The 2019 Microfiction Competition was judged by
- Angela Readman
- Kevlin Henney
- Judy Darley
- Diane Simmons
The winning stories are published below, and will be published in the 2019 National Flash Fiction Day anthology (title to be confirmed).
For you, I am
I’ll hate your little feet when I fight to put your woollen tights on and you’ll grab my hair and pull until I’m sharp and nasty and sound like my mother and I’m
you’ll swallow your new fledged words and learn to hide away from me and I’m
I’ll listen for less than five minutes when you get home from school klaxon-loud and I’m
you won’t get a degree or a job and I’m
history is circular
you’ve hatched under my skin and there’s no way of not loving you now.
They say Jerry Pavis saw God the night he jumped into Havasu Falls, full moon igniting every droplet of water with an iridescent glow. Others say the water hummed his name, beckoning him like a thing bewitched.
Or maybe he just wanted to die.
Some people are like that, even with a wife and kids, money in the bank. The darkness calls them straight out of the light.
Every month we hike out to the falls and light a candle for him. I don’t know if it helps, but his wife’s hand sure feels warm in mine.
Charlie Walker's Thirst
He sat up. He was tired of it, the unexploded ordinance, the tattered uniforms, the flora, the fauna, the long rot of Vietnam. He wasn't hungry. But the rain made him thirsty. For a place that spoke his language. Ghosts that made sense. He longed for a cool glass on a warm Kansas night, for good friends and bad ideas. So, forty years after the bullet had severed his body from his brain, Charlie Walker rose, helmet on head. He cleaned the mud from his teeth, plucked the worms from his eyes, and began walking the wide waters home.
Great Sorrows Are Mute
She has heard that you can mould children, like clay.
So she slaps the brown lump onto the board, shapes it to her liking. She curls it around her breast each morning. Tucks it into a cot each night.
Strangers peer into her pram, expectance quickly turning to disgust. People recoil from her. Apart from the man who peers and then smiles and then stays. He tips back the sunshade, shows her his child made of socks, with buttons for eyes.
The two of them learn to stroll together. Their loss unspoken. Their solution understood, if only to each other.
Nil by Mouth
They were going to visit his parents. The first meeting. She was nervous.
Outside the train window, bare trees and lonely stations raced by.
Their knees touched underneath the table and he squeezed hers reassuringly. His phone buzzed between them.
'They'll pick us up at Plumpton,’ he said.
Plumpton. It was the way it slid out of his mouth, like a lazy slug. His tongue rolled around the l, and flopped down like a beached whale to make a soft, wet sound on the second p.
Her vision narrowed to his mouth. She couldn't imagine that mouth on hers again.
His Name Was Ash
He told me his name was Ash. I thought this sexy, for some reason. A smoulder of danger? There’s no ash without fire.
Before he told me he was Ash, he removed one of his earpods. Almost polite. Placed its plastic hardness into my own ear. I heard “he thinks he’d blow our minds”.
That night, I let him push his way in. Because his name was Ash, and because it was about time. The initial knife-slice-shock of it followed by mechanical. After, I lay still, like a plaster-cast person from Pompeii.
It was done.
Last night I saved a moth from drowning
I glance down at my drink and spy it there. A winged creature. A small moth. Floating across the top of my water. Legs akimbo, whirring rapidly in an attempt to free itself. I dip a finger gently to retrieve it from the watery prison. It rests lightly on my fingertip, flips, flicks its wings. Propels off into the night. To freedom. The only reminder a small dusting left by its buttery wings on my skin.
His voice drags me back.
You're not even listening to me, are you?
My eyes stayed fixed on the invading dark outside. Searching.
I walked straight past you at first, not really seeing. You’d kicked out a couple of window panes and were sitting on the handrail, legs dangling over the track, waiting for the next train. I turned and walked back to you, slowly. I said something bland. As you talked of an affair, or a break-up, or maybe both, I sidled up to you and slid my arm through yours. Another woman came past. She did the same as me and between us we held on to you – bracing you against our bodies, bracing you against your will.
Behind Every Sign is a Story
“Behind every sign is a story,” my Dad used to say. It means that there was someone who needed to be told, who needed the instructions. But this one baffled me: DO NOT IMPERSONATE THE COWS. I couldn’t imagine a situation that demanded that sign. I couldn’t even see the cows at first, then I spotted one approaching – at least, I think it was a cow. The legs seemed out of rhythm, and the sign suggested this might be something different. Something dangerous, that read signs and ignored them.
I collect shopping lists, not my own because that would be ridiculous. Most often they’re left in an empty supermarket trolley. On a good day I’ll find two, but I can go a week without finding any at all which leaves me with an empty feeling. Friday lists are special: icing sugar. poppadoms. BBQ sauce. People like me have simple lists: eggs. butter. ham. Sometimes it makes me tired and brings on the headaches between my eyes. I sit tight on those days but the promise of more life keeps me going back.