Loud Coffee Press issue 2 announced the release of our micro-fiction contest, centered around the themes of summer and the photo below. The winner of the contest was Los Angeles-based writer, A.P. Thayer. We are excited to feature Thayer's work in issue 3, due out July 31st.
Each entry received in this contest was outstanding. The quality of the submissions received made judging a difficult task, and goes to show the talent prevalent in this writing community. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the three runners-up in the LCP 2020 Summer Micro-Fiction Contest.
A Girl Stays in Motion
by Sara Bates
The mechanic said what the girl ached to hear. “Gonna need a part.” Ignoring the US Weekly she nabbed from the truck stop, she waited for what mattered. How long could they stay still?
“Four goddamn days?” her father said. “Four days without a load.”
The girl bit back a smile. Four goddamn days meant three nights.
Their motel was at mile marker 101, the county fair at 98.
Night One the girl scavenged for tickets, red confetti in the dust. “Must have dropped one,” she said when the Ferris wheel operator asked for five. With each revolution she met his eyes. Thanks. Thank you. Thanks again. The way the boy unloaded the carts made it impossible to tell when her ride should have ended.
Night Two the boy asked for her name instead of her tickets. Crunching through the forest separating the fairgrounds from the town, the town from the highway hum, the boy talked like they were running out of time but listened like they had forever.
Night Three they stumbled upon an abandoned car being digested by the underbrush. Dizzy with stillness, the girl climbed behind the wheel.
“C or K?” the boy asked, his own M freshly carved in the ancient bark. The tree was swallowing the wire fence that hadn’t kept them out that night or the one before.
“K,” Kat said, relaxing her grip on the tarnished steering wheel. The tree would swallow her up, anyway, and the boy would forget about this summer.
by Josh Dale
You know that the car didn’t come here first, but sometimes, you wonder. Does it pre-date the trees that shade its husk? A tomb of rust, a skeleton of the early 20th century. When one of these cars meant something to society. I couldn’t identify the model even if you showed me one brand new. Looks like some bullets found a home inside the steel panels. Forced entry. Could’ve been a mobster’s Sunday drive before it got ambushed, then towed out here to hide the evidence. They took the body out and threw it in the river many decades ago. There would be no trace of it now. Save for the husk of his brass pocket watch that’s been buried in the silty shore. Maybe I could search for it, but then again, I’d be wasting both our time.
I shove the metal door open and its boisterous creaking tries to shoo me away. Then climb into the petrified seat, picked apart by wildlife and hundreds of seasons. I put a hand on the bare iron wheel and it doesn’t budge. My right hand rests on top, imagining that the forest is my city. Hoping that the boulder a couple of yards away isn’t “playing chicken” with me. There’s a smooth dent in the rockface, crack-less and shadowed from the sun. I ponder, again, what came first: the road or the rock? The tires are rubber-less. The leaves are plentiful.
"192.168.1.1 Is Were The Heart Is" by Glen Binger
When I saw it there, sitting in the woods like a pile of bones, I knew my time had come. I had to “face the music” as Andy liked to remind me. “There comes a time,” he’d always say. We started along the trail I’d always known, trying to escape the weekend-warriors of summer. But once we took a left where we should’ve went right, I lost track of my bearings. I began to see time backwards. Like spiral eating its tail. “You know,” he said, broken sourcecode seeping from his pores, “there’s a great spot out thisaways. Real Stephen-King lookabout. Wanna see?” I nodded, worried the malware might’ve made him more self-aware. His Gateway GPS was off-point. Andy’s radiation hit me days/weeks/months prior. I saw the signs. A humming buzz in the ears to remind me he’d been listening. Processing my data. Those bags under his eyes; that silicon in his stance. “Is this it?” I asked. The Chevy’s skeletal frame reminded me of our common path. The patterns programmed before us. How all things die. From the start, you should know where you want to go, and this recursive regret looped inside me since I bought him. So I made a plan. “There comes a time,” Andy said, as I ripped the gaskets from his motherboard. He collapsed and I tucked him behind the rotting car: August’s melted ice cream, dripping through cracks of boardwalk. A binding netmask so I could leave to face my music.
Sara Bates lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and two little kids. Once a lawyer who spent her days navigating the Internal Revenue Code, Sara now spends her days dreaming up stories of girls navigating the modern world. She loves going to bed early and rolling her eyes at people who say young love isn’t real love. Keep up with Sara by following her on Instagram @sarabateswrites or visiting her website www.sara-bates.com.
Josh Dale was born in Philadelphia and lives in the close suburbs. He loves his Siamese cat, the occasional freelance editorial gig, and his road bicycle. He’s a graduate student at Saint Joseph’s University and the founder and editor-in-chief of Thirty West Publishing House, maker of fine, hand-made books. His work has been published in Drunk Monkeys, Breadcrumbs Mag, Page & Spine, and elsewhere. More can be found at his site, joshdale.co (not an offshore scammer site, promise) and his IG & Twitter @jdalewrites.
Glen Binger lives by the beach in New Jersey with his wife and their dog. Check out his books, blogs, and podcast at linktr.ee/bingbangbooks.