Congratulations to the winners of the Pikes Peak Pen Women Flash Fiction Contest! We’re delighted to bring the top "LIFE INTERRUPTED" contest pieces to you, with permission of their talented authors.
2017 Theme: Life Interrupted
First Place: Pamela J. Jessen | Colorado Springs, CO | Escape
Second Place: Ingrid Jendrzejewski | Cambridge, United Kingdom | The Hard Prune
Third Place: Cathi Wilson | Fort Myers, FL | Illegal
Honorable Mention: Gretchen Richardson | Elbert, CO | Fires
2017 FIRST PLACE | Escape by Pamela J. Jessen
She lashed the squirming infant to her with what was left of her scarf, wind-driven snow a flensing knife against her bare face and hands. Freezing to death, she’d decided, was worth the chance to be free of him.
“Mama keep you warm, baby.”
She staggered in deepening snow and ice-clogged gutters, her breath ragged, baby’s cries muffled as the storm howled around them. Tears froze in the corners of her eyes, conscious thought whipped away by the lash of wind. She moved on instinct now, almost feral in intensity.
Survival . . . safety . . . freedom.
A note from Pamela: "I have been writing short fiction and poetry since my children were youngsters. Now they’re grown with families of their own and still I write. I’ve been fortunate in seeing a number of my stories and poems published in a variety of publications over the years and hope to continue writing for many more years to come"
2017 SECOND PLACE | The Hard Prune by Ingrid Jendrzejewski
After cutting back the leylandii, it occurred to her that while she was at it, she might as well prune her husband too. She started with the little wayward offshoots: fidgeting, lip smacking, his dislike of cats. But soon, she was severing fundamental branches; off went alcoholism, temper, a tendency toward violence.
When she finally got her husband into a shape she liked, she stood back to survey her work. He sat there in his armchair – trim but dormant – and she wondered if, come spring, she’d have to replace him entirely, or if he would suddenly burst into bloom.
About Ingrid Jendrzejewski: Ingrid’s first published flash fiction won third place in the 2014 Pikes Peak NLAPW Flash Fiction Competition. Since then, she’s published around 100 stories and poems in places like Passages North, The Los Angeles Review, Rattle, and The Conium Review, and she has received honors such as the Bath Flash Fiction Award and the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando Prize. Links to Ingrid’s work can be found at www.ingridj.com and she occasionally tweets @LunchOnTuesday.
2017 THIRD PLACE | Illegal by Cathi Wilson
Emily and her mom walk to school, chattering in English and Spanish. Then her mom walks to the restaurant where she cleans.
Emily wants to be a fashion designer. She’s never been to Mexico, but her heritage shows in the spicy colors she uses when she sketches. Today she is telling her mom about her latest design, The Fire Dress.
Emily walks to the school door and turns to wave goodbye. Two men in black ICE POLICE jackets are near her mom. Emily is scared, but she does what her mom told her. She hurries to her third grade classroom.
A note from Cathi: "A classmate from first grade reminded me on Facebook recently that I had announced to the class that I wanted to be an artist and a writer when I grew up. At 55, I have finally grown up enough to pursue that challenge. If my painting gets accepted into my first juried art show this month, the second part of that dream will come true. Thank you National League of American Pen Women, Inc. Pikes Peak Branch for inspiring me!"
2017 HONORABLE MENTION | Fires by Gretchen Richardson
“Let’s drive into that camper sales lot and look around just for fun. I know – the tent is fine for us!”
“These rigs don’t seem much like camping – even have an indoor fireplace and HD TV. Awesome!”
“Can you believe? We’re now equipped for luxurious vacationing!”
“The grandchildren will love this too – we’ll still enjoy campfires.”
“No more soggy bonfires for cooking and stormy nights in our tent.”
Two weeks later: “Grab the phone – there’s an alert. What in the world this time?”
Amber Alert? “Fire! Bonfire? Forest Fire! Immediate evacuation?”
In one day our camper became our new home!
About Gretchen Richardson: Gretchen grew up loving to read and continues to attribute exposure to good authors to her interest in writing. For many years she enjoyed the pleasure and benefits of handwritten correspondence with her English teacher mother which heightened her love for writing. She said, “In today’s retirement years I continue to enjoy good authors and have studied some great courses focused on writing skills. It’s just been fun to see what happens when I sit down to write.”
2016 Theme / Storm ... Hidden ... OR ... Change
First Place: Marcia Goodall | Fresno, CA | Done
Second: Wanda Marie Tierney | Loveland, CO | The Truth
Third: Ingrid Jendrzejewski | Cambridge, UK | The Grandmaster
2015 Theme / Between Duty and Devotion
First Place: Terry Cobb | Harris, MO | That's Us
Second: Carrie Sharp | Suttons Bay, MI | The Book Mobile
Third: Ingrid Jendrzejewski | Cambridge, UK | The Crossing Guard
Honorable Mentions: Joan Leotta | Clabash, NC | A Glass of Water & Charlene A. Potts | Westcliffe, CO | The Last Letter
2014 Theme / In This Moment
First Place: Linda Doyle | New Pine Creek, OR
Jasper Gordon's Gone Missing
Second Place: Valerie Stauffer | Greenwich, CT | Moment Gone
Third (tie): Terry Cobb | Harris, MO | Now or Never
Third (tie): Ingrid Jendrzejewski | Cambridge, UK | The Window
2013 Theme / Hidden Amongst These Worlds
First Place: Cheryl Miller | Canon City, CO
How I Bought Beachfront Property in Rifle, CO
Second: Laura Kjosen | Highlands Ranch, CO | The Allies
Third: Jaclyn White | Hoschton, GA | A Morning Theft
2016 First Place | Done, by Marcia Goodall
I burned his toast–again. He’ll beat me–again. He’ll threaten to leave–again. I’ll beg him to stay–again.
At least that’s what he thinks. But I’d had enough. If I didn’t put a stop to his brutality, he’d kill me.
I eased open the front door. Two men stepped inside. They sported brass knuckles and carried blackjacks.
"Angie!” my husband yelled.
I nodded toward the kitchen.
When they finished, my husband lay curled in a fetal position. He whimpered, “Help me.”
I walked away.
Months later, I sat down to breakfast. I frowned. He’d burned my toast–again.
2015 First Place | That's Us, by Terry Cobb
I picked up another gum wrapper from the waiting room floor and shook my head at the diminutive culprit. “You know that’s disrespectful.”
She rolled her eyes. “My gum is yucky.” She spit it into her hand and reared back to pitch it.
“I’ll take that.” I grabbed her wrist and scanned the room to see if anyone was speed dialing Social Service.
She dropped the chewed-up wad in my hand and grinned. Her blue eyes, eyes we shared, twinkled. I melted. Damn, she got me again.
The door opened. “Amanda Cunningham.”
I took her hand. “C’mom, Mom. That’s us.”
2014 First Place | Jasper Gordon’s Gone Missing, by Linda Doyle
In this moment of unexpected clarity, she knew exactly what had to be done. He wasn’t much in life and would be even less in death.
Sheriff Longhorn pulled into the drive. “Morning, Miz Thelma.”
“Sheriff. What brings you by?”
“Jasper Gordon’s gone missing. Wondered if you’d seen him.”
“Came by 2, maybe 3 days ago. Me and my shotgun told him to scat. Ain’t seen him since.”
She sipped her tea as the sun sank lower. She wasn’t going to worry about the body under the house. At 85 she would enjoy every brilliant sunset she had left.
2013 First Place | How I Bought Beachfront Property in Rifle, CO by Cheryl Miller
They think it started in Winchester, Tennessee. A student at Franklin County High School texted her BFF during an assembly entitled Green Energy – The Wave of the Future. Sound and lighting were working. Computers were humming throughout the air conditioned school; bells awaited the clocks’ cue. The traffic lights in town were fully operational, and twelve lines were open at the Walmart. All across Winchester, machines were scanning, pumps dispensing, lights beckoning, systems protecting, refrigerators chilling, music playing, talk shows airing … And then the earth just sort of tilted. They reckon the girl’s texting was the last electromagnetic straw.