Thanks so much for your patience; I was unable to get on the computer yesterday. But your results are up now! If you missed any of the stories, go read them here. And without further ado, here's what the judge had to say:
I chose the opening phrase hoping it would birth thoughtful and personal interpretations of what it means to hate the good times. You all didn’t disappoint giving me three distinct and beautiful expositions. As for the special challenge, I’m still writhing to know which sentences fulfilled the prompt…
by Audrey Gran Weinberg
Oh, the pain of being made to feel irrelevant! Your protagonist captured my heart and felt especially real after spitting out “paint flakes” – a brilliantly human detail. The tragic thing is that Janet might have listened, might have acknowledged the desire for connection, had the school teacher been recounting terrible or painful memories. A convincing write.
“Astrally Projecting to Baskin-Robbins on Halloween”
by Richard Edenfield
I’m still in awe of how you’ve managed to create a story that simultaneously feels like childhood and weighs more than all the stars in heaven. Maybe it’s how you paint the flavors on my tongue while your words bind my body to a paralytic’s chair. For poetic descriptors and an intriguing protagonist, well done.
Special Challenge and Grand Champion -
“Light the Corners of My Mind”
by Dave Park
Such a fantastic way to finish the first bookend! Instead of hiding the “why” you answer it immediately, snaring my interest before shattering my expectations that I’ll be exploring the frustrations of losing oneself to Alzheimer’s. Instead a whole world pulls itself together from the page, one uncommon and riveting. I feel my sympathies for the protagonist push out of my chest only to have them bounce back, unaccepted, wondering if I should have even given them. Who is the individual in the chair? Does he deserve this “mental treatment”? Much is left unsaid, trusting the reader to absorb and understand. This one demanded special challenge nod as well – I can’t even begin to guess which are the truths and which the lie. Stellar job, writer.