These Are Stories You Have Time For

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For the past decade, Chris Spencer has encouraged local writers to keep it short and submit 100-word stories (exactly 100 words), for a “Short Story Smash” at WICA. Spencer, who has published two books of 100-word stories, says, “I like the constriction of working in a limited space. It helps with editing skills, concise sentence construction, and word choice.”

Spencer keeps performances of these short pieces interesting by having two readers, alternating masculine and feminine voices, and altering humor and pathos. At the latest event, which took place on Oct. 27, 2016, the following authors received cash prizes.

First place: “Ashes” by Jim Milne
Second place: “Trickster” by Dianna MacLeod
Third place: “The Things We No Longer Hear” by Paul Goldfinger

Ashes

By Jim Milne

"Cover" illustration for AshesI picked up Mom’s ashes at the funeral parlor and took them home. My brother Donny was there. We’d have our little ceremony before we scattered her ashes.

Mom was Irish, a real lady, but she liked her Guinness.

Donny lit a couple of candles; I got out two bottles of Guinness and glasses. We set the urn in the center of the table and prepared to drink a toast to Mom. I had a thought.

“Shall I pour a little in there for Mom?” I nodded at the urn.

“Better not, or we’ll never get her out of there.”

Trickster

By Dianna MacLeod

"Cover" illustration for TricksterMy parents shunned Halloween, that debauched holiday. For ten years they dimmed the lights, lowered the shades, sent me to bed early, prayed to protect me from pagan powers.

Eleven—my year to trick. Costume from a pillowcase. Escape through a window. Wandering the witching hour. Freedom! Thrills! Treats!

Then—rain slicking the pavement, eyeholes askew, sack heavy—I fell. On hands and knees, in darkness, I fumbled for each heavenly morsel.

Sack upended on my bed, I flashlight-lit my damply, shiny pile.

Moving?        Writhing?          Alive!?

Worms! Slimy wigglers clung to every piece!

God, the greatest trickster of all.

Things We No Longer Hear

By Paul Goldfinger

"Cover" illustration for Things We No Longer HearI hadn’t talked to my family in years. But I had no choice. I was dead broke and had no one else to turn to.

After panhandling just enough change, I found a pay phone and dialed home.

Mom answered: “Hello.”

“Hi Mom, it’s Paul.”

“Oh, Paul. It’s so good to hear your voice. How are you?”

“Physically, I’m fine. But I’m broke. That’s why I’m calling.”

“I thought you were calling about what happened to Dad.”

“Why? What happened to Dad?”

“Dad had a …“

Just then the Operator cut in saying, “Deposit 25 cents for three more minutes.”

[Not part of the story, but I can hear Lily Tomlin’s “Ernestine” character saying the final words.]

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