Organised by Cleo Robins and Luoyang Chen
The 2022 flash fiction competition has ended. This list showcases an honourable mention of some submissions we received that are simply too good to not be published.
kneeling at the altar of our love
By Katherine Magpily
Before I am born, I wrap a red string around my ribcage, crimson and shining as Eve’s apple. I know that it’s you on the other side. I’ve always known. I know the same red thread unspools and winds itself around the pulse of your heart, in time with mine. There’s a bedtime story about what red strings mean. Do you remember? What I mean to say is, do you remember me? The life we could have had shimmers like a memory. The bus stop where we meet, the first meal I make for you, the soft yellow glow of the lamp in our bedroom. The creak of the front door that you mean to fix but never get around to; the exact number of steps to walk to our second-favourite Italian restaurant around the corner. The laugh lines I put around your eyes. The life we could have had ends like this: I love you, and you love me, and you’re driving home to the fourth-floor apartment we share, but someone runs a red light, and I lose you. I lose you. I lose you. I love you. It ends. I take the red string between my fingers, the line that will lead me to you from the moment I take my first breath. If I never meet you, then you will never love me, and you will never make the drive home to me. I snap the thread that binds us and gasp at the ache in my yet-to-be-alive heart. I sacrifice our love so that you may live.
Soul & Identity
By Aven Rain Ford
From: the harpy
I read your script, and I have to say, it’s lovely to see your creativity when writing. Just a few notes:
- The network has expressed a preference for keeping all “gender identities” mainstream, and
your main character, Koto, is a little too complex for our target audience to relate to. You’ll
need to use feminine pronouns and think of a more suitable name (how about Kylie?)
- The romance between the two policers is very sweet. If you can make one of them a woman
instead. We shouldn’t need to alter a lot.
Thank you for your cooperation, Denise. I look forward to working with you soon.
By Fiona Wilkes
When the ship hit the iceberg, Ann laughed.
She’d spilled her tea and nearly fell off her chair. She scratched my head as I lapped the tea and went out into the hallway to see what had happened.
Later, she’d secured my leash to take me for my last break of the day; but there had been people running all over, screaming. A little girl tripped over my back leg and sprawled out on the deck. When I sniffed her to check she was alright, she shrieked with terror.
Ann and I joined a queue of other people and dogs waiting to get off the ship. Ann’s fingers played with my ears. She always did that when one of us was nervous. I leaned my heavy head against her hip and rubbed my nose on her skirts. Everything will be okay, I tried to tell her.
They wouldn’t let me onto the lifeboat.
I was too big. Lapdogs only. I had sat on Ann’s lap before, I could make myself fit, but it was no use. Ann could go, but I would have to stay on the ship. She crouched down to my level and cradled my head. I thought we were saying goodbye, so I whined, but Ann shook her head and tightened her grip on my leash. We went back to our room. I panted with delight.
I’d always been frightened of water. I’d nearly drowned as a pup and avoided it ever since. I didn’t like the noise it made now as it rushed under the door into our room or the smell of salt and seaweed. But Ann was talking to me and playing with my ears, so I curled up beside her on the bed and fell asleep.
M is for Monster
By Kathleen Lazuardi
I take out a cigarette and lean against the wall. My lighter becomes free of my inner pocket,
and I sigh. I am on my break. Break from work and a small break from life. I take a drag and
look up from the grey pavement and across the small backroad in front of me, scattered with
small clothing stores, a bakery, and a nail salon. Between us is a child, I assume around seven,
running back and forth. Her mother tries to control her daughter, but she does not listen. I
watch her as she plays, jealous of her naivety to the dangers of the roads. Jealous that death is not
on her mind like it is in mine, constantly. Thus, I merely watch when I notice a black car turn
the corner into the little street. The next few moments, I will remember more than my
shopping lists, graduation, and milestone birthdays. In an instant, the mother screams her daughter’s name so loudly I am frightened as if it were my own. The girl appears to turn in slow
motion with every degree, an escalation of fear, until she is crying and running back across the
street away from me. I watch as she jumps into her father’s arms, a heaving jumble of sobs.
The mother looks confused as we both watch the car slowly drive past us. Soon, she starts to
cry, bringing her arms around her family, declaring: “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” Her
daughter had not seen the car. Instead, her mother had become a monster, yelling her name
as if she were to be eaten. And the mother believed her daughter – that she was not a hero.
My cigarette threatens to burn my fingers, and I drop it on the ground, crushing it with my foot.