2017 Short Prose Contest RESULTS
guest judge: Ben Fountain


WINNER: Raven Leilani
"The Money Shot"

The most American pornography is the black body fighting to live. Everyone is watching. No one is watching. It is a private cache of eyes, a browser bloodied and bleached. I turn off the auto-play on my Facebook, but end up watching anyway. I read the comments. I collect last breaths like a routine traffic stop. I spend a breath on my way through airport security, where they put on gloves and pull their hands through my hair. I spend ten more on a six hour drive to my parents’ house. I know that soon, I will be out.


RUNNER UP: Claire Polders



They come for coffee when it rains and overstay their welcome. They come alone or in pairs, leaving mud trails on the floor. They come with earbuds, attitudes, and hard mouths. She knows by now: rudeness travels with power.

Today, one officer sits across from her at the kitchen table, his hands more nicked than the wood. He eyes the cans on her counter. "That’s a lot of beans."


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RUNNER UP: Matt Sandbank
"Mandel & Mandel"

My parents went into business together well before I was born. 

“Mandel & Mandel, trusted names in swimming pool accident law. May I help you?”

From an early age, I was taught to answer the phone like that.


"The Summer After the Summer My Father Was Carried Away by the Bomb"

We had heard rumors of the pelicans but nobody believed them until a Tuesday in August. Ashes blew in from the East. Five hundred fifty-two days without rain. The soybean crop wilted. The ice cream ran out. There was talk in other towns of the same. Everyone had a theory how to bring back the moisture. We looked at the cloudless sky and believed things had to change.