May 2014 (winner): Food For Thought
In the old days I would find solace in birdsong, a reminder of the freedoms we squandered. Our feathered friends are long gone, replaced by drones whose dull and fearsome whine precipitates death.
My death will be comeuppance for voicing opinions long banned, the microchip in my skull luring the state sponsored vultures, meat for those hungry to retain control.
Did we see this coming and choose to look away? Our selfish lifestyle was blamed when the disasters started. Now we know better; nature was not the enemy after all.
June 2014 (reserve): The Good Daughter
Mother had always said she would come to a bad end, and believed she was proven right. Where they saw success we saw shame, yet I couldn’t suppress the yearning.
I’d clutched her letter to my chest, those wicked dollar bills challenging my resolve. Across the way Mother shared out her never ending judgements.
I’d pictured Cissy dancing in the rain, the beating that had earned her. I wonder if she still bore the scars.
Yet I’d stayed, married the man they chose. It was only when my daughters danced that I understood the cost of my cowardice.
July 2014 (short listed): Life Choices
The ominous silence that descended when he left frightened Beth more than the nightly fights. She lay in bed, ears straining for signs of movement.
‘Geddup, we’re goin’, Mama slurred from the doorway, staggering to the bathroom to puke. Beth slid from the bed, a cold sweat seeping through her nightdress.
When Mama paused to find balance at the top of the stairway, Beth pushed. A shriek, a crack as head met handrail, hands flailing but failing to break the fall.
Accidental death, likely caused by inebriation. It took two more fatalities before anyone looked askance at the child.
August 2014: Appreciation
She considered her good looks a curse, feared the lewd whistles and rough comments from strangers, shunned gatherings.
She had cast off her trust with the pretty dresses that mother had paraded her in, desperately seeking to be more than a living doll. They had not spoken since mother cried at her shorn head.
Her research eventually helped to save many lives, but not her own. She had ingested too many poisons in order to test her theories, to speed things along.
She would have wept bitter tears over those who mourned the loss of one so beautiful.
(Submitted to 99fiction.net.)