It's #StorySunday over on Twitter. In case you don't know what that means, people but the 'hashtag' #StorySunday into their tweets and post a link to a story they like. I've been watching it this morning and a number of people are posting their links to stories which won the first National Flash-Fiction Day micro-fiction competition. I wanted to add a National Flash-Fiction Day voice to the throng, but what an invidious choice, asking me to pick between my children. So, I thought I would post all of the stories here, giving you the chance to read them if you haven't yet, and then I can post a single link and no-one gets left out!
So, in alphabetcial order, here are the ten wonderful stories which won this year's competition. I hope you enjoy them and please feel free to tweet this post, share this post on Facebook, tell your friends on the phone or just sit back on a lazy Sunday and enjoy.
Dad wanted trainers.
"I'd like to know I could run away," he said.
When the hospital bed lay empty, it gave us a moment's hope.
Beth and Alana had reservations at the restaurant in town. On the phone Beth said, 'I'll meet you at seven,' and Alana faked excitement and said, 'Can't wait.' Half past seven and the two of them were seated, ordering their drinks, listening to the piano of a popular composer coming through the speakers. 'It's Bach,' said Beth. 'I know,' Alana replied, but she knew it was Mozart and she wanted to break things off with her. 'I'm going to tell George everything,' said Beth and Alana cried inside. 'Good,' Alana said and hummed along to Mozart. To Bach.
There is a black hole above her house.
This swirling cosmic nothingness, ever expanding, tendrils reaching out across the sky. She does not know how it got there. She knows it's taking her things. She does not remember last Saturday. When she tries to explain it she can't. She wants to say, "There's a black hole above my house and it's stealing every memory I have ever treasured," but it is not the kind of sentence people understand.
The black hole expands, time collapses in on itself.
She discovers her twelve year old self in her attic.
'She'll Leave You For A Man'
by Kirsty Logan
You've always known it: that gleam, that glint, that licking of lips that means she is thinking about them. Men.
She thinks about them while smelling night jasmine, while rolling out pastry, while signing the bill for the waiter.
And so she will go. She will forget the shape of your hands.
But she will tire of her stubble-rashed chin, of long silences and calloused thumbs, of nothing to pillow her head.
So wait. Just wait.
On Grey's Anatomy, everyone's slept with everybody, and although real life is complicated, I'm sure it's not that complicated, or if it is then everyone's fucking without me, doing it secretly, when I'm at Pilates, or sleeping between ten and eight.
There is no door to close. Just space, scaffolded, bathed in mud and builder's grit. The air rolls in, clouds of steam boiling from impervious stone, steel rods singing down into the sea.
I can already smell the tang of a fire burning at our bare hearth as the rain sweeps through the rafters. Our boys climb ladders lashed to girders, laugh at the water which sticks their shirts to their backs.
Around our house's heart the rooms are growing shells. Inside these plotted squares we'll live our story. The windows wait outside, roped against the wind.
'The Worst Head in the World'
by Angela Readman
Liam gave me his mother's head. I guess he was sick of carrying it around.
'It's just for a while,' he said, placing the jar on the drawers. In the dark, lips made budgie-like kissing sounds. We had a reason to screw loud.
Come morning, the head tutted, 'I WANT a doily.'
It frowned if I wasted chicken bones, or didn't ask Liam if he'd washed his hands.
When he went, Liam left the head behind. It wavers in the water, tells me I'm not good enough, nods when I iron seams in jeans.
After the accident she came home rebuilt.
At breakfast, the platinum beneath her skin glows, pulsing with electricity, curiously alive.
I take some toast, spread butter. I see that there are no eggs in the pan.
She smiles, a mechanical lighthouse across the blue ocean of tablecloth. Her head turns smoothly towards the window, her warmth coming only from the sun.
I open my newspaper setting the pages full sail, seeking guidance in the new star of her unreadable face, in the night of her eyes.
Tonight I know I will not dream of her, only of the sea.
The 06:17 from Nuneaton stops for three minutes outside Wembley on its approach to Euston. For one hundred and eighty seconds, Mafeking Jones sits open mouthed in his usual seat, staring at a naked woman, framed like a fallen Madonna at her open bedroom window.
No one else notices, no one else sees, perhaps because they are insularly wrapped up in newsprint tales of economic gloom and sporting deeds that have now passed to memory.
Mafeking is an accountant, a man of spreadsheets and numbers but for those three Wembley solitary minutes he's Michaelangelo in a Florentine dream.
You lie within me, cupped and curled. You're in me, I'm in you; we're each other's inside out.
They count your fingers, toes, chromosomes... twice. My head spins.
Are you upside down?
They turn off the monitor. They speak in needles, numbers, and odds. I strum my fingers to your kicks.
They say, "If you... we have pills... the products of conception would..." They don't smile. My belly tightens.
Can you feel me? I'm your first person.
I say, "The products of conception, call them 'Emma'".
You lie still...
When you wake, you can call me 'Mum'.