ABOUT THE JUDGE
Top entries for Laird Hunt
Laird Hunt is the author of Neverhome, Office at Night, Kind One, The Impossibly, The Paris Stories, Ray of the Star, The Exquisite and Indiana, Indiana. His novel Kind One was a finalist for the 2013 Pen/Faulkner award and the 2013 Pen USA Literary award in Fiction and winner of the 2013 Ainisfield-World Book Award for Fiction. He lives in Boulder and teaches for the University of Denver’s creative writing program.
1. The Gunslinger’s Daughter
In the ravine behind their second or third home, where it flattened out and some trees had keeled over and died, he taught her how to shoot at the debatable age of six. She’d run around collecting bottles, which they’d set in a row along some mossy log or use to ornament the branches of an unlucky pine. He had started a beard and it rested on her shoulder: “Make it, and you, a line to your target. Hold your breath like in the lake.” Later, the memory would appear as a stain in her whiskey glass, straight rye two fingers.
— Griffin Suber
The disease came first for our first kiss. One morning, hands against the counter and eyes on the coffee maker, I realized that kiss was gone. I asked you to remind me. I’m sure you did, but it didn’t stick.
The mind goes strange places in search of bricks to fill in windows where there should be walls. I imagine mermaid kisses, mountaintop swoons, horses striding toward the sunset.
It didn’t go that way and is unlikely to change course now. But my hands remember how to pour your coffee, stir in your cream and hand you the cup to hold.
— Caroline Sweetman
I have no experience living in a railcar. I ended up there after I lost my career. Not my fault. “Downsizing.” It wasn’t long until my wife left for another guy.
Today I woke up seeing only red violet. I stay coherent, moving and floating slowly in that color. Drugs? Not at all. It isn’t easy to focus on what needs healing next. My spiritual health should probably come first. For now I’d like to stay in this tranquil place by a lake. A bucolic stop in my head.
Maybe I can leave this boxcar soon. After the sun breaks through.
— Gregory Iwan
When We Moved to the Moon
Things were a lot different when we moved to the moon. The Apollo Dome was still enclosed then; just a tiny speck of alien greenery clinging to the side of a dead space rock, all craters and endless fields of dust. At night Old Earth climbed the horizon and looked down on us as we lay sleeping, with the terraforming equipment rumbling deep below. We packed in everything we could to make it feel like home: grass, trees, beautiful things to protect us from the emptiness outside. But the songbirds never lasted. They kept flying into the sides of the dome.
— Sam Larson
Oral Histories, Elephant Grass (see facing page)
101-WORD FICTION WINNERS
ABOUT THE JUDGE
Top entries for Daniel Grandbois
Daniel Grandbois is the author of the novel The Hermaphrodite: An Hallucinated Memoir, the poetry and flash fiction collection Unlucky Lucky Days and its follow-up prose poetry collection, Unlucky Lucky Tales. His writing has also appeared in Conjunctions, Boulevard, Mississippi Review and Fiction. He received a master’s in fine arts in poetry from Bennington College and now lives in Colorado, where he plays bass in the Denver-based band Slim Cessna’s Auto Club.
1. Elephant Grass
The last elephant put the circus behind her, leaving no forwarding address. They’d offered her sanctuary, but it seemed a poor choice to gain your freedom and then so soon give it away. She’d simply packed her trunk and said goodbye. She headed west, leaving footprints like platters in the asphalt, kicking up dust on dirt roads, until the coolness of grass told her she was home. There were pumpkins and sweet water — a fine place to be. Then a man spotted her and stood, gawk-eyed, waiting. She knew how to dance, but she chose not to.
— Jane Imber
2. New, clear warfare
Dream: He was a pilot and a bomber, dropping the most powerful weapon the world had ever seen: love-bombs. Over the enemy’s capital, he unleashed a barrage of winks, crushes, temptations, and first kisses, packed into twenty iron eggs. They fall slowly, almost drifting, but explode on impact, hatching sunsets, candle-lit dinners, heart-shaped mushroom clouds, and emotional bliss.
Back at the base, the commander: “Take a break, gents. We invade in 10 months.” But then, an infant’s scream. The bomber rolls over. His wife: “Your turn, dear.” He gets out of bed, realizing he’s already lost the war.
— Russell Matney
3. Oral Histories
He sits his little girl on a knee and exaggerates his father’s accent to make her throw her head back in fits. She wants a story.
Which princess or mermaid is it this time?
He wonders when it will be time to tell of the war this country, the country where she was born, waged in his homeland. Or to press into her imagination the taste of fresh goat’s milk from his grandfather’s farm and the lard his mother added to her famous bread. And sunlight on lime trees, and the way salt would dry on his lips in the summertime.
— Sarah Zhang
The rumpled collar of Zhang Wei’s Mao jacket flutters against his neck as he picks his way around pave stones scattered by a decade of unchecked weeds. This lot used to fill every weekend. Bureaucrats with fat wives poured in from the suburbs of Guangzhou to eat jackfruit and steamed buns while their squealing children braved the roller coaster. They stopped coming after the accident. But Wei still hobbles from his empty home, past the rusting gates, and into the booth every morning.
He rocks the control lever to the left and grins. He can still hear them scream.
— Jeffrey Stutsman
Along the clinically white hallway of the active seniors’ home hang dozens of Cyril’s puzzles, framed simply. The Meals on Wheels volunteer decides after delivering to the tall, lank gentleman that she will purchase him a puzzle to do. Clearly he enjoys them. Cyril accepts his hot meal, milk, bread, apple, and new 500-piece puzzle the next week with a look of dread in his eyes. Two weeks later, he gifts it to the young woman in a plain black frame like the rest. “Please don’t bring me anymore puzzles,” he says. She hands him his meal; he closes the door.
— Ashley Teatum