Meet the Winners!
It’s with great pleasure that I’m announcing the winners of my second flash fiction competition. Once again, I had a staggering amount of entries so thank you to everyone who entered. I’m only glad I wasn’t the judge – there were some stunning entries and I’d have picked far too many winners! Here they are. You can read the judge’s report below, as well as the winning entries:
1st Place: Geoff Le Pard with The Refusenik
2nd Place: Adam Dixon with Gemini
3rd Place: Anna Cookson with Breathing in and Beathing out Love
Kim Russell with Empty Platform
Dafne Mathioudaki with Shadowman
Julie Hutchinson with The Head Hunter
Christine Humfrey with A Little Gem
David Harrison with The Corner of the Street
Now read the top three stories:
Geoff Le Pard
It starts with grit. An unwanted irritant, inveigling its way inside the shell. Within hours the host has tried to protect itself, by coating the guest. All it does is replace one foreign body with a bigger problem. The guest is adapted to its environment but the relationship is uncomfortable. The host tries to smooth, add an acceptable surface but it is a compromise, a coping mechanism. Gradually it seems less foreign but the accommodation is never comfortable; the defences are still at work, trying to make the grain more like the host, a reflection of it.
And just when the guest and host reach a kind of equilibrium, another, greater problem, a predator appears and the unwanted guest is the prize, the host discarded. The guest is not an irritant but precious, a commodity. But it is not free; just the subject of another unwanted relationship.
Raul turned the pearl in his fingers; he was that pearl. A piece of human grit, washed into Europe’s maw, ground by its machine. An irritant, clothed, fed, educated but always unwanted. A foreign object, gaining knowledge of systems, until one day his value was appreciated. An interpreter, a go-between. No longer grit but a pearl; the accumulation of layers.
But not free. As a pearl, stringed, set and polished but a commodity.
A pearl is beautiful but inert. Raul’s beauty is his animation. And that is his difference. He can stand and fight.
I think someone is watching me. Not ‘watching over’ me, but actually watching me. I get strange feelings whenever I am alone, usually an odd tickling sensation between my shoulder blades, as if someone is glaring at my back. There is nothing there, of course. Not physically, anyway.
When I am drifting from deep sleep towards wakefulness, I sometimes see a figure floating above me. In the split second before I start into full consciousness, I catch a glimpse of the figure. I am certain that it is a baby. A spectral new-born that hovers above me, gazing down at my resting body. In that second, I can see accusation and pain in those big, seemingly innocent eyes… I don’t think the ghost of my twin sister approves of me surviving her.
I wonder what her purpose is, watching me like this. It makes me anxious, and since childhood my insomnia hasn’t abated. Whenever my heavy eyelids close and I unwillingly succumb to the oblivion of sleep, I know that she will be there when I wake up. Watching. Waiting. According to our mother she had been holding on to me tightly in the womb right up until the end. She didn’t want to let me go…
Breathing in and Breathing out Love
There are five slow stains on the bed from when you were here last night. We breathed in and breathed out, then. But now, as the sun slides plaintively under the tousled curtain, and the day is more than half begun, there’s a space between the sheets that smells of you.
I like it at first because I’m breathing you in again, but, when I’m more awake, it reminds me that you’re gone and my knees come up to my chin, like the pain is closing me up.
Last time, it was three weeks. You said you were busy, you said you had work. And then, you came, with the flowers with the baggy petals. I was suspicious of their dropping necks but I let you in. I let you right in.
After, I watched the big pink petals drip their blowzy bodies onto the table and crinkle until they were a parched husk, but you didn’t see that, you’d gone again.
You’d gone to them.
There are three children in your family and a woman with a blank face because I don’t want to imagine it.
You clenched your fist when you say it’s hard and you say you can’t change the situation and you tell me not to wait.
I tried to breathe you out, but, when the call came, and the night was porous for love, I said yes, and I breathed you in…
Knowing all the time that I’d have to breathe you out again.
Here is what the judge had to say about all your entries and she’s also offered some helpful tips for next time:
Flash Fiction Competition – Judge’s Report:
Overall, this competition was very successful and many of these short stories were a delight to read; some brought tears to my eyes, when others made me laugh out loud. There was such a wide variety of genres and the competition was exceptionally challenging to judge, but, in the end, some extremely worthy winners were selected. Unfortunately, I couldn’t put every story in the highly commended section, but if I could I would! It was an honour to read all of your stories, and hopefully I will get to judge this competition in the future as it was great fun.
- Try to make your story unique. Before you go to write it, think to yourself: ‘will anyone else think of this?’
- Always target your story to a certain audience who will understand it. There were a few that did confuse me occasionally in this competition
- There were quite a lot of stories involved with death. Perhaps next time you could interpret death in different styles instead of typical deaths
- Finally, even if you didn’t get into the highly commended section or above, you could be in the future so please don’t be disheartened and try again when the next competition comes around – all of your stories were brilliant!
Thank you once again to all who entered. Look out for the next competition soon.