Hey Prosers! I can’t tell if you guys liked writing about nudity, but I sure liked reading it. We had a nice array of stories, ranging from sexual to sci-fi to babies, which I hear are usually naked when they enter the world. Enjoy reading these.

The judges are still figuring out how to judge a bazillion stories and do so efficiently. Rob was having technical issues so was unable to provide commentary this week. He did give medals, though, and hopefully you’ll know how his brain ticks in the coming weeks.

The good news is that everyone who submitted a story who didn’t have their story disqualified for one reason or another got at least one medal.

Your main character must be completely nude during the entire story. You do not have to have other characters, but if you do, they must be fully clothed.

David Lauer

If there was any benefit to being stuck on a deserted island, Jake figured it was the fact that he didn’t have to wear pants anymore. Of course, he couldn’t have even if he wanted to – they had been ripped beyond repair during the crash – but he enjoyed the simple freedom so much that by the second day on the island, he decided he no longer had use for any clothes at all.

Right now it helped Jake to focus on the good things, however little they may be, because mostly everything else was bad. Food and fresh water appeared scarce, and his spelling out of “SOS” with rocks hadn’t yet attracted a single plane or boat.

But as he sat there naked in the sand, with his back against one of the many stupid non-fruit-bearing trees, Jake had become ok with never wearing pants again.

B: Amusing vignette, though I want more. More about the island, more about who Jake is. It feels like the author came up with the fun first line and then didn’t know what else to say. I do like the comment about the stupid trees.

BD: This could easily have been a simple joke that went nowhere, but the sense of fatalism gives the story weight. The prose could be sharpened a bit, so I would say this is just an edit or two away from a medal.

Gilman: Good on ya, Jake. Look on the bright side and keep your back against the fruitless trees. I would have preferred a little less table-setting and a little more meat; some details about the crash, some indication of Jake’s emotional turmoil or effort at remaining placid. But you can’t ask very much from a castaway without pants.

RZ: BRONZE

Roxanne Lewis

Her uniform, damp with sweat from the diner rush from hell, clung to her in that awful way that only polyester could do as she walked up the stairs.

Just as she stepped out of the stairwell she saw her six year old daughter sprinting down the hall wearing nothing but the fairy wings that she hadn’t been able to get off of her since Halloween.

The acne riddled teen that she hired the night before came lumbering down after her, carrying a dress in one hand a pair of Frozen themed underware in the other. The woman simultaneously switched the giant pack of toilet paper to her other arm and snatched the wild child just before she could get by. Once in the house she snatched a twenty from her purse and shooed the girl out, “Carlie, if mama doesn’t see some clothes on that tiny butt soon, nobody is getting dessert tonight!”

She walked to the cabinet and pulled out her three dollar bottle of wine ignoring the new artwork that riddled the walls and the crayons crushed into the carpet. “Not today” she whispered to herself.

B: A nice little slice of life here, though the misspelling of the word “underwear” took me away from it for a second. Unfortunately, it’s about 40 words over the word limit and is disqualified.

BD: It amazes me how single parents make it all work, and this captures that feeling of super human strength mixed with exhaustion and frailty. The prose is bit wordy, which makes it even more of a shame that this is disqualified; a quick edit or two and this could have gotten under the word limit.

Gilman: A bit meatier here, with some nice subtle choices of words that provided good detail about the kind of life this woman’s living. Thoroughly believable scenario too, and automatically curries our empathy. The “not today” at the end feels a bit dangly, though. Is she lamenting her situation, or chastising herself about some darker urge?

Ian Pratt

A determined burst to the surface. The sun a dizzying sparkle in the sky as Kainoa breeched, air sucking into his bloodstream in huge gulps. His lungs were two strongboxes in his chest, ironclad and invincible. He kicked his legs into another dive.

There was something down there, something valuable perhaps, glinting out of Kainoa’s reach on a ledge just beyond his favorite oyster bed. He was an arm-length away on his last dive. He climbed into his outrigger and doubled over naked in the sunshine. The seams and bolts of his strongboxes bent and flexed. The bay had been busy since the kingdom fell, crowded with a flotilla of warships and merchant steamers heading to Honolulu and dropping jetsam among Kainoa’s oysters. He straightened and coughed as a strongbox bolt wriggled loose, sputtering forth from his lips to rattle around the hull. The boat rocked as he dove again.

B: Very strong writing. A compelling story I reread three times. My only criticism is that it feels like a small portion of a much larger story; I’m doing a lot of guessing as to what’s going on. SILVER

BD: The atmosphere starts out very strong, but the ‘bay has been busy line. . .’ comes a little out of left field. Kainoa’s life seems dreamy and fantastical, and I was hoping he would find something bizarre and unexpected in the waters. Instead, we seem to be headed into a more historical-fiction direction, which is fine but not quite what I wanted. Still, the strength of the writing pulls this one through. SILVER

Gilman: Some nicely vivid language choices here, and a pretty strong sense of place. Even the hint of conflict was inserted lightly into the narrative. I just got stuck on the extended “strongbox” metaphor, and to me it didn’t survive the stretching. BRONZE

RZ: SILVER

Abby Stansel

The light striking bare skin creates a bronze glow, like candlelight.  The world passes by as he doesn’t see it, so hard does he fight to not see the world.  His lips lock in an agony known only to him, as the knives tear into his skin.  A scream is stopped at his throat. The mother stands, a foot away.  Watching.  She cries for the child she thought she would have.  He fights to get air past his lips, fights to force the breath into his body.  He wracks with sobs, sobs that cant seem to find the air.  The sort touches feel like knives,  the whispers like yells.  The man with the gentle eyes speaks, his words blown away by the buzzing and beeping.  The mother, siting, to wait for the day his bare skin may touch hers.  Waiting to be free of the machines that let him live.

B: I figured we’d get a lot of newborn baby stories this week and you guys didn’t disappoint. This is one of the more chilling ones, though a missed apostrophe and a misspelled word (siting) hurt the feel a bit.

BD: Well, I was expecting this to go in a much darker direction after the first few lines. If I’m reading this correctly, this is a sort of meditation on a mother watching as her newborn goes under the scalpel. I love the idea, but the emotional complexity is hurt somewhat by the vagueness of the plot. It’s a tough thing to accomplish in such a small space, and I still like a lot of this. BRONZE

Gilman: Admirable take on this challenge, but the paragraph reads too deliberately artsy by half. Too often, florid language catapults a passage from show-me to tell-me status, and that’s what happened here. Also, to all the writers: edit your stuff before submission. “Sort touches” and “siting” stand out in the reading, and further disrupted any momentum you were hoping to gather.

RZ: SILVER

Brooks Maki

The smell of the prisoner cut through the incense of the throne room. Everyone but the jester advancing across the floor cringed and hid their face. He knelt before the naked man, and murmured something. He stole a glance at the throne and gave a nearly imperceptible shake of the head before scurrying to the wall.

The prisoner shook as he struggled to rise.  He reached his feet and began to cough. Rising hands caught the key falling from his mouth, and quickly his chains lay at his feet. He strode toward the throne, where he plucked the crown from the cushion and faced the court.

As the crown touched his brow his back arched in rictus, a soundless scream on his lips. After an endless minute, the lifeless body dropped to the floor and the crown rolled slowly across the room to stop at the jester’s feet.

B: The final paragraph is rich with description even if there’s a significant grammatical error in that first sentence. The final paragraph is also rich with storytelling. We don’t know who this prisoner is or exactly why anything happens, but I was fascinated by the tale all the same. GOLD

BD:I absolutely love the mythic quality of the imagery here, particularly starting from the point where the key falls out of the prisoner’s mouth. Unfortunately, I really can’t tell what is happening, so it’s hard for me to come to any definite conclusions about this. If the hallucinatory imagery were combined with more insight into how we got here, I would give this a gold. BRONZE

Gilman: I’m guessing this author felt really hamstrung by the word limit, as they’re trying to put quite a lot into quite a little space. As it is, the piece has a sameness of rhythm and importance throughout the piece that makes the whole thing seem two-dimensional. A little pronoun confusion doesn’t help matters (nor does the weird use of “rictus,” which as far as I know refers to the mouth only). This might be a case of trying to do too much.

RZ: BRONZE

Matt Novak

One more night.  The apartment will be ready tomorrow.

I fill the sink, and begin to splash the lukewarm water under my armpits.  I smell like Ecolab and I cannot wait to shower again.  My underwear and socks soak in the next sink over.  I cannot afford new clothes, much less a hotel.  Still, the internship supervisor has been impressed at how early I arrive and how late I leave.  It’s not all bad.

There’s a step, and the handle turns.

I gasp.  I dash into the stall.  I hold my breath.  Water falls from my person.  My prayers are unanswered.

“Donald?”

“Mr. Carter?”  I cringe, “Working late?”

“Why are you naked?”

I want to explain how expensive the treatment is.  That this was my only option.  That I wish I’d bought renter’s insurance.  But it comes out as a question.

“Bedbugs?”

B: A dramatic and amusing story at the same time. Some things are overexplained (“but it comes out as a question”) and three consecutive sentences that start with “I” slow down the pace a bit. That said, it’s intriguing and a nice change of pace from the usual reasons people are nude. BRONZE

BD: I really like this narrative voice and the plot is well-paced. While the last line got a chuckle out of me, the main character’s internal anguish is so well described that it’s dampened a little by the jokey ending. SILVER

Gilman: This one gave me a chuckle, and I was pleased by the pace at which the details were revealed to me. This story makes good use of its abbreviated length and it has an interesting story your imagination fleshes out once you finish reading it. SILVER

RZ: GOLD

Quinn Myers

“OHhhhhohooooh,” Jacob mused at nothing walking into his bedroom after a shower to find things had been re-arranged, again. “You wanna fuckin’ deal now? You wanna do this?”

Towel on the floor — originally dropped in fright — something clicked in Jacob. “If you’re gonna haunt this apartment, bitch, you better be prepared to see some shit.”

Jacob bent at the waist, stuck his head between his knees and spread his butt cheeks open, letting out a long, airy fart. “HUH? YOU LIKE THAT?”

Jacob’s furniture flew to the ceiling. “Ok… OHHHHHKAY,” he clamored before spreading his scrotum over an antique doorknob while gyrating his hips back and forth. “This the doorknob that led to your baby’s bedroom? Huh? Where the fire started?”

A soft whimper filled the air as Jacob’s furniture quietly returned to place.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. This is my apartment now, you fuckin’ dead piece of shit.”

B: Rough around the edges. It is never a good idea to start out any story with an interjection, if it ever is a good idea at all. Even with that, this is pretty damn funny. I unfortunately have a pretty stark image in my head now of a scrotum over a brass doorknob and it ain’t going away any time soon. And, hey, this makes sense. If you’re going to fight apparitions, why not do it with the flesh? SILVER

BD: Okay, I think this is hysterical, and the idea of a ghost being driven out by the antics of a bro-dude is absurdly delightful. I find the first sentence a little confusing, and the story should have ended one line sooner, but other than that it was all very entertaining. Some of the other comedy entries I liked a bit more, so this just barely missed out on a medal.

Gilman: I think I want to like this piece more than I do, because I don’t think too many other people would go in this direction. But it stops just short of successful for me.

RZ: BRONZE

Sama Smith

The lights flickered on.

The scratchy towel wrapped around her slowly gave way and opened to the cold air. Her body would not shiver.

Her eyes forgot their blinking. Her heart forgot its beating. Her mind forgot the feeling of being alive.

She could not see her toes. Her head felt like lead. Her hair crunched underneath her neck on the bed.

A polka dot pink dress laid next to her, its lace trim tickled her side.

“You are so beautiful,” he said, breaking the silence. The air hummed with his breath.

“You’ll be perfect in no time,” he whispered in her ear,carrying her to the mirror.

Her eyes could not leak. Her mouth could not scream.

She could not see what he could see. She could not believe how he believed.

His fingers slipped over every inch of skin and then he laid down next her to begin.

B: At first I thought this was a generic love story about a timid woman and her eager partner. But the line “you’ll be perfect in no time,” threw a wrench in things. Feels kind of Twilight Zoney, and that’s a good thing. Combining sentences into fewer paragraphs would strengthen the pace. This just missed out on a silver medal from me. BRONZE

BD: This is some mighty dark stuff. Absolutely gorgeous prose here, but somewhat lacking in plot detail. This seems to be a psychopath doing horrible things to someone who is in the process of dying, which is a nice and disturbing idea, but struggles a little with the small word count. What is here is compelling, though. BRONZE

Gilman: Hai-karate, this one’s a doozy. Just enough left unspoken and unexplained to let the chill settle in at the end. It almost reads like a tone-poem, and the words are stingingly efficient in giving us the feelings, if not the details, of what’s happening. Lovely. GOLD

Joshua Longman

Hank Klein blinked at the wavy shoreline – hotels shimmering in the distance.  An elderly black nun turned to him as the breeze blew on his testicles.

“Are you an asshole, Henry?” She suggested.

“Huh?”

“Did you do shit like this?” He gestured angrily at some bottles.

“Weren’t you just a woman?” Henry said to the cowboy.

“Was I? It’s kind of a chameleon thing.” God said, flipping a hand up.  “Well…..I never killed……or stole or anything.  I….littered though.” Henry realized, shivering.  Why am I naked?

“Humans are worse than ever!” the little girl chirped.  “Did you eat meat?”

“Yeah, but…so do animals.  Right?”

“Animals are dicks too! Bears can eat nuts and berries, but no, they have to kill. Tons of bears in hell.”

God’s vegetarian?…..  “Can I still go?”

Sighing, God raised the wooly hood of His parka.

Yes. Unlike you, I’m not an ass.”

B: I like some of the dialogue here and yet I have not one clue who is saying what or what is happening. It starts out well, as we don’t often get elderly black nuns as characters. As far as I can tell, though, we have Hank (who is also called Henry), the nun, some cowboy I think, and God. There’s potential here, and the author just needs to help the reader out a bit more.

BD: This right here is finely crafted silliness. The humor plays on the reader’s expectations in creative ways, and there’s a bit of heart at the end to pull everything together. Expertly done. GOLD

Gilman: Another cute conceit that grabbed me, but not as much as it could have to after I got the gist of it. A miffed God would definitely make for an interesting afterlife, though. There was just enough detail to keep this out of Setup/Punchline territory, so credit to the author for making that happen. SILVER

Colin Woolston

The widow Douglas stood at water’s edge, her clothes an unrecognizably soiled pile at her feet. A sour wind tousled her hair as she absent-mindedly squeezed the nipple of one of her swollen breasts; streaks from her tears made a delta in the ash covering her chest.

It had all been as she had hoped, for so long. Almost as long as she felt it had taken to dig the graves – one long, two short in January soil. Soil so full of spite she had cursed it many times over, and offered it sacrifices to bring forth at least sustenance. Now it had taken all, and left nothing in return. The walk from the homestead to the cliffs, though miles longer than any journey she had dreamed of, had been but a moment.

The widow Douglas stepped forward, and gave her last to the crashing waves and keening birds.

B: This might be my favorite story of the week. It’s heartbreaking even if it’s not entirely original. What really helps it rise above is the prose and the atmosphere. I can see the tears making a delta in the ash on her chest. Vivid imagery there. And I appreciate the description of the graves giving us a lot of info with so few words. The soil itself is a strong character here. GOLD.

BD: Some lovely, stark imagery, particularly in the first paragraph and the last line. The only thing keeping me from give this a gold that there’s just not much going on, story-wise, which is likely due more to the word limit than anything else. SILVER

Gilman: There seem to be a lot of details that set up this moment in this world. What’s not shared with the reader doesn’t intrigue as much as it confounds. I can invent lots of possible reasons or scenarios that would have led to this, but the narrative distance doesn’t make the answers feel that compelling to figure out. Another case of language a bit too flowery for what it’s trying to get across.

RZ: SILVER

Bret Highum

Cold.  The stars peek at me through leafless branches.  So cold.

The skin of my back and buttocks feels like I’m frozen to the surface beneath me.  I can’t feel my legs.

I push myself upright, skin slowly stretching and popping free, tearing in places.  I gasp in pain, and then in shock when I see the ice encasing my legs.  I slam my fists into my icy shackles until the ice is smeared with blood and my fingers are numb.

I stop, panting, hands throbbing, warmed slightly by my rage and exertion.  Raising my head and looking around, I see a dozen empty, blood-flecked slabs of ice in the forest clearing.  Piles of abandoned clothes litter the frosty earth.

I recognize Maddie’s green blouse, tangled and dirty, next to my own clothes.

I wish the shapes I see at the edge of the glade weren’t so obviously human.

B: Speaking of vivid imagery, good lord. One of the things that has always scared me since I was a kid was having my body stuck to ice. I think I watched A Christmas Story one too many times. Anyway, it hit hard for me. The final line raised more questions than it answers, which is the only unsatisfying part of the story for me. Good work here. GOLD

BD: Once again, I think this is another story that is perhaps too ambitious for the word-limit. I really like where this is headed, but there’s too many unanswered questions for this to really catch me. BRONZE

Gilman: This story intrigues, but the final line somehow softens the impact of the very well written detail of the story’s action. It’s a confusing detail and shift in perspective that I don’t think the story needed. However, it doesn’t take away from the enjoyable writing that came before. BRONZE

Shelbi Sarver

The peasants looked upon the man known as Barnabus with wonderment as he climbed upon his majestic Pegasus, the tufts of hair upon chest and groin blowing wistfully in the wind. The beast let out a little sigh at the feeling of the man’s special bean sack against his bare back. Barnabus knew this wasn’t the place for him. He needed to be where he could feel as free as his anaconda. These people didn’t understand his desire for freedom and the feeling of air against his bare skin. He wasn’t sure if the looks being given were due to jealousy for his impending happiness or if it was because his “bald eagle” was standing tall with anticipation, but one thing was for sure; this was it. He nodded at his audience and Pegasus took off in a run with Barnabus muttering “ow” all the while. They were free.

B: Hooray for dick jokes! I think they’d be funnier if we knew something more about why Barnabus wants to be free.

BD: There’s a lot of very creative descriptions of the nether-regions this week. This is highly entertaining, but doesn’t quite hit me like some of the other comedy entries.

Gilman: So, basically, his anaconda don’t want none unless he’s free to run, son? This was sublimely goofy and cheeky, with just the right amount of pomposity to the writing to make the whole thing into a giant wink at the audience. Really pleasant surprise to find a submission like this among the first entries. Kudos, beansackmeister. SILVER

Kelly Wells

Rick’s older brother Will was the one who, years before, had told Rick about a story he read that claimed each person has an average of seven ideas over the course of their lives that – if they had only acted upon them – would make them a millionaire. Rick supposed it was somewhat ironic, then, that it was Will on the ground before him, clutching his member in front of the onlookers not out of embarrassment – but out of agony.

“Shit, Rick…I should not have tried so hard to catch that,” he said.

Rick stared introspectively into the distance. As the soft breeze tickled his gently-flapping manhood, he remembered why he had been drawn to all of this, but it was perhaps time to admit that an all-nude kickball league wasn’t his million dollar idea.

B: A pretty good start to this story. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what this million dollar idea was. I’m not sure how much I liked the reveal, but either way the story is disqualified. The rules clearly stated that only one person could be naked during the story, and it’s obvious here that both Rick and Will are in the buff.

BD: Rick is an oddly endearing moron. Sadly, he is not the only naked person in this story, and so the axe must come down.

Gilman: Yeah, this one felt like the set-up to a punchline from the first awkward, overlong sentence. Without that element of surprise, this story didn’t have much to fall back on. I think the idea of an all-nude kickball team has some promise to it as a story idea, though, so good job on that, author.

Annette Baron

My left heel squelches against the white tiles, leaving bloody crescent moons in my wake. My hand hovers protectively over my empty womb, too timid to touch the little filaments holding it together.  Naked and shivering, I move as quickly down the service hall as I am able.

Any moment now, the alarm will sound and my stoic guards will drag me back to the recovery room to rejoin the other new and bereft mothers.

The wails of many infants pierce my skull.  One thin cry calls to my womb and it tightens, fresh rivulets coursing down my thighs.  I crouch to peer around the corner into a cavernous launch bay.  Transports hover gently over the heads of androids loading their cargo into the waiting creches.

I crawl forward, the ache in my breasts drawing me, when cold bands close around my biceps.  I am found.

B: A fairly generic sci-fi entry here, but the writing is so strong that I enjoyed it anyway. “Bloody crescent moons” is one of my favorite descriptors of the week. SILVER

BD: There’s a lot of great juxtapositions here. First we have the vivid descriptions of the woman’s physical trauma combined with her somewhat disconnected mindset. Then there’s the expanse of space set against a single woman’s very personal struggle. While the transition into sci-fi is jarring, it’s still an excellent little slice of a story. GOLD

Gilman: Yeah, I see what you’re trying to do with this story, but it’s another case of the reach exceeding the grasp for such a short piece. The imagery is vivid, but the payoff feels blunted and unemotional. It’s an admirable effort that just doesn’t quite hit with me.

Brendan Bonham

“Welp. We’re going to have to take it off.”

“Oh God.”

“You said it was a lawnmower?”

“A hedge trimmer, actually.”

“Uh huh.”

“So like…the whole thing?”

“Yeah. You’ve lost all feeling, see?”

“I…”

“Look, I’m touching it—nothing.”

“Oh Jesus.”

“We’ll be able to put it back on.”

“And it’ll be smaller?”

“Bigger, actually.”

“Oh…really?”

“Yes, we’ll remove it, clean up the damage. Then, we’ll—it’s a latex sheath that goes under the skin. Then we’ll add a graft to merge the tissue from the stump to the tip.”

“How big is the sheath?”

“They come in 4-inch, 6-inch and 8-inch increments.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yes.”

“And…?”

“If you want the 8-inch, we can do the 8-inch.”

“And, you know…”

“There’s already a lot of vascular damage. We’ll remove one of ‘em and install a pump.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. We’ll have to pump…you up.”

“Heh.”

“So…”

“Yeah, let’s do the 8-inch.”

B: I was waiting for the bait and switch. You know, I’d be thinking the whole time that this story was about a penis, but then it turned out to be about a hot dog. I’m kind of glad it remained about a penis. I just wish there was a story here. As it stands now, it’s just a random conversation.

BD: This show its cards right away, and doesn’t do anything surprising. But the dialogue is solid, and I find the ‘pump. . .you up’ line funnier than perhaps I should. Also, there’s some unexpectedly detailed descriptions of what exactly goes on in this . . . um, procedure.

Gilman: More of a sketch than a story, but it still felt genuine and hilarious to me, and the conversational patter was authentic too, for the comedic tone. Not one lurid detail, not one overexertion in wording, but still enormously effective at what it sets out to do. GOLD

Melissa David

For an extra shilling, they could poke her.  Pale fingers pressed into her thighs.  A stick prodded her breasts.  A child rested a doll on her buttocks, but Monsieur Réaux slapped it away.

She smoked her pipe and daydreamed of home.  The cobbled streets faded to savannah. The crowd were camelthorn trees.  London’s sky was never blue enough, though, and it jolted her back to reality where the ridiculous loincloth rode up between her thighs.  It yanked at hairs.

“I’ll pay you more to take off that cloth,” a doctor said.

She refused.

His eyes gleamed.  “Send for me when she dies,” he told Réaux.

The last thing she ever felt were his hands removing that cloth, but she no longer cared. In death, they’d take her apart.  They’d melt her flesh and gaze upon her bones.  They’d realize they’d been wrong.  She really was as human as they were.

B: Man, I really want to medal this story. The first sentence brings me into the setting and the situation perfectly. And it’s beautifully written, chilling. But I have to disqualify it, as the prompt clearly stated at least one character had to be “completely naked” the entire time. As far as I can tell, the woman is only “completely” naked in the final paragraph. Sorry proser. It’s at least a silver medal from me otherwise.

BD: So, I really love this. I’m reading this as a Native American (or something similar) being taken to London and displayed as an animal. It’s a well-written take on the prompt, except there’s not enough nudity. Which is unfortunate, as I probably would have golded this.

Gilman: Nicely unexpected topic for this prompt, and handled very well indeed. A slow unfolding of facts for our reveal, a great sense of place and time established seemingly effortlessly. And it brings sympathy out of the reader without force. I think that last line was a bit on-the-nose and probably unnecessary, but aside from that quibble this is high-quality product here. SADLY DISQUALIFIED

Shawn Ashley

He’d been stuck in this position for what seemed like hours.

Well, hours because he had no concept of time.

Time to move, stretch, turn over.

He was warm, it was warm in here.

Time to move.

He shot one bare leg out, in a roundabout kick. He saw a blur of rouge light dancing among the shadows.

Now, the other bare leg, and an arm.

Ahhhhh, he thought as he stretched his naked body.

Now to turn over.

He shot his left arm over quickly and then the right.

“Ohhh!” The muffled, high pitched voice came through in vibrations.

He settled.

“Martin, feel! He’s kicking! Or turning over or something.” The new, soon-to-be Mom grabbed her husband’s hand and placed it atop her beige, cashmere sweater.

They waited. Nothing.

She laughed. “He always stops when someone else tries to feel.”

“Suuure,” her husband said, jokingly, and kissed her cheek.

B: I was pretty sure we were in a womb from the get go here. That’s perfectly okay. There’s a few lines that are unnecessary. “Because he had no concept of time” doesn’t add to the character. And “ahhhh, he thought” is an awkward start to the sentence, especially without quotes around the interjection. Otherwise it’s a nice slice of life.

BD: This is a charming idea, and the descriptions of the child in the womb hit just the right notes. I would focus more on that and drop the second half of the story. The conversation between the mother and the father, while heartwarming, doesn’t have the same impact.

Gilman: I wonder how much the author was counting on the reveal here to carry the weight of this story. Because unfortunately, I guessed at what we were witnessing from basically the first or second line, and there wasn’t a whole lot that was gripping about the story beyond that. It’s written damned well, though, and the pacing and structure of the piece works well, where in others’ hands it might not. Tips the scales in your favor, author. BRONZE

RZ: GOLD

Christina Pepper

I am five. Andy brings me in his fort, says it is a game. My clothes in a pile, I stand silently as he puts his fingers in places I didn’t know fingers are supposed to go.

I start to laugh. Then I cry.

. . .

I try to tell Mommy during my bath. I point and she smacks me: “Keep your hands away from there!”

So I do.

. . .

I am seventeen. Never been kissed. The boys must know something about me is wrong.

Late one night, I lie on the carpeted floor of my bedroom. I am ready to do what I shouldn’t.

soft

warm

wet

this is me

this is me

I want

I want

I . . .

 

My body arches against the floor.

When it’s done, I stay there breathing shallow breaths. I finally pull my hand away.

Whatever is wrong, it cannot possibly be this.

B: A neat trick here, having this story told across time, but with the character naked in all three. It feels a bit disjointed; we have trauma in the first part, then reinforced trauma in the second part, then… liberating masturbation? I’m glad for her, and I felt we haven’t hit this story’s ending yet. BRONZE

BD: I’m impressed at the range of emotions this conveys in such a short space. We get a very clear sense of the narrator’s deeply-ingrained shame and the way that eventually begins to crumble underneath her burgeoning self-awareness. This does suffer a little under the word limit, as the transition from shame to acceptance is awfully quick. But otherwise I love it. GOLD

Gilman: This one’s a model of efficiency, gracefully laying out its premise, history, and (forgive me) climax with no wasted words, no unnecessary window dressing. At each stage, the speaker shares just enough of her perspective—in her young voice—to give us the sense of confusion and even horror at what’s done to her and what’s reinforced. And the end feels just as relieving and world-shaking as I’m sure it would be to this character. GOLD

RZ: BRONZE

Margaret Martin

Mary cranked the stereo and stepped into the shower. Hot water ran in steamy ribbons down her back and between her breasts. She closed her eyes.

CRRRACK!

Mary snapped to attention.

She heard voices in the apartment.

“Come on, Pete! There’s no one here.”

She quickly stepped out of the shower and grabbed the first thing she saw for a weapon. Steam curled around her as she crept into the hallway.

She spied their shadows in the hazy kitchen. In an explosion of adrenaline and fury, she rushed them, shouting and swinging the toilet plunger at their heads.

“Lady! LADY!” They were shouting, trying to deflect the blows. “The building’s on fire!”  

Mary stopped mid-swing – blinking in the smoke, still brandishing the plunger overhead.  Water streamed from her hair, coolly navigating the curves of her heaving bosom and naked belly.  

A firefighter scooped her up and started running.

B: This is pretty effective bait and switch, going from suspense to humor effectively vis-a-vis plunger. I’m not sure we needed “heaving bosom” once we got to the comedy portion of our show, and “started running” is kind of an awkward denouement, but I enjoyed it all the same. BRONZE

BD: This is a solid take on the prompt, and I chuckled at the image of the woman scrambling down the hall waving the plunger.

Gilman: A scenario I would not have come up with myself, and nicely crafted as well. But it’s also just a bit too simple in its mission: point A to point B. No room for consequences in misunderstanding the intruders’ purpose for entering, so the conflict is diffused before it’s even built up. As a story, then, there’s not a whole lot to grasp. But it still has a good foundation as far as a piece of writing goes. BRONZE

RZ: GOLD

———————————————————————

I can’t wait until we have our first quad-gold story. And the way these four judges obviously agree on everything, that’s bound to happen soon, right? Ahem.

Congratulations to Matt Novak, who leads the pack with 12 medal points. Colin and Christina were right behind him at 11 medal points. Good job guys!

Sorry Roxanne, Kelly, and Melissa. It’s obvious you guys quite aren’t comfortable with nudity. That’s okay, though. You have 12 more weeks to catch up! And in case you were wondering, a DQ doesn’t count against you. So if you non-sub next week you won’t lose 7 medal points.

We had two non-subs this week, Zack and Erik.

I’ll create a spreadsheet later so you guys can track the standings.

I plan to keep results posts separate from prompt posts. Give the players and judges some time to digest. The next prompt will probably go up some time tonight.

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