Flash Fiction First Runners-Up
As we mentioned yesterday, the position of first runner-up in the Flash Fiction Contest was a tie. Congratulations to Michael Snyder and Kelly Klepfer! Here are their entries, in the order they were received in our email box:
By Michael Snyder
They say the surgery was a success. I’m not so sure. My new heart chugs along, filling my vascular network with warm, sustaining ooze. But I don’t look at Stacey or the kids the same way anymore. And it terrifies me. I gave my heart—the one I was born with—to Jesus decades ago. He knocked, I let him in, then relegated him to the crawl space.
As a boy, I habitually ignored my father’s sermons by imagining my church pew was a lifeboat. This one creaks under my dwindling weight as I take up a position at the stern, avoiding the stained glass gaze of my former Savior. Whispery footfalls interrupt my feigned prayers as a shadowy figure rises to light a candle. Makes me wonder who’ll light mine when I’m gone.
I try to stand, but the pew lists to one side, capsizing. I blink at the queer scene, convinced I’m hallucinating again. Yet the pew’s bow keeps rising and we’re taking on water. I drop the anchor but the line never goes taut. The chain is too short, pulling me under.
Panic is replaced with liquid surrender, an underwater calm, a most unholy baptism. I hear the footfalls again, but they’re coming from above. I look up to see the shadowy footprints on the other, sunnier side of the water, pausing above me.
My lungs teem with firewater and…what else? Hope?
I scan the surface, waiting for a hand to plunge through, praying to see scars.
Michael Snyder is the husband of one lovely wife, the father of four kids, and the writer of too little fiction. He’s had the good fortune of publishing some short fiction. He’s been blessed with an awesome agent. And he’s hopeful about his current novel. He is also not very comfortable referring to himself in third person.
Let There Be Life...Always
by Kelly Klepfer
Tiny rosebud lips, ten fingers and toes. Perfect.
Except for one thing.
One microscopic kink in the chromosome chain, and I cradle twisted perfection.
Shielding my fragile baby from the world, I bend over and inhale her scent, soft powder with a hint of milk. My heart breaks and hot tears baptize her tiny face.
In defiance I've named her Zoe, life.
Will she know real love? How can I ever let her venture from my protection? Who will care for her when I'm gone?
Well-meaning friends either shy away and avoid the bittersweet birth altogether or pump me full of information and success stories.
Special Olympics, science advancements, Romans 8:28, I've heard it all. My head accepts this. I know I can do it, with Him. Still, my spirit grieves my faux pre-memories of what could have been. For both of us.
Newborn grunts accompany the wriggle of baby against my breast. My body responds, releasing life-sustaining milk. She struggles with direction, too many sensations at once, then settles in and begins to suck.
She'll wear pink ribbons. Prom is in Zoe's future. Life will become her.
As my body gave her life, my milk will nourish her, and my heart will carry her. Always.
My Zoe Zyana. Life Always.
Kelly Klepfer has published short fiction and non-fiction articles in several periodicals. She lives in Iowa, works in the medical field, and has three kids, a wonderful husband and a house that's been in the process of being remodeled forever.