Infinite Grace Micro Fiction Contest Winners
This season’s MicroFiction contest seemed to open the floodgates for contributors far and wide—we had more entries than ever and the range of creative expression was inspirational. We are grateful to each of you for responding to Infinite Grace with your imagination, heart, and words! Choosing a winning story challenged us in the best possible ways, and we finally decided to award three writers for their stories.
A Special Mention is given to 3½-year-old Willow Engel of Melville, NY. Her contribution is “as told to her mother.” May this little storyteller’s perspicacity continue to flourish!
From our abundance of story submissions, we have two clear winners of the Infinite Grace MicroFiction contest—Madeline Page and Devo Cutler-Rubenstein. Both writers capture some faithful essence of Lori’s enigmatic image—how in the world has this small human child come to be in such an improbable scene?
Thirteen-year-old Madeline Page of New Albany, OH gives us a third person narrative from the perspective of the ancient rhino encountering a waif before the storm. Her writing draws us into an unfamiliar other’s way of experiencing the world, sensuous and visceral, much like Lori’s painting.
Adult writer Devo Cutler-Rubenstein of West Hollywood, CA penned an immediately believable child’s daydream in less than 200 words, “Walking home.” Her small fantasy carries an irresistible pull, so we find ourselves reliving our own imaginative escapades, somewhere entirely magical, between what is and what isn’t.
Inspiration flows in all directions when we join together in Creativity!
Willow Grace Engel, Age: 3 1/2 - Melville, NY
The sky is turning gray.
The boy is holding on the rhino.
He likes him.
They’re best friends.
The rhino is gray and black.
He’s holding the boy.
They’re holding each other.
They’re best friends.
They play with each other every day.
Winning Story (tie)
Madeline Page, Age 13 - New Albany, OH
It was a child. A human child, to be precise.
It was clothed in a suit the red of ripe mangos, with hair spiraling towards the setting sun. It was young, and small enough that it could hide behind the rigid green grass of the plain. And hide it did, when it saw her.
She was placidly watching it with eyes like sun warmed mud puddles. Her skin was wrinkled as a piece of paper, and while she had two formidable horns protruding from her skull, they were cracked, and chipped like old china.
The child’s own crystal eyes were wide with fright as it regarded what its young mind reckoned to be a ferocious beast. She wished she could tell it not to be afraid; it had been many years since she had been deemed ‘ferocious’. She was too tired to bother getting angry. Now, she simply existed, and waited until the African sunset cast her shadow over the earth for the last time.
The child quivered with fright-or perhaps it was shivering with cold. Clouds were now racing with the speed of a hunting cheetah across the sky. Rumbles like lion growls sounded from the heavens; the sky was the predator, and the earth the prey. Soon, rain would fall in torrents, streaking the dry ground with thick mud.
She wasn’t afraid of a storm. She had seen many in her days roaming the savanna, and she had grown used to the feeling of miniscule shards of sky pricking her tough hide.
But as she regarded the child’s trembling body, and compared its sun-kissed skin to her sky-hardened hide, she realized that it was cold and afraid.
Cold and afraid, and lonely. She was not so old that she could not remember the touch of her mother, or the yearning one had for her embrace when one was frightened and alone. She pitied the child, and wondered where its mother was.
The sky grumbled, and the child cried out. The storm had not yet begun, but already rain was running down the child’s face.
No, not rain. . . tears. The child was crying.
She felt a tug, as if a rope looped around her chest was ever so gently nudging her toward the child.
Lightning crackled, tearing the sky in two, and the child whimpered.
There it was again-a small tug on her heart. She wondered. . .
Tentatively, she took a step forward. The child quickly drew in breath, and froze like a gazelle who had met the gaze of a lion. She rumbled quietly-not the rumbling of thunder, but the gentle rumble of a waterfall-to show she meant no harm. The child’s breathing slowed, and it watched her with large eyes as she cautiously made her way closer.
She was standing directly in front of it now. It studied her inquisitively, its head slightly tilted to the side in bewilderment. She rumbled again, more quietly this time so as not to startle it, and slowly. . . ever so slowly. . . inclined her head towards the child.
Its gaze never wavering from her eyes, it stretched its hand up, and touched her horn. She sighed as its chubby fingers caressed her broken keratin, and as it slowly. . . ever so slowly. . . wrapped its arms around her.
The sky shuddered, and the child gasped, and clutched her horn tighter. She rumbled comfortingly, and the child’s grip loosened.
Like a string that had been stretched too thin breaking, the sky shattered, and sent its tiny shards tumbling towards the earth. She carefully watched as they began pelting the child, expecting it to cry out-but it didn’t. Instead, it simply laid its head against her horn, and closed its eyes.
So as the rain ran in rivulets down her back, and tousled the child’s curls, the twosome embraced beneath the frigid sky, and waited out the storm.
Winning Story (tie)
Devo Cutler-Rubenstein - West Hollywood, CA
I’ll tell everyone I rode
It won’t be a lie. I held on tight and closed my eyes
My imagination is true as true as the horn on his head
And the nose on my head. My toes dug into my red slippers
And I thought why didn’t I listen to nanny and wear the oxfords, but
Wearing the slippers on a Sunday fun-day. That was not such a good
Idea after all. Who knew I’d run into it, lazing on the plains, waiting for
Me. He said afterall it was the best time I’d ever have, ever. More fun
Than the painted pony on the merry-go-round. More fun than the sprinklers
Turned on full blast. At last he was snorting. I had held on so tightly if he threw
Me off I would just be like a dandelion seed not quite old enough to be blown off
Its slender stem. I would never wear these shoes again. Never. Finally, I let go
And opening my eyes.
A tree stump looking like a horn stared back at me, and my red slippers were the oxfords and I heard the river that was not a roar.