Drumroll, please… We are so excited to share with you the winner of our 2021 Flash Fiction Contest: “Agora é Sempre” by Tanya Perkins! Stuart Dybek writes: “The prose miniature challenges a writer to conceptualize how a story’s living essence can be conveyed quickly within language’s abstract sense of time and space. This is a feat that “Agore e’ Sempre” excels at. The story’s effect isn’t one of minimalism, but maximalism. A mere thousand words encompasses oceans complete with their currents, riptides, rogue waves, and roiling plastic. And the oceans connect continents. The “character” that the narrative revolves around is a pair of flipflops—i.e.“children of eternity”— and there’s a supporting cast of at least a dozen characters whose lives and deaths intersect. The story announces the wit and whimsy it will sustain, in a modulated first a sentence that flows for a paragraph. An appreciation of this original, vividly imagined story could deservedly go on for several times the length of the piece itself.” Dive in below:
Again the flip-flops were picked up by the current, none the worse, since they were truly children of eternity.
Gabriella Mendigez’s best wedding gift was a pair of black plastic flip-flops, the straps handbeaded by Marcella Adivino, her mother’s best friend, which Gabriella unwrapped on June 16 in the crystal ballroom of the legendary Sunset Islands Ritz Carlton on Lake Avenue, just a few miles from the condo on Biscayne Boulevard where she and her new wife, golf pro Carla Cosanatti, would live for the next several years, until that cool May morning, exactly one month short of their eleventh wedding anniversary, when Carla would be caught in one of Miami Beach’s infamous riptides and reappear, bluely entangled, some miles up the coast, just north of West Palm, where Marcella Adivino had first gathered the flipflops as part of the endless debris studding Florida’s shoreline.
But these flip-flops! Forgotten by Otto Krabhaufer on a beach in south Thailand, they were sucked into the North Equatorial current, which carried them across the Indian Ocean to where the warm Agulhas surged along the clouded banks of Mozambique, past idling hammerheads and freckled seastars, until finally they were lodged in the clefts of a half-submerged shoal. On that shiny morning, Isaac Attonobe was to join an uncle on his small fishing boat but instead was conscripted by pirates as a look-out, since he was young—just fourteen—and his sight keen. You can see him there, leaning against the stern, scanning the horizon with binoculars, his mother’s anger uppermost in his mind, that and fear of what the men might do if he did not find them a cargo ship. When the engine stalled, they drifted close to the shoal and Isaac noticed the left flipflop, glistening like an eel, so when the boat scraped the rocks, he reached out his skinny arm, grabbed it, exultant, then even more so when he spied the other. Thus, Isaac procured shoes for his mother, who would perhaps relent when he returned at day’s end, if not with fish, then with footwear.