The Flash Fiction competition is led by Literature/Creative Writing sub-editors, Cleo Robins and Luoyang Chen.
The 2022 Flash Fiction competition has officially kicked off! For the first round, writers were given the task of composing a story of no more than 300 words that related to the theme “room.” And they more than rose to the occasion, with Pelican receiving numerous high calibre submissions. To celebrate the wonderful flash fiction of Round One, the Literature and Creative Writing editors have compiled some of the most outstanding entries for readers to enjoy…
Aisles 1-12 by Katherine Magpily
The colours of the grocery store remind me of standing beside you in the kitchen, how every afternoon felt summer-long, the tangy and rich smells that curl up from the saucepan, the beads of sweat on my forehead even though the window is open. I traipse down the aisles, basket tucked in the crook of my elbow, grocery list in hand. (I made it while looking at what was marked ‘on special’ in the catalogue that comes in my mailbox once a fortnight, like the way you taught me.) I place a bunch of tomatoes in the basket, red-ripe as a setting sun. I take the second-last bag of onions and almost grab some garlic but I remember I still have some at home. I reach for the black pepper and the soy sauce and the bay leaves, speak to the lady behind the counter and ask for a kilo of chicken. I give way to the mother with a boy in the trolley seat and a girl clinging to her shirt. She smiles and I smile back. I circle back to aisle nine because I forgot to get dark brown sugar, and I walk to the next aisle and bend down to get the gelatinous rice. I always told myself that I would write down the recipes that you taught me and then I said I’d do it tomorrow. I didn’t know you could run out of tomorrows. I wish I can pick up the phone and call you, and that you could still answer. The memory of you fills my heart. I fill my heart and my grocery basket until there is no more room.
A Room to Call Home by Eva Cocks
First of all, his room smells. The smell that tells you that a boy lives here, with a hint of Lynx
deodorant if he remembers to apply it. He keeps alcohol clinking under the floorboards and
condoms in his underwear drawer. There we are in dusty pictures from when we were
toddlers with squishy cheeks making castles in the sand.
There was no room to move in this family, so to find some he had to move. If our house was
a room, my brother would be the elephant in it. Bumping and knocking into the cabinet with
the good china, rattling cups on saucers and my mother’s temper also. Two-sided coin she
was, prone to flip in a second. Less than that if you wore shoes in the house.
His new room is smaller than the one at home he tells us when he calls. He speaks about all
of the friends he has made in a different, far-away suburb. Not just the Toms, Jacks or
Sophies that populated our painfully white neighbourhood but people from all over it
seems. The distance has melted my mother down to just ‘mum’ when they chat and laugh
about small things that matter and the big things that don’t. Nobody remembers how
distant they were when they were together.
Today she hangs up slowly when they finished calling. She looks at me with a mist in her
eyes and a rare quiver in her chin. Then she tells me with a crack in her voice.
He has started leaving his shoes at the door of his cell.
Sets of Rooms by Ethan Dodson
From behind a crack in the wall, a voice says, “how can he live like this?” Until then l had
noticed neither the crack nor the pair of eyes looking through the crack. “No, it really just
won’t do,” another adds, “barbaric!” a third chimes in. “Hello?” I call out as l approach the
eyes, “hello?” The wall quivers under their weight and eventually, like the aging walls of a
dam, collapses as people spew, one by one, onto the floor of my living room, like dirty water.
Leg Room by Lauren Coyle
The man jolted in shock and scrambled to sit up straighter. The little old lady who had been leaning into his other side glared at me as if I had just kicked her baby. Maybe I had, but he was old enough to take it.
He looked at the new space between us. The seats were pushed flush and so flat as to almost be a continuous bench but there was a divide. A thin crease that delineated his seat from mine. At that moment it seemed as though the crease was a trench far wider and deeper than the edge of our seats, and lined with razor wire. My legs, firmly on my side, crossed at the ankles. His legs now restlessly bouncing on his side. Would he retaliate? Would he brave the razor wire to reclaim the territory lost? My heart pounded.
Across from us a middle-aged woman with her knees forward and feet flat in front of her eyed us over the top of her tablet. She wasn’t subtle. There was judgement in her eyes, but I could not tell who it was aimed at.
The man next to me shifted, then turned his body more towards the old lady. His knees pointing diagonally away from me. The woman with the tablet dropped her gaze, a smile wrinkled the corners of her eyes.
I let out a slow exhale and smiled, small yet grateful, at the woman on the other side of the train. I don’t know if she saw it. My heart didn’t slow until three stops later.
Communication of Kingdoms by Aven Rain Ford
I must demand that the next time you receive visitors, you do not allow them to stray into my
territories. Another incident like the previous night and I will consider the boundary treaty grossly
violated. For my damaged property, I expect recompense.
(P.S. What were guys even drinking?!?!)
Sorry about the stains (Ben’s fault).
I’ll keep my friends on my side of the room from now on.
I owe you a new doona.
(I have no idea. Rachel brought a mystery flask.
Don’t tell mum.)
You seen my backpack?
A power, far greater than the likes of you or I, has sacked our kingdoms for items of value to
bequeath upon those she favours.
I wish you great fortune in your efforts to recover your lost treasure.
(P.S. Mum either gave it to Dylan or the Op Shop.)
I regret to inform you that our kingdoms are besieged by raiders. Hide your winter stores from the
filthy brigands. I shall contact a mercenary group to deliver us from this scourge.
(P.S. We have roaches. I think we should start keeping our food in the kitchen.)
Found your missing coat in the Op Shop.
Left it on your bed.
This return of my lost garments shall not go unheeded. I swear by the Sacred Grove to stand by you
in your hour of need.
(P.S. Seriously, though, I was looking EVERYWHERE for this! Thank you so much!!!)
Think I’m just going to ban everyone from our room.
I love my friends, but they cannot be trusted with liquids.