The Sad Little Pen (As Told by a Jerk)
A. Zayne Tawil, Livonia, 1st place
The thousand-dollar fountain pen was beautiful and dignified, but he never got to write anything. His owner wanted to protect his investment, so he kept the fountain pen locked in a shiny glass box and never let him anywhere near ink or paper. This made the pen very sad. The End.
(The reader is probably wondering why the pen is referred to as “he.” Simply put, all ink pens are male. I mean, think about it.)
(Incidentally, all pencils are male, too. This is why there are no happy wooden pencils anywhere in the world. Chew on that one, too.)
God was a teenager too
Sean Green, Grosse Pointe Farms, 2nd place
Legs coil and snap upward, elevating skateboard into air. Metal smacks onto painted curb and with shrieking growl scrapes along its length, momentum flowing throughout impact and release. He smoothly surfs down the darkening street.
<Hell with that guy …>
Streetlights dimly bleed upon blacktop as Bad Brains howl “Quickness” in his earphones. He pushes hard, rolling faster along buttery asphalt with each thrust.
<Drunk asshole … Wasting my life?>
He’s cruising now, downhill past the Adamsons’, then the Godfreys’, then the Christensons’. Their houses have always looked alike at night, garages sealed firm.
The pebble, as always, comes unseen.
Left arm hits first, followed with knee, hip, shoulder; repeat.
His ankle throbs, and he looks up from his bloodied palm toward his overturned board. The wheels quietly buzz, whirring slowly into eventual silence.
He sits where he lies, boiling in peaceful night, listening for something.
The North Pole Was at the Center
Peter MacFarlane, Dearborn Heights, 3rd place
When I was a boy, my father told me the world was flat. “This may be it. Hold on. We may fall off,” he would say as we drove up toward the crest of a hill. Our globe in the living room and a heavy red atlas on the shelf were merely “decorations and deceptions.”
He scoffed at pictures of Earth from space as “Hollywood theatrics.” The explanations of his beliefs were complex and convoluted. He would draw me pictures of the world he described. The North Pole was at the center and Antarctica surrounded the edges of these maps. I would ask what lay beyond Antarctica and with a smile he would say, “The Great Abyss.”
I don’t remember when I realized he didn’t really believe Earth was flat. I’m not sure when I started to suspect it might be.
Samara Schmidt, Taylor, Honorable Mention
“I don’t think you loved her.” Dennis took a swig from his Colt 45 40-ouncer.
“I loved her.” Kenny replied.
“If you loved her … you would have used a better weapon.”
“I had the cunt’s name tattooed on my arm … how’s that for love!” Kenny pulled up the sleeve of his T-shirt. “There!” In blurry ink, was the name Kat or Karen.
“Any asshole can do that.” Dennis pulled up his sleeve revealing a list from Mother to Debbie.
“So did they get it out?” Dennis asked.
“No, fucking doctors. Every time I close my eyes I think of her.” Kenny sniffled.
“Let me see.” Dennis’ eye set on a strange bulge under Kenny’s eyebrow.
“Yeah, I see it.” He pressed his finger to the lump.
“Oh fuck … what’d ya do that for.” Kenny cried.
“You one stupid motherfucker,” Dennis said. “If you’re gonna kill yourself don’t use a pellet gun.”
Ty C. James, Cypress, Texas, Honorable Mention
On the way to work, I’d fantasize driving into an overpass. I’d imagine my hands unclipping my seat belt, my foot pressing down on the pedal, and my eyes lining my Saturn up with the bridge traveling toward me at 70 mph. I could feel the relief of being dead; I loved surrendering to my depression, inherited from my folks, and supercharged by my divorce. I watched in my head as my body was thrown through the glass, shattering against the concrete. I knew at the last second I’d regret this action, but I also suspected I’d feel a burst of excitement, a rush of pride that I actually had the balls to do it.
I never did do it, obviously. But now I get to drive by the scene of my own suicide, twice a day and occasionally on the weekends. That takes good-sized balls too.
Edd Tury, Brighton, Honorable Mention
He sat between strangers in a quiet bar, sipping cold beer.
You’re not fooling anyone, you know.
I can see you just took off your wedding ring. It’s so obvious.
He looked down on his left hand, the weathered veins humped with pressure, casting worm shadows on worn skin.
Yes, I did.
I don’t date married men.
Good for you.
They’ll tell you anything to get you in the sack.
I’ve been a jerk in my time.
I bet your wife’s waiting for you.
Yes. Yes she is.
Why’d you come in here?
For a beer. To relax. Just walking by.
Where do you live?
And you were just walking by?
What a line. You’re just walking by this bar when you live on the East Side? How’d you happen to be just walking by?
I was coming from the funeral home.