click to enlarge ERIN RUIZ

1st Place - $500


He was a plate-spinner in a warm-up act. He knew the secret between balance and energy, returning in time to stop the wobble. She was a dancer, third from the left. Her kicks were often a little too high. It wasn't a glamorous life. They met at a buffet; he spun a plate for her. That night, he learned the reasons for her kicks. They lived together until she thought she could do better. She ran off with a man who spun tales. His words never wobbled or teetered, but later she wondered if they wouldn't shatter when they fell.

-Kim Monnier
Mountain Home

click to enlarge ERIN RUIZ

2nd Place - $300

The Color of Money

Sundays, Glen and Allan were supposed to clean their dad's failing paint business. They mainly just huffed spray paint. Everything changed the day Glen lost the bet, put his head in the paint shaker, and Allan hit the switch. Allan made a puddle with some acetone they had used to clean under their noses and told everyone, including Glen, that Glen slipped on it.

Later, headaches made Glen quit school. Working at the paint shop, Glen saved his dad's business. The "accident" had given him the ability to match any shade of paint perfectly for customers. He could smell the colors.

-Max Wiggins


click to enlarge ERIN RUIZ

3rd Place - $100

Public Pools, and How They Can Rescue Conversation

Initially, everyone's eyes were drawn to the pool. Was he drowning? Did the young man collide with the diving board? "Georgie!" a woman squealed-and again, as she stood up--"GEORGE!"

Hypnotized by the sun and its low angle against the translucent pool, George pulled his briefs to his ankles (he flatly refused to wear an actual swimsuit) and began to pee, mind you, directly into the pool--while simultaneously biting into half a turkey sandwich on wheat.

Across the way and unaware, an open-armed swim instructor cooed a young girl into the water. "Jump darling," she said, "the water's lovely."

-Nathan Lee Smith

click to enlarge ERIN RUIZ

4th Place - $50

David's Children

David's Children are starting to want things, like a house they can fit in, "Like a mouse they can ride on," they've said. They have little moons and such above their beds, all of the planets he could build them. They hang and glow in the dark. They speak at times, but only as planets speak, and it is never enough. They glow as moons will glow, but this is emptiness somehow; David's children have wanted windmills. They count their butchered sheep to sleep. They close their eyes and dream of jam. They hug their bears. They hear bombs going off.

-J. Reuben Appelman




JUDGES PICKS - $25 each

Amy Atkins

Pattern Recognition

Jocelyn noticed patterns from the crib. Traced spidery lines on the wall with crayons to fashion a birthday cake or lopsided house. Sat folded over a toilet after adolescent drinking, focusing on a humpback whale or elongated snake captured in floor tiles. She'd lie beside her lover, staring at the textured ceiling, identifying a horse straining against the bit, cartoon mouse directing an orchestra. So peering from the bridge, she felt surprise that the river's whitecaps looked like ... whitecaps. Until the surface was closer, and ripples gathered into a billowing dress, worn by a goddess.

The splash formed a crown, briefly.

-Marie G. Essig

Ask Me How

"Hold up." Ramsey produced his cell. "I can help. Put the hotdog down. Back away from the remote control." He snapped the phone shut. He walked on silently, I, confused.


"Hello. Get off the couch. Put on some pants. Go outside." He hung-up.

We walked. Ramsey rang.

"Here's how. Sitting down? Well, get up. Do something, anything that doesn't include super-size, bottomless fries, value-menus or all-you-can-eat. A day without drive-thru is not a day without sunshine. You're welcome."

"What gives?"

Ramsey pointed to a sign stapled up downtown. "LOSE WEIGHT!! ASK ME HOW!!"

I recognized the number below.

He rang.

-Josh Hindson

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