Thursday, February 11, 2010

Flash Fiction Week, Day 4

Today, Simon Larter and I present to you one of the two First Place winning entries of our Cosmic Coincidence Contest. Of course, this was not an easy selection. Simon and I had our hands full sifting through all the of the brilliant entries. It got so that it felt like we were deciding between the minutest of details to choose. They really were all very good. But I think you’ll find that “The Threshold,” by Michelle Davidson Argyle, stands out.

The Threshold

Michelle Davidson Argyle

Story removed per author's request....


A highlight of this piece was, for me, the vivid imagery. Indeed, from the very first sentence, the reader’s senses are manipulated—no, assaulted:
The weeds crackled in the summer heat, like tinder, brittle and brown.
You can hear it, see it—reach out and touch it. I can clearly envision the way it would feel to run my hands through these weeds, the way they might make me itch as they grazed my bare legs. I squirmed more than once reading this story—the very thought of these grasshoppers bouncing off my skin…eww, talk about shivers. My heart pounded right along with Finn’s.
Which leads me to the next highlight of this story: the characterization. Quite strong, wouldn’t you say? Though Finn comes across as a more complex character, both he and Alice nearly jump off the page:
Alice’s blue eyes flashed, her lashes thick with mascara. Her black eyeliner made her look exotic, dangerous. She smelled like the weeds in the lot, like gasoline and bone-dry dirt. Finn wanted to kiss her. He liked the way she made his parents nervous, the way she didn’t care about school or money or popularity. She knew who she was.
This says it all, doesn’t it? Youth, rebellion, and longing—it’s all there in just a few words.  This paragraph is almost entirely about Alice, yet it also says so much about Finn, because we’re seeing Alice through his eyes...which leads me to my next point….

All of you who felt the heat in this story, please raise your hands. Yowza…I think my eyes nearly caught fire reading this. This story could possibly make a good showing as YA fiction, but the underlying sexual tension certainly makes it feel edgy—raw…at the far reaches of YA. There’s nothing overtly sexual; indeed, had there been, it likely would have lost its appeal. But consider the implications within the language:
He glanced at her tattoo again, the black and purple design, the red-flicking tongue.
About makes you squirm in your seat, doesn’t it? My eyes bugged out when I read this line, and yet my face widened into a most delicious smile. I thought, Niiiiiiiiiiice. This was definitely my favorite line.
Overall, I found the subtlety of this story rather appealing. You have to dig a bit, perhaps even read it more than once to feel the full impact of this story. But it’s gorgeous, no? Boy likes girl that belongs to his friend…and yet, there’s an inner beauty, as well—a  greater complexity to the plot and to the characters simmering beneath the surface of crackling weeds and grasshoppers and rebellious youths with tattoos. Best of all? The entire story (including the resolution) is implied in the image of a lizard opening its jaws wide, “its eyes…like glass under the heat lamp, the false sun.”

Thank you, Ms. Argyle for your entry. Simon and I both enjoyed reading your story. Congratulations on your first place win. Please be sure to e-mail your address and book selection to carolsimoncontest AT gmail Dot com. If you are interested in 10-page critiques, those will also be available to you.

Many thanks to all of our followers and supporters as well as to Laurel Garver and others from Simon’s writing group for your prize contribution. If you liked this story, be sure to check out Michelle’s personal blog The Innocent Flower and her group writing blog The Literary Lab. Michelle also has a photography blog, Glam’s Photography, which is definitely worth a peek.


  1. WOW! Such kind words from both you and Simon! I'm floating on air this morning! Thank you so much to both of you for this contest!

  2. That was sooo good, Im totally following her blog now, congrats!

  3. wonderful imagery. I loved the part where he stepped closer to her in the elevator. fantastic.
    Good job!

  4. Yup. I was hooked at sentence one. It only got better from there! Congratuations!

  5. I agree, Carolina. This story is so sensual without being blatantly sexual, which makes it that much more alluring. Don't want to repeat what I've said on Simon's blog, but, yeah, this is such a winner.

  6. I concur. Visceral imagery and a nice little slice of story made this one a treat.

    Really really well done.

  7. Congratulations. Really lovely work throughout, but the first and last paragraphs are just exquisite.

    Great job.

  8. Glam. It's Finn! Heehee. I love this piece. The Glammeister can do vivid like nobody's business. I can see now I need to rewrite my whole book.

  9. Lovely, brilliantly written. I love the hot anticipation in near every breath Finn took.
    Warm regards,

  10. You guys are making my head swell! Suddenly I remember why I write. Thank you all for your congrats and kind words. :)

  11. Wow! Great short story! I loved it and congrats to the author!!

  12. Wow! I loved this story! I'm so jealous because I just can't write a good short story and this one rocks!

  13. Very enjoyable, reminded me of my childhood!

  14. A great story. I loved the imagery, like you did.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  15. Very nice - I agree - you paint a very pretty picture :)

  16. Thank you for all your kind comments. I adore you all. You are most supportive.

    Michelle, it was a pleasure to post your story. Thank you for you entry. Both Simon and I feel honored to post it.

  17. Congrats to Michelle! :) Great contest.

  18. HUGE thanks to all of you who took the time to read and comment. :D

  19. The imagery is amazing - wow. I'm learning so much from all of these fantastic pieces!


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