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“Two in the Hand” by Melinda McCamant

Character: Police station clerk
Action: Tightening a knot
Setting: A meeting for a subversive group
Prop: Decorative songbirds made from vinyl records

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Two in the Hand

by Melinda McCamant

The common house sparrow isn’t flashy but it is prolific and inquisitive. Like most birds they mate for life. Like people they flock to cities. I like the possibility of birds, that if I understood their song I could learn their secrets.

A couple of sparrows used to come to my open window every morning to snack on the seeds I scattered there—so small and delicate, like children. As I sipped my coffee I watched them snatch up sunflower seeds with their beaks and toss the shells into the tangle of flowers two stories below. Once I gained their trust they would come inside, hop onto my kitchen table and cock their heads in cautious greeting. They were my conscience and my companions, my Jiminy Crickets that probably ate crickets. It’s too bad I had to kill them.

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“Birdsong” by Kerrie Farris

Character: Police station clerk
Action: Tightening a knot
Setting: A meeting for a subversive group
Prop: Decorative songbirds made from vinyl records

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Birdsong

 by Kerrie Farris

“Reilly, what are you doing?” Her mother called through the thin wall between Reilly’s bedroom and the living room.

“Homework, Mom.”

“Ok. Don’t leave the house. I’m going to lay down for awhile.” Her voice was a tired warble.

“Alright. Is there anything to eat?”

“You can microwave yourself a TV dinner. That’s what I’m going to do, later.”

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“Hooliganism” by Kait Heacock

Character: Police station clerk
Action: Tightening a knot
Setting: A meeting for a subversive group
Prop: Decorative songbirds made from vinyl records

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Hooliganism

by Kait Heacock

In the basement of Dana’s house, she and her girlfriend Jay had converted the rec room space next to her bedroom into a practice room for their as yet untitled band. They moved the couch and recliner back towards the wall to clear space for the drum set, guitars, microphones, and amps they planned to buy. They put posters of their favorite bands on the wall for inspiration and brought Dana’s mom’s record player downstairs. Dana’s mom even loaned her old acoustic guitar, which was the only instrument they had to fill the newly emptied space.

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“Blue Hair and Songbirds” by Joaquin Lowe

Character: Police station clerk
Action: Tightening a knot
Setting: A meeting for a subversive group
Prop: Decorative songbirds made from vinyl records

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Blue Hair and Songbirds

by Joaquin Lowe

Seamus Mcaffey was an ordinary cop. Actually, he was a station clerk—a secretary—but he was the son of an ordinary cop. He kept his desk immaculate and sparse: coffee mug of sharpened number 2 pencils, stacks of forms, organized by frequency of use and color, a keyboard, and a monitor that always showed a half finished game of minesweeper, the timer stuck at “99”.

Seamus could never be an ordinary cop like his father, or his father before him. He was tall, wide shouldered; yoga made him lean and strong. The female officers cat-called him to show off his stomach—perfect even with the constellation of dangerous looking moles—and he blushed a deep shade of red that made the women laugh amongst themselves as they walked away. Seamus looked the part of the beat cop; in a different time he may have even been a strong-jawed detective who played by his own rules but always got his man. Seamus looked the part except for one thing. Seamus had blue hair.

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“The Symphony” by Eva Sylwester

Character: Police station clerk
Action: Tightening a knot
Setting: A meeting for a subversive group
Prop: Decorative songbirds made from vinyl records

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The Symphony

by Eva Sylwester

Rose was tightening a knot on her necktie in the locker room, checking herself out in the mirror. She was eighteen and cute, and she knew it. The retirement home management made even the girl servers wear neckties, and that just made her look even cuter than usual.

On her way to the dining room to wait for the residents, she glimpsed the food the cooks had ready in big metal pans. All the boxes and cans around the kitchen said SYSCO, like the SYSCO truck she often saw pulling up to her college dorm’s cafeteria. A retirement home was a lot like a college dorm, except people didn’t graduate — they died.

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“Visiting Allie” by Elissa Nelson

Character: Police station clerk
Action: Tightening a knot
Setting: A meeting for a subversive group
Prop: Decorative songbirds made from vinyl records

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Visiting Allie

 by Elissa Nelson

George drives into Portland from where he lives, near the coast, near Florence. He’s not quite on the ocean—but he’s only about ten minutes away on his motorcycle, so good weather (really lots of kinds of weather), he gets over there a lot. Just to be by the ocean. Whoever would’ve thought he’d live ten minutes from the ocean? But he does. Sure, his house is smaller than it would be if he were farther away, but it’s big enough for him. Him and Frankie, who loves the ocean, and they’ve figured out how to get him there on the motorcycle! Took some doing, but they figured it out. Thank god Phil has her own bike, because he doesn’t know if he could stand to leave Frankie at home. Especially at this point, when they’ve figured it out. George is still working a lot—what the hell else would he do with himself, anyway?—but he does get to the coast most days. He has to swing by his house and get Frankie, unless Frankie came in to work with him, which he does a lot these days—then they head over to the ocean.

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“When Your First Bust Is a Santa Claus” by Courtney Sherwood

Congratulations to Courtney Sherwood for winning in the 2012 Individual category!

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Character: Police station clerk
Action: Tightening a knot
Setting: A meeting for a subversive group
Prop: Decorative songbirds made from vinyl records

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When Your First Bust Is a Santa Claus

by Courtney Sherwood

When your first bust is a Santa Claus, it can be hard to believe in what you’re doing.

I remember the little boy’s dusky tear-streaked face, his bold older sister as she crossed her arms and furrowed her brow in defiance. “It’ll be OK,” she asserted, as though she knew anything. Ages four and eight, the file said. How much harm could a little magic cause? I wondered, then stifled the thought.

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