First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who entered my flash fiction contest. It was a joy to read all of the entries, and I hope you had a little fun as well.
And now, congratulations to Katie Ganshert, who is this month's winner! My decision was made late Friday morning, based on the following categories:
- Adherence to the rules (we had one disqualification for length)
- The arbitrary, capricious, whimsical, ruthless, and hopelessly unfair application of Carrie Standards
Katie has chosen the "Money, money, money" envelope as her prize. You can learn a little more about her by visiting her homepage, or by checking out her writing blog, Brain Throw Up.
And I really hope you will all play again, starting on the first Friday of next month. Something shorter next time, I promise.
And now, I hope you will enjoy a little bit of Katie's fiction, and swing by her blog to say hi afterwards!
AN UNWANTED GIFT
by Katie Ganshert
A small, velvet box with a delicate red and green bow sat like a looming thundercloud beneath the tree, wringing Lola Crinsby’s salivary glands until her mouth flooded with tangy spittle. She swallowed, fists clenched, eyes darting between the gift and the door, as if unsure what defense mechanism to embrace. Fight or Flight.
Before she could decide, James entered the room, feet clad in the slippers she bought him three Christmases ago. They’d morphed into a muted gray, swaddling the tip of his protruding big toe in fuzzy, worn out fabric. He carried a newspaper in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other, steam swirling up from the top and disappearing in front of his face, like some sort of ethereal, magician’s trick.
Her pulse thrummed against her eardrums. Why did James have to ruin the comfortable routine they’d established over the course of their long-distance relationship? Prickly heat simmered up her chest and singed her cheeks. Was he really just going to spring marriage on her without eliciting her thoughts on the matter? When had she ever eluded to the fact that she might want to walk down an aisle in fluffy white lace and say, I do?
James tapped her on the head with his paper, kissed her cheek, and plopped down on the sofa. “Merry Christmas. Did you just get here?”
She eyed the door. Her car was still warm from the three hour drive. She could be in the cab of her Honda Accord, careening back to Detroit before he had the chance to unroll his paper, much less pop such a ludicrous question.
“Lola? Is something wrong?”
She jabbed her hip with one of her balled up fists, flung her other hand toward the tree, and glared at him like an angry mother. Fight. She would fight. “Just what do you think you’re doing with that?”
James blinked, mouth open, eyebrows pinched into a frown. She held her pose, waiting for him to acknowledge his foolishness. He brought one leg onto the cushion and twisted his upper half toward the Christmas tree, the couch springs squealing their protests. She stared at the back of his blonde head, her chest heaving like a barreling train engine.
A booming vibrato saturated the living room, popping the tension ballooning inside her chest with needled confusion. Her hand fell to her side. Her scowl melted off her face.
“What’s so funny?”
James turned back around and slapped his knee, a grin stretched wide across his face. “Relax, babe. This is Christmas, not Neverland. And that’s a bracelet for my mother. Not an engagement ring.”
All the heat invading Lola’s cheeks melted away, oozing down her neck, deflating the panic-stricken air soaking her lungs. She slipped off her boots, eased a smile onto her face, joined James on the sofa, and slid beneath his burly arm. “Well, Merry Christmas, then.”
Once again, that's Katie Ganshert at Brain Throw Up.