You cry manganese. You cry beryllium. You cry mercury. You’ll make it if you don’t cry. The guard waits, white flower on his collar glinting: a ship for the lily-handed, righteously packaged and leaving the heavy filth of the earth behind. Edith shakes her newly-shaven head. “Okay. Go.” Edith swallows iron from her bleeding teeth. Closes her eyes. - don’t look back, Edie. Escape and remember Sodom was beloved. She walks forward. The ship goes rising into the golden clouds. And behold, behind her, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
Final Round, NYC Midnight 250-word Microfiction Challenge 2020
Black As Absence
Pigeons dip and wheel over a model city, sweeping up and up above the window’s reach; steam billows huge and white above tiny distant rooftops. Inside, Marya and Koshka move from sunbeam to sunbeam, faces tilted up. Marya buries her face in warm fur. ‘Once upon a time, Koshka, a woman found a raven, black as absence and twice as beautiful, trapped under an oak. The woman freed her. The raven spread wings - so huge and dark the stars woke up - and gave the woman a feather, saying ‘if you are in need, place this - ‘ ‘Marya! That’s filthy!’ Andrey shuts the door, too loud. Koshka stalks away. ‘Don’t risk your health.’ ‘I’m never sick.’ ‘And your mother never knew she had holes in her heart. I love your heart. Let me worry.’ He wraps the blanket around Marya’s shoulders. ‘Andrey, where’s my keys? I -’ BANG! An unlucky pigeon, tangled in torn screening. Cold air pricks in as Marya opens the window - releases - the pigeon, plump and bedraggled, bells a mournful note and launches upward, leaving a single feather trembling on the windowsill. Marya reaches - ‘Marya!’ Andrey snatches the feather & throws it towards the window. Koshka leaps after it. Marya screams. Koshka balances, smug, feather trapped under one paw. Andrey knocks Koshka out the window and slams it closed. ‘You have no sense!’ He locks the door behind him. Marya stares at Koshka’s absence. On the sill, the feather flutters. Marya climbs out, places the feather under her tongue, and waits.
The Splash Zone
NYC Midnight Screenwriting Challenge 2021