Winners of The White Shoe Very Short Story Contest
The White Shoe Staff
The winners of The White Shoe Very Short Story Contest have been chosen, and after a lengthy consultation process with several branding firms, this week has been designated "Very Short Story Week." Today we kick off this week of weeks with the top four Very Short stories we received:
First Prize: "Firstborn," by Abby Parcell. For her efforts, Abby will receive Night of the Crash-Test Dummies: A Far Side Collection, by Gary Larson.
Second Prize: "Muse," by Ryan Hamilton. Ryan has selected as his prize Historic Inns of the Northeast, photographs by Alan Briere, text by Hal Gieseking.
Third Prize: "Grandma's House," by William DeFord. Because William has failed to respond to the redactor's inquiries about which book he would like to receive as his prize, we have chosen to send him the book several other contestants begged — threatened? — us not to send them: P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Fourth Prize: "Lash," by Greg Wilson. Greg will be happy to know that none of the other three winners wanted Greg's first choice, so we will soon be sending him Uncle John's Absolutely Absorbing Bathroom Reader, by the Bathroom Readers' Institute.
All entries were judged blind — meaning, of course, that we didn't even read them. We just hired a neighborhood kid to put on a blindfold and smell each entry. The four entries that the boy did not lick were declared the winners. Enjoy.
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Today is my father's fifty-ninth birthday. Frankly, I'm thankful he's still alive, considering the "cardiac episodes" and the accidental "arm-in-the-combine" tragedies in this family. Instead of nitroglycerin, he's taking Viagra and arguing with my mother about Miami or Phoenix. They aren't even considering my memories, seated above the soybeans, past the S-curves, fifteen miles out of town. Not even considering the house they were never supposed to leave, even though I chose an investment boutique over a Yoder Feed cap. I've already given up the sky for New York City — don't make me give up the sweet corn.
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I had a dark and malignant childhood. My father was eaten by a bear. It dominated the national headlines then. I was very young; I don't remember it. He wasn't just mauled or disfigured, the bear actually consumed him whole, so there was no funeral. To this day that cartoon daemon Yogi causes me to sob like the ocean. One day he was gone and the next day my mother delivered to me the news, pregnant with tragedy. That is why I am no normal writer, why my pen has such depth. My fountainhead: a father eaten into oblivion.
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I wanted that sandwich like I wanted a punch in the gut. Everything in my grandma's house smelled like cat hair and cigarettes, and her perennial tuna on stale Wonderbread wasn't any different. She made me another one to take home. When I pedaled away she was there, as always, framed in the front screen door watching me go, her hand gripping the jamb as if waiting for that big silent house to jump up alive. It never did.
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The summer of my tenth year, I pulled out all the eyelashes from my right eye, one by one.
"Why on earth would you do such a thing?" my mother asked.
"To make wishes," I said.
"What did you wish for?"
"The same thing over and over," I said. "To someday make you proud of me."
She pursed her lips and looked away, embarrassed. "You know, you're not supposed to tell what you wish for," she said, "or it'll never come true."
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Read the second installment of Very Short Story Week here.