All day, I finessed one, then tweaked the other. They are night and day from each other, sharing nothing in common except the constraints of "Drama, Race Track, and Laser Pointer." I fell to begging writer friends for their advice. I considered flipping a coin. I read a ton of flash fiction online, trying to decide which one fit the genre better. Then I re-read a few stories from the competition forum, to try to determine which was the more winningest. In the end, I went for the "likeable" characters. I hope the judges are into uplifting as opposed to sarcasm and teen boy vernacular.
Speaking of. Here is the story I didn't send (after the jump):
Synopsis: A boy facing a lifetime of hard scrabble bargains with a privileged former friend.
Lap 1 (2:15)
I could hear Boyd Seward wheezing up behind me. Coach says he uses too much energy snuffling great gasps of air, and that's why he can't beat me. No one can—I'm not a lot of things, but I am fastest—so I didn't care about his breathing, except I could hear him getting closer. I must have slowed down a little to let him catch up.
“Jeez, Wolfie, it's supposed to be a ten minute mile. You gotta win that, too?” Boyd hadn't called me Wolfie since seventh grade; it put me on edge. “You pass that Civics test?”
I rolled my eyes over at him dramatically. Like, What the fuck do you really want, Boyd.
“Well, didja?” I shrugged noncommittally. He took it for a no. “I heard a lotta guys didn't.” Which means he probably ruined the grading curve for the rest of us. We ran in silence, his heavier footfalls falling just slightly behind mine.
On the straight, I bolted away and crossed first.
“Jesse Wolfe. Slow the hell down, boy. Save it for tomorrow,” Coach Ellery bellowed after me, red-faced and worked up. He reached into his tangle of lanyards for the whistle and blew the two and a half minute mark. He also wore a stopwatch, a tiny flashlight, and a laser pointer around his neck. The flashlight was for checking for concussions and the laser pointer, for lectures. He'd only mixed them up once when a ninth grader got hit in the head with a discus. That kid still squinted out of his left eye sometimes.
Lap 2 (2:30)
(excerpted for possible publication elsewhere)