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Congratulations to Our 2014 Varma Winners!

Posted by Emma Skagen on November 5, 2014 in News
Helen Pinsent, this year's first place winner.
Helen Pinsent, this year's first place winner.

1st place: Helen Pinsent's "Transaction"
2nd place: Lysle Hood's "Fragments"
3rd place: Mitchell Brinton's "Qu'Appelle! - Who Calls?"

"Transaction" by Helen Pinsent

    I remember the ink blotted when I signed. I looked up into eyes no less dark than that already bleeding blotch, and said, "Then we have a bargain." My love's sickbed was at the end of the hall, and presumably my visitor had business elsewhere. The study was empty before the pen hit the carpet.

    I had been careful. I would escape the cruel fate of banishing disease only to see it replaced by catastrophe. "A long life without sorrow." Thus, she and I would live and die together, I knew.

    I burst into her room, but no bright smile greeted me. No vibrant physique had replaced her frail frame. I felt betrayed. I would find that swindler and demand justice. Then, as I turned to leave, the light glinted off the sweat on my wife's grey forehead. I noticed for the first time the intricate pattern in which her pale lips had cracked. Each movement she made triggered the symphonious creaking and popping of brittle bone. How could I leave now, when faced with the most captivating image I had ever seen? I watched her deterioration, utterly fascinated.

    And I knew what I had done. It was no trick; I had received exact payment. In selling my soul I had sold my sorrow. and the Devil didn't wait for death to claim his due. Long life would be mine, and sorrow has no home when one worships dissolution. I am as happy today as I have ever been.

“Fragments” by Lysle Hood

    She found the first one when she was seven. Stepped on it with her bare foot. It was soft. Spongey even. She didn’t know what it was; covered with seaweed and drift wood. But things washed up with the tide all the time. Mostly garbage thrown overboard from the black steam ships. Sometimes the tide brought her treasures. Like the ring she found last fall.

    After she stepped on it she bent down. Her knees rested on the slimy river rocks. She brushed her black hair out of her face. Poked the thing with a stick. It didn’t move. She squinted. Stuck her neck out. The mist from the river was starting to engulf the coast and it was hard to see. The water was rising. She knew it was time to go back. Walk back through the forest. Go home. But instead she reached out and brushed the seaweed off of the thing. That’s when she knew.

     When she told her parents they gave each other a look. That look they give when something bad has happened. They sent her to her room but she hear their whispers. She listened. It’s happening again.

    But by the time she was eleven she had found three more. They weren’t bodies. Not anymore at least. Parts, maybe. Pieces. She knew it didn’t matter because the river always took them back. Reclaimed them. She didn’t understand why. But she knew there was something in the water.

"Qu'Appelle!--Who Calls?" by Mitchell Brinton

  Hey, what’s up this weekend?
4:06pm, Thursday Oct. 23rd
Road trip to
Saskatchewan!! We’re
in the Qu’Appelle Valley!
  Awe that sounds fun!
Who all went?
Shirley and Donovan.
Just checked out this
old antique store. The shop
keeper told us a ghost
story boutta Native American
healer who lived on
Ketepwa beach! Gonna
check it out later!
Just got breskis and jerky
from last cornerstore on
  lol bottoms up!
OMG ShirlEy hit a ducking
dog coming round a coroner!
  Haha shit Mark! Take it to
the beach-ghost to heal it!
ya told her beachghost would help!
Think I pissed her off.
She’s got it in the car
with us.
Donovan speweed all over.
God it smells!
Losing reception…
7:33pm [Not Delivered]
Men of God—like you!—told me I was wrong
to annoint the spirit with medicine;
to prescribe by fire and song,
rather than tool and technician.
Our old ways of the land were lost;
Gone were our Gods and our doctrine.
  lol what?
A culture buried was the cost.
And the spirit a tithe to God to pay.
My soul has been divested. All
I have are relics and the echo of my call.
  Mark, wtf?
A being without hands or head.
Your friends are here amongst the dead!
  Mark what the hell, man
answer your phone!