Last Harvest

My entry in the latest Angry Hourglass Flash Frenzy contest. The photo below was your inspiration and the word count maximum was 360. I wanted to take a break from my usual stories exploring the dark side of humanity and try something more sentimental and folksy. Hope you enjoy.

1002859_10150338563254984_824138422_n Photo by Ashwin Rao

He was young and defiant once. She was young and suspicious once. Sixty years ago he first glimpsed her at the pumpkin festival in Louisville. They formed a bond spitting pumpkin seeds and strengthened it later relaxing by the lake talking about everything and nothing. The moon would replace the sun, but they stayed out there, awash in the flame of first love and lost inside the melting of time.

The house was too quiet now. He missed the clinking of her teacup when she gently placed it on the saucer, and the way she fake coughed when she wanted his attention. The creak of the rocking chair when she swayed casually on the front porch. Nowadays, Hal would loudly root through the cooking pans or crank the volume on her favorite gospel channel just to make some noise. Her noise.

She loved pumpkins. The house was littered with them in various forms: Paintings, refrigerator magnets, dish cloths, figurines, place mats, and sweaters. He used to chide her about this perplexing adoration, but whenever he was in town at the flea market, he always searched the booths for a pumpkin knickknack for her. He missed that too, the searching.

Hal stepped outside to inhale some fresh air and check on the crops. His eyes were greeted by a tidal wave of orange. They kept growing bigger and bigger. He allowed himself a tiny grin and marveled at the row after row of enormous pumpkins, orange boulders as mammoth as a two-story home. He wished she could see this, Alice would be aglow with joy, he thought. She’d probably have him hollow one out so she could take a nap inside its comforting walls.

He shuffled between the rows, arms outstretched, and lightly stroked the flesh of his wife’s beloved gourds and, by extension, maybe her own delicate skin too. He had mixed her ashes with the soil when she passed, as she requested.

He was old and compliant now. In the morning, when the sun replaces the moon, he will still be out there with those massive pumpkins, thinking of the girl who had caught his eye long ago.

 

Big Shoes

My entry in the latest round of the Flash! Friday weekly contest. The photo below was the prompt and you had to include surgery in some fashion. 160 word max as usual. My story received an Honorable Mention this week and with so many amazing stories entered, I’m rather ecstatic with that result. You can the the judge’s comments on all the winners here.

circus-clowns-visit-sick-boy-boston-public-library Photo by Boston Public Library

He sat in a chair in front of a lighted mirror and stared at his reflection before his transformation into a nobody. He had his father’s mud-colored eyes and his receding hairline. They had the same blotchy skin and crooked nose. A shared face and a surname tethered them, but they weren’t equals.

Benny deftly smeared the white makeup on his cheeks. He was groomed to become his dad: An unethical tyrant, a cultured reptile, a predator in a hand-tailored suit.

He craved none of that.

A father that chased the dime instead of playing catch in the yard. A father clinking glasses at the clubhouse while he struggled with his homework. A father that loathed clowns.

Benny wedged the purple wig on his head and popped on his red nose.

“Alex is out of surgery, we’re heading over soon. You about ready?” his boss asked.

“Almost done.”

He blasted his horn at the revealing mirror. “I’m not you.”

Valedictorian

This would’ve been my entry in first edition of the Micro Bookends flash contest but I thought the deadline was Saturday, when in actuality it was Friday night. I’m getting old and I confuse easily. The photo below was the prompt and you had to begin your story with the word first and the last word had to be born. Word count was between 90 and 110.

Microphones Photo Credit – Audio-Technica

First time speaking in front of an audience and I was crippled by my smallness. They were all waiting for my words of inspiration. Students, teachers, and parents sat in anticipation of something magical to come spilling out of my mouth. A horde of blurred faces craving a dazzling speech from the smart guy.

I knew I would impress them, it’s what I do. It’s the only thing that drives me, impressing people. Look at me. I matter. Accept me.

The selfish apparitions didn’t reserve a cushioned seat in the auditorium, and I wasn’t expecting them to suddenly care. I haven’t seen them since the day I was born.

Three Line Thursday

I discovered a new contest last week via Twitter. It’s called Three Line Thursday and, as the name implies, you have to write a 3 line (not sentence) poem/story inspired from a photo prompt. This contest was created by Grace Black, a talented writer herself. The turnout was strong, the writing was fabulous and, of course, the #FlashDogs made their presence known.

My poem (no titles) was named the winner this week. This is my first win in a writing contest, suffice it to say that I’m pretty stoked.

photo-week-1

Photo by Matt Adamik Photography

Bloody snowflakes on a roasting tongue,

Dissolving into a blushing pool of you,

Lingering, refusing to be swallowed

Judge’s thoughts: “For me, I saw an entire movie in three short lines. This is a superb example of how three lines can impact your soul.”

Grace Black’s pick: Coincidentally my pick is also this week’s winner. Congratulations, Chris Milam  @Blukris!

Wow! What a stunning entry. Each line sets up the next, seamlessly, and I found myself reading with anticipation; Where was it going to take me? Just like rereading a favorite novel or poem, I found myself going back to it, again and again. “dissolving into a blushing pool of you…” delicious line!

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Circulation

Proud to announce that my story, Circulation, was published by Flashes in the Dark today. I would like to extend a big thank you to Lori Titus, editor, for giving my story a nice home. You can read it here: http://flashesinthedark.com/2014/10/06/circulatio%e2%80%8bn-by-chris-milam/

*I was asked to change Walmart to something else, that’s why it’s Way-Mart. Not a misspelling.

*This story was originally a Top 25 finisher in the Molotov Cocktail Flash Monster Contest.

Phantom of Honshu

My entry in the Flash!Friday contest this week. The photo below was the prompt and you had to include a death. 160 word max per usual. I belive they had 95 stories this week which is really incredible. It just continues to grow and grow and the writing is top-notch. Come join the fun every Friday.

typhoon-maid-thursday-shuji-moriwaki Photo by Shuji Moriwaki

Some of the villagers say that Takara still roams the globe, coastline to coastline, declaring war on wind and rain to avenge her father’s death from the famished typhoon that had swallowed him whole as he harvested clams for his daughter’s beloved miso soup. They say she can rip a storm apart with her wrathful hands, pry open its virulent heart and peer into its chaotic soul. That she laughs maniacally when the sky clears, when fear turns the whirling assassin into a coward, a flaccid breeze.

But if you ask the right old-timer and ply him with shots of shochu, he’ll spin you a different tale. That Takara never left the beach that claimed her father. That she sat there for ages without food or sleep, a buffet of dwindling hope her only sustenance. That she’s just a heap of mournful bones now, with a lone skeletal hand reaching through the damp sand pleading to be grasped one last time.