Second Place: Sky-glory (Yaasha)
“What is it?” Aron covered his eyes with both hands. The image of it still burned in his eyelids, shooting pain through his head. It was delicate, like a butterfly’s wings or a column of smoke, yet in the delicacy lay perfect design and order, which indicated a strange resilience. It appeared to be formed of several strands, each with its own quality, each lending its unique radiance to the whole. Like hair, Aron thought.
He dared a glance between his lashes, trembling, and the pain seemed to explode behind his eyes, but he could not look away. In a way, even the pain accentuated its beauty, proving that it was more than a fragile apparition. And its size! It filled his vision, one side licking the dark river that flowed to Aron’s right and the other touching the clear purple mountains in the distance on his left. The entire sky seemed to blaze with its glory and to brush the bottom of the rainclouds with many colors.
“What is it?” Aron asked again, clutching his sister’s hand.
Nura stood, transfixed and breathless for a moment, then whispered reverently, “It is a rainbow.”
Jenny and I were delighted with the way the descriptions and the characters' emotions are woven together here. Everything builds up beautifully to that last sentence.
First Place: Time (Alex)
I know who you are.
It took me a while to figure it out, but now I know. When we first met, you came into our house, to see my father. He was drunk again. You stole his wealth, you stole his reputation, and you stole his kindness, and eventually you stole his life. I didn’t cry, because you had stolen my family’s affection for him, too.
You were a strange looking man, very old and yet very young, dressed in garb from about every era and every culture that there has ever been. I counted at least ten pocket watches and thirteen wrist watches, so I could hear a distinct ticking sound whenever I went near you.
You turned to leave, but you said you would be back one day, and that we’d better be careful about what we allow you to take. I asked what your name was.
“In time, you will come to know it,” you said.
Those words puzzled me at first, but now I know your name was hidden in your words all the while. I know who you are.
You are Time. And I’ll be ready for the next time you come to call.
Dark and fantastic. In just a few words, the author captured the elemental fear that Time can inspire and yet also ended on a challenging note. Marvelous through and through.
Congratulations to both of you! There should be emails waiting in your inboxes to remind you of the prizes. And thank you to everyone who entered; Jenny and I enjoyed reading everyone's "first impressions," and we look forward to doing something like this again.