And the winners are....
First Prize: 'The Jumper' by Anne Patterson
Second Prize: 'A One-Word Yet Possibly Longer-Than-Necessary Personal Essay Dedicated to My Soon-to-Be Ex-Boyfriend Who Doesn't Believe Me When I Tell Him I Can Write Something This Short That Sums up Everything There Is to Say about Our Relationship, Our Future Together, and His Allegedly Legendary Sexual Organ' by Ingrid Jendrzejewski
Third Prize: 'Storm' by Gemma Govier
Highly Commended: 'Jessie learns how to keep a secret' by Alison Wassell
Highly Commended 'Illumination' by Judi Walsh
Highly Commended: 'When words aren't enough' by Lucy Welch
Highly Commended: 'Christmas' by James Watkins
Highly Commended: 'Always One' by Tracy Fells
Highly Commended: 'Notes' by Elaine Marie McKay
Highly Commended: ‘Energy Efficient, Extremely Slim, Easy to Install’ by Ed Broom
by Anne Patterson
I fell in love with a jumper last Christmas. A wool-nylon-mohair mix picked up after the Christmas do. On the bus home, I slipped it on. Mmm; aftershavy, inky, lagery with a touch of exercise. If it were a scent it would be ‘Office Party’. A group email might have led to a request to pop it into internal mail, so I hung on. I kept it in bed; close in winter; further away in summer; like a lover. This Christmas, I’ll wear it. Underneath I’ll wear nothing. If he asks for his jumper back I’ll give it to him.
A One-Word Yet Possibly Longer-Than-Necessary Personal Essay Dedicated to My Soon-to-Be Ex-Boyfriend Who Doesn't Believe Me When I Tell Him I Can Write Something This Short That Sums up Everything There Is to Say about Our Relationship, Our Future Together, and His Allegedly Legendary Sexual Organ
by Ingrid Jendrzejewski
by Gemma Govier
First there was the shock of soft raindrops on my cheeks and nose, then cold, damp shoulders, thighs, knees. I felt if I ran I could protect my warm skin. It even rained inside my mouth as I pushed against the wind. Finally, with misted glasses, I am sodden. My socks squelch in my shoes. I slow down my pace.
When you finally said you were leaving, I was calm. It's not being wet, you see, it's the process of getting wet.
Jessie Learns How To Keep A Secret
by Alison Wassell
‘She’s a secret scribe,’ teased Jessie’s mother. Fuzzy and mellow from her first wine Jessie took poems from the box under her bed and offered them as a birthday gift. In the morning they lay in a pile beside her egg and soldiers. Jessie’s mother kissed the top of her head.
‘I liked the one about the old lady best,’ she said. This was how Jessie learned that no place is truly secret, nobody to be trusted. The old lady poem had not been among those offered.
Jessie keeps her poems in her head now, where they can’t be found.
by Judi Walsh
It’s dark, and the bus is late. In the house opposite, the woman talks with big gestures. The man turns his glass, half a revolution at a time. He shouts and starts to leave. As he brushes past, she folds into her seat like she has a slow puncture. She wipes something from her face: a tear, or spittle perhaps? The bus arrives. “Oi, missy!” the driver shouts, and I flash my card at him, racing upstairs to the back. I just manage to see her, arms extended, mouthing something, no, singing something, twirling by herself.
When Words Aren't Enough
by Lucy Welch
He was like too many words crammed into a box. He'd come into the cafe every morning for breakfast with all those words tangled together behind his eyes. The P of Pain looping round the S bends in Loss, caught within the sharp angles of the A of Anger. He'd do the crossword and I'd imagine him looking through clues for the key to let the words out. He'd leave it behind, unfinished. One day we worked on it, all the staff, to the last square, and gave it back next morning. That was when he first sang for us.
by James Watkins
First we dug a hole in the snow. Mama stepped into it naked; we filled snow back in around her feet. She put her arms out and Papa draped tinsel all around while I tied back her hair. We hung a bauble from each nipple and I looked for the fairy to tie to her hairband. I couldn't find it, but attached a small figurine of the Virgin Mary instead.
On Christmas Day, Tom Raye the competition judge declared that ours was certainly the most desirable tree and, according to Papa, had thought so every weeknight for the last month.
by Tracy Fells
There’s always one. The nutter on the bus. An old lady, with tight white curls like finger rolls, takes the seat behind you. She starts plaiting your hair. Bit of a cheek, you think. What if your religion prohibits plaits? What if hair plaiting sets off your narcolepsy? Her breath smells sweet like pineapple chunks. You twist round to point out how she needs a licence to do that, lady! She moves to another seat, but her fingers still fiddle at the back of your neck. The other passengers shift and stare, as if you’re the one.
by Elaine Marie McKay
She placed the first of them where he would see, then turned from the starkness of its expectation. Later, with taciturn understanding, he wrote on the square of paper in uncomplicated letters. DOOR.
In time, the house was a patchwork of butter-coloured spaces that he filled with the concrete of - FRIDGE, CHAIR, TELEPHONE, SANITARY TOWELS.
For him, scouring the chaos of domesticity, stripping it back to its very foundations so that it could be marked with simplicity, became soothing.
In the evenings, he relaxed, sitting close to her amongst their words, stroking her hair, drinking sweet tea from CUPS.
Energy Efficient, Extremely Slim, Easy to Install
by Ed Broom
Trap 3 rasps like Hitchens in hospital before I twig that he’s pulled the old cough ‘n’ flush and bounding off the blocks so I slam the bolt and make like Bolt and flick my belt to give him the Six Nations and I’m rinsing when he dead-legs me down on the tinned Ambrosia tiles but I weeble up to double pump his eyes with naturally derived lemon mint hand wash and Haystacks him into the unfavoured middle Armitage Shanks leaving yours truly to dress, wash and claim my rightful appointment with the Dyson Airblade VI. It’s a great drier.