Congratulations to the four finalists in this year’s flash fiction contest. Our judges will select the contest winner, who will receive $750 and publication in the autumn issue of U of T Magazine. But we need you to help us choose the “People’s Choice” story. Please read the finalists and choose your favourite! Keep in mind that each writer had to use some variation of the words “fall” “bright” and “blue” in their story. Voting closes August 7.
In Buenos Aires in 1951 my grandparents made a deal: My grandfather would watch ballet if my grandmother would endure boxing. And so my grandfather led her to the edge of the ring, and my grandmother changed: she enjoyed the bloody screams, the bright lights. Confined violence spread through the crowd.
And so my grandfather too, proudly, made his concession: he watched Julio Bocca take long swan steps across the stage in blue tights.
But later my grandmother and I sat in the beauty parlor and she told me that she had always loved boxing: an old beau had taken her –such a thrill! To see blood fall on the shirtless men. But she had to pretend to sacrifice something in order to get company at the ballet. She was getting a manicure, getting her hair dyed, and she said to me: Men’s weakness is always their vanity.
Mary had a fall, so she called me, “Help, I need you!” Later, as I sat on the edge of her bed fingering the coarseness of a blue wool cover, she confided, “A bear came into my room last night.”
“How did he get in?”
“Through the keyhole.”
“What happened then?”
“He stayed the night snorting and huffing; his breath reeked all over me. I was so scared.”
“Well, if he comes back, just shout, ‘GO AWAY!’ ”
On the following visit, I asked whether the bear had returned. “Yes,” she said, “he came in through the keyhole. I ordered him to go away, and he squeezed back out.”
“What happened then?”
“Seven sheep stepped in through the keyhole, one after the other.”
“What did you do?”
She replied brightly, “I like sheep. I let them stay, and they kept me warm in my bed all night.”
Turn on the kitchen lights in darkness, midwinter, there’s a scuttle, a hustle, a clickety-shine, a scattering-bright, roaches out of control and there’s nothing we can do, the landlord’s indifferent, he’s a numbered company and tell the truth we’re at loose ends ourselves, barely talking, so grab the broom, take a swing and brown-skittering they’re gone to the toaster, the drain, under the aluminum strip someone presciently painted blue, swing again and there go the books you love, falling from the radiator: Federico Garcìa Lorca! yours first! – sorry – your metronomic name, your sad ending, shot on a hillside for poetry, for sex, they’re digging for your body now in Spain while here we are, Huron Street, two of us just not getting it right, apartment 305, third floor, roaches climbing the walls, and warfarin, DDT, fly strips, even pheromones, none of these seem to work, for us, for long.
Summers in Alabama
Summers in Alabama are always trying, but with a good job at a nice restaurant in town, she was assured to spend at least some of it indoors and cool. But sometimes hot comes indoors and he was a tall glass of sweet tea, young – but older – and wiser, dripping with charm and manners. She flirted and he flirted and they met outside the air conditioning, in the bright orange heat and dripping oaks and moss, and met again. He met her family and judged them and they met her man and felt smaller than before, but she was smitten and willing to bed.
By the blue light of Fall, her tin roof rusted, which never happens to Baptists outside marriage, so marriage would make it right, but he explained he was already, wife six months pregnant, marriage already wronged, and she never lived again.