Mary Kay Bonfante Wins Flash Fiction Challenge

Mary Kay Bonfante is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning story:

Light up the Park 10272018 3L0A6723 (2)
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

by Mary Kay Bonfante

A small community of people stood around in the Atkins National Park, holding their lanterns to send aloft in memory of those who died in the fire.

“Are they out of their God-fearing minds?” said Vera Tannenbaum to her friend, Cora. “They could start another fire with one of these things!”

“That’s not how it works, Vera,” said Cora, “They don’t stay lit very long, and they’re designed not to spread fire.”

“That’s how Justin died! Fighting a forest fire! Why should I remember him this way?”

“He was brave, so you be brave, Vera,” she answered, “You’re his Mama, I believe he can see you. God won’t let anything else go wrong.”

Justin really was a brave kid, she thought. At the age of 23, he got two young children out of a burning house, but didn’t make it out himself.

“Well, alright. I’m here, so I may as well give it a try.”

And try she did, but Vera couldn’t light that lantern. It absolutely refused to be lit. Someone who already had theirs lit offered to trade with her, but as soon as they did, it went out, and they had no trouble lighting hers.

Finally, she got Justin’s lantern lit, with his name tag firmly affixed, sending it skyward.

But it went out almost immediately, floating back down, right into her arms. “My boy and me, we think alike. He sent it right back to his Mama, and it’s coming home with me, too.”

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3 thoughts on “Mary Kay Bonfante Wins Flash Fiction Challenge”

  1. I was happy to win the Reader’s Choice again. There were so many other great stories that I wanted to vote for, but I also wanted to win. Powerful tales, imaginative ideas, touching stories — this week we had so much great stuff!

    My personal favorite was Ann Zimmerman’s story about the badass AI robot designed to detect and stop a mass murderer. It was a violent story — true — but people are getting very sick and tired of hearing about so many senseless massacres at ordinary places, so I think it appeals to that sense of desperation in all of us, and our frustrated need for justice. Ann’s AI didn’t let the active shooter go down in a blaze of glory, or be taken in a cloud of notoriety. He was stomped out in a most painful and undesirable manner – a powerful deterrent. I’m not advocating it, but it does present a powerful image. Thank you, Ann. We still need heroes, even steel plated ones.

    I also enjoyed Virginia Gayl Salazar’s story about how she met her second (and presumably, current) husband. What a beautiful story! Virginia, you write so many autobiographical pieces (including your very interesting family history) that I would never know that you have multiple books of fiction published – except, I checked!

    There is so much talent in this Indies Unlimited group. I have a long way to go, myself. I won’t mention all of your stories, but I truly appreciate and enjoy my fellow writers. Some of our stories have a moral or a message, and some of them don’t – mine often don’t! I like the message, if any, to emerge in the storytelling or creative process. This group encourages me very much in our noble craft.

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