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Micro Fiction Contest 2018

First Place



Caitlin Bullock


When I was a young girl, I used to see pleasure as the color pink—bubblegum halos for an A on a history test; vibrant watermelon for the feeling of my callused feet on the warm summer grass.

When I was thirteen, I perceived sadness as purple. I saw periwinkle when my cat Snickers unearthed and mangled a rabbit nest in the back field. I felt mulberry when my mother miscarried again; a disheartening heather when she left for good. Lavender weighed down my father’s shoulders. Dad’s flannel work shirts—imbued with the comforting tang of sweat and fresh-cut juniper—started to sag on his frame. His eyes hollowed.

My body began to fill. My aunt took me to the Mervyn’s in the next town over for a bra. My father brought home a box of tampons, dropping them through the cracked opening of the bathroom door.

West Junior High’s senior projects filled the gym with stand-up poster boards and prepubescent polyestered bodies. I stood next to my board, a genealogical mapping of the Wren’s Valley Cemetery. A boy, all arms and legs in the junior-varsity rugby orange, stared intently at my mapping. 

“Cool.” He nodded his head in approval. 

“Thanks.” I suddenly noticed the scent of my breath, a nervous, cacophonous mixture of chocolate milk and loud spruce.

“I’m Rennie.” He smiled. 

I stared at his chipped front tooth. “Grace.” I shook his hand. I felt like I’d been headbutted in the gut by one of our dairy goats.

I sensed his gaze from across the gym for the rest of the afternoon. Dad, reticent as ever, asked if I was nervous about being a big high schooler next year. 

My body flushed with an influx of colors.

. . .

Rennie and I met in the southeast corner of the Wren’s Valley Cemetery the week before freshman year. I took him on a tour of the founding seven families; marble headstones high as flagships, chipped and crumbling from the lichen’s acids. I kissed him against Baby McMahey’s headstone. It was my favorite: no name, just “Baby: Dec 1897- Feb 1898.” The left eye of the winged cherub adorning the top had worn away into a darkened socket. I felt the right eye, peacefully enveloped by rough-hewn tender cheek, staring down at me as Rennie removed my shorts. With each clumsy thrust of his hips, the top of my head smacked against the headstone, tiny thuds of soft scalp striking the limestone. My legs tingled against the prickling of the yellowed summer lawn. 

Rennie looked away when he finished. He stood and pulled his Levi’s to his waist.

“Cool,” I said. 

Rennie paused as he buckled his leather belt, but said only, “Thanks. See you around school, I guess.”

“Yeah,” I said. “See you around.” 

I felt no pigments but the overbearing heat of the sun. I smelled no hues, nothing but my own nervous fluids. And I saw no colors but the judgmental gray of Baby’s gaze.



Caitlin Bullock is currently attending Boise State University, pursuing a BA in Creative Writing. A first-generation college student, Caitlin will graduate summa cum laude from the Honors College in December 2018. Stories are Caitlin’s passion—whether fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction, Caitlin aims to write with emotional honesty, with truth, and with empathy for her characters and her readers. Prior to this contest, Caitlin has won a cake walk, a year’s supply of free spinach from Earthbound Farms Organic, and, for two consecutive years, she’s placed first in Storyfort’s PreFort Undergraduate Reading in Creative Nonfiction. This is her first publication.