The 2016 Flash Fiction Contest winner is Kate Garklavs!

Kate G headshotLeesa Cross-Smith has finished deliberating, and she has selected Kate Garklavs‘s “In Memoriam: Lot 69097″ as the 2016 Flash Fiction Contest winner.

Kate Garklavs lives and works in Portland, OR. Her work has previously appeared in Ohio Edit, Juked, Matchbook, and Tammy, among other places. She earned her MFA at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and she’s currently a reader for the Portland Review.

This year’s finalists are Thomas Duncan, Melissa Goode, Jillian Jackson, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Meghan Phillips, and Tessa Yang. Here’s what Leesa had to say about Kate Garklavs’s winning story:

The language of this story is surprising and so, so pretty. ‘piquant as the night breeze to ocean-damp skin’ and ‘the copier’s light shuttled back and forth beneath the lowered lid, gold spilling out in warm flashes.’ ‘My heartbeat slowed to match the thrum, click, return of the copier.’ I loved reading this story, but even more than that, I loved rereading this story. It’s funny and sweet and pretty much everything I look for in my flash fiction. Nostalgia and romance, a bit of ridiculousness, a whole lot of heart.”

—Leesa Cross-Smith, contest judge and author of Every Kiss a War

Kate’s winning piece will be published on The Conium Review Online Compendium, and it will be made into a limited-run micro-chapbook for distribution at the 2017 AWP Conference in Washington, DC. She will receive a $300 prize and a copy of the judge’s latest book.

There were tons of amazing submissions, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll send us next year. The general submission queue opens on January 1st. Additionally, we’ll be announcing the 2017 Flash Fiction Contest judge shortly. Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about these calls for submissions and news from The Conium Review and Conium Press.

“Dis/appearances” guidelines are up!

The submission guidelines for our “Dis/appearances” theme are live! Submit up to 1,000 words between June 1st and June 15th. Guest edited by Matt Tompkins, author of Souvenirs and Other Stories (Conium Press, 2016) and Studies in Hybrid Morphology (tNY Press, 2016). If your work is accepted, it’s published on our website and you receive a complimentary copy of Matt’s latest book, Souvenirs. Mark your calendars, and read the full guidelines here.

Contributor Update: Rachel Adams’ recent publications

Rachel Adam’s second poetry chapbook, Sleeper, came out from the California-based Flutter Press in 2015. The editor of Flutter Press, Sandy Benitez, also nominated my poem “Habitation” for a Pushcart Prize.

Additionally, Rachel’s poems “Dog and Shadow” and “Habitation” were published in Elsewhere Lit‘s fall issue. Rachel also has work upcoming in NOON and Hummingbird.

Congrats on all the recent publications, Rachel!

Contributor Update: Ashley Hutson’s recent and forthcoming publications

Ashley Hutson’s story, “Soft Bodies,” was recently selected as a finalist for the Indianola Review‘s 2016 Leap Day Flash Fiction Prize (judged by David James Poissant) and will be published in the March issue. In February her nonfiction piece, “Back Aisles,” appeared in River Teeth. She also has forthcoming publications in Spelk, Calliope, Split Lip Magazine, Threadcount, and Fiction International. Read more at www.aahutson.com.

“Ghosts,” by Ari Laurel

Joystick SketchThe psychic at the Missoula County Fair says I was a warrior in a past life, which is a thing I want to believe because I feel like a warrior now. It’s hard being an Oakland girl in Montana. Each day, my blood is angry and alienating. If you were to slice my neck open, it’d come spraying out bright red, thick, and stinging like chili oil. Then, the psychic asks me if I am in love, and before I can say anything, she tells me I’ve already met my soulmate.

Asking me to believe in soulmates is on par with asking me to believe in psychics and enneagrams. I saw the super blood moon eclipse during the Mid-Autumn Festival, and I did not feel raw or overcome with emotion. The moon lowered and rose above the Rattlesnake Mountains and I did not begin ovulating. I’m so out of my touch with my body, I wish I could evolve out of being a woman and into being a fucking cyborg—how dope would that be!

Three weeks before the County Fair, I’d started dating someone. He seemed OK. Better than OK. Pretty cool. But it was early. I didn’t know if he was my soulmate, or if my soulmate was one of the men or women I’d already said no to. Because I say no to a lot of things, a lot of people. I could say no now, if I wanted, and maybe that’s what power is. We played Mortal Kombat the first time we hung out, and I kicked ass with a character whose special move is to bust men’s testicles with her fist. I told him I wasn’t looking to date, and he was cool with it. But as I left his apartment that night, I turned on the landing, mouth open, ready to take it all back. For that moment of hesitation, we were on the same page. I noticed how great his hair was when he looked confused as hell in the light of his doorway, and I wanted to apologize for having no idea what I wanted or how I felt. Instead I said, “Good night,” all coy, like I knew what I was doing. I ain’t afraid of no ghost.

I swipe my Visa on the psychic’s iPad, and when she lays out the cards, she doesn’t lie to me. That’s one thing I really appreciate. Even if none of it is true, she’s actually reading them—a brain full of metaphysical wisdom, interpreting itty-bitty cups and infinity symbols, things that girls tattoo behind their ear and inner wrists. I’ve always wanted to get a reading done but my disbelief made $10 feel so necessary in my wallet. I don’t know how to invest in my future, but I’ll drop $10 on a sweater at H&M that comes apart in three months, or on a super burrito that I can make disappear in a minute.

On a road trip last spring, my friends and I asked each other those questions from the New York Times, the ones that are supposed to make you fall in love with anyone, and now I’m obsessed with finding people brave enough to answer them with me. “What if we fall in love?” they say. “So what?” I tell them. “I’ve been in love plenty of times, it’s no big deal.” “What if we fall in love?” they ask. “I’ll break your fucking heart,” I say.

At the close of the reading the psychic says, “Do you have questions for me?” I look down at the grid of tarot cards and want to ask what they all mean. Not because I believe, but because I hate not knowing. I want to learn to read the cups, the infinities, the little moons. Instead, I ask her if I am doing good work. “You are,” she says. “And it will pay off in November.”

That’s not what I asked, I want to say. I don’t care about payoff. I think I really want to ask if I am doing the right thing. If I am a good person—the thing everybody wants to know. Not if I will be happy, but if I deserve to be. This psychic has to get on my level. Is this the greatest challenge? I want to know. Is this the final boss? I imagine myself throwing punches at apparitions, writing an angry comment on an empty comment thread. One day I’ll be in love, I promise myself. And it’ll be for real this time. One day I’ll learn to stack Mortal Kombat combos like nobody’s business, and I will have all the answers without ever having to believe in them.

About the Author:

Ari Laurel’s work deals with Asian American icons and youth identity in the ever-shifting Bay Area. In addition to her feature in the 2015 Kearny Street Workshop APAture Festival, she was a 2012 finalist for the PEN/USA Emerging Writers Fellowship, recipient of the Candace K. Brown Memorial Scholarship, and her work has appeared in Bitch Media, The Toast, Quartz, Duende, Kweli Journal, and Hyphen. She is currently pursuing an MFA in fiction at the University of Montana.

Special Note:

This story was a finalist in The Conium Review‘s 2015 Flash Fiction Contest, judged by Laura Ellen Joyce.

Image Credit: © mhatzapa / Dollar Photo Club