As I write this, we have 100 responses to our first-ever flash fiction contest, and I have a feeling they will continue to roll in long after our winners are announced. What a literary bunch you are–and how inclined toward sex and murder in the garden! Gracious.
So the winners, selected on the basis of both merit and whim, are:
Kim Denise wins our 'A Rose is a Rose' prize for the story that got the most rave reviews from our readers:
It was one of those shy spring days, mud-spattered, chill breeze whispering a thousand deep-green promises. He met me out back, stepping carefully in his treasured Italian loafers.
I knew what he wanted. I'd seen the receipts. I knew her glossy blonde name.
“I need someone who suits my lifestyle,” he said, “someone who maybe gets a manicure once in a while.”
I clasped my dirty fingers and sighed. This man had given me a vermicomposter for our anniversary. Returning to my shovel, I was comforted. Alimony buys a lot of perennials. Italian loafers make excellent compost.
Susan (garden chick) wins our High Impact prize for her murderous tale:
When heavy rains exposed Matthew Chambers' cold, dead hand reaching out of the shallow grave in the backyard, it was only a matter of time before his wife Janet was fingered for the crime.
"Why," her lawyer wondered, "Did you bury the body so close to the house where it was certain to be found, instead of that remote spot at the edge of the property?"
She looked at him in surprise. "But that's where my Daphnes are and I couldn't risk disturbing their roots! They're quite fussy about that sort of thing."
Kevin Hollis wins the Good Enough to Eat prize for this lifelong saga:
He met his wife because she saw that corn in the graduate co-op garden and asked him what his secret was. He missed the birth of his son because he insisted that there was one perfect day to plant this family "heirloom". He wouldn't be one of those pacing types anyway. His daughter had been married in their backyard and he was certain it was pollen from this corn that made her new in-laws sneeze throughout the ceremony. Only appropriate then, he thought, when he gasped for his last breathe staring up at the sky between those emerald leaves.
Mindy Friddle gets our Down and Dirty prize for her tale of happy endings:
After her husband ran off with the pool boy, Ellen found comfort in gardening. Then she discovered Japanese Beetles had infested her New Dawn roses. A disconcerting sight: shiny green beetles, their spurred legs clasped together in insect ecstasy. Curling themselves up in the pink petals, like sultans in silk.
“Fornicating!” she told her friend, Sue, “on my best climbing roses!”
“I know just the trick,” Sue said. “I’m sending over my yard man. He’s got quite a six-pack.”
“I don’t drink,” Ellen said. Sue laughed.
When the Happy Ending Landscaping truck arrived, the shirtless, muscular man in tight jeans strode over to Ellen, her infestation worries already forgotten.
And we bestow prizes of West County gloves to the following winners for their lively tales:
She lived, she died, she skidded up to the Pearly Gates out of breath. St. Peter was not impressed.
“What are your sins?” He got right to the point.
“Oh yes. I lusted after the Japanese maple that grew at my favorite nursery.”
“I ordered far more bulbs from catalogs than I had room for.”
“You should see my soil! Rich, dark, crumbly…”
“Hey, those were Corona clippers. Nobody shoulda…”
“What about about anger?”
“Are you kidding? NOW you take me? It’s Spring, for Heaven’s sake! I have things to do!”
The ancients argue at their centennial Vernal Equinox Con-grass.
Ilex started the old debate. “We've created plagues, set off planet quakes with our harmonic efforts, and stopped releasing the gas people need for respiration. Thanks to Digitaria for that idea—that C4 pathway for food production was a rush.” A great murmuring arose. Some leaves fluttered.
“Yes,” replied Quercus, “but people served our purposes so much better than those disastrous dinosaurs. That was an experiment gone awry. Humans freed the essence of our ancestors, increased our vital gases, and warmed the whole planet with amazing speed.”
Carya got to the crux of an issue. “We can't start again—we don't know what will happen next time. Select only those who don't abuse the planet. Let the gardeners survive."
Lila had never been so embarrassed. She’d arranged for this speaker for the Senior Center’s luncheon having no idea he was a coarse man.
“They are so fierce and clever,” the speaker said now from the podium. “All that finery to entice pollinators! Flowers are scented, glowing, magnificent reproductive organs.”
Lila, shocked, stood abruptly. She attempted to bring the talk to a close, but the audience would have none of it. “The perfume, the nectar, the colors, the mimicry, the trickery. The lips on orchid! Exploding seed pods. I’ve seen pleated downy petals fragrant as a woman’s–“
Lila fled the room. She’d resign from the entertainment committee, and go back to finance.
You guys are fabulous. Winners, send an e-mail to amy at amy stewart dot com with your mailing address. If you won gloves, please also let me know your preference for size and color. I'll be away from my computer for a few days this week, so don't be surprised if it takes me a little while to respond.
Thanks for playing, everybody! You're brilliant.