Oh, I thought I was so clever, naming myself judge this week. OK, the joke’s on me. And all you former judges are laughing your asses off. Yeah. OK. Funny, funny.

But I did decide. I was very tempted to cheat, because I can, and I was just agonizing over three entries I had to pick between at the end. But I did. With a secret longing in my heart for those other two to be here too. But this is the list of ONLY the five finalists for this week, in no particular order.

Tony Noland, @TonyNoland

Aisling Weaver, @AislingWeaver

R.C. Murphy, @RCMurphy

Raziel Moore, @_Monocle_

Tauisha Smith, @shells2003

Now go forth and read them and vote in the poll on the right side of the page. (Last week someone emailed me asking why the poll I said was on the left side of the page wasn’t loading. I have a terrible suspicion that I’ve been saying it’s on the left for a while now. Anyway, as you notice, it’s not on the left.) Poll closes at 9:30 tonight.

Congratulations and good luck everyone!

Tony Noland, @TonyNoland

The wind blew her hair forward into her face again. She let it come, the strands massing and waving over her, obscuring her vision, tickling her nose, catching on the flakes of skin on her chapped lips.

In a moment, it would reverse and she would be able to see again. See the old pickup truck back away from the wreckage, see the broken glass fly upwards and weld itself into a smooth, unbroken sheet. The man’s face would retreat backward, his blood rushing back into his scalp as he flowed back into his seat.

In the other car, the newer one, the smoke would hiss back into the window, and the airbag would contract, revealing the shocked face of the girl looking back down at her cell phone.

The accident would undo itself and the sun would shine on, until time reversed itself again, and she would be forced to watch again, until the wind covered her face again.

Aisling Weaver, @AislingWeaver

“Why do you keep coming back here?” Her words might have held more impact if her voice hadn’t teetered on the edge of breathless.

He shook his head, buried his face in her shoulder, and pressed her to the bed. “I don’t know,” he whispered, sliding into her.

“You have to stop living your life in reverse, Russell,” she breathed even as she closed around him, arms, legs, and deeper. He groaned and she turned her head away from his kiss.

“I’m not,” he disagreed falsely, refusing to admit he sought a solace in Amy that he would never truly find.

They moved together, bodies familiar, the motions ingrained in muscle and nerve. The pleasure they shared bright and blinding, for the seconds it stretched.

Until it faded, showed itself the hollow, empty thing it’d always been. She rolled from under him, wrapped in the sheet, walked away.

“Don’t come back, Russell, please.”

He stared at her, knew the sound of her tears falling. Knew he would return, and break her heart over and over again, never able to be enough, never able to turn away and face his future.

Stuck in reverse, hung up on a dream that never was.

R.C. Murphy, @RCMurphy

Jesus Christ did he reek. I’d smelled some horrible things in my life, but nothing compared to this. It made my brother’s shoes smell like roses.

“You didn’t tell me it’d smell this bad.”

“For shit’s sake, Ted. It’s a dead body.” My brother doubled over and lifted the corpses shoulders. “Get his feet, will ya?”

He wanted me to get closer to it? Sal owed me big time for this. I didn’t like working in the funeral home. Not one god damned bit. It always smelled funny, even upstairs where I usually worked and I swear there were ghosts lurking in the corners, waiting to snatch my soul up.

What would a ghost do with a soul? Fuck if I know. Play catch with his ghost pals, I guess.

“Earth to Ted. Lift. The. Feet. Before this fatass breaks my back.” Sal trembled under the weight of his cargo.

I bent down and grabbed the dead guy’s feet. They were freezing cold. It took every ounce of willpower I had not to look up at the rest of him. It. The body. Keeping distance from them was important, Sal said once.

We hoisted the body up on the slab. Sal and I walked to the center of the table, only then did I allow myself to look at the rest of it.

“Well, shit. How’re you going to fix that, bro? His head is reversed.” I’d never seen anything like it.

Sal gave a grin and reached for the tray of tools. He grabbed a nasty-looking saw. “Cut and paste.”

Raziel Moore, @_Monocle_

Wind it back in reverse.

What the hell was that?

We look at each other in a near state of shock.

I slowly, reluctantly pull back.

It takes minutes, eternal minutes to disentangle.

My hands won’t let you go.

Your legs stay locked around me.

The shuddering, the spasming, the screaming completion just won’t stop; please, never let it stop!

It’s perfection, completion – I no longer see your eyes, we see through, into each other.

Bodies merge, pleasure cascading into something transcendent.

Staring into your eyes as the rhythm takes care of itself.

No hesitation, no trepidation now; just warmth, just heat.

That first delicious trespass, welcome, ensnarement – it’s all the same.

Contact of bodies, matching of gazes.

We look at each other, and reach.

Wind it back in reverse.

Tauisha Smith, @shells2003

Across the street from me is where the man I once loved lives. It’s a beautiful two story cape cod complete with white picket fence, two kids, a dog…

No wife.

No. That was me.

It’s his weekend to have the kids. I told him I had a nice weekend planned after he and the kids begged me to at least join them for the barbeque he had planned. The kids couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t stay around. But Alex could.

Just last night when I dropped the kids off, he followed me outside. “Amy, c’mon. You’re breaking the kid’s hearts.”

I swirled around and glared at him. “As if you didn’t break mine?”

He sighed heavily. “Amy…Amy, I can’t say what I did was right. Alright? I know that cheating on you was the biggest mistake of my life.”

He reached out and grabbed my hands. “C’mon, Amy. I did everything you asked. I’ve been thoroughly punished by you: divorced, joint custody where I only get two weekends a month, being without you…haven’t we’ve played this game enough?”

I jerked away. “Game? That’s what you think this is?”

He huffed, his face drawn into a look of pure pain and suffering.

“Alex, this isn’t a game! This is me taking a stand! This is me not wanting to deal with your cheating ways anymore!”

“It only happened once, ok?” Alex pleaded. “And I swear to you,” he forced me into his arms, “never again. Never again. I’ve learned my lesson. Please…please, come home.”

I sighed, gazing deep into his eyes, my treacherous heart wanted so badly to…go back to the man that hurt me. Here I thought I was moving forward…but my heart wanted me to put us in reverse. My heart wanted me to…

“No,” I pulled away from Alex. “Have a good weekend with the kids.”

And now, here I sit. Across the street from his house. There he is, chasing the kids around after checking on the burgers. Their laughter floats over to me from where I’m spying.

Who knew that I have been reduced to spying on the life I want so desperately to go back to? As much as my heart wants to…I just can’t do it.