Posts Tagged ‘Angelique Pacheco’

Kawaii

by Angelique Pacheco

It was hot and humid that day. Being a Saturday, the train was full as it chugged past the rice paddies toward Eiga Mura, the movie town in Kyoto. I haven’t gotten used to how homogeneous the Japanese are. There are so few tourists that you couldn’t hide out if you tried. I have been here for two weeks already. The summer heat is unimaginable. I thought Africa was bad until I realized that I can’t live without the air conditioner here. We step off the train and walk along a dusty road the rest of the way.

The town itself is beautiful. The buildings are varied as most of the movies are filmed here. There is even a monster in a pond that pops his head out every now and then. It looks like “Hello Kitty” has thrown up all over the curio shop. I walk around; fascinated as I observe Geisha-type actresses walking around and my heart almost stops when I spy a ninja on a rooftop. They like to position their mannequins in odd ways here.

Children are the same all over the world. They are full of curiosity and excitement provided they don’t see a foreigner. I feel like a celebrity most days. When children see me their mouths drop open in horrified fascination. The question,”what is it?” is emblazoned in their eyes as their mothers shoo them away from me.

I decide to walk into the theater and I sit on a hard bench at the back, trying not to draw attention to myself. Child actors peer from behind the stage curtain and stare at me wide-eyed. I stare back at them and smile. I get no response. I bring my fingers up to my cheek and yell “Kawaii!” The children giggle. The grownups turn and see me still showing the symbol for the word “cute” and they smile. I am escorted to the front of the theater as people around me jabber away at me in a friendly manner. I got to sit right up front to see an unforgettable performance of which I understood nothing. That, after all, is the Japanese way.

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Hello again! As promised, here’s today’s second winner’s post! Thanks to everyone who wrote stories and to Steph Ellis for being more on top of judging than I was this past week. You’ll find her comments and top picks below.

Oh dear. You all certainly made me work this week and on a Monday night too. I had to read and reread a few times before I could make up my mind – and even then I kept chopping and changing placings. There really wasn’t a lot in it, especially between the Winner and the 1st RU and the 2nd RU, and oh, did I mention the HMs and those who didn’t get placed but were great as well? But in the end my choices covered the range of elements that get me every time – some were dark, some were moving, some were written by poets. What more could I ask for?

Golden Daffodils

Great fun, wonderful names and the line “Read it, buffoon, or I will eat your slab and urinate on your coiling” is inspired.  And don’t forget the puns ‘a host of Golden Daffodils’ meaning a totally different thing in this case!

War Games

A slow dawning that these are not quite the war games I expected, a child’s perspective on the weekly shop with them making the most of any edible opportunities – as kids will. I’m glad those days are behind me. Standout line: “If I’m holding a wedge of cheddar, it’s safe. German salami? It’s over – save yourself.”

Marked

This intriguing story hints at things rather than coming straight out and telling you what’s going on so that you can put your own interpretation on it. The mark is a visible representation of whatever events had occurred the night before – sex, drugs, something supernatural – it is for the reader to decide. But whatever happened, it has happened to so many others, it’s normal, plenty of others were ‘Marked’ and Jess would deal with the consequences of it in her own, brave way.

Eyes

Eyes are the one thing I’ve found that adds an extra something to any piece of dark writing, they certainly have the ‘cringe’ factor. Her fetish whilst not yet being the death of her – “Your fetish with eyes is going to be the death of you, my dear,” – is certainly the death of others.

Captured

Poor man, wanting to live the life of a hermit and then getting captured. I think there was an element of pride coming before a fall here, he was a little too cocky ‘sauntering’ to the door, then falling over the tripwires which he had claimed to know all about.

Those Eyes

The eyes have it – or not, in the case of this couple they are hiding so much – the ‘story waiting to be told’, a future built on lies and deceit, liar’s eyes. I wonder how much their desire for fame is going to keep them together.

Camouflage

A dangerous woman here, manipulative, setting the scene for a perfect murder. Not someone to be crossed. A lot is conveyed in a very short story.

HM: A Sword in the Hand by Angelique Pacheco

Beautifully descriptive piece: phrases such as the sword was ‘heavy and burdened with many a tale,’ ‘when I was sixteen and the lotus began to bloom,’ ‘rain poured down in silver sheets,’ all set the scene and tone perfectly. I like the way that although it finishes with him waiting for his attackers, for me it implies – because this story is being told some years later and he still has his sword – the younger version of Grandfather had fought of his attackers and won.

HM: The Confusing Nature of Student Life by Ewan Smith

Entertaining story focusing on those rites of passage we all have to go through with parents. Showing them we’re adult enough to have a drink, a partner, they’re reaction as they have to let go of the child and accept the adult. This was done with great humour and warmth and it was a nice twist that the blacking was accidental rather than a particular fashion statement.

2nd RU: The Poet Brigade and the Elixir of Truth by Richard Edenfield 

Gorgeous language and turns of phrase in this story. A tale of hope and the aspiration to change things using words, ‘feathered bullets bleached with an unfettered pride’ as youth and Ms Williams takes on Trump. Wonderful that there are those who have such visions and dreams although I’m not quite sure what Trump’s reaction would be. I think perhaps something from Mother Goose might be more at his level!

1st RU: Garden Party by Sal Page 

A very grim but extremely well-written piece. The pacing was perfect, drawing the reader on as the would-be victim turns the tables on her assailant and comes out the victor. The first line draws you in right away “He’s supposed to be dead but he’s staring at me,” sign-posting a wonderfully dark story is on its way. Plus there are elements that are blackly humorous “His kilt is still up around his waist, the sporran skewiff. No idea where the orange wig and tartan cap are.”

And our Round 130 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

K.M. Zafari

with

“Homecoming”

This is such a sad, but uplifting, story. The initial feeling that perhaps there is an element of estrangement between the children and their father changes as they dig through old memories and put them in perspective. It is the difference in the eyes of the younger, carefree footballer compared to the eyes of the soldier that reveals the truth, the effect that war can have on a person and subsequently their loved ones. The eyes have given Jace the understanding he needs to try and bridge the gap with his father, despite the latter’s dementia. Moving.

Congratulations, K.M.! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s second HumpDay Quickie!

Thank you again everyone for contributing your time and talents, especially our judges. The Angry Hourglass truly could not exist without your efforts. Next weekend, Sal Page is back for another round of judging. Hope to see you all there.

Gone

by Angelique Pacheco

“The fe-he-ris wheel goes up and down, up and down, up and down, the fe-he-ris wheel goes up and down, ALL DAY LONG!” I heard this song all day yesterday and it was no longer an ear worm but an ear anaconda. My baby sister, who was now four, was the most annoying person in the whole wide world. With blonde hair and blue eyes she was the apple of everyone’s eye but mine. She was more like a pip in mine… a pip squeak. I laughed. My mother had promised to take her to the fair today so she could ride on the Ferris wheel. Borriing! I wanted to go get the computer game that my friends were raving about and now I was stuck going to the fair. I hoped no one I knew would see me. Emily walked in and twirled her dress. “Am I a princess, Cody?” she asked her blue eyes pleading for my approval. “Sure. Whatever.” I grunted, barely acknowledging her. She beamed as though I had given her the world.

When we arrived at the fair Emily was bouncing off the seats, she was so excited. She yanked at my sleeve. “Come Cody!” I followed her closely as she made her way to the Ferris wheel and I bought her tickets. My mother had said to make sure she went twice and I was to go with her. No way! I gave the ticket guy both tickets and pointed her out. She was sitting next to an older lady so I knew she’d be okay.

I watched her for a bit and decided to go see a stall of video games I had spied when I came in. I would be back before the second round was done. I had a quick check but was disappointed at the meager selection and went to wait for Emily. The Ferris wheel was just coming to a stop and people were getting off. No Emily. Heart beginning to pound, I went to the ticket keeper and asked about her. The young lady got off with her mother after one round. The blood in my veins froze.

Happy Tuesday, friends! Thanks to all the writers who submitted this past weekend, and thank you Steph Ellis for volunteering your time to judge and comment. You’ll find those comments and top picks below.

Welcome back to all those who either read or contributed a story to this week’s Flash Frenzy. As it’s November, I am aware that a number of you have been hard at work on your NaNoWriMo novels with the FlashDogs in particular racking up the word counts at a great rate of knots.  To those of you who managed to ‘flash’ as well as ‘nano’, you have gone above and beyond. Somehow I crawled across the finish line this weekend but not completed the novel so I haven’t ‘nanoed’ in the truest sense of the word – but it was a kick up the backside to get on with something I’d been procrastinating over for most of the year! And for me that was my November target. I hope you all meet yours.

And now back to the stories …

Is This The End? – Great setting and atmosphere. The silence of the missing crowds – or the dead – contrasts with the eerie sound of creaking cabins, swinging doors and the wind blowing sagebrush down the street.  The sense of abandonment and desertion, of death with the flies buzzing above a cadaver is strong and perfectly drawn. And then that switch, from a place of catastrophe to the mundane traffic and weather report, disaster dismissed and life goes on; very well done. Plus this week’s award for best town name goes to Loose Stools.

The Big Wheel – Those summer days with life literally spread out below you. The wheel turns, they kiss, the wheel turns, she is pregnant and now with major decisions to face, they look out at those below whose worries are all ‘so distant and small’ compared to their own. Beautifully done.

Steel Flower – ‘My mind turns with pockets of sunrise memories.’ What a beautiful opening line. There is a strong sense of the character’s separateness from those around him/her, a feeling of displacement, not quite part of the world which is carrying on in its own sweet way.  He has almost lost his sense of self, become just an ‘idea’, ‘vague notion’. Lovely, almost ethereal piece.

Wheels Within Wheels – It is the tattoos that speak in this story. Each character has, or desires a tattoo which brings with it hope of change, of knowledge and understanding. Lives not fully realised – a job as a janitor, a spell in prison – all point to a dead-end but the idea of the wheel brings back a memory to Snake, of another man with another tattoo ‘Live free or die’. A reminder perhaps that his ‘problem with authority’ might cause him trouble yet.

Gone – As soon as you finish the first line you know what’s coming, an irritating child, a younger sibling, the one we’ve all had to care for at sometime when we’d rather have been elsewhere. And you just know something bad is going to happen.

Despite the clear hero worship of Cody by Emily, when she ‘beamed as though I had given her the world’, he ‘barely acknowledged her’. He wanted to be checking out video games, not babysitting his little sister. Obediently though, he follows his parents’ orders, after a fashion, until you get to one of those ‘it won’t hurt’ moments and the narrator sits his sister on the ferris wheel next to ‘an older lady so I knew she’d be okay’, and he goes to look at video games. In the end he is disappointed by what is on offer but when he returns she is gone. The consequences of his selfish action, although only minutes, becomes a never-ending moment of horrific realization and freezes the blood in his veins. Fluid story-telling at its best.

Full Moon Rising – Not what you’d expect on an innocent ride on the Ferris Wheel, a moment of fun becoming a living horror story. Graphic description of the werewolf, ‘drool hanging from his half-open mouth’ and strong sense of claustrophobia and tension with words like ‘clamped’, ‘muffled’, ‘suffocation’, ‘intensity’. She cannot escape him and in the end raises a family with him but then it is her turn to become the killer as she watches her children ‘at birth for signs and smothered the hairy ones and the one born with a tooth’. A mother’s lot is not a happy one.

 

Special Mention

Full Moon Rising by Stella Turner – for conjuring up a werewolf horror on a Ferris Wheel.

Honourable Mentions

The Big Wheel by AV Laidlaw – for the repetition mirroring the turning wheel and events unfolding at each turn.

Wheels Within Wheels by Voima Oy – for the way in which tattoos are used to provide the framework and the message in the story.

 

 

2nd Runner Up – Steel Flower by Richard Edenfield. A piece of writing that reminds me of a dandelion clock, ready to break apart and just float away.

1st Runner Up  – Is this the End? by Stephen Lodge For the way in which a horrific event is dismissed in order to report on the mundane.

And your Round 116 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

 Angelique Pacheco

with Gone

A tragic story that serves as a reminder to us all not to look away, even for just a few minutes.

Congratulations, Angelique! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Thank you again, Steph for judging this weekend’s stories. Next weekend we embrace the first official Christmas shopping weekend of the year. I wish everyone who ventures out a safe and kind shopping experience, and I hope you’ll still have the energy to pop by and write some flash for Judge David Shakes. See you then.

Happy Tuesday! Thank you to everyone who submitted stories this past weekend, and thanks much to Voima Oy for judging and commenting. You’ll find them below:

Welcome, everyone. It’s so good to be here, in this place. These uncertain times need stories more than ever. We need all kinds of stories–funny, sad, warnings, courage, hope. This photo by Ashwin Rao is wonderful, even iconic. Where would it take you? You have risen to the challenge brilliantly. Thank you for sharing your stories with me.

On to the comments—

The Last Fires of the Fall–I love the voice in this one, so down-to earth in the bleak landscape–“I’m an old man and Sonny is my last dog.” This is a post-apocalyptic world without much hope, a virus has devastated the earth. But the smile on the boy’s face as he pets the dog Sonny is a sign of life. There is a moment of beauty and grace, even here.

Mabel and Ron, Stella and Roger–The characters and details really make the story, here. This an everyday tragedy, a harsh reality–the judgements, the separateness of people. The dog, Roger, is a reminder of our shared humanity. Very sad story, and beautifully done.

The Big Move–Let’s hear it for the power of brevity! This says it all in those few words–six if you count the title. Perfect with that photo. My sentiments exactly.

Byron & John Keats on the Road–In this traveling library through a post-apocalyptic landscape are spirits of Whitman and Kerouac (On the Road) and Ray Bradbury (“I sing the body electric,” and Fahrenheit 451) too. This is a powerful story of hope. The last paragraph is marvelous, pure poetry.

A Dog’s Life–I can picture these dogs on the road–what great characters they are. I love the point of view. There’s wonderful humor here “stop using our wee-mail!” — and such a free spirit. What a delightful story!

Ragnarok–It’s not the end of the world–yet–but the sense of impending doom is so strong in this story I can feel it. I can see the Norse gods among the rusted trucks and dreadlocked potheads. I love Loki as the dog and Odin on the roof of his van turning his eye to the sun. Great stuff!

Wag this Tale Off–This is truly the dog’s tale–I love the voice in this, the spelling and the language, how it conveys the energy, the enthusiasm and loyalty–the bond with the you-man. Truly dogs are in a state of grace. They do have a buddha nature, living in the moment. Just beautiful.

Sparrowditch. The Beginning.— I love how this story unfolds, such subtlety. The voice is just a little bit creepy at first, but it becomes more and more sinister. Scary stuff!

Idiosyncracies– I’m reading this as a vampire tale, and humans are the prey. It could also be an allegory of the wealthy elite. The voice here speaks of clans, entitlement, and a rejection of that society–“I left behind the comfortable life they had created.” and a need to “feed my soul,” embracing a life of uncertainty, the thrill of the hunt. Really chilling.

931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway–This pilgrimage to the last piece of America rings true. So many great lines–“show what this country blows up for..there was America in those eyes…we were ready to take back our country..” The appearance of Jefferson, and the violet of forgiveness is breathtaking.

Nature versus Nurture –What a great opening! This is flash at its finest–not a word wasted, and the details are so vivid. The story gets darker and darker. It has a medieval feel, or post-apocalyptic. The last paragraph is a terrifying twist. The God of Greed is Mammon–I looked online and pictures look frighteningly familiar. Amazing piece.

He looks like the Dog’s B*ll*cks in the Light of the Super-moon—I had to look up the reference to the Dog’s B*ll*cks, but it means the best there is. This is a tale of personal apocalypse, a story of survival and hope. It is harrowing, heartbreaking, beautiful.

Well-done, everyone!  I love all these stories, and every one of you.  Here are my choices–

Special Mention

The Big Move by Bart van Gothem–power of brevity!

A dog’s Life by Angelique Pacheco–great characters and humor

Honorable Mention

Last Fires of the Fall by AV Laidlaw–sad and hopeful–a moment of beauty

Wag This Tale Off by Sal Page –Beautiful writing of a state of grace

2nd runner up

Ragnarok by Steph Ellis –Feeling of doom, and Odin in the sun

1st runner up

Nature and Nurture by Stella Turner –subtle and horrifying.

And our Round 115 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Richard Edenfield

with Byron & John Keats on the Road

Powerful spirit–epic and hopeful

Congratulations, Richard! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s Hump Day Quickie! Thanks again, Voima, for volunteering your time. Next weekend Steph Ellis is acting judge. Hope to see you all there.