Literary Upstart Winner: Owl Stretching Time

07/18/2012 4:00 AM |


Photo Bobby Doherty

Our eighth annual Literary Upstart: The Search for Pocket Fiction competition and reading series moved to Williamsburg’s new Wythe Hotel, where from April through June we presented 15 previously unpublished short stories, selected from more than 350 submissions, to the best-looking crowds in the history of the event. This winning story was selected by our distinguished judging panel of literary insiders: Cal Morgan, Vice President & Editorial Director of Harper Perennial; Luis Jaramillo, Associate Chair of the New School’s creative writing program and author of the forthcoming collection The Doctor’s Wife; literary agent Katherine Fausset; and our Distinguished Spokesjudge, the author, humorist, Twitterer, lyricist and New Yorker editor Ben Greenman. (Other finalists can be read here.)

So, you two also here for the time-share? It’s nice in a way, “time-share.” Have to share it; can’t own time. Living on borrowed… my boyfriend is over at the—I mean husband—you have to be married they said. We’re not. Actually we don’t really care about the whole time-share, but if you listen to them they give you tickets to that magic show with the Little Guy that doesn’t talk and the Big Guy who talks too much and hits the Little Guy and then they cut the audience in half or. I don’t really know, my boyfriend—Mitchell—Mitchell’s into it. He’s wanted to see them since he was like. So, time-share.

“Time… keeps on slipping, slipping into the furniture…”

I’m a bit nervous about lying, about being married. Not that. Mitchell and I have been together for six years. But I think if we were married we’d have gotten divorced. Oops that’s a secret. Too much sharing, right? Time sharing. Sharing this room with you, and that couple with the matching—oh that’s a nice magazine. But. Right…

Owls. That’s what. We raise owls. For fun and profit. Just kidding there’s no profit in it. There was supposed to be. Owls, the eagles of the night. Not really. No one says that. No one should own the website www.eaglesofthenight.org because owls.com was taken, that’d be crazy… .biz was also–

I had a small mail order business where I’d glue seashells to things. Like mirrors or boxes or other seashells. You have to get up early to find all the good ones. I always sourced my own shells. Some people buy them but that’s. Cheating? I met Mitchell at a Turn Your Hobby Into Your Career Expo in Secaucus; I was there to learn about new types of glue for shells, like ones that will really hold onto the ridges of the clam, or won’t discolor the ruddy hues of a scallop—anyway, he was there with the owls and I had this shell and the owl was on Mitchell’s shoulder just looking all–

Angry? No. Owls can’t show anger, they only have six emotions, I forget which. Happiness, ennui, and some others. Rage, maybe? Dyspepsia? Is that an emotion? Well Mitchell came up to me, and for some reason I held out my shell to the owl and it just clamped onto it with its… like it was the most obvious choice in the world, and I was like—wow, that owl knows what it wants, confidence—it had passion, this true passion, this shell gripped in the owl’s claws like it was the most right thing in the world. And for once I understood the Mexican Flag and why they never surrendered at the Alamo. Because bird feet! Talons. And I moved to Mitchell’s owl ranch.

Calling Mrs. Gallagher | Fall | Literary Upstart Finalists

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