Due to an apparent miscommunication, I am judging this week.  There were so many fantastic pieces, this week, and several talented new writers have joined our veterans.  Rather than choosing Honorable Mentions (of which there would have been six or seven), I will share my impressions of each piece.

Exiled Queen  by Lisa McCourt Hollar @jezri1
The imagery of the slightly unhinged and very disgruntled former princess help set this story apart.

Lupus Anthropos' Two Dogs Talking @LupusAnthropos
This story both stuck closely with the prompt and made me blurt out laughter. Funniest entry

Sheilagh Lee with Princess the Cat @SweetSheil
Anyone who has ever been owned by a cat can appreciate this little piece

Princess the Widowmaker by Mark Ethridge @LurchMunster
The mystery around this deadly cutter is told in such a natural way, I would love to hear the rest of the story  - best intro to longer piece

Delusions of Grandeur by Michaela Walters @michelawalters
What starts as story of an imperious woman who I expect to find unloved and forsaken turns into the deranged visions of a mad woman.  I loved the twist in this story.

Jalisa Blackman's little girl in a galactic prison @J_M_Blackman
JM has done a wonderful job in this piece of creating a rich setting and a naturally flowing narrative with a twilight zone stlyed ending.

David Ludwig's story of Lara and Kaitlyn @DavidALudwig
In the space of only 300 words, David manages to create a rich back story, a strong setting and emotional investment. 

Corilith's forced march from Siobhan Muir @SiobhanMuir
The personalities of all three characters are distinct and interesting.  The world behind the story is fleshed out.  Mystery, action and humor are all introduced within this stretch of story.

Circe and Adrius from Cara Michaels @caramichaels
Cara makes excellent use of dialog to move the narrative along while filling in details of the setting.  We've seen romantic action fantasy from Cara before, but that's because she does it so well.

Princess Fredericka by Ruth Long @bullishink
I love the way this casual first person narrative, slowly reveals the narrator's feelings for the people he's describing.  The history, the intrigue, the import of the situation slowly unfold in a very natural manner.

Nellie's Princess the Horse @solimond
An excellent description of a strong-willed horse.  I would have liked to have seen more narrative.

DC McMillen and the case of the unfortunate names @mcmillendc
This piece was absolutely hysterical, with rich characterization and the narrator's realization of their own prejudice.


Golden Gate Bridge
by Chris Pearson

They call her Princess.

We have a 130-lbs Rottweiler who wears a pink collar and sits with her paws crossed. Naturally, we call her Princess. Whether it's irony or simple observation, there can be great power in a name.

I wonder what that says about me.

Princess and I used to go on these long walks in the city. We’d start in the old bagel shop near the highway, I’d get some croissant or something and we’d leave Sausalito, cross the bridge and head to the marina. That alone is at least four or five miles to walk, but I really needed to get away from my family back then, not because they were bad or anything, but just because, for whatever reason, I needed to distance myself from my house, my dad, my mom, my brother, my sisters. So I walked with princess, and the walks were long because there wasn’t a whole lot else to do. I liked the feeling of the bay air, of crossing the barrier the water made, heading into something different from Sausalito, my hometown. Plus there’s the bridge. Walking on that bridge…well that’s something else entirely.

Anyone who’s been on the Golden Gate Bridge knows what I’m talking about. That bridge has a certain energy to it, something you feel inside you as you look at it from inside the city, or walk along its edge.

The feeling isn’t necessarily a good one, and that’s why it used to creep me out so much. The feeling is of peace, happiness, an internal song being sung that says for you to jump, to leave it all behind. The water below is nice, it says. Better than where you stand is where you could be swimming, it says. I don’t think I’m the only one who noticed that feeling, and Princess, being the good little baby that she is, would always be anxious to cross, tugging me as if the bridge wasn’t a million tons of steel, but the rickety planks of a drawbridge near collapse. I think she knew somehow, that I wanted to jump.

This one time, on a summer Saturday when Princess and I were yet again heading out across the bridge, I saw a man jump. It was really early in the morning, and I think him and I were the only pedestrians on it. He was probably there for several minutes before doing it, the way I saw him standing there, looking into the water below, that looked so still when seen from the bridge, but so violent in reality. He’d, as if a consensus had been reached, lifted his right leg over the railing, then his left, and then he’d let go.

Nobody but me was around to see it in that dense fog, and nobody would ever know what I knew.

He was smiling when he hit the water.

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