Marius de zayas

In 2012 bestselling author Paulo Coelho made an unprecedented move, actively encouraging fans and would be readers to download his work for free. ‘Pirate Coelho’ has long been an advocate for peer to peer sharing. He’s not the only magical realism author progressive towards technology. It’s been argued by many that Argentinian mastermind Jorge Luis Borges actually predicted the internet  and NITH favourite Haruki Murakami even has his own app! You’ll find plenty of influence from these authors in the short list, but it was a far more musical tale that stole first place for the MARIUS DE ZAYAS Award. Needle In the Hay regular Debb Bouch lent her trademark appreciation of tone and rhythm to a tale that sweeps you away, only to twist every expectation on it’s head. Here’s …

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This week’s award asked authors to use Marius De Zayas’ portrait of photographer Alfred Stieglitz as the inspiration for a story in the genre of Magical Realism.

Seven’s a lucky number, a magical number even. That’s how many stories we have on this week’s short list, so head over and check out the full short list here

Also, a big NITH welcome to first timer Sandra Mendes!

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The curvature of his back delineated a life of lost love and carefree morals. A slouch designed to confuse the innocent. Shoes made for waltzing over carefully polished surfaces. Hair strands falling awkwardly around his head, like beloved trees caught in an unavoidable storm. He had been a debonair, a pseudo-intellectual, a suave master of quick romantic interludes between music halls and dance halls, street lights and stage lights. Until, that is, the Lady of the Night had flitted daintily across his path on a moonlit sidewalk: a small woman of such graceful moves and breathy voice that for a moment he had floated off the ground a bit. Two inches of air, a feeling of powerful joy, and none the wiser to his own fate, the slouchy dancer had …

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Moosa stirred the soup around the pot like she was stirring her soul. Slow, steady, a tumbling hum caught under her lip that soon spilled into a wordless, lilting song. Beejap listened. She heard the rib-ribbets of toads in the trees outside. The leg-rubbings of crickets. But there was something else her mother was tapping and sliding her toes to. She couldn’t put a finger on it. A slow, hum-tum beat that Moosa stirred the soup alongside and swayed her hips with. Moosa always told Beejap this: listen, you can feel the music anywhere. It’s in all the animals, all the trees, all the bugs. When you start listening you lend your own song out. Then you join the symphony. And Beejap believed now. She didn’t until she saw Abraxas. …

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Robert Walters wakes before dawn. He lays there, the lights out, listening to the night noises of the hospital. They come in hushed hurry. Soft footfalls, scattered chatter, the squeak of a stretcher as it rolls past on its way to the emergency ward. By day, Robert watches the other patients. Two men kneel by their dying father, holding hands and whipping tears from their eyes. A half-gone women babbles amongst the hissing and sighing of Latin prayers. There is a child by the corner. Injured at the last bombing, she reads in the winter sunlight. Sometimes, Robert receives visits from the Leather Man. Against the pale pallet of the hospital, the Leather Man’s hair is red like wildfire. He dances around chanting, in well-worn clothes he slinks up to …

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Lauren knew that man, black suit, tall, thin and wild hair that had that drive with the top down look about it. Of course it was impossible, she was likely going mad from the adrenalin surge induced by the huge success her showing had been so far. Add one too many glasses of expensive champagne and she had herself on hell-of-a hallucination. His back was to her and he appeared to be appreciating the painting she had named ‘Afterglow of Mourning’, her favourite piece. Whoever he was, her growing curiosity was enough to keep her eyes fixed directly on him. He must have sensed someone watching him. He began to turn around and for the briefest moment, their eyes met and she knew, without having to know a thing that …

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The players take the stage in an orderly line, moving to their places with practised ease. A lone oboe sounds out the tuning note for each section of players. Eventually, the note sounds in unison, tuned to perfection. The players rise to their feet as their leader walks on, the audience taking this as their cue to applaud. The tall greying man bows to the audience before taking his place at the head of the violins. The orchestra is ready and waiting. The audience hums with anticipation. A sense of fevered excitement grips the occupants of the stalls while on the balcony, crowds lean precariously over the edge, looking down towards the rostrum. Tonight the new maestro will take the baton for the first time. Rumours have been flooding this …

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  When the man went walking in the woods the cat trailed behind him. The man did not look back. This is the way one must walk in such a town, in such a wood. If we hold such things as true, and also assume that no one is to blame, then it is just a walk. A day. A lichen-veined bough above. Church crumbling rye-bready to the east. The earth a sandwich held in a broad hand. We can assume. I would like to say I met this man walking. But I did not. I came from a distance, met him at the train station where he kissed each cheek twice. His head bobbed, as if for apples. There was a mild aggression to the way he maneuvered my …

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I was planning to study, I swear. But instead, I fell asleep on my desk and dreamt about my father. In my dream, my sister and I were standing on a piazza, facing an empty stage. We were not alone. There was a couple with toddler in tow, a little boy holding a red balloon, young lovers who wore matching shawls, and a lanky guy who came on a bicycle. There was even a hotdog vendor nearby. Soon, my father stepped onto the stage. He wore a perfectly pressed white shirt underneath his black suit, and held a tambourine in hand. His hair covered half of his face. He was followed by a jazz quartet. My father tapped the standing microphone twice. He cleared his throat, and began to sing, …

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