"Floccinaucinihilipilification" by Cheryl Skory Suma — Our March 2020 Gold Medal Winner

by - Thursday, May 07, 2020

Cheryl is our first place winner from the contest posted in our March 2020 issue!

What the judges had to say:

"I like that you didn't centre your entire story around the cat in the image. It felt more natural to have the cat as part of the story rather than the focus as many other author's chose to do. This made your story stand out uniquely from the others."

"A haunting depiction of how words can shape a person’s self image yet also offers a glimpse of the indomitable spirit of youth."

"A very strong, insightful story. I appreciated that there were no obvious cliches, that the author worked to find original, truthful images to express the protagonist's feelings. The device of a dictionary word that represents her own situation gives the story a beautiful, complete arc. Very well done."

"Huge creative merit goes to this take on the image; as setting and character so deeply intertwine. The protagonist's growth was unexpected and while it came upon us abruptly it was satisfying as a good song, well sung on the paved street outside one's favourite coffee shop."

"This story is full of depth. It captured me from the first sentence. I need to know more about what this character is planning!"

Meet Cheryl:

Cheryl Skory Suma launched her writing career with a self-published YA fantasy novel,  Habitan, which made the Longlist of the 2019 Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards. Her poetry has appeared in La Piccioletta Barca and Public Poetry’s Enough Anthology. In 2019 she was a Semifinalist for Ruminate Magazine’s VanderMey Nonfiction Prize, and Shortlisted for Hippocampus Magazine’s Creative Nonfiction Contest, Blank Spaces spring & fall Flash Fiction contests and the Erbacce Prize for poetry. Other contest placements for 2020 include the ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition, Semifinalist (for her second novel, gods Playground), and Pulp Literature’s Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest, Longlist. She is currently working on a short story collection and a third novel. Cheryl has a Masters of Health Science in Speech-Language Pathology and a B.Sc. in Honours Psychology.

The photo prompt:

  an unedited excerpt:


by Cheryl Skory Suma

My English teacher says there are many words that mean the same thing. She writes examples in
her perfect chalk letters, then smiles her knowledge at us.

I like to find my own words. To curl up in the red armchair in the corner of the attic by the window
and read. The chair that glows the shade of let blood when the sunset crawls up her arms.

If I lay my arm on hers, I glow too.

Tonight the late summer wind is whispering warnings of the impending fall to the tree outside. She has birthed more children than she can cradle, her arms overflowing with leaves that shake at
the wind’s whispers. I have no sympathy; adults should know if they can handle a child.
 My mother didn’t, so now we both rattle in the wind.

I was unplanned. Mom’s whole life was unplanned, gramma says. Mom’s “lack of self-worth already shaped me beyond recognition at the age of twelve.” Or so gramma told the court when she tried to take me away, but failed.

Not a fan of defeat, gramma sneaks books to me. So I can experience “another perspective.”

I love them all, but my favorite is the dictionary. Its cover is thick and blue, with gold letters that fade a little more each time I touch it. I started at the beginning, searching for new words. I like to spin them over my tongue until they begin to sound and taste like mine. Whatever novel I’m reading, the dictionary rides shotgun. So I can taste the author’s words better.

When I reached the F’s, I discovered a word that belonged to mom and I. The dictionary proclaimed it “the longest nontechnical word in the English language”. It is a word that presumes everything and imagines nothing all at once...

to read the rest of the story, order your copy of the June 2020 issue

[Read the second and third place stories]

Learn how you can participate in one of our Write-Prompt Flash Fiction Contests HERE

Order the next issue of Blank Spaces HERE

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