December Contest Winner: “Legacy” by Shawna Mayer

December Contest Winner “Legacy” by Shawna Mayer

Thank you to everyone who submitted their stories for the December contest. We received many great stories and it was difficult to choose just one winner. Keep writing! We will announce the January contest soon.

Legacy
by Shawna Mayer

Woman in bathing suit hugging a snowman - 1924 (from Library of Congress)

“In those days mixed marriages were unheard of.”  Grandma slapped the picture on the table like an ace next to a king in a hand of blackjack.

The picture showed my Grandma in her bathing costume hugging the neck of a snowman on the beach.  Her parents had hated the idea of their spritely, effervescent daughter hitched to a cinderblock of ice with nothing to his name but a carrot nose and a ratty old hat.

“Pop was ready to disown me when Charlie and I announced our engagement, but Ma talked him into coming to the wedding, and by the time your father was born, it was clear he’d made his peace with us.”

The first time Grandma told me this story, she’d been baking Christmas cookies all day and smelled of vanilla and rum.  I’d helped and still had bits of dough in the crevasses of my fingernails.  Snuggling more deeply into her lap, I reached out to caress her long white braid.

“Charlie, wasn’t any ordinary snowman.  He exposed himself to the sand and the salt air that day all because he wanted to make me happy.”  She looked down at me, and raised an eyebrow.  “Hear that sweetie?  When it comes time for you to pick, make sure you choose one that’ll risk something for you.”  I nodded seriously, recognizing wisdom was being imparted.

“He must have been cold to hug,” I said.

“Yes, but it never bothered me,” she said, “Because he always kept me laughing, and we could talk about anything.  Every moment we spent together was precious.”  She sighed.  “Then two years after Charlie melted, I met Stanley.  He adopted your father and raised him like he was his own son.  I was very lucky to find two such good men.”

“Now, I want to show you something.”  I climbed out her lap and she led me down the narrow basement steps, past the washer and dryer and work bench piled with broken appliances.  We stopped in the very back corner in front of the ancient deep freeze.  She propped the lid open and dug around, shifting the blocks of meat, until finally she said, “Here he is.” The light glinted off a silver box in the palm of her hand.  She lifted the lid and inside was a small chunk of ice.  “Touch it,” she whispered, “It feels like velvet.”

Tentatively, I reached out.  Maybe it was only the power of suggestion, but she was right.

After Grandpa Stanley died, we had to auction off the antiques, and in the decade that followed Grandma had a series of strokes that stole more of her each time.  When we finally had to sell the house there was only one thing left that I wanted.

Tonight, as I cuddle up in front of the TV next to my husband Steve, the silver box is nestled deep in my freezer.

Steve gasps, “Your feet are like ice cubes.”  I smile.  It runs in the family.

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December Contest: 1001 Ways to Melt a Snowman

Woman in bathing suit hugging a snowman - 1924Announcing the December Writing Contest: 

Write a flash fiction piece (500 words or less) or a poem (1 types page or less) based on this image.

Submit your story or poem to alchemist review@gmail.com by 11:59 p.m. on December 14th.

The winning story and poem will be posted to www.thealchemistreview.com

 

Flash Photography/Flash Fiction contest winner

We’re pleased to announce Erich O’Connor’s short piece “Play Fight” as the winner of our flash fiction contest, inspired by the photography of Diane Arbus!

PLAY FIGHT

by Erich O’Connor

We stood shoulder to shoulder staring at the photo in The Medicine Shop—a local art gallery.

“What does it mean?” Alberta whispers.

“I don’t know,” Marvin says.

“Well, it’s clearly a statement about the effect of war and the Military Industrial Complex on the younger generations,” Frank says. “Humanity’s always been at war. We learn to fight because that is what we are taught.”

Frank is such a bummer—he’s smart—but he always takes the fun out of things by over-over analyzing things and always ends up making everyone feel like a dumbass.

“Whatever,” Alberta says, “I think it’s a toy grenade. The kid’s just playing around.”

“Exactly,” Frank resonates, “How else do you think we learn it.”

When we leave The Medicine Shop and Alberta says she wants to go to Tacos and Ice Cream and have a taco and some ice cream. We walk down the street, passing the spinning neon sign. Inside as Alberta is stuffing her face with a soft shell taco and I’m chowing on the cheesiest nachos, Frank informs us about the news report he’d just seen Andy Rooney give on last week’s 60 Minutes.

“In the news report,” Frank tells us, “they showed all the chickens and cows they pump full of hormones and stuff. The chicken’s bones snap like toothpicks and the breast meat is plump and the eggs are many. The cows, they get heavier, and the girl cows’ utters swell with so much milk that their utters touch the ground. It’s unhealthy,” he says, “and they use it for fast food and stuff.”

I throw a chip at his face, cheese sticks to his cheek and jacket before the chip falls to the floor.

“Hey!” Frank says.

I say, “What, you wanna take it outside?”