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Contest submissions

Contest submissions

Sleep with Thee Tonight

November 16, 2016 • By and 13 769

On his clammy bench, Cassius readjusted the damp cardboard under his buttocks. The hardened snow that stuck to the thick brown paper made the faint sound of a cloth being crumpled as Cassius shifted. The old man with the sparse gray beard pulled up his coat collars and lapels for a second time and wrapped them around his neck, which was reddened with the sharp frigidness of the December night. Lightly as a quarter rest on a music sheet, a frost-bleached leaf whirled before his eyes and landed quietly on his knee. As persistent as a metronome, waves crashed onto the sand, marking time in adagio.

A squirrel jumping from tree to tree or scratching in the snow, a bird singing or flying off, a distant unidentified rumbling, the breeze shaking branches, water dripping from a rock … The familiar rhythms of the evening spun before him but never came quite close enough to touch.

Cassius inhaled deeply, the bitter air giving him pause as he visualized the music again, forcing his mind to feel disoriented and intoxicated by it. To feel its magic, to absorb its spirit-power and let it overtake his soul.

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Contest submissions

Gus’s Gate

June 30, 2016 • By 12 311

“You don’t have enough points, sir.” The raspy voice called out to me from behind a tall lectern. A huge gate stood directly behind him.

“I’m sorry?” I asked the small bearded man. “I didn’t know there was a rewards program. Do I need a certain amount for the Gold or Elite Circle? A bit more if I’d like to do a meet and greet?”

“The points,” he continued patiently, “are assigned based on predetermined criteria. They are cumulative and represent the value of your life.”

“Predetermined criteria, huh? Sounds convenient. How many do I have?”

The old man consulted a list. Ah, yes, Santa Claus’s proverbial naughty or nice list. Or was I mixing up my saints? As he thumbed through my file, I tried to think of anything that could be construed as nice, but I was coming up blank. So I wasn’t surprised when he announced in a supercilious voice punctuated by raucous coughing, “You only have 438 points, sir, which is not nearly enough for our program. Don’t worry; I’ll arrange for transportation to take you to the correct destination.”

“Excuse me? I demand to see a list of rules as well as how the points are distributed before I can accept this! It’s just not fair!” Forget the Gold Circle; I was definitely in the Eighth.

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Contest submissions

The Velvet Glove

June 30, 2016 • By 14 311

            “You don’t have enough points, sir.”

The sentence echoed in my head again, uninvited, and although he had seemed fairly sorry for me (as much as a doctor showed emotion anyway), I could still feel the chill that had slowly run along my spine, as obnoxious as a vicious ice cube making contact with the back of one’s neck and dripping down one’s bare back on this cold, so cold afternoon in December. I had soon forgotten the most elementary process of breathing and I had instinctively reached out for my boy and gently patted his head.

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Contest submissions

Trigonometry Lesson for the Ancient

June 18, 2016 • By 11 252

            “You don’t have enough points, sir,” Stew said.

            “Why? How many do I need?”

            “Well, three, sir. That’s why it’s called triangulation.”

            “Oh, all right. Well then, you find me a third point, kid,” Joe retorted.

            “I can’t, sir, it doesn’t work that way.”

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