Jane sent me a set of guidelines for a contest from an online magazine called Opium. I reproduce it here as a game: "The rules? Write a story or prose poem that is seven lines or less (8.5" x 11" paper with 1" margins)." Below I posted a great little story as an example. Also taken from Opium:
Postcard from Mykonos
by Thomas Cooper
Estimated reading time: 30 seconds
When H and J were on vacations they wrote postcards to the Mortimers, a couple they never knew or met. They imagined the Mortimers at home, captivated, when they received postcards from San Tropez, Tokyo, Madrid. “Maybe we’ll visit this thanksgiving,” he wrote. “Why didn’t you meet us in Bangkok?” she wrote. It went on for years. But this morning,alone in Mykonos for Christmas, at a desk window overlooking the Aegean sea, he writes on the back of a hotel postcard that he has news he must share in person, and that he’ll soon be on his way.
At Home with the Mortimers
In the face of Buena's utter disappointment, Raul tossed the extravagant postcards out; where Buena saw friends in a secret new world, Raul saw the reflections of escape and excess: would his wife wear Lamborghini-red lipstick like the mouth of that postcard's Amsterdam whore? Would other men see the horizon of her bikini line from a yacht skimming the postcard's Baltic? Would she shame him, traipsing the card's naked edge of 42nd Street? All led to Buena's ultimate deception, he later thought, her hair in his hands. Buena watched the man she had once thought to love
suck in all his breath and loosen a ball of phlegm into the trash can. She said nothing because above all she knew that though Raul could control her, he could not control the mail. She let him mock her. "You're the sucker born every minute". Before the fire of his doubt could consume him, Buena secreted those minute love letters that beckoned her to sit in Parisienne cafe chairs lined like eggs in cartons; to touch Lady Liberty's prickly crown; to bathe in the yellow curry of a Nepalese hillside; to follow a gaggle of Geishas walking in a grove of
cherry blossoms. She never thought to believe the postcards were images of a life spent in dreams, that her reality existed in the garbage pail. A somnambulist, Buena mined, then rescued the pieces out from under the finger of Raul's suspicion. She cut her hands with the shark lids of bean cans and inhaled the stench of 50 cent half-smoked cigars. None of that mattered because she had never known the depth of her discontent until the mysterious arrival of postcards from a couple she'd never known nor met.
Megan walks into what seems to be a hospital, light beams shine brightly, so brightly she squints and shades her eyes with her hand. If she could only find a bed to rest her weary body. “You can use the one reserved for the homeless,” someone whispers in her ear. And there in front of her are six gurneys each covered in sheets of the most vivid hues: Tuareg blue, azalea pink, Flaming June orange. Although she yearns to lay down on the alluring field of colors, and rest her head she shivers at the thought that someone will come to reprimand her, and demand she give up her bed to one more needy. Finally, she sees a row of black chairs in a dark corner. And while she walks toward them thinking of how she’ll need to arrange her body to fit in, she hears what she thinks is an ambulance siren’s wail approaching quickly and loudly.
Claudia Noguera Penso (Venezuela, 1963)
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