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Announcing the 200-word ‘short-shorts’ contest winners!

Once again, opening the envelope…

Marge Barrett
Marge Barrett

And the winners are:

First Place: “Tonight We Crossed the Moon,” Robin Sauerwein

Second Place: “Simple Predicate,” Mary McGreevy

Third Place: “Thrown,” Jeff Johnson                                    

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Congratulations to you all!

Robin will receive two tickets for a Park Square Theatre production and Mary and Jeff will receive books of short-shorts.

Thanks to all who submitted to our third short-shorts contest. The judges had to make difficult choices; the rankings were very close. We hope you will consider sending in pieces for the next contest. We’ll halve the words again: plan to meet the 100-word challenge.

Again, we thank our judges — Sam Cole, Karon Sherarts, Jan Strootman — for their wisdom and generosity. And, once again, we thank all the readers of MinnPost who support the writings of fellow Minnesotans.

Here are the winning pieces…

“Tonight We Crossed the Moon” by Robin Sauerwein

We are walking to Northeast Middle School for my son Dylan’s swimming lesson. There is a field of fresh snow before us and the wind has been busy making divots into its surface. The white pockets of snow resemble craters and the ground sparkles a silvery blue. It reminds me of the glitter I used to sprinkle on my mother’s nose as a kid while she dozed in her recliner in the early evening. And tonight, the snow is untouched by human footprints.

“Look we’re crossing the moon!”  I say.

Dylan laughs at my silliness but he is willing to play along. He looks up at the real moon high above the sky, with its twisted orange lips hiding all expression. We step out onto the field and our boots crunch and sink down a few inches into the earth. The stars above blink on and off like a hotel vacancy sign. My lungs breathe in the cool air. Behind me, the street lights dim and the dark road empties of all cars. I feel a momentary lightness until our boots once again land onto the hard parking lot surface of the middle school.

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Robin Sauerwein is a Minneapolis freelance writer. She likes to write flash fiction in order to show an emotion or a moment or to display some of the oddities in life.

“Simple Predicate”
by Mary McGreevy

The stump where Sister Peter’s hand used to be thumped the back of his head. He’d been staring out the window instead of diagramming sentences, so he guessed he deserved the whack. Three seats ahead of him, Monty Richardson got the “stump thump” for picking his nose. The kids were used to it, and the thumps didn’t hurt. He picked up the pencil and methodically drew out the diagramming form for a sentence that included three prepositions and an indirect clause.

He’d heard it was a paper cutter accident. He had a proper gothic fear of paper cutters. Once while serving detention in another classroom after school, he saw Sister Peter walking down the hall with her wimple off. The back of her head was a large, bald circle, framed by wispy red curls. He felt ashamed to have seen her; he kept it a secret, like the naked pictures he’d seen under Monty’s pool table.

Sister Peter’s last name was Dangel, which made a great story. As an adult, he often described her to great effect, and then he’d diagram a long sentence as a parlor trick. But it made him feel guilty. Like he’d betrayed a good friend.

Mary McGreevy lives and writes in St. Paul.

by Jeff Johnson

I’m trying not to be one of those dads.

I showed him the four-seam grip and the footwork, how to bring his arm through at three-quarters and follow through across his body.

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He’s not getting it. We go through it again. And again.

“One last time,” I say.

He stands perpendicular to me. His body is a scarecrow, his glove-hand pointing at me and his throwing-hand thrust out behind him. He steps and throws, bringing his arm through at three-quarters and following through across his body.

In the neonatal ICU, I cupped my hand on the back of his skull. His preemie body fit easily on the inside of my forearm. The only way I could calm him was to hold him against my chest like a football.

Now he’s all arms and legs and a motor system that can’t seem to keep up. “He’s still growing into his paws,” his granddad says.

His throw, arcless, lands in my glove with a pop. I look at him under raised eyebrows. He smiles, and I notice that he still has the face of a baby. His smile hangs out there, unanswered, until I finally follow with my own.

Jeff Johnson lives in Minneapolis with his wife and twin sons. His work has appeared in The Sun, Bartleby-Snopes, Foliate Oak, and Foundling Review.                                                                             

Marge Barrett has published prose and poetry in numerous print and online journals and in The Best of the Web 2009 and The State We’re In. She teaches at the Loft Literary Center and the Jewish Community Center in St. Paul.