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The Cliffside Rose — Flash Fiction Contest

By Piper Bayard

Since my writing partner, Jay Holmes, is a covert intelligence operative, we often meet and work in remote locations. The day after Valentine’s Day found us plotting our next novel while we hiked up a cliff in a remote section of a desert. Near the top, I noticed a rose. Yes, a rose. In the middle of nowhere. Then another, and another. A trail of four roses that led to the very edge of the cliff.

The Cliffside Valentine

The Cliffside Valentine

I immediately turned to Holmes and expounded on how two lovers quarreled the night before:

Dixie arrived first and watched the sunset from the edge of the cliff, remembering Orlando’s kiss. Just because they had met at a meth lab three weeks ago…Just because they were only sixteen…Just because they were cousins…None of that would keep them from testifying and entering witness protection together before the baby was born. Surely he would make her a Valentine’s bride.

MyPhotos Dixie watching sunset in desert Feb 15, 2014

Orlando topped the rocks behind her and held up four roses. “Check out what I scored from dad’s new girlfriend. Oh, and I got you a cheese grater. Let’s go back to dad’s trailer, and you can make me a pizza.”

Dixie, stunned by his words, numbly took the flowers. “A cheese grater?”

Orlando shrugged. “What else would I bring? Come on. I’m hungry.”

Furious, Dixie flung the roses at Orlando with such force that she lost her balance and toppled over the cliff. The mountain lions rejoiced.

When I finished, Holmes rolled his eyes and said, “Back to our spy thriller . . .”

We agreed to leave the romance to you and to USA Today bestseller Vicki Hinze. So today, we offer you a flash fiction challenge.

Tell us your story of the Cliffside Valentine Rose in the comments below. Tell it in 150 words or less, and include “Dixie,” “witness protection,” and “cheese grater.” 

Next Wednesday, March 5, come back and vote for your favorites. USA Today bestseller Vicki Hinze has generously donated three copies of one of my own favorite books, Down and Dead in Dixie, about a young woman who stumbles into the middle of a mob turf war and finds out that to live, sometimes ya gotta die.

Down and Dead in Dixie Cover

“Dixie” and “witness protection” are some clues as to what you will find in this clever, humorous novel. Cheese grater? Nothing to do with Vicki Hinze’s book, and everything to do with a reason to throw flowers at a boyfriend. But that’s another story.


24 thoughts on “ The Cliffside Rose — Flash Fiction Contest

  1. Naked, bleeding, trembling, and frightened-out-of-her mind; Dixie teetered at the cliff’s edge with a pitcher of margaritas in one hand and a single red rose in the other. Behind her stands 350 pounds of hate, the stranger who had been stalking her for the last 9 years and who dragged her out of witness protection to bring her here. He says, “One last drink, my sweet, before we fly over this cliff together and crash like cheese grater at the bottom.” As he lunges for her throat she swings the margarita pitcher smacking him hard on his temple. Arms wheeling, he falls screaming over the side, landing with a deafening crunch. She drops the rose and falls to her knees, happy to be alive and rid of her torment. Death by margarita.

  2. Well, well, this was too tempting:

    “You said it didn’t matter.”
    Tom flexed his jaw and refused to look away.
    “The court cares. Think of our daughter. What life will she lead if you refuse witness protection?”
    Dixie swallowed the dry mountain air. Had he brought her to these uncomfortable heights just to tell her to do what she’d refused four times?
    She slammed the roses into his chest. They fell to the ground, petals still intact.
    “The entire evening was an act so I’d warm up and give in.”
    “No, I –“
    She turned away. “Take us home.” She hated the thought of wrapping her arms around him on his motorcycle.
    His sigh trickled her neck. She stiffened.
    “I can’t.”
    He grabbed and pulled her towards a waiting car. “Sorry. I’m not letting you get the fucking mafia on us.”
    She screamed. She struggled. The cliffs scraped her skin bloody like a cheese grater.

  3. on ,
    Melissa Borgioli said:


    THE TIRE IRON FREEDOM MANEUVER

    “Shut up, Carol Ann!”
    She kept talking. “I can’t believe you got us lost and broken down in the desert! ”
    “Shut up, Carol Ann!”
    Still talking. “What did you say was busted? MacGyver could have fixed it with a cheese grater!”
    “Shut up, Carol Ann!”
    “My Mama said not to go to the desert on vacation. She said we’d be all alone out here like we were in the witness protection program. And I said, ” You ain’t just whistling Dixie, Mama! ”
    “Shut up, Carol Ann!”
    Of course, she didn’t shut up. She never did. A nice whack with the tire iron would do the trick, he thought. He’d bring a rose to this very spot every year on the anniversary of the tire iron freedom manuever.
    “Well? Is it fixed? ” Carol Ann screeched in his ear.
    His fingers tightened around the tire iron, then relaxed.
    “Yes! Now get in the damn car, and for God’s sake, shut up, Carol Ann!”

  4. Pingback: Flash Fiction Contest — The Cliffside Rose « Bayard & Holmes

  5. Pingback: Cliffside Rose Flash Fiction Contest–Enter to Win! | Vicki Hinze

  6. O Cliffside Rose,
    My Valentine
    Stands here before me:
    Hear her whine ?

    She dreamt of roses-
    But not much later
    Wound up with a used
    Cheese grater.

    Ol’ Dixie made a poor selection:
    Orlando’s not a happ’ning Dude-
    He’s just a Witness in Protection–
    A Baby Daddy-truly crude.

    Our Cliffside Rose
    Thinks he might shtup her:
    Instead, he merely wants
    His supper.

  7. The morning sun crept over the distant mountains as Dixie sat next to a tent sipping coffee & dabbing her swollen eyes. Beyond the fire a lizard poked its head over a paper plate and nibbled on a stale cheese grater. A vase of red Valentine roses looked out of place next to the cactus and endless grays & browns of sand & rocks: the only green was on its leaves & the body of her jeep. Ever since she’d entered the witness protection program this was Tim’s & her favorite spot, where they had planned to wed.

    “Damn you Timothy Boon for not showing up!”

    She leaned and yanked the flowers from the vase, bolted to her feet and to the cliff, stems dropping all the way. Raising her arm she was ready to heave what was left when she noticed a black car winding up the narrow road.

  8. on ,
    Kay said:


    Looking over the edge of the cliff at victim number 6, Detective Bayard thought to himself “I have no choice now! I must convince Dixie to go into witness protection before she is the next victim.” His partner, Detective Holmes was busy scaling down the cliff to get what little evidence was on the ledge. Seriously? Another cheese grater? What is the significance of a cheese grater? Just like the last 5, all Holmes finds is a single red rose, a dead female and a cheese grater.

  9. After six years in witness protection, Diane was free. She moved home and reconnected with loved ones. She rescued a dog and named her Dixie, and they had lovely walks by the cliff near her house.

    Diane met Peter. It was love. Peter seemed smitten also. “You’re special,” he told her.

    She smiled. “So are you.”

    Diane and Peter went for walks by the cliff. They watched the sun go down and threw sticks for Dixie. Peter gave Diane a rose each month.

    At the fourth month, Peter gave Diane four roses and said, “I’m sorry, I’ve met someone else.”

    “What is this?” Diane asked. “You’re unhappy?”

    “It’s not you, it’s me; we can still be friends.” Peter said.

    Diane beat Peter to death with the cheese grater she always carried. She left the roses by the body. The judge ruled justifiable homicide and she got probation.

  10. Dixie was conflicted about being on The Bachelor, but she wanted the chance to meet her Prince. And that she did. Thor was very CALIENTE and had cheese-grater abs. The problem was, that he was a spy in Russia during the Olympics and they were ‘on’ to him. Putin blamed Thor for the 5th ring not lighting up during the opening ceremonies and was not happy. Thor was about to give Dixie the FINAL ROSE. If she accepted the rose, she would enter the program with him (no TVs allowed in the witness protection program), if she didn’t, she would have to let him go, forever. After much pondering, Dixie decided that she could NOT miss the Oscars, and opted for the RED CARPET rather than the RED ROSE. She kissed him goodbye and ran home to watch the E channel. Thor was devastated and jumped off the cliff.

  11. Pingback: Cliffside Rose Flash Fiction Contest — Vote Now! « Bayard & Holmes

  12. Pingback: Cliffside Rose Flash Fiction: And the Winners Are . . . « Bayard & Holmes

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