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Winners: Henry Meier - 501 Latin Verbs

Flash Fiction is a strange beast. Often, writers think that it has to be a story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. But, it's not restricted in that way. It knows its form, and knows that a few hundred words isn't much, but that they're better spent capturing a moment well than a story poorly. Henry's piece showed us an internal process with a deft hand, and won the runner up spot deservedly.


Flash Fiction 500 - Runner Up


501 Latin Verbs

Henry Meier


On the spine, the title is displayed in a bold, sans-serif font. Black on white. The two five-letter words are capitalised. The central zero of the three-digit number seems elongated. It is not. I measured it. Its height equals its breadth. Both seven-sixteenths of an inch. The surnames of the two authors are placed above the title. Their font is small and seriffed. More than six feet away, and without my glasses, the letters begin to blur. On the top left-hand corner of the first page, written neatly in blue ink, is my name and yesterday’s date. The date I bought the book. The month is abbreviated to its first three letters. There is no need for the remainder.

It was twelve minutes before the end of this morning’s class. I asked Laura if she might like to go for a coffee. She said she couldn’t hear me. I didn’t repeat the offer. Rather I said that I was saying this line in Virgil was challenging. It wasn’t. It was easy. She nodded and smiled, and returned to her translation.

The 501 verbs are fully conjugated in all tenses. One verb per page. On each page, the six indicative tenses are displayed vertically. The two voices horizontally. Active on the left. Passive on the right. The subjunctive and imperative moods are listed below the indicative.

Verb number 115: dēesse – to fail. Six tenses in the indicative: I fail, I was failing, I shall fail, I have failed, I had failed, I shall have failed. Four tenses in the subjunctive: I may fail, I might fail, I may have failed, I might have failed. One tense in the imperative: fail.

Perhaps I should not have asked her out in the subjunctive. The imperative would be better. I’ve heard others use it. ‘Meet me at 6,’ they say. ‘Babe, come for a drink.’ I’ve never called a girl an īnfāns.

Verb number 198: imitārī – to imitate. Deponent. Active in meaning. Passive in form.

I mean to be active.

Tomorrow I could imitate. I could try to imitate. I shall try. I might try. I will try. I may try. By this time tomorrow, I may have tried. I will have tried. I might have tried. I shall have tried.

To have tried: a perfect infinitive.

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