Flash fiction contest

Wednesday September 12, 2012

"How can you tell a story in 200 words or less?" asked Patricia Hatch Wallace, boggling at the Berkshires Week Facebook site.

You gave us the answer.

Flash fiction tells a story in a tight space, in a heartbeat. You sent us stories about death and love and home. On a sidewalk, on a mountain, in a cemetery, you gave us a taste of the Berkshires.

We asked writers to incorporate this line from Edith Wharton -- "Each time you happen to me all over again."

In context, in "Age of Innocence," Newland Archer is telling Ellen Olenska how she moves him -- she shocks him awake. But we invited you to play with the line and put that force of impact into any setting.

It's a day on the edge of fall. Walk into one of these crisp moments. See how far a few lines can take you. Blue Moon

I noticed you under August's blue moon -- just a leaf shining red as a summer sunburn. The pretty woman who lives across the street saw me standing there and called out, "Can't believe summer's already over."

I nodded and smiled but didn't reply. She went inside. I don't know her name, though we've been neighbors for years. I wondered if she knew mine.

A morning fog made me shudder at the ghostly chill of it as it nestled into the Berkshires like a cat in the covers of my unmade bed. Its gloom followed me to work.

How dare you blaze so soon. Another summer of heartache come and gone, and now you mock me over the dalliance last Spring with the political lobbyist from Salisbury who, after meeting me over sushi at Bizen, invited me to her house for drinks, which led to more, for a couple of months anyway, before she packed up and moved to Sarasota.

You had just been born, al ready making promises that you couldn't keep. Each time you happen to me all over again. Why do you do that?

I'll need my coat soon. -David Spangler of Pittsfield Persona non grata

"Each time, you happen to me all over again," she would sing to Spirit Mountain. Spirit Mountain distracted her from the commonplace; it was her temple and her home, where on the mountain's tranquil western slope she lived for two years in solitary communion with the Berkshires.

Each day she would collect for her art mountain ornaments of the season -- perhaps summer's witch-hobble and birch bark, perhaps winter's alder cat kins and yew. She was never impressed with the people she met there; these en counters would be brief, and no face would ever look familiar. Weekly she would hike into the valley town for provisions and to do business with the gallery selling her work.

Today her backpack contained the unusual -- an attic's contents left out on the curb as trash. Returning from the market, she discovered the fortune. There were pearl combs, a hand-woven Vic torian-age piano scarf from Kashmir, and an 1854 first edition of "Uncle Sam's Library: Stories and Legends."

"Who should care that I take this?" she thought; "After all, I'm preserving history."

Today on her ascent home she felt for the first time the weight of a Berkshire objection. -Donna Sutliff of North Adams 'Each time you happen to me...'

Mary died a few seconds ago, or was it a few hours, weeks maybe? Our new house on the side of the Hill in Dalton was to be our sanctuary, only now the enemy found us.

Poe said it well -- "we loved with a love that was more than love." Living each day was a great comfort, as we meshed and moved as one. What joy to pause in the day without thinking and yet to think each time you happen to me all over again as at the beginning.

And then later to walk into all those white roo,s, and then the last room, and each time she would happen to me all over again. So now I go up to St. Joe's and sit with her for long, sad moments, and, dear Mary, each time you happen to me all over again. -Tom Renak of Dalton


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