2021 Flash Prose Winners
It’s never easy to pick winners. All of the finalists submitted wonderful pieces. So did those who were long-listed.
Our judges felt these pieces are winners and I agree. We hope you’ll enjoy them. As always, if you’d like to send a message to any of the winners, I’m happy to forward it.
~~B. Lynn Goodwin, Managing Editor
By Claudia Gaegen
A gold sun wakes me. I prop myself on white bed pillows and gaze out my window onto a South Florida marsh, watching a white ibis peck for her breakfast. She puffs her graceful body into a pillow of feathers and then smooths herself before she arcs her wings, glides to the other side of the tea-dark water and disappears into the grasses. The ibis has been here for a few days. I think she will come back tomorrow.
White is my favorite color, clean, cool, unsullied, the robes of angels.
You promised me white sheets and delivered them at the foot of the Appalachians. “Heaven,” you sang, “I’m in heaven,” and we floated together. You reappeared again and again, with white sheets, with green sheets, with beds of leaves, with tea and honey.
Another sun shone on cushions as white and smooth as an ibis ready to fly. We nuzzled into them, and you rubbed your calloused hand over my skin. Then you retreated into your old life. And I flew away to my new one.
The ibis has not returned.
Claudia Geagan is retired from big cities and big corporations where she used her degrees in English and Finance. But currently she lives and writes in South Florida. Her work has appeared in River Teeth’s Beautiful Things, Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Louisville Review, Hippocampus, Gyro, The Lindenwood Review and others.
Talk with Your Ghost on Veterans Day
By Rosanna Gargiulo
I hike alone up granite trails, determined: we’ll say goodbye today. My glad tidings I’ll no longer share with you. There’ve been marriages, births, new homes I’ve moved into. I’ve changed my will twice—there’s more, but I won’t tell you. My griefs are few but honed enough, like teeth threading a needle.
A black stitch of events piercing over under over and through from umbilicus to autopsy: there’s a knot at every beginning and ending. If we still spoke, I’d say: At least we never got married.I’d say: But you should haunt my husband. Sometimes he clicks his tongue against the roof of his mouth when he’s thinking. He reminds me of you. So do Toyota Corollas and Radiohead, and the scent of alcohol metabolizing, and urgent midnight phone calls—your voice dark and sweet like dates—and hot July days like when the paramedics found you. You have not dissolved. You’ve increased in presence and sheer biomass. All dead, all lost, all reclaimed things: you outnumber us, the whole, the singular, the living. We wear dirt longer than rings or names. I look closely now at what we become, at squirrels flattened on roadways, and moles left torn by farm cats on trails. We’re all red inside, like ribbons. I’ve watched ants stitch—no hesitation—into our bodies’ caverns. Flies land like buttons on our seams; they lay eggs and knot us together. I’ve learned words to describe us, like bloat and putrefaction. I’ve seen skin turn purplish yellow and cartilage fray like cotton. Jaw wide, I’ve hiked for years into your presence. Sewed your hillside routes like sutures. Swallowed your pollen and snow. Goodbye now, on quiet summit. I’ve said everything I know—
Rosanna Gargiulo lives in Maine with her family and the perfect number of dogs (six, in case you were wondering). Her work has appeared in Tahoma Literary Review, Sweet: A Literary Confection, Bacopa Literary Review, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
A Pig at Shirley’s V. Bar
By Taylor Salvetti
We sit there silent, hoping a handler, an owner, a veterinarian, a farmer would follow in the sunlight that is pouring through the swinging panes of the glass door. The six of us, turning our heads, watching him saunter, gentle and assured past the threshold and nestle for a moment beside the speaker spitting out John Prine. Who comes for a drink before 2 p.m. on a Wednesday in mid-April? The tired, the overworked, the laid off husbands not ready to go home and tell the truth, the night shift sleep deprived, the no-where-else-to-go’s. It was as if I was expecting an animal would wander in from the late spring heat. But I didn’t expect the confidence, the stride, the eagerness in rearing his snout at me. I place my pilsner on the floor to ease his access. He slurps every drop, even the head, nods my way, and with a delicate huff, turns his hooves and flees, an inmate bound for death has found his freedom, his road open. I lift my hand for a second round, I let a peanut shell drift onto the concrete floor. I think of Diane, waiting for me in heaps on the bedroom floor. I think of the farm she grew up on. I have an ice breaker, a new anecdote to give her before the onslaught of news about the merger, the cutbacks, the box in my backseat. I smile as the new beer approaches, and sob when it is finished.
Taylor is a writer, a student, a husband. Living and working in Wilmington, NC, Taylor draws inspiration from early mornings of black coffee and cigarettes, late nights with Coltrane and Tom Waits, folding clean laundry, and watching movies instead of working.
By Katie Tonellato