Posts Tagged ‘Beth Deitchman’

Hello again, Friends!

Wow. Just. Wow.

It was great going back and re-reading all these winning stories. Personally, I was hard pressed to pick a favorite, but fortunately I was allowed to vote more than once, so that eased my conscience somewhat. 🙂 The readers have spoken, but before we get to that, I’d just like to say thank you so much to everyone—judges, photographers, readers, and of course, the writers—for making The Angry Hourglass such a success. Without your efforts, it would be just a sad, lifeless, little blog.

Time for the main event!!!

We have two runners up: drmagoo for his round 10 winning story  untitled and  Voima Oy for her round 22 winning story “The Lady Grey

Both runners up have won a $25.00 Amazon gift card. Well done!

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The winner of the Flash Master Face Off, $50.00 Amazon gift card, and ultimate bragging rights is Round 14 (and rounds 16 and 24)  champion:

BETH DEITCHMAN

for her story “Le Moulin”

*****CONGRATULATIONS!!*****

Winners, please use the contact tab and send me your preferred email addresses to collect your prizes.

Thank you once again to everybody who participated and voted, and thank you for showing up every week and contributing your talents to the Flash Frenzy Family. You guys rock. Can’t wait to see you all again this Saturday for a brand new photo prompt and a brand new round of Flash Frenzy to be judged by none other than Flash Master Face Off winner herself, Beth! 😀

And just in case you missed it, here is Beth’s winning story again.

Cheers! ~R

Photo by TheShakes72

Photo by TheShakes72

Le Moulin

by Beth Deitchman

“I don’t remember this one,” Doris said.

Betty leaned over to see which picture Doris held. “Le Moulin,” she whispered. The blush surprised her. At least fifty years had passed, yet Betty could still feel the heat of that day.

“What was that?” Doris brayed.

“The mill,” Betty replied. “I took it that summer I spent in Rouen.”

“I never was good with languages like you,” Doris said, her voice clipped. “I never got the chance to travel.”

Betty shrugged, letting Doris have her sulk. She picked up the discarded picture—faded after all these years—and studied it. Around her the cold dining room shifted, faded; the picture fell from her hands.

She stood at the edge of that lazy river, warmed by the June sun, inhaling the scent of water and summer and something else—the rich, loamy earth near the old mill. Le moulin. Despite the day’s warmth, Betty shivered, the sensation radiating through her body. She held up a hand and gave a little cry. Her skin was smooth, taut, and clear, her fingers straight and free from pain. She touched her face, marveling at the softness, glanced down at her body, stunned by the firmness. “But how?” she whispered.

From behind her came a rich voice, familiar though she hadn’t heard it in more than fifty years. “Bonjour, mademoiselle.”

Betty closed her eyes, gave a silent prayer, and turned around. When she opened her eyes, she smiled. “Jean,” she said.

He held out his arms. “I have been waiting.”

Betty rushed into his embrace, remembering the sweetness of his arms wrapped around her, the earthiness of his smell, the heat of his body. For a perfect moment Jean held her.

“What about this one?”

“What?” Betty said, looking up at Jean. He smiled at her then kissed her forehead.

“Betty?”

A cold hand grasped her arm, and Betty’s heart fell.

“What about this one?” Doris said.

“I’m not sure,” Betty replied. The winter chill settled again into her bones though the faint scent of summer, sun, and Jean clung to her skin.

 

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Six months and twenty-six rounds of Flash Frenzy? Where does the time go? You have all been amazing participants and I think it’s time to celebrate your awesomeness.

So, this week I’m launching the first Flash Master Face Off. 

What’s a Flash Master Face Off? I’m glad you asked. Each of the winning stories from the past 26 weeks will go head-to-head in a battle of popularity with the best story to be decided upon by readers. The winner will receive (in addition to ultimate bragging rights) a $50 Amazon gift card.

Voting will be open until Tuesday evening. You (and your friends) can vote once every 12 hours. So return and enjoy your favorite stories again and stay tuned for the winners. 😀

GOOD LUCK!

 

Order

by Beth Deitchman

Ephram hid on the stairs, peering through the balusters’ polished wood. He took delicate breaths, afraid Miss Franklin would hear and then drag him forward to await the Headmaster’s annoyance. Miss Franklin nudged the last chair into place and stood back, counting. When she left, her heels made precise clicks across the tiles, regular as the rows of chairs.

Silence settled over the Common Room, and Ephram slid from his hiding place. He limped to the back row, grateful no one was there to see him. He took his chair and waited, feet dangling, back straight. Perfectly still.

The hall clock struck, and the ceiling boomed with boys’ feet. Ephram kept his small face passive, his brown eyes fixed forward as the boys clomped down the stairs, a wave of noise preceding them.

“Oy! Gimpy!” Laughter met Anderson’s insult. “Why aren’t you standing?”

Ephram closed his eyes. Inhaled. Exhaled. Opened his eyes and stood. His left leg quivered.

“Look, lads,” Anderson taunted. “He can barely stand. Poor ol’ Gimpy!”

Ephram fought the tears. If he let even one fall, Anderson would pounce, and no one would stop him. So Ephram stood, shaking, his skin paler with each heartbeat. But something shifted. A small kernel of anger, growing in his belly for weeks, bloomed.

“What are you afraid of?” Ephram said.

The big blonde boy’s eyes widened. “What did you say, Gimp?”

“What are you afraid of, Anderson?”

Anderson stepped forward, pink, meaty fist raised. “I’m not afraid of anything, Gimpy. How about you?”

Ephram met Anderson’s cruel stare and smiled. Someone whistled, low and long. Ephram laughed. He tried to control himself, but great peals erupted from him. Anderson’s fist met Ephram’s stomach, sending him sprawling. Two chairs clattered to the floor. No one moved or spoke or breathed. As one the boys closed their eyes, waiting for the rhythmic clicking. When it came, they were almost relieved.

“Pick them up,” Miss Franklin spat.

Ephram scrambled to his feet. Two older boys righted the chairs.

“Sit down.”

They obeyed.

“The Headmaster shall hear about this.”

Ephram glanced at Anderson; sweat trickled down the blonde boy’s cheek. Ephram smiled.

Greetings, friends. Many thanks to all the writers,  and special thanks to Jacki Donnellan for judging this group of stories. There was the usual outpouring of excellent work and Jacki has comments for everybody. Here we go…

What an honour to be sitting in the judge’s seat again! And once I took a peek at this week’s photo prompt, I couldn’t wait to see what stories those empty chairs would inspire. As always, there was a fantastic array of interpretations, and everyone made truly admirable use of the prompt.

Inevitably with this photo, themes of order and emptiness emerged, but in very different ways and to different effect in each story. In Stella’s story, “Tears of Fears”, the empty chairs are the irrational phobia of the protagonist, and we are so cleverly drawn in to focus on this (loved the line “I was gently lowered on to one of my fears”) that we don’t actually realize where we’re being led. Sadie is not about to abandon her principles in quite the way we first assume!

I really enjoyed the way in which Voima Oy’s “Midsummer at the Midland” employed the rows of chairs as a wonderful (and embarrassingly accurate) metaphor for college life- “a romantic comedy of musical chairs”- as well as the actual setting for the story: a midsummer wedding where the Shakespearian muddle is also played out, with an unexpected Queen of the Fairies emerging from the spare-chair cupboard.

The empty chairs were used to (literally) haunting effect by Karl A Russell in his story, “The Custodian”. I was really absorbed in the description of the rows of chairs as the carefully arranged representations of those who were to sit in them: “Here’s a seat for the weird kid…” And yet the story that we are actually reading is not revealed until the final paragraphs, when we realize that all those children have now been made equal in the most horrifying way, and the emptiness of the seats in the photo means much more than we initially think.

The chairs are at once empty and full in C Connolly’s story, “Only Words.” This story is the beautiful and skilful capturing of a moment. In speaking at a funeral, the seats in front of the speaker Ally seem empty and devoid of “those who know her, who she knows, of anyone at all” until after Ally has invested the moment with meaning by her words, which bring to life the person who has died and the way in which she will live on, so that the seats- and the hearts and minds of those listening- finally become “fully occupied.”

Beth Deitchman’s story “Order” is a beautifully layered piece. The writing in and of itself was enough to completely draw me in- I adored the description of Ephram sitting on one of those empty chairs, “feet dangling, back straight” and the abundance of lovely phrasing, “the ceiling boomed with boys’ feet” to name but one. But what I really loved about this story was how much was implied but never said, and the way Beth uses a one word title to tell the largest part of the story- that even the apparently fearless bullies cower beneath their school’s strict regime, which the victimised Ephram is clever enough to know.

In lossforwords360’s story, “No Time Like Showtime,” the chairs are never anything other than empty throughout the story, but we have no idea of that until the end. This is a classic and oft-used scene from so many movies-the daydreams of the humble cleaner which we as the viewer (or reader in this case) are able to enjoy. And yet Allie’s moment is so simply and charmingly described, I didn’t even see the twist coming!

In AJWalkers’s story, “History”, the perfect, precise order of the chairs is the final pattern on the pressure of life that “weigh{s} heavily on Iain’s shoulders, crushing him”. The description of Iain laying out the chairs in his church makes us feel increasingly uncomfortable, with its obsessive references to perfection, precision, tension, order. Iain’s eventual buckling is powerfully described in his sudden destruction of the order that he created, and we know from the last line that his troubles are far from over.

Such a wonderful collection of tales. I thoroughly enjoyed reading them all! But, hard though it is, I am charged to pick winners. So here goes:

Second Runner Up goes to Karl A Russell. The strength of Karl’s writing makes it impossible not to engage with this story.

First Runner Up goes to lossforwords360. Sometimes, a good piece of flash need be no more than the kind of heartwarming tale that we all love to read, told well and told simply. A delight!

And your Round 24 Flash Master is…

FLASH MASTER

Beth Deitchman

“Order”

This was, for me, a brilliant example of a story told both by the words that are used and the unwritten words lying beneath them; just the kind of story that a Flashmaster would write.

Congratulations Beth! Your story will be featured tomorrow as the HumpDay Quickie!

Next weekend the lovely and talented Voima Oy will be judging. It’s her first time, so be sure to show up with your best work! See you all on Saturday! 🙂

Hello, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I’m quite pleased with the turn out for Round 21 and absolutely thrilled to see some new faces in the crowd. The more the merrier! I’d like to send a special thank you to Shakes who not only writes and judges for the Angry Hourglass, but also provides a fair number of the photo prompts (including this week’s prompt) chosen to stimulate your imagination week after week. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again—this site is for you, and I’m grateful every weekend that you share your ideas and stories with me. And now, for the judge’s comments!

I’d like to start by saying how fortunate I feel to have been involved in Angry Hourglass from the start and have Rebecca regularly use my photos for the prompts.

I visit that park regularly. I believe that bench has seen many things, although perhaps not quite as broad or eclectic as your collective imaginations came up with. Then again…

This week we had loves lost, unrequited or turned bitter and vengeful.

We had aliens, wars and dystopia.

We had the devil himself (albeit in the background, conducting.)

We had a great detective and a not so great secret service.

Best of all, we had new blood joining the brilliant group of flash writers and friends making a tough job even tougher.

Right. I’ve runners up and a winner.

Before that, I’d like to say:

The juxtaposition of Image Ronin‘s “Sherlock” running on to Tinman‘s Irish Secret Service was sublime.

Jaime Burchardt‘s last line “To cry and to breathe.” is something I’ll steal much later when he’s not looking.

And last, but not least, a shout out to Bart for his clever use of the prompt & the flash competition itself as plot device.

Folks, it was close. I mean real close. This week, sentiment wins:

Second runner up is @Ali_OMalley with “There’s Always Next Year.”
This piece captured in words a feeling I had in my youth. A perfect moment gone too soon and a profound sense of loss. The optimism / fatalism was palpable.

Joint first runners up are Beth Deitchman & Karl A Russell for “Bertram” and “The Waiting Place” respectively.

Both subtle tales that invite us to view the situations through the eyes of their protagonists. The first, a second chance at something. The second , the hope that those first flurries may come (batteries permitting.)

This week’s winner and FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Jacki Donnellan

with “Cynthia.”


Read it. You’ll know. Well done. Powerful, poignant and as hopeful as that rainbow. I cried.

Congratulations, Jacki! Your story will be featured tomorrow as the HumpDay Quickie. Thanks again to everyone who participated this week. I hope you’ll all check in this weekend for a new prompt and a new set of flash. Cheers!

Greetings friends. It’s time for another edition of Flash Frenzy Winners, brought to you this week by the generous Image Ronin. As always, thank you to everyone who submitted stories. I’m always happy to provide a place for you to share your craft, but this endeavor is only as successful as you make it. Without further ado, here are your judge’s comments.

So this week was typically one of those that intrigues the writer within me. A woodland prompt, the visual echo of a Freudian metaphor, is always one that will lead some of us into darker waters. As always I wasn’t disappointed, in particular the world-building of Tanglewood, Passed with Flying Levin and Matters led me to wanting to know more of the characters and their differing plights. Whilst some tales took me into unexpected realms, yes I mean you Jacki Donnellan, with a wonderfully rich parody of the iconic Teddy Bear Picnic in Today’s the Day.

Sadly, as always, there can be only three, so here comes the shortlist.

Second Runner Up:

Unearthing by Karl A Russell

The narrative impetus of a husband worried over the potential discovery of his murdered wife was adeptly set up. As a reader I found myself wondering what was going to happen. Were the police en-route as Sam suspected? Was someone else lying in wait? What was Sam going to now do with the remains. 
The gearshift into a more horrific outcome was slick and I found myself reeling at the thought of undead offspring rising from the grave. An excellent example of the power of flash fiction to blend genre and the darkness that lingers in the woods. 

First Runner Up:

The choice between runner up and winner was ridiculously hard as both stories deserved to win. Yet a choice had to be made so runner-up goes to …

The Foundling Tree by Beth Deitchman

A wonderful and rich tale that hints at a greater story to be told. The tropes of a mysterious child, connected to an unknown culture and civilization, the presence of magic and the sense of a returning threat to this realm of safety were artfully set out. The description of the tree at the start was incredibly atmospheric and set up the tale perfectly. Quite a wonderful piece of writing.

Your Week 19 Flash Master is…

FLASH MASTER
Casey Rose Frank

with Communing with Nature

Whereas most tales lurked within the darker recesses of our imagination, this tale took the reader into the realms of Pratchett and Adams. I found myself laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of both men, the desire to have status without consideration of the impact that such motivation has on the wider world. A genuinely funny tale that expertly implemented satire to take the prompt off into an unexpected direction, and left me wanting more. 
And any tale that ends with a grand piano settling an argument is always going to win.

Congratulations, Casey! Your story will be featured tomorrow as the HumpDay Quickie. Please contact me here with any bio information, publications, links to personal sites, or any other information you would like to appear on your winner’s page.

Next week we have a new photo by Ashwin Rao (no excuses for round 20 Shakes!) and Jaime Burchardt will be acting as judge. Hope to see you all Saturday!

Thanks again to everyone who submitted stories this week, and special thanks to Beth for offering her services as judge.  

Every week on The Angry Hourglass I’m amazed at how one image can inspire so many different stories. This week proved no different—eight wonderful writers crafted eight little gems, which featured well-drawn worlds, gorgeous imagery, and delicious language, including “suit-smart, whip-thin” from Catherine Connolly and “shitting ducks” from Casey Rose Frank. (I’ve already made room for that one in my repertoire of expletives). Here are my choices:

Second runner-up:
Tinman for his account of Dublin’s rental bicycles after a hard day of carrying tourists around the city. The thought of them lined up as though at a bar tickled me and their complaints made me laugh.

First runner-up:
David Shakes for his story about a post-apocalyptic car aficionado. The opening line sucked me right in and the clarity of the imagery kept me along for the ride. The last line—well, simply delicious!

And your Round 18 Flash Master is…

FLASH MASTER
Karl A Russell

for his haunting tale of rider-less bicycles claiming the night streets of London. His language is pure poetry, carrying us through London with its sounds, rhythms, and imagery.

Congratulations, Karl. Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie!

That’s it for this winner’s edition. Be sure to tune in next week when Image Ronin returns to judge your photo-inspired flash fiction.

Flight

by: Beth Deitchman

Catherine hugged her arms close to her body and shuffled her feet. A crash in the alley made her whip around, wincing at the pain in her head and ribs. She half expected to see him stalking towards her, but it was just a cat with a mouse dangling from its mouth. Stifling a panicky laugh, she checked her watch then peered down the street. Headlights cut through the early morning fog, and she hitched the bag farther up her shoulder.

The bus’s brakes squealed, and with a sigh, the doors opened. Catherine climbed the steps and paid her fare, grateful for the driver’s indifference. Head down, she moved toward the back. The bus lurched forward, knocking her off balance. With a muffled cry, Catherine caught herself and collapsed into a seat. Clutching her ribs, she exhaled gently.

The city passed outside the grimy window, but Catherine trained her gaze on her hands. Not a speck left, though she could still feel the sticky warmth. Again she checked her bag for her ticket and her new passport—the one he never found. They were tucked next to her wallet. She pushed the dark glasses up her nose, flinching when the edge touched the fresh bruise, and stared straight ahead.

The scent of fuel announced their arrival at the airport. As she left the bus, Catherine saw a cop walking toward her. Her stomach dropped. With trembling hands she opened her bag and began rummaging through it. The cop passed her without a glance. Catherine took a shaky breath and hurried inside the airport.

An eternity passed in the security line, Catherine alert for questions that never came. Once into the terminal, she paused by the wide windows, watching the luggage carts snake from plane to plane. A man’s voice next to her made her jump and look around, but it was just a guy on his cell phone.

“Welcome aboard,” the flight attendant said.

“Thank you,” Catherine murmured.

No one else sat in her row. She leaned in to the plane’s window, watching the city grow smaller, the glass cool against her forehead.

This week’s winners post will be short and sweet as there are no judge’s comments. Thanks to all for participating in both the writing and judging this week.

We have 2 HMs :

@triffic_tinika with her story: The One That Got Away

and

@CaseyCaseRose with her story: The Breakup

 

your elected FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Beth Deitchman

with Flight

Congratulations Beth on your second win and as our first reader-chosen Flash Master. Your story will be featured tomorrow as the HumpDay Quickie.

Next week drmagoo will be our acting judge. Hope to see you all then!  😀

Le Moulin

by Beth Deitchman

 

“I don’t remember this one,” Doris said.

Betty leaned over to see which picture Doris held. “Le Moulin,” she whispered. The blush surprised her. At least fifty years had passed, yet Betty could still feel the heat of that day.

“What was that?” Doris brayed.

“The mill,” Betty replied. “I took it that summer I spent in Rouen.”

“I never was good with languages like you,” Doris said, her voice clipped. “I never got the chance to travel.”

Betty shrugged, letting Doris have her sulk. She picked up the discarded picture—faded after all these years—and studied it. Around her the cold dining room shifted, faded; the picture fell from her hands.

She stood at the edge of that lazy river, warmed by the June sun, inhaling the scent of water and summer and something else—the rich, loamy earth near the old mill. Le moulin. Despite the day’s warmth, Betty shivered, the sensation radiating through her body. She held up a hand and gave a little cry. Her skin was smooth, taut, and clear, her fingers straight and free from pain. She touched her face, marveling at the softness, glanced down at her body, stunned by the firmness. “But how?” she whispered.

From behind her came a rich voice, familiar though she hadn’t heard it in more than fifty years. “Bonjour, mademoiselle.”

Betty closed her eyes, gave a silent prayer, and turned around. When she opened her eyes, she smiled. “Jean,” she said.

He held out his arms. “I have been waiting.”

Betty rushed into his embrace, remembering the sweetness of his arms wrapped around her, the earthiness of his smell, the heat of his body. For a perfect moment Jean held her.

“What about this one?”

“What?” Betty said, looking up at Jean. He smiled at her then kissed her forehead.

“Betty?”

A cold hand grasped her arm, and Betty’s heart fell.

“What about this one?” Doris said.

“I’m not sure,” Betty replied. The winter chill settled again into her bones though the faint scent of summer, sun, and Jean clung to her skin.