At last, we have the winner of the October monthly writing contest! Congratulations to Natalie Danckers and her flash fiction piece, "This is How it Happened." As a reminder, the prompt for October was to write your own urban legend. Also, some glowing reviews for the winning piece:
"This was superbly written and had a creative and relatable premise." --The Not New York Times
"It does speak to a real human experience, which I appreciate." --The Not Wall Street Journal
"It’s so meta, I love it!" --The Not Thresher
So settle in, 'cause you're in for a treat! With that, here is the winning story!!
This is How it Happened
This is how it happened: It was two months after he had gone and she was lying listlessly on the couch, her face rigid under a fine layer of salt. In of the corner of her mind, she heard the TV: “Conjoined twins said to have combined IQ over 300.” By the time this had registered, it was too late and she was hooked, her vaguely sarcastic thoughts – “honestly I would have thought it would be much higher” – an inadequate defense.
She noticed it a few weeks later when she had summoned the courage to venture out to the nearby grocery store. While waiting in line at the checkout, she felt drawn to a trashily dishonest magazine slouching shamelessly in the metal rack. “UFO spotted over Waco, Texas”. Not really all that surprising. “Businessman attacks coworker with fork”. Was it plastic or metal? That could make all the difference. “Kris Jenner instigates bar fight in Seattle”. I mean, if I had a family like that – “Ma’am? Are you ready?” She looked blankly at the cashier, more irritated than apologetic, and scooped a head of lettuce onto the sticky conveyer belt.
Back on the couch, she landed on an obscure cable channel that seemed to be conducting a legitimate debate in regard to the existence of Sasquatch. One scientist was wildly gesturing at a fuzzy video while the other shook his head, managing to look both incredulous and depressed. Looking at the former, she felt that she had never cared about anything that much in her life. The thought relieved her.
She was in her cubicle, having braved the deluge of sympathetic looks at the front desk. She sought refuge in the headlines she had read that morning: “Abandoned Rice a Roni Factory Occupied by Goat-People”. “Moscow’s Tap Water Actually 20% Vodka”… After arriving home from the grocery store a month ago, she had subscribed to the magazine and received weekly mailings. She lived for this: the unreal, the extraordinary, the scandalous. Because if she let herself think about him, even for a minute, she would find herself drowning, sinking into an abyss; sooner or later she would become the “Mummified Woman found in Suburban House 15 Years After Death.” She would become the reality of what she escaped reality with. And nothing, not even “Cannibal on Death Row Requests Human Child as Last Meal”, could be worse than that.