Tiny Light's Annual Essay Contest


Contest Results from 2007

No one knows how much pondering, fiddling and angst went into each of the contest entries this year. Even the writers themselves may not be willing or able to tell. After all, art is all about making it look easy.

The same may be said for judging. It's an art that appears easy from the outside. This year's judges, Sandy Soli, Colin Berry, Ken Rodgers, Rebecca Lawton, and Jane Love could tell you otherwise.

And no one is claiming the process isn't subjective. As arbitors of quality, we looked for narratives that were organized around a deeply felt conflict or question, made good use of voice, tension, scene, layers of meaning, and absolute honesty. So many fit that criteria, and everyone had their favorites. The results are all about compromise.

We wish to honor the displays of courage and craft that were present in every essay we read. We salute the effort to even enter. Perhaps this quote from George Bernard Shaw will help you continue to seek the right home for your work:

"Literature is like any other trade; you will never sell anything unless you go to the right shop."

Keep shopping, writers, Keep the faith, and keep writing.



Awarded Winners



First Prize of $400


Gliding Away by Andrea Marcusa

Andrea Marcusa is an essay and fiction writer. Her work has appeared in Newsday, The Christian Science Monitor, New York Woman, Cezanne's Carrot and other publications, including the essay collection, Changing Course and the literary magazine, Copper Nickel. She was one of the winners of the Alabama Poets Society's 2003 writing competition and her work was named an "Entry of Note" in the Tiny Lights 2006 Essay Competition. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.

Back issues of Tiny Lights containing Andrea's essay are still available.



Second Prize of $250


My Map of Baltimore by Seth Sawyers

I live in a city crammed full. I miss parking spaces because I’m too busy thinking of the City Café and its checkerboard floor and the girl I took there once. I was too old for her and we both knew it but she was between semesters and I, that summer, never had to work the next day or else didn’t care whether or not I showed up on time. We drank strong tea and talked until four in the morning, our words fitting together like puzzle pieces in a puzzle that kept getting bigger because we wanted it to. We would lie next to each other, stretching our toes out into the forgiving world as far as our words would let them go. Here’s what we did: we read poetry to each other. I generally don’t read poetry. Isn’t it funny how that works?

I was teaching fourth graders in a summer camp for smart kids. Every teacher had an assistant—college students, mostly—and she was helping out with a geometry class. I had a couple of breaks every day and was supposed to use the time to read the kids’ stories or poems or work on lesson plans. What I actually did was let her sit in a tiny plastic chair in my classroom, her legs angled out because they wouldn’t fit under the desk. I don’t know what she was supposed to be doing, but she didn’t do it.

I needed the money and didn’t want to get fired, so we were careful. We couldn’t do bars, so we got iced coffee at the City Café one night. We sat and smiled, the sweat from the plastic cups leaving little pools on the tabletop. I think she thought I was smart. I think she liked that I had three days of stubble on my face. I think she liked that I knew about places like the City Café and that I was willing to let her in on the secret.

The pierced girl and tattooed guy, however, the ones working the late shift, didn’t care about secrets. It was 10 at night and they started in on wiping down the tables soon after we sat down. We sipped a little but their table-wiping got closer and closer and we left. Her dad taught at Johns Hopkins, so we drove there. She showed me around the campus, the bright walkway lights turning the concrete whiter than it really was. We wrote song lyrics on a lecture hall chalkboard and thought we were pretty sneaky. Soon enough, the job at the summer camp ran its course.

For a few months after that, our brights were brighter. For a little while, the two of us huddled in close, we were able to hold off the darks entirely. Baltimore and its coffee shops helped out. We raced against the calendar. Juiced on caffeine, on that one night at the City Café, on each other’s laugh, we crammed. We stuffed as much as we could into two months, hoping we’d done enough to pass the test.

There were no winners. I hugged her as tight as I could, but there were bigger forces at work. When she went away, she took my letters with her to her smart college but left me the City Café on the corner of Cathedral and Eager, a sentinel in the middle of my map of Baltimore, much taller than its actual two historic stories. She left me the Hopkins lecture hall and whole swaths of Roland Park and the Citgo on the corner of Cold Spring Lane and Falls Road where I stopped after leaving her place. I’d put four or five dollars in the tank and buy the cigarettes I’d been wanting but couldn’t smoke because she didn’t like the smell.

* * * *

My map’s of Baltimore but if you live somewhere else you’ve got your own inside life sitting on top of your own city like the transparencies history teachers lay over maps of famous battles. I don’t know where you live but it could be a tiny place like Weston, West Virginia, where my dad learned how to tie his shoelaces and shoot his dinner. It could be a forgotten city, like Trenton, New Jersey, where my mom kept up the politeness around the nuns until a nice Catholic couple from Maryland drove up and adopted her. Or Olympia, Washington, where my high school English teacher friend moved because a girl finally got his references to The Simpsons or at least pretended to. It could even be Norfolk, and in that case, we’ll need to talk about pretty much every bar on Colley Avenue because I can put some meat on those bones for you.

In place of east and west, my map of Baltimore’s got specific anger and exact measures of joy. Even though it happened only once, when I drive north on Martin Luther King, around Franklin Street, that intersection’s always got kids throwing rocks at my old Jetta. It was the first car I bought with my own money, at $251.50 a month, every month, for four years. During graduate school, living on a stipend, I lost weight because of that car. On MLK, the kids are always just out of school and it’s hot and they don’t have air conditioning at home. They’re on the corner, hiding behind a brick wall.

They wait until just before the light turns green before letting rip with rocks and chunks of concrete and their fistfuls of tightly wound boredom. Their boredom tinks the passenger-side window and doesn’t break it but the rocks that find the steel gouge out dime-sized chunks of paint that the salesman in Owings Mills called “sort of a champagne color.” The kids laugh and point. Some nights, in a city full of black people who are bored and happy and sad and everything else, my map turns me into a white guy who casually inches his elbow back so that he can lean on the button that triggers a motor and locks all four doors. Rrrrrt, my map goes.

Some nights, when sleep won’t come and when I’ve gotten little done during the day, I fly. I glide over my city, turning with the smallest movements of my arms. At a thousand feet up, I can see big swaths at a glance. Up there, my city needs me. From my place near Penn Station, I fly south, over old Mount Vernon and high up over the gargoyles and shiny downtown steel, past Federal Hill and its rooftop decks and new Jeeps parked tight on the tiny streets. I keep flying south, down to Westport, where everybody’s poor and where you’d better walk fast. Then I drop low and land, with grace, without sound. Cupping my strong hands, I dig holes that need dug, for gardens, for graves if it’ll save them money. I pick up old cars collecting parking tickets that people can’t pay and toss the station wagons and big, old-black-man Buicks into the Chesapeake. When I’m lying in bed, fighting for sleep, flying in its place, my map goes like this: Kur-splash.

Sometimes I can feel my map imprinted on my chest like the stamp on your hand from shows at the Ottobar and which never comes off in the shower the next morning. When I leave my apartment, out among Oliver Street’s used diapers wrapped up like bricks and its thousand shards of glass, no matter if I turn right or left, I am alive, and radiantly. I know this place, my Baltimore, this Charm City, my B-more, or Smalltimore, if you’re used to New York. The City That Reads if you’re a civic-booster-type, The City That Bleeds if you’re not. She’ll bleed you: almost 300 murders in 2006. But I haven’t snorted anything in a long while and have never sold heroin, so I think I’m all right for now.

My map owns smaller acts of violence. This was a couple of years before the City Café and it was a different girl. You may have nothing but good memories and a pillowcase-full of hangovers from the Brewer’s Art on Charles Street, but for me, it’s where Michelle and I finally took whatever we had left, held it high, and brought it down hard on one of our city’s parking meters. Or, rather, I broke it because it was the only thing left to do.

It was a cold March night and we were looking for a place to park. The anxious feeling in my gut tells me we were always looking for a place to park, me always driving too fast to stop in time, that feeling of never being able to get it right. I drove up Charles, Michelle in the passenger seat, quiet and far away. I held her hand during the ten blocks between the harbor and the bar, but she didn’t hold mine back. We drove around the block once, both of us frustrated, me ready for a beer, she for a scowl. Then Michelle saw a spot—a very small spot—and said, “Right there!”

I kept driving. “It’s too small,” I said.

“You could’ve made it,” she said.

“No way. We’ll find something else,” and eventually, I did, but it was two miles away in Hampden, in front of the row house I was sharing, nowhere near the bar and nowhere near Michelle.

“You always do that,” she said.

“What do I always do?”

“Think you can’t fit in the spot.”

The easy, beautiful little thing we’d had, by then, was broken by her parking spaces and by my being unable to force her to be happy, and so I decided to push it.

“For once, let me drive by a spot that’s too small and just let it go.”

“Anyone could fit in that spot.” She rolled her eyes, and with that, dismissed me, and us.

So I broke it. I looked her in the eye and said, “Fuck you.” At the time, I meant it. Now, I don’t, but my map doesn’t care about now.

She switched off the radio and asked to be let out of the car, even though we were, by then, four or five blocks away. But I stopped, let her out, and drove away. I didn’t go into the Brewer’s Art, though she did, and our friends said later that she wasn’t smiling, or even scowling. She wasn’t doing anything. Up in Hampden, I sat on the couch with a roommate who didn’t care about my parallel parking skills but who also never liked hiking Patapsco State Park. He never cared for wedging a lit cigarette between the petals of wildflowers and then photographing it, though Michelle did and thought the whole thing was hilarious.

* * * *

My city, crowding me close, will win because it’s bigger than me and it’s nothing personal. There are too many of its maps and only one of me. Too many other peoples’ maps and only one of mine. The odds are stacked.

But can a city be a savior? Can a bunch of street signs, potholes, and ashtrays on coffee tables wrap arms around your soft middle, squeezing until you understand that everything will be all right? Can a city look out for you?

There’s this. Not long ago, I didn’t have a home. I’d left Baltimore to see about a bright dream made up of books and smart people who cared about the same things I cared about. There were late-night beers but also talks that made me, the next morning, skip the headache altogether. There were moments of insight when the clouds parted and what’s more, when I managed, maybe, to get it all down on paper: everything, me, you, grilled-cheese sandwiches with ham, the world. The dream ended because it had to and, what’s worse, a girl was heartbroken because I’d made her heartbroken.

Lucy and I were oil and vinegar and it couldn’t work. Except for the times when we weren’t oil and vinegar and when it worked completely. Those times, we watched Saturday Night Live and laughed our faces red and cooked pizzas together and I took her dog for walks and picked up his shit with handfuls of leaves because I’d forgotten to bring a bag. Those times, I listened to her NPR shows even though I didn’t want to and she watched the Steelers with me and even cheered for Jerome Bettis. I got her to call him “The Bus.” The nights she stopped at two beers, she was almost my best friend.

Other times, she made her face do the look that made me crazy and then she yelled and then I yelled and that made her cry. After that, it was only a matter of time before I wound up belly-down on her hardwood floor, pounding the boards with my open palm because it was the only thing that cut through the knots and snakes and fire inside my stomach.

With Lucy, I was living in a city that is not Baltimore, a different city where I had also made a map. That map brought me buildings and bars and potholes and 7-Elevens and three different Starbucks. They all tugged at my sleeve, reminding me that they’d once held a hard love but one I couldn’t help but feel down in the soft parts. I couldn’t get away from it. Months went by, and the longer I stayed, the darker I outlined my map and colored it in and the farther away everything else got. Some people say that when we’re unhappy in a place, that it’s not the place itself doing it to us. They say that we’re actually unhappy with ourselves. Those people may be right, but I don’t like them. Not right now. I’d like them to stay quiet.

What I liked, instead, was the notion that I could get rid of my apartment, my mailing address, my account with Dominion Electric. One day, doing temp assignments at a place that managed strip malls full of Food Lions and Dollar Generals, I said I’m done with this sad stuff, made some long-distance calls that I couldn’t afford, and scheduled a job interview, 240 miles up north, up in Charm City, in Baltimore.

I packed as much as I could into my Jetta and left the rest with a friend. I left him four boxes of books, dozens of frames with pictures I’d as soon forget about, pots, dishes, sweaters, a tennis racket, my parents’ old newspaper box from Walla Walla, Washington, a 34-inch Louisville Slugger, a basketball, an acoustic guitar I had once promised myself I’d learn, and milk crates full of papers and letters and notes I could never forget about because they are also maps. I spent a day wiping and scrubbing. I dusted the top of the fridge and swept the floor and scoured the nasty stuff off the tub. I tried to remove all trace of myself, tried to get rid of one map so that I could make room for another.

Around midnight, struts groaning and shocks near failing, I pulled out and headed north to a town that I hoped still loved me, to people who didn’t think I was a jerk. I headed for a map that, if I treated it right, would hug me back.
I’d start with the outsides and work my way in. I’d go for the suburbs that I’d ignored, like Arbutus, where I saw my first heroin needle on the ground. I’d make dates with Linthicum and Towson. I’d go toward the center, to Mount Washington, to Charles Village, to Waverly, Bolton Hill, all the way to downtown. I’d lace my arms around my city’s aching middle, if she’d do the same for me. I’d hug the chain restaurants at the harbor that serve the same portions in my city as they do in Houston or Calgary. I’d let her fill me up and I’d be so glad to see her that I’d slip her some tongue and not care if I startled her a little. If it was love, she’d forgive me. I’d make my old map new and I’d let her save me.

Down south, ten blocks away from that apartment scrubbed clean, Lucy was still crying. I was sorry, but I didn’t have the tools to make it better. I didn’t want to make it better. Some wounds, you have to do as my mom says and leave them alone, let them air out and breathe. Some maps you have to set aside because you can’t add anything to them. They’re so worked over, so folded in your attempts to make them right again, that you can only tear them.

One day, she’ll be whole again. Me, too. That’s for somewhere down the road. That last night down south, all packed up, all there was to do was get going. All that was left was heading north and driving as fast as my map would let me, points of interest behind, points of interest ahead.



Seth Sawyers has an MFA from Old Dominion University. His creative nonfiction has appeared in River Teeth, Fourth Genre, Crab Orchard Review, Fugue, Ninth Letter, The Jabberwock Review, and elsewhere. He is currently working on a memoir about girls, playing baseball, stuttering, and growing up in the 1980s. A former reporter, he has a day job and also teaches writing workshops at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.




Third Prize of $150


A Gay Man’s Guide to Dating (For Prom-Bound Girls) by Gregory Gerard

"He likes to hold hands," my young friend, Nan, tells me, when I ask about her prom date. This boy she's been seeing for almost a year. She leans closer. "He's never kissed me, though–-ever. Do you think that's weird?"

I hesitate, looking again over the photos she's presented for my approval: her gown, a soft, rose-colored fabric draped in elegant circles around her solid figure; her corsage, a bright splash of whites and yellows, strapped around her wrist. I look at him, this boy with the sharp black tuxedo that makes him older than he is, his tightly curled hair hugging his head like a helmet. I search his eyes, feeling a kinship across the twenty years that divide us. I sense, rather than see, a deer-in-the-headlights quality: the way his tie seems too tight around his thin neck; the way his left hand, the free one, seems unable to relax at his side.

Memories of my own Catholic school proms surface, those nights with Sue and Beth–-and Bob. The shame, something I've worked through by now, still manages to trickle into my belly. I stare into Nan's expectant face. And wonder what I might say, what all prom dates her age should know.

* * *
May 1984 was our prom month. Mercy and McQuaid each held one. As the only all-girl and all-boy Catholic high schools in town, the two often partnered for social events. Their prom theme was Twist and Shout; ours, All Night Long.

My best friend, Bob, had already invited his girlfriend, Beth. I liked her as well. I longed to share the evening with them–-but I needed a date.

Sue had become a good friend over the year. She liked to sing with me. We had all the same albums. Like most of the girls I connected with, she and I were both passionate about my favorite singer, Sheena Easton.

My friendships with Beth and Sue were different. While Beth swore out loud and often punched my arm, Sue wrote me flowery notes, hinting at a closer affection. She poured out compliments in the letters we traded. I enjoyed her attention, but thoughts of the things that being closer entailed–-hugging, kissing, more–-tightened a noose of nerves around my gut.

I'd briefly managed dating in eighth grade–taking Gaila Fortinelli to see Superman II. That ended easily. Sue's flirtations scared me. Back in March, she'd mailed me a cassette filled with our favorite songs from Sheena, Madonna, the Grease soundtrack. She'd included lots of commentary between tracks about how much she liked spending time with me.

I listened, trying to imagine her as my prom date, but instead, images of our marriage at the altar of my hometown church, Saint Patrick's, played through my head.

Should I invite her?

Instead of deciding, I hopped into Bufford-–the name Bob and I had come up with for my car-–and drove to the local burger stand, hoping the weight of a half pounder with cheese would squelch the tension in my stomach.

It helped.

On a Tuesday four weeks before the Mercy prom, I drove Sue home from school. Sheena's Almost Over You blasted from Bufford's stereo. Sue reached over and turned it down. My gut retracted instinctively.

She looked at me and smiled her welcoming, friendly grin. "Greg, I would be honored if you would be my date at the Mercy prom."

I do love her as a friend, I thought. Like Gaila.

"I would be honored," I answered quickly-–to avoid an uncomfortable silence. It'll be fun, I assured myself.

She nodded in measured excitement. I made another snap decision. "And Suzy, I would be honored if you would be my date at the McQuaid prom."

She beamed across the bench seat. "I formally accept."

I returned her smile while reaching for the volume control on the stereo. Sheena continued the doleful lyrics about love gone sour. I joined her in my cracking falsetto.

1. Consider the invitation.

Who made the first move? Be specific; it’s important.

The girls talked prom all the time-–exotic dresses, unlikely couples, punk hairstyles. Bob and I laughed about it as we measured for our tuxes.

"I'm glad I'm a guy," I said conspiratorially.

"Me too, G."

My eyes lingered as he examined his reflection in the three-way mirror. The sharp cut of his jacket. The dark curl of his hair over the edge of his collar. I longed to run my fingers through his locks, but a force as powerful as a tidal wave drowning a city riveted my arm to my side.


2. Observe him with his best friend.

Does he spend more time watching him than you?

The night of the Mercy prom, I pulled Bufford into Sue's driveway. She was visible through the kitchen window. Her billowing gown puffed out at the shoulders. Her blonde curls danced as she giggled with her mom.

This will be okay, I thought. Knocking on the door, I greeted her mother and produced an orchid corsage.

At the dance, we gyrated as the DJ spun records. "I'm requesting Sheena!" I yelled to Sue over the music and headed for the turntable.

A short time later, the song Telefone blasted through the speakers. Our entire gang took over the dance floor. I laughed as Bob bounced over, grinning at me with a tremendous smirk.

"Are you responsible for this music?" he asked.

"Of course!" I shouted, out of breath. Bob, Beth, Sue, and I finished the song as a group. I tried to ignore the electricity I felt when my left hand occasionally brushed Bob's arm.

After the dance, I drove Sue to her doorstep. The snacks from the prom began to percolate in my belly as I considered the duty of a goodnight kiss. I liked Sue, but the thought of pressing my lips to hers made me feel as if a plastic garbage bag were over my head–-while someone slowly tightened the pull string. I was terrified of what kisses might lead to. What she might want. What I could not offer.

I wanted out, as quickly as possible.

"Thank you for a wonderful evening," she said as I opened her car door.

"We'll do the same thing next weekend!" I grinned and reached to hug her, avoiding direct face contact.

She drew me close, kissing my cheek. "I'll be there."

3. Pay attention to the goodnight kiss.

Do you have to negotiate to get it?

Tuesday evening, I called Sue to discuss logistics for the second prom the following Saturday. She began the conversation. "I talked to Beth, she and Bob would like to double date with us."

"Okay," I readily agreed, my heart flip-flopping in my chest.

"I'd like to stay out all night and watch the sunrise," she said.

My digestion of dinner–-a heap of tuna and noodles my mom had made-–ground to a halt.

Silence threatened to expose my angst. "Okay," I answered.

"Then it's all set!" I could hear her excitement through the line.

What would we do all night until sunrise?

"It sounds like fun," I managed.


4. If there are two proms involved, see Point 1.

I picked her up on Saturday night, a gardenia corsage clutched firmly in my right hand. "You look great!" she greeted me at the door.

"You too," I smiled. I worked to quell the raucous concert in my stomach. Sue was a friend. We'd made it through the first prom without a kiss.

The word "sunrise" billowed out above my thoughts. I mentally yanked it down. Bob would be with us; everything would be okay.

We retrieved the other couple. Bob's earth-dark tux highlighted his bronze skin. I worked to pull my eyes away.

They sat in back, Sue rode in the passenger seat. We reached the University of Rochester campus, the McQuaid prom location.

Some of the gang stood near the band. We approached and chatted. My dinner rocked back and forth uneasily in my gut. This will be okay–-just like last week, I thought, as Sue and I wandered onto the dance floor.

Sunrise, my brain answered.

At three a.m., the party began to split up. Sue, Beth, Bob, and I changed into more comfortable clothes. Sunrise was at five-thirty. Two and a half hours.

"Ladies first," Bob said, opening both doors on the rider's side of my car. As the girls climbed in, I looked at Bob across the roof of Bufford. He saw me staring and smiled.

"Let's drive around and listen to some music," I suggested.

Sue spoke up. "Okay, but I want to be at Casa Larga by five. That's the highest spot around here." The Casa Larga vineyard sat on a hill in a nearby town.

"Your wish is my command," I tried to inject suave into my tone.

"Oh brother!" Beth spoke up from the backseat.

Headlights flashing along the back county roads, I took a winding route toward Casa Larga. I drove past every local site I could think of: Canandaigua Lake, Eastview Mall, The Finger Lakes Racetrack. Anything to keep the car in motion.

Sue noticed. "We've been in three counties in one night!" she said.

"It's a tri-county prom," Bob joked, relieving me from concocting a more plausible explanation.

We made it to Casa Larga with time to spare. The eastern sky had just begun a promising glow. If I were alone with my journal, I'd be writing about the view.

I parked the car above the sprawling vineyard. The spring morning was electric. Birds chirped madly in the distance as the hue on the horizon shifted from purple to blue to golden.

From the backseat, gentle sucking sounds filtered forward. Bob and Beth were kissing. My intestines stretched taut. What did Sue expect from me? As a diversion, I rolled down my window. The birds' volume increased.

Sue looked my way. I spoke first, trying to fill the gulf across the bench seat. "It's a beautiful morning, huh?"

"Yeah," she agreed, reaching for my hand.

I grasped hers and we sat, not moving, as the sun emerged from its cocoon of silence.


5. Read his body language.

If he continuously avoids physical contact with you, be happy to be his friend. Look elsewhere for something more.

* * *

I think about what I could tell Nan from my own story. How Sue and I went through years of pain together. How I finally came out. How she eventually married the guy who delivered ice cream to my dad's store. How Beth hooked up with a landscaper and Bob moved to Alaska with a girl who doesn't believe in marriage. How we're all good friends now.

But it feels presumptuous to plant seeds about Nan's boyfriend based on my experiences.

In the end, I simply tell Nan that everybody's different, that she should talk to her prom date about what she's feeling. And I let her know I'm always available for more conversation.

She thanks me and gathers up the photos as we move chattily on to other subjects. But in the back of my mind, I think about all the things I still want to say, if I could–-if it only felt more appropriate. To her. To all the prom dates like her.

I'd plunge through the scent of hair spray and fresh flowers.

I'd lean close to their ears while they press against the sensitive guys who listen to all their secrets but never want to smooch.

I'd cut through their mix of joy and confusion and hurt and whisper this:

Try not to have too many expectations of what it's "supposed" to be.




Gregory Gerard's writing has been recognized by Rochester's Geva Theater, KCRB radio's Word-by-Word, and (a favorite!) Lights Online. His memoir, Jupiter's Shadow, chronicles a religious boy's struggle with forbidden attraction. He teaches writing part-time at Writers&Books (www.wab.org) and has been a guest instructor at the University of Rochester's Scholars Creative Writing Program.

Visit www.JupitersShadow.com to read more of his work.



Honorable Mentions


In alphabetical order

Contestants received $

Last Call by Patricia Bingham
Saving Money on Shampoo by Sindee Ernst

FLASH PRIZES:
Flash #1 ($300): "Songbird" by Marylu Downing
Flash #2 ($100): "The Orchard" by Donna Emerson



Finalists


In no particular order

Standard Category: “The Best, Best Time” by Lisa Libowitz; “Family History” by Jayne England Byrne; “I Want Off” by Mimi Ghez; "White Christmas” by Agnieszka Stachura; "The Ring" by Gaye Brown

Flash Category Finalists: “My Spy” by Katherine A. Salts-Roche; “Reflections” by Craig Smith; “Brat” by Angela Foster;



Entries of Note


And Comments from Susan

Entries like these made us wish we had lots more room for good writing. We won't be surprised when they start appearing in published form.

Entries of Note (Standard Category): “Rope and Rafter” by Kelly Pollard; “Bunny, I’m Home” by Katherine A. Salts-Roche; “Tiny Fires” by Susannah Mintz; “Mole” by Ana Manwaring; “Birds of South America” by Robert John Kostuck; “Forever Finds” by Terry Anne Sachko;” A Faded Flights of Stairs” by Holly Vandervort; “Sparknoting Lolita in Indiana” by Angie Romines; “The Half-Life of Hope” & “An Atheist Dream of Magic” by Deborah Thompson; “Through a Child’s Eyes” by Valerie King; “The Pearls” by Suzanne Sherman; “Singing Girl” by Terry Ehret

FLASH Notable Entries: “Visitor” by Karen Belgard; “The Fox of My Dreams” by Victoria Hubbell; “Money in the Bag” by Mathilda Reading Wheeler;“Willy’s” by Larry Maxcy; “The Last Diaper Pail” by Gigi Rosenberg; “Harlot” by Lizzie Hannon; “On the Sound of Chalk” by Lakin Kahn; “How Two Iguanas Could Change My Life” by Richard Harrison; “Right Between the Eyes” by John Sheirer; “Candy Cane” by Carol Howard



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