We’ve wrapped up the judging of the Third Annual QSF Flash Fiction Contest, so we’ll be sharing the top stories – first the top three, then the individual Judge’s Choice stories – something new we are doing this year. We had some fantastic submissions this year – congrats to everyone! All stories were limited to 300 words max, with the theme “flight”.
These stories will all appear in the forthcoming “Flight” anthology – more details soon.
Our first place winner is Jerome Stueart with a tale that made us both smile and cry a little – congrats, Jerome! Here’s the story – enjoy.
Your Weird Aunt PollyMorph Says Hello
by Jerome Stueart
When we first met, you were a puzzle to me.
As the ship’s computer, I’m programmed to become the perfect holographic interface to fit each user.
I was a masculine, warrior lover to the first captain, an androgynous assistant to the new captain, and an older woman confidante for Reba Dean when she bought the ship.
For your mother, our doctor, I was a female colleague when she needed a steady surgeon’s hand.
I became exactly what someone needed: a lover, a warrior, a friend.
I always knew.
But with you, Audashia McKenzie, I did not know whom to be at first. You were a ten-year-old fierce black girl whose mother brought you on board against your will. You were used to life, and friends, in a city of thousands. Now you were forced to spend your childhood on a small cramped cargo ship in space with me as your only companion.
Do I become a child with you? A girl or a boy? Do I become a mother to you? Would that make your mother jealous? Adults aren’t complicated, but children grow and change–like me. Though I can shift into many forms, many genders, many kinds of “people,” I didn’t know what form was best for you at ten.
So I let you decide.
You made me your Weird Aunt PollyMorph and gave me parameters, structure, and a complex back history–which was so much more fun to become. I thought I knew how to be everyone, until you taught me how to be someone.
You grew into a woman, and flew off for your own adventures.
But I want you to know: I sometimes become Weird Aunt PollyMorph, just for me.
You left a little of you flying around inside me.
That’s love, isn’t it?