Our 2018 - Week 39 Winner is ...
This week's announcement was a little unorthodox - I was unable to reach the site and so the original announcement was made in the contest thread.
I'm here to rectify that.
This week' prompt:
You all wrote amazing stories and I am thankful for your gifts. It was interesting that each story was a parable of sorts (or maybe that was the frame of mind I was in when I read the stories.
Mark A Morris, your story is a delightful parable. I love the interaction between Minh and her mother, it makes the story feel real.
Carol Cao, your story was all too true and real, a cornicopia garden... laid waste.
Rachel Fultz, a warning - be careful what you wish for...
All very well done, but alas, only one can win the 30 free trial membership to the ATA. That honor goes to Mark A Morris.
However - each of you, please check out: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1... and let me know which FlashDog anthology you would like.
This week's winner is:
The Cost of Education
by Mark A Morris
“Have you ever thought how pointless this is?” Minh said, waiting until her mother paused again. “We break our backs doing this all day and get paid virtually nothing. That’s hardly fair, is it?”
Kieu rolled her eyes, as she had a habit of doing whenever Minh made her ‘suggestions’. She pulled her whetstone from the pouch she had slung round her neck and then cleaned the scythe’s blade, using the leather of the pouch to remove the sap build-up and then the stone to redress its edge.
“The farmer does right by us,” she said. “He always has. Why should we change things?”
Minh put down her basket. It was heavy, and she was glad of the rest. They’d been working since first light and she’d already emptied it four times, offloading the seed-heads cut from the rice plants onto the heap beside the sorting stage, where another four women removed the grains. Everything was done by hand here, the villagers glad of the work.
“We work seven days a week from dawn to dusk for a twentieth of what we collect,” she said. “We’re paid in kind, to avoid taxes, but have to pay a quarter back to him for processing and storage.”
“Yes, but that’s how it is. The farmer owns the silos and the separation machinery. It’s more convenient that way. He sells the grain for us too – whatever surplus we don’t use for ourselves.”
“But he charges us for that.” Minh shook her head, frustrated. “I know he knows the city market buyers, but it still isn’t fair. He takes back half of everything he gives us, if you work it out.”
Kieu raised her scythe again, obviously keen to resume working. The croppers on the terraces immediately above and below theirs had pulled away, their baskets almost full now. They would have to hurry to catch up or they’d be fined for being lax. That would be another deduction from their income they could ill afford.
“It seems to me the main problem is education,” Kieu said, swinging her blade. She stepped forward and Minh had to follow her, catching the rice before it fell into the mud and got spoiled. “You read too many books – learning always brings dissatisfaction. Never question a man who puts food in your mouth or you may choke, that’s what I say.”
Congratulations and thanks to all - you are an amazing band of writers.
Tune in tomorrow for another installment of ... the ATA Flash Fiction Contest!