Well, today was not a good day outside of the CdL for me.

And we only have six stories here.

And Pepper has a fever, so you guys are getting the blunt version of judges comments.  If we were harsher than necessary, we apologize.  If we weren’t harsh enough, send me an email and I’ll vent a bit.


The moon falls.

I still look for you.

All at once I feel you.

But what we once had is gone.

I write this for you every time I see.

Each time the duration feels an eternity.

My eyes close and reopen without respite.

My love, I am here because of your sacrifice.

A loss of life, far too soon, it’s surprise scathing.

Such an amazing thing that I obviously cannot forget.

Such is life.

Such is love.


DG: Sorry, but this is the odd one out.  Just not enough here to pull me in.

CP: Here’s the part where I come off like a heartless bastard–this is just a little too vague and too sentimental for me. Some kind of tragic event occurred–a sacrifice, a loss of life–but I can’t quite put the pieces together. I’m also trying to figure out if this is written to follow a particular poetic form. If it is, it’s not one I recognize, so sorry if I’m missing that.


I finally put the phone down.

Something changed between us.  I tried every way I know of to recapture the spark-the life! – that used to exist in the gap between you and I, but I can’t bridge that distance by myself anymore.

I pick up the phone and put it down.

Where did the feeling of loss and my need for you go?  Did it disappear into the hollow that enveloped my chest every time when I couldn’t see you?  Did the moodiness and the euphoria from when we were fighting and we made up somehow manage to blend together and cancel each other out?

I reach for the phone and stop, my hand resting on top of it.

I feel cold.  I feel numb.  My mind is grinding through its paces like an engine with a bearing out, the familiar cycles of thoughts and emotions getting more and more out of line with their normal rotations.

I fight the urge to throw the phone at the wall.

CP: There’s a lot of emotion here, but for the second story in a row I’m wishing for more specificity. The relationship doesn’t have any distinctive details, and we don’t know enough about the narrator to really connect with him or her. BRONZE

DG: This is going for a feeling more than a story.  Which is OK but in this short of space it’s really hard to fully establish that feeling. BRONZE


He could barely look at girls he liked, let alone talk to them. But he had just passed a note to Elizabeth. And she was reading it!

While he had a crush on several girls, Elizabeth was something else. A few weeks ago, they were making book covers out of grocery bags in science class. He had a hard time figuring out how to fold it, and she offered to help. Her smile as she handed his book back to him had permanently etched into his memory.

He figured at this point she was past the pleasantries and at the part where he said he liked her. He tried not to look at her too much, but she noticed. She smiled again!

He got the nerve to ask her out after class yesterday, where they had worked on a lab assignment together and he managed to make her laugh. Twice! Her laugh was perfect.

Staring at his textbook, he pretended to study. About five minutes later, the note was back on his desk. She had written back!

Dear Cory,

Thank you for the lovely note! I really appreciate you telling me your feelings. It takes a MAN to say the sweet things you did! I am honestly *touched* that you like me and that you asked me out. Unfortunately, I just got out of a bad relationship and I’m not ready to date someone right now. You’re a really nice guy, though. Well, I guess that’s all I have to say. Thank you!



He could barely breathe the rest of study hall. Shaking, he wrote a response, then waited until the bell. He then tossed it at her. She opened it.

My name is CODY

CP: Ah, puppy love. At the story’s beginning, I couldn’t figure out why the main character’s name wasn’t given, but I understood once I reached the end. This has more specific details than the first two pieces, but it overexplains everything that’s happening. I would have liked this more if it didn’t come out and tell us everything Cody is thinking. The girl’s mistake is kind of funny, and it would be more so if the characters didn’t seem so goshdarn sincere. SILVER

DG: mmhm.  mmhm. It establishes the setting and then delivers the joke.  BRONZE


After the accident, Renee found jumping to be second nature. Traipsing amongst the possibilities became a pastime. In one world, she was a mayor. In another, a classically trained pianst. Each version of her more exotic and interesting than the one before. She would go home each night and crawl into bed beside him, visions of what could be in her head.

Then she noticed that he wasn’t with her. In one version, he cheated on her. In another, he was an alcoholic. 549 realities she jumped, and in each, only acrimony and heartbreak awaited her. Escapism gave way to desperation.

Only home offered solace, and every night, she would lay beside him at night. Wondering what horror would tear them apart.

CP: Oooh, now here’s an interesting premise. The writing here is nothing special and this is told as a summary of events rather than a scene that plays out before us, but even so the final paragraph still manages to pack an emotional punch. (Although it should be “lie beside” not “lay beside.”) GOLD

DG: That’s sad.  There’s a nice reveal in here that gets us where this story wants to go. GOLD


It’s been 7 hours and 16 days. I took note of the time because I knew you meant it, and I wanted to see if there was something magical or cathartic about that length of time. There isn’t.

I picked up the phone. Your voicemail picked up immediately. I said “I started this story days ago, but ran out of ideas for this relationship. Then I got sick, and am likely dead even now. But the DayQuil makes me feel like I’m invincible, even though I can still barely breathe.”

I bet you’ll feel pretty bad when you hear that on your answering machine.

DG: Well, this story is a little bit ridiculous. I appreciate walking that line between weird and nonsensical. SILVER

CP: Is this getting into meta territory? The story is a bit glib, but with a little more tweaking it could be a first-rate Bantam Bulwyr tale. Under the assumption you were going for humor, I’ll give this a SILVER.


“Once the votes are read, the person voted out will be asked to leave the Tribal Council area immediately.  I’ll read the votes.”

   Derek throws a smile my way.  It’s amazing the connections you can make in just six days.  His strong hand holds mine as we listen to Jeff read the votes.

“First vote: Lisa.”

   The first vote, and it’s mine.  I can’t wait to get rid of her.  She’s been a cancer ever since we arrived on this island.  Plus, she’s been flirting with Derek, and I need to get rid of my competition.

“Second vote: Rebecca.”

   I expected this.  Lisa and I have been at each other’s throats all week.  She even wrote a little frowny face in the corner.  To hell with her.  I squeeze Derek’s hand.  He smiles back.

“Third vote: Rebecca.”

   That’s her BFF Aisha.  She’s next.

“Fourth vote: Rebecca.”

   Wait.  Shit!  This isn’t good. I had Derek and Will.  Derek said he had the other two guys.  And June said she and Ruth were voting with me…

   “Fifth vote: Rebecca.”

   Oh, God, don’t cry.  Not here, not on national television.  Absently I grab Derek’s hand tighter.  I look to him for reassurance.  He’s not looking at me.  He’s looking at… at Lisa?!  He’s smiling at her.  I don’t even notice my hand drop from his.

“Second person voted out of Survivor: Bora Bora — Rebecca.”

   I can’t stop the tears now.  In the right hand corner in tiny lettering are the words “Sorry, doll.”  Derek doesn’t even look at me.  I wrench my torch from its hole and rush to Jeff, not looking at the rest of them.

“Rebecca, the tribe has spoken.”

CP: Survivor! I felt like I saw the ending coming long before we got there, which made the reading of the votes rather tedious. Rebecca’s reactions all feel really predictable. You might have gotten more mileage out of this scenario if she’d done something really over the top or somehow had a more unexpected reaction to the vote. BRONZE

DG: This doesn’t go anywhere that you wouldn’t expect.  Still, there’s a story here and there’s a betrayal.  SILVER