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My entry into the weekly Micro Bookends flash fiction contest received third place. The bookends were OLD and AGE, respectively, with a 110 word max. You had to reply to the above photo prompt. The judge’s generous feedback:

“This was profound, yet also describes the “every man.” Ruminations and regrets are the cancer that we all fight. Smothering us with “a corrosive blanket of discomfort,” they bring us painfully to an early death. “Love gone awry” really can feel like a “murder of coupling.” I was jolted by the abrupt introduction of the need to “soak up this spilled blood.” My mind raced to the scariest interpretations. How wrong was this relationship? That perfect insertion of a few words told an enormous piece of violent history and a life filled with emotional wreckage. I can see how the protagonist found his final breath to be his most welcomed.”

My entry:

Old ruminations wash over frayed synapses often enough to be met with apathy. My bed had become a refuge, although it didn’t stop the reoccurring tide. I only left it to let her dog outside to soil somewhere else.

Ruminations like, “If I had told her she was prettier more, would she have stayed?”

Like, “If I chased after her, like they do in the movies, would it have mattered?”

“Will anything soak up this spilled blood?”

In its harshest meaning, a love gone awry was a murder of coupling. Victims abounded.

As the years mounted, regret became a corrosive blanket of discomfort, smothering until death allowed breath from age.

 

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