Aphla and Oemga

How humbling it is to be named the winner of Flash!Fiction (vol. 2-44) for a second week in a row (1 of only a small handful of talented writers to have done so). This week’s story was based on the photo prompt below and had to include a surgery.

circus-clowns-visit-sick-boy-boston-public-library

Tehy trun tinghs uspdie-dwon and isidne-out. Smoe hvae siad eevn Jseus was one. Tehy cmae in all teihr crolos bfeore the oens in pailn wihte, the oens who bleeievd tehre was seomtinhg wonrg with me, wree cmonig to fix me. Tehy all siad they wnaetd the bset for me—the sruregy wluod make me lkie erevynoe esle. It wulod mkae thngis esaeir for me and my lfie wulod fnlaily hvae mnieang and I wuold be lveod.

But the cownls tlod me derenffit. Tehy let me hnok tehir nseos and wehn tehy tlod me nitohng was wonrg wtih me—taht I was peferct as I was—I cierd.

The dcotros tehy siad, wnetad to “fix” me bcesuase I saw tignhs dferfinelty. Taht’s waht was “wonrg” wtih me. But the conwls tlod me diferneft—taht it wsna’t my fulat taht ploepe dnid’t urendanstd me.

“Mnaineg, lfie, and lvoe aenr’t in the bgeinnnig and the end,” they siad, “teyh’re waht’s in bteewen.”

 

Here’s what judge (and three time winner) Craig Anderson said: 

This entry immediately caught my eye on the first round of judging and I found myself thinking about it long after I had shut my laptop. It is a fantastic example of the types of risks you can take when writing flash – you could never write a full length novel like this, but for a short piece such as this one it’s a powerful and effective style.

The words are scrambled just enough to make you stop and think, but not so much that it’s frustrating to read. This creates a momentary struggle for understanding; effort is required to decipher what is going on. It really is an effective way to vividly paint the picture of what the life of the protagonist must be like on a day to day basis. 

The scrambled words are a great device, but the reason they work so effectively is because the underlying story is strong enough to keep the reader’s attention. It tells a very relatable struggle of a young boy who just wants to fit in, to ‘understand’ the world better. For example (translated for you) – “They said they wanted the best for me, the surgery would make me like everyone else. It would make things easier for me and my life would finally have meaning and I would be loved.”

I also enjoyed the conflicting views of the doctors and the clowns. The doctors saw only a problem to be fixed, while the clowns simply saw someone who viewed the world differently. We typically think of doctors as fonts of knowledge and clowns as whimsical folly, but this story makes us challenge our assumptions. I don’t know about you, but I’m with the clowns on this one. Perhaps we are all too quick to ‘fix’ these sorts of problems, when perhaps the true answer is to learn to embrace the differences. 

I couldn’t write about this story and not mention the last line, which wraps up this story beautifully. I’m not going to quote it here as you should experience it for yourself below in the correct context, but it’s a great way to end both this story and my time as a judge. Thanks!

 


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