The 2018 Microfiction Competition was judged by
- Kevlin Henney
- Ingrid Jendrzejewski
- Anne Patterson
- Angela Readman
- Brianna Snow
- Rob Walton
The winning stories are published below, and can also be found in Ripening: the National Flash Fiction Day 2018 Anthology.
The Birth Of The Baptist
by Fiona J. Mackintosh
Slide the 100 lire coin into the slot. Watch the lights flare, the fresco spring to life, Ghirlandaio’s pinks, blues, and greens. Watch your girl in denim shorts stare upward, lips parted, eyes roaming over the ancient stone wall. See her smile at St. Elizabeth reclining, at the wet nurse suckling the infant John the Baptist. And when the coin runs out and the chapel snaps back into darkness, know that you too are just the forerunner, that one day she’ll leave you in your own private wilderness with the taste of locusts and wild honey bitter in your mouth.
by Charmaine Wilkerson
When their fathers went to the cockfights in the next parish over, the girls begged rides from the neighbour boys. While their dads wiped flecks of blood from their faces, the girls left their shoes and dresses on the sand. While the boys watched, rapt and rigid, from the powdery shore, the girls plunged, heads first, into the warm saltwater, pulling through the waves, pulling through their fear of sharks, pulling through the sting of rays, pulling against lactic acid and breathing in gulps of their future as champions, their ticket away from this island.
A Nice Bit Of Linoleum
by Rachael Dunlop
The smell of lavender floor wax accompanies her out of the house. She’d rather have linoleum in the hall but parquet has more cachet, he says. She sniffs at her cardigan cuffs. She could have tucked them better into her housecoat this morning. At the greengrocer’s she runs a nail along the silky gills of a mushroom and inhales, longing for a life lived in the leaf-mould litter of a forest floor, peaty earth under her stockinged feet. Failing that, she thinks as she drops the mushroom into a torn-cornered paper bag, she’d settle for a nice bit of linoleum.
by Lisa Ferranti
Fifth grade was the year we giggled through the school nurse’s explanation of menstruation. The year boys were not separated from girls, and Jimmy M. fainted, fell at my feet. The year we ogled bare-breasted fertility statues at the art museum. Told we were forbidden to touch. I waited for the teacher to round the corner, pointed my finger a baby’s breath from the carved stone. I swung my hair, tried to catch Jimmy’s eye. Fifth grade was the year I learned to say without saying: Dare me? The year a blue-blazered security guard grabbed my arm.
Death Of A Friend
by Amanda O'Callaghan
When she met her gaze, that last time, she remembered the mouse. Once, standing on the back verandah, night sunk deep into the trees, she’d heard the sound of bird’s wings, wheeling close. She knew it was the owl; she’d seen it, days before, perched on the sheeny muscle of ghost gum, turning its domed head. But this time, she could see nothing. There was only the lethal fold of feathers, swooping down, close to the grass. Then, a tiny creature carried aloft, shrieking from its miniature lungs, the shape of its outrage borne away, beyond a pitiless moon.
by Catherine Edmunds
The gulf between us is a river in spate. We nudge each other when the snoring becomes intolerable, but our arms remain empty.
You go up for an afternoon nap, and don’t come down again. The paramedics ask me my name. I don’t know any more.
Later, I iron all your shirts, your socks, ties, hats, documents; I iron the bedsheets and spray them with starch until the river has subsided. I lie on the hot, alien sheets and scorch my back and buttocks until I remember my name.
Things I Never Saw Again After You Dumped Me By Text Message
by Rebecca Field
My toothbrush. My spare contact lenses. That Bob Dylan album I lent you. The old Iron Maiden T-shirt you gave me to sleep in at your place. My Fight Club video. Your housemates, except for that one time I saw Dave in Fulton’s Frozen Foods and he blanked me. Your house cat – I wonder who fed him once I wasn’t there anymore. You in the morning with the shakes, thinking about your next drink. All the money I lent you to go out drinking without me. Best of all, that look my mother would give me when I mentioned you.
by Alan Beard
Girl in a Blockbusters smelling of Shake ‘n’ Vac, stares blankly in her soft plumpness and soft permed hair at the pop video playing. Vanilla Ice. She thinks of customers’ lives, their homes as they return last night’s film: Ghost, Petty Woman. Evenings ahead with her husband watching videos, maybe this boy who hangs around, chats to her between customers. Does she even like him? He has big brown eyes. He says put on heavy metal. Ugh, she says, not likely. She’s old fashioned, likes the Carpenters; the woman starved herself to death, but sang beautifully before she did.
by Elaine Dillon
The thunder that meant the end of summer sent us running inside, just as the rain started hissing on the path. Fat drops topped up the paddling pool.
We sat in the doorframe and dared Louise to do something we wouldn’t, for fear of a leathering.
She pulled off her swimsuit and exploded over the threshold. The grass licked her heels and her fine hair soaked dark against her back, as she sprinted towards the leylandii and launched herself through, like she was diving into a deep pool.
We sat with our mouths open and a towel across our laps.
by Anita Goveas
It's a tradition for Block B, Mary Gee Hall to eat together every Sunday. The first week of the Easter holidays, there's only three students eating lentil spag bol.
Shaven-headed Angus and curvy-hipped Lei are touching feet under the table, and mumbling about their individual plans for the week to their kitchen-mate. Peony-faced Kate cries at wildlife documentaries and once filled Lei's bed with rose petals for Valentine's day.
Leicester University is teaching them essay-writing, what happens when you put a black sock in with your whites, and that what you don’t say is more important than what you do.