• Mary Decker

ATA Flash Fiction Winner

Our 2018 - Week 9 Winner is ...

Y’all just love making things difficult for me, don’t you?

Three stories, three different genres, all equally well crafted. You all should be very proud!

The Space in Between by Mil Ana

I love the title and the tension between what someone wants for you and what you were meant to be. I love the phrase, “…swallowed like a mouthful of unsalted food.” It describes the feeling do well.

Wishing for Dreams of Space by Mark A. Morris

The opening line is perfect. It draws the reader in and it has such a nice rhythm to it. I feel the sensation when I read, “…the chill night air drying the sweat she’d raised.”

Skirting the SpecOps Cop-out by Siobhan Muir

The story within a story is beautiful and I love the description of “Breezes so sweet you could smell the grass baking in the sun.” It brings to mind the scent of sweetgrass on the breeze, something I never thought of someone not smelling until now.

Unfortunately there can only be one winner…

This week’s winner is: The Space in Between by Mil Ana

I think the narrator would be happy if their mother could accept what they want vs what she wants for her child, and that is the conflict and in the end the narrator realizes that that difference will always be there.

You cant live other people’s dreams, at some point you have to realize your own. A bit bittersweet, but beautiful none-the-less.

“You could have done better,” she says, caressing my hair, trying to sound encouraging instead of critical. I only want to watch my tulips grow in the backyard, to lie down beside them, yet I waste my time on the rope swing, swaying back and forth, counting breaths, watching patiently the time slip through my fingers.

Mother is more ambitious.

“You will do better,” she insists. She imagines me smart and bright. Bright as the stars on the night sky. I bow my head in shame, acknowledging my failure. She can barely hide her contempt, as she watches me surrender. She’d rather inspire me instead. She’d like to think of me as a warrior, always ready for the next battle. Yet I’m only a gardener. A tulip care-giver.

Mother doesn’t give up.

“You’re brighter than that,” she says. I’m doing my best not to cry. Tears would have escaped my eyes in the past, yet now my cries are silent, internalized, swallowed like a mouthful of unsalted food. I hate to disappoint you mother, but I can only be as bright as I am right now. You may have not noticed, but I’m now in full bloom, like the tulips in the backyard.

Mother is now shouting.

I’m skilled enough to turn away by now, although sometimes, late at night, mother’s voice still echoes inside my head.

“Aim high,” she repeats and I oscillate back and forth, pushing as hard as I can, aiming towards the sky. That’s as high as I’m ever going to get. The closest to her expectations. I’d rather lie down, beside my tulips, yet I’m doomed to stay on this swing, undecided, torn between the ground and the stars. I envy those flowers for being proud and beautiful and grounded, yet I also envy the stars, for they are mother’s dream kids.

You taught me well, mother; the space in between is where I belong.

Tune in at noon Saturday for a new challenge

#FlashFiction #FlashContest #WritingPrompt #amwriting #writingchallenge #Fictioncontest #WritingContest #WritingContest #FlashFictionChallenge #ShortStoryCompetition

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