Thank-you to the judges for this amazing honor!
The winner will be announced in Mid-October
River Cities' Reader 2016 Short-fiction contest Judge's Favorite
Fable of the Cloud
The summer I turned eighteen I disappointed both my parents for the first time. I decided to take the shape of a human.
My mother, who was not afraid of drifting to where the Cloud Gate, our home, could no longer be seen, dissolved into tears. My father, always the more cautious one, went into fits of thunder.
If you happened to be on the island that summer, you probably remembered the sudden torrential rains and storms that baffled everyone – meteorologists did not see them coming in any of their radars. That was the disturbance of my family – mother cried, father yelled, and I stubbornly kept my silence and my mind.
You see, if you were a cloud like us, you did not take the shape of a human. You drifted around, descending if you like, taking shapes of rocks, mountains, trees, and, for the truly brave, birds and animals. You could feel how it was like being lively, yet always safe to find your way home. But humans? Absolutely not! Too much temptation, corruption, and sadness! Before your knew it, you would be irredeemably lost, never to find your way back to the sky. “And they have to pay taxes!” as my uncle Tuba would grumble.
I was happily trailing behind my parents when I spotted him, the boy for whom I would take the shape of a girl. Oh how was I transfixed! By the slightly frowny eyebrows and almost-not-there smile when he was absorbed in his book, and by the body that smoothly weaved in and out of the water, more agile than the most skillful fish.
I imagined him turning around, finding me, and saying, “Hello, you are here.”
Many summers have since passed. Occasionally, I look up to the sky, tracing my parents, while my love sleeps silently, next to me.
River Cities' Reader 2017 Short-fiction contest Second Place
How the Fox Stole the Golden Crown in Monkeyville
I was chained to a pole on the Rock in the town square for borrowing a chicken without asking first when the Sun disappeared and afternoon turned into twilight. Eclipse! It came into my mind, in the nick of time, how Columbus, or Cortez, or one of those people, played an eclipse as a saving trump once, on some savages, and I saw my chance.
“Behold!” I stood as tall as I could, raising my front legs. My silhouette looked the best in the twilight, as my silver tail with a hint of bloody orange looked massive in that light.
The monkeys and all the others─bunnies, squirrels, foxes, guys who came to Monkeyville because it was the best place in the entire Flower and Fruit Mountain─shivered more at my holler.
“What is it, Fox?” One brave monkey managed to say
"Don't you all see? The Sun had gone dark! It's the rage over you foolish, foolish bunch! They are taking away all you have, but you are chaining me, the One that can save you!” I declared.
“Who are they?” One bunny asked. I ignored her.
“Taking what away?” One monkey asked.
“Your sticks! Your rocks! You will not be able to throw them freely at each other, as you have done since the beginning of Monkeyville!”
“That’s outrageous!” One old monkey grumbled. Several of his mates nodded vigorously.
“There is more! How about three bananas in the morning, and four in the evening?” I said.
“What! We have always had four in the morning, and three in the evening!” The crowd cried, “What to do?”
“Free me!” I yelled, just as the Sun reappeared, “and I can save you!”
“That’s the sign!” the crowd cheered. One hunky monkey climbed up and broke the chain.
“You saved us!” Several monkeys were in joyful tears.
At their insistence, I put on the Golden Crown, and I became the official savior of Monkeyville.
"How the Fox Stole the Golden Crown in Monkeyville," illustrated by Johnnie Clunie