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Fall Plume Award Finalists Selected; Vote for your Favorite Story

Alta’s Plume Awards are sponsored by the Euphony Literary Magazine. The five finalists for this fall’s flash fiction competition follow.

 

 

 

Fresh thyme is a fragrant and tasty addition to many meats and sauces.

NUMBER ONE: Out of Thyme

The oven was preheating. I pulled out the slide-in cabinet full of various spices to season the soon to be perfectly baked meat. “Cardamom, cloves, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, and thyme… thyme, thyme, thyme.” I pause. “Where’s the thyme!” I shout at my husband in the other room.

“We’re all out of thyme! Want me to get more?” he shouts back. I hear his footsteps as he walks to the oven from the other room.

He opens the oven door and a hand falls out. “Smells good, think the neighbors will like it?” he asks

“Oh, honey, these are the neighbors. Did you forget?”

NUMBER TWO: Carnations

Walter needed flowers. He scavenged through bouquets, trembling. He couldn’t find what he needed. Finally, he spotted it. A gorgeous bouquet of baby-pink and scarlet carnations. He grasped it as if it would scamper away like a shy dog. Digging in his pocket, he made no effort at small talk with the cashier.

Flowers next to him, he shoved keys in the ignition. The old Chevy stuttered, jumping to life and jolting like it felt the anxiety fuming around him. He arrived at the dreadful building and rushed inside to the elevator. As it rose, he grew impatient.

Like I’ve got time to spare.

While his mind sped, his body couldn’t. He shuffled, sighing, opening a room’s curtain. A feeble woman lay lifeless in bed. The monitor next to her hollered with every sporadic heartbeat.

Bashfully, he approached.

“Honey, look, your favorite.” He grabbed her silky hands. He knew she could hear.

“They’re beautiful, like you.” He lay the flowers on her chest.

Her lips curled, the monitor beeped louder, faster. Walter sobbed. The beeps coalesced to screeching.

His hands rested on her porcelain face. “I’ll always adore you, Angelica. Your time has run out, but ours, has not.”

NUMBER THREE: Ticking Clock

 

Tick, tick, TICK
the sound of the clock pounds into my head

as my sweat

drip, drip, DRIPS

grip the pencil
read the question
I know I know the answer
Why can’t I remember?

Tick, tick, TICK

“There are 2 minutes remaining, class”

I know I need to go

fast, fast, FASTER
my heart

beats beats BEATS

in my chest
I have to get an A
I have to be the best

tick tick TICK

A D B D C A

wait no, that one’s B RIGHT?
I know I know the answer
I CAN’T REMEMBER

Tick, tick, TICK
“Time’s up class, pencils down!”

expectations and hopes down

letting my parents down

holding my head up

high high HIGHER
It’s just a test

shouldn’t it be enough just to try?

 

NUMBER FOUR: Time Stands Still

 

“Move!” I shouted sternly realizing my six-year-old brother was in the middle of the road. “Wren! Get out of the road.”

Wren got into trouble often. He was born with down syndrome and wasn’t able to think and react as quickly as most.

I looked to my right and saw a semi-truck. It wasn’t slowing down.

10 seconds, I thought, 10 seconds until Wren… I couldn’t bear the thought. I realized what I had to do.

It was like time stood still as I watched my kid brother stand there helplessly. I refocused and began to run.  Ten, two cars were coming at me from the left. Nine, I cut in front of them. Eight, “Wren!” I called out as if it’d be my last words. Seven, a few more yards. Six, “Please just move…” Five, Wren and I locked eyes and I could feel his longing for help. Four, Three, I shoved him with all my force. Two, relieved I sighed. One, I felt the impact and knew I had run out of time. Zero.

NUMBER FIVE: Phosphenes Dysania

 

Tonight I lay awake gazing in omission

Before I gently close my eyes as colors fill my vision

My world is gray, no light in sight, vile, cold, unfair

Suddenly endless streams of dreams trap me, unaware

I don’t want to wake up

 

Brilliant hues of color fill an endless sky

Freedom, love, a bitter, naive lie

I take a breath, my heart afloat, I could walk on air

Yet something still feels very wrong, something makes me scared

I can’t wake up.

 

Vibrant colors fade to black, a monochrome display

As melancholy feelings bring my world back to gray

I brace myself and scream, fear fills my mind

Shadows creep and crawl inside, this nightmare keeps me blind

Wake. Up.

 

My eyes shoot open, the nightmare gone, everything the same

I take a breath, recovering from my mind’s silly game

That’s when I see the figure standing by my bed

It sees me too, it smiles, it moves, no- it’s all in my head

 

I can’t wake up, the figure starts to choke me with a sheet

It’s satin cloth fills my lungs in aimless disarray

I can’t breathe, I can’t move, I can’t scream

I’m out of time.

 

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