This is so much fun every week. Not just to write something frantically in five minutes, but to read what everyone comes up with. It’s simply amazing, I tell you.
Here, in no particular order are her picks and their entries. Give ’em a read and vote in the poll on the right. Poll closes at 9:30 EDT tonight.
Here are their entries, folks. Get to voting!
He cocked an eyebrow at me. Stupid Vulcan. He hasn’t got more than that one stupid expression. At least not that I’ve seen in these seven months.
“I found another bug under the mattress.”
He didn’t even glance at me, just sat there, meditating or whatever it is Vulcans do for hour upon hour, day in, day out.
“Fine, I’ll eat it.”
When they threw us both into this cell, I figured his super strength and logic would get us out in no time.
No such luck.
Green blooded bastard.
He glanced over.
“Why don’t you work on a plan to get us out of here instead of just sitting there another day like a big, stupid pointy eared rock.”
He reached over, pinched my neck.
Sometimes, it’s the only way I can get to sleep.
She knew she shouldn’t be there. He specifically asked them not to come. But it was just too tempting. Her own brother headlining his own dinner theater show. Pulling out the video camera, she settled into her seat as the lights dimmed.
“Excuse me.” Someone tapped on her shoulder. “You can’t record the performance.”
“Oh, but I’m his sister.”
“Still, it’s not allowed.”
“Okay.” She closed up the viewing panel and replaced the camcorder in its bag, grumbling. Where were the perks of being related to the star? She’d have words with her brother after this.
The curtains were bright under the spotlights and the crowd hushed as they parted.
She admired the beauty and grace of the woman walking toward the microphone, a jazzy number playing in the background. Her dress was red-sequined and slit nearly up to her hip—a throwback to a bygone era and gorgeous. Then her eyes rounded and she realized the woman on stage before her—with her sultry expression, pouty lips, and mile-high legs—was the person she’d come to see.
It was 1:40, and time was ticking. Jack sat in his favorite coffee shop downstairs, fingers gently hovering above his computer keys. Feeling the hard plastic under his calloused fingertips. Mind, completely blank.
5 minutes wasn’t long enough to come up with something about expressions. A facial gesture? Seriously?
Jack leaned over to the person next to him. “Excuse me?”
“Yes?” a red haired businessman, every inch of him Irish, raised an eyebrow from behind his Blackberry.
“What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘expression’?”
Jack jerked back into his seat, looked at the Irishman for a second longer, and looked at the clock.
He began to write, nonsense, mostly, hoping at some point he’d be able to work in the word expression innocuously and qualify for the finals this week.
Jack’s hands shook as they reached for his coffee.
The contest had become everything. After his job had gotten the internet usage report and discovered he’d spent 24 hours on the website and 16 hours constantly updating his Twitter hashtag search for #5MinFiction, he’d been laid off.
His wife had accused him of having an affair with one of the finalists after he had gushed and gushed about her beautiful prose.
Now they were divorced, kicking him out of the house and preventing him from seeing his kids.
Jack had lost everything, and he had fully expected the contest to fill the hole. Sitting at his computer now, he had never felt more empty, more devoid of feeling and talent than he ever had in his life.
It was 1:44, and all he really wanted was to see his kids smile again. To see the expression of pure and utter joy on their face when he came home after work. They didn’t care if he won or lost. They didn’t care if he had a shitty day at work.
Their expression was always the same. And Jack smiled.
Everything Pearl Wesley owned fit into her suitcase. Her pants with the elastic waist, the hair rollers her mother had given to her on her sixteenth birthday, her toothbrush with its bristles sticking out in a million directions, the Christmas sweater her Auntie Martha knitted for her with the reindeer on the side, and the figurine her long dead Henry had given her. Peal always wrapped the figurine in her socks to keep it protected; she would die if it ever broke. It was a simple enough glass ornament, nothing to make a big deal about, except that it was a gift from Henry, her Henry.
Henry who’d choked on a Scotch Mint in front of the television that Sunday before Colombo had even finished. From the kitchen, where Pearl had been removing a chocolate cake from the fridge to slice off a hunk for herself, she hadn’t even heard him gasping for breath. When she entered the living room, icing covered cake in one hand and glass of milk in the other, and her eyes befell Henry, who’s own eyes were rolled to the back of his head, she’d let out a blood curdling scream. Of course, no one lived near them, and she had to calm herself down so she could call the police herself.
After he passed on, things fell apart. Until she liquidated all their belongings, sold their house, and packed the remainder of her life into the battered suitcase. And the figurine. It was her most prized possession, two glass cats playing with a ball of yarn, frozen forever in that act of kitten fun. Every night, when the street lights filtered down the ally she slept in, Pearl took the ornament out, unravelled it from the sock, and looked at it. And remembered.
For the most part she remembered Henry, but once in awhile she remember the baby that died in her womb and the way it felt to be handcuffed and thrown in the back of police cruiser simply for not having a place to sleep. She would reminisce on the past in hopes of forgetting about the hunger in her belly. If it was a Friday night, Pearl would take the ornament out, set it on her shopping car and use her water bottle to wash out her intimates. Then as they dried, she would hum to herself, her and Henry’s song.
But tonight wasn’t Friday, or Sunday, it was Tuesday. The figurine sat by Pearl’s head. Down the ally came a voice, “Excuse me, Ma’am.”
Pearl didn’t answer.
Feet approached, muffled words. The police officer bent down, shining his flashlight in Pearl’s face, and then letting out a weary sigh. The younger, newer, shiner cop behind him asked, “Another one?”
“It’s too cold out here.”
Glancing over his shoulder, the older cop caught the younger cop gawking at the body and ask, “What is it?”
“The expression on her face?”
“What about it?”
“What is it?”
The older cop shrugged. “Peace.”
And sure enough, a smile curved the corner of Pearl’s mouth, her eyes open, focused on the figurine her long dead Henry had given her.
Mr Ringlock had as many expressions as there were colours in mother-of-pearl. They shifted and turned with the seasons of the air, from rain to dappled sunlight to storms that smelled like crushed violets.
He took me to the riverside so we could watch the salmon make their pilgrimage.
“Look,” he said, “how they swim against the river, even though it is a God to them.”
When I looked at him then, I saw an expression I did not recognise – as if there were two parts of him fighting. Blood and water, silver and fire. He was silent until the sun had set, and the fish became no more than ghosts in the moonlight.