As usual, there were hundreds and hundreds of submitters. We always send out an email to let people know whether or not they've been accepted via a link to this blog where the announcement is made. Only one set of emails actually sent; the rest were bounced back as a failed delivery. Obviously my mail box was working to Bank Holiday rules.
Apologies again if you haven't received an email, but you can find out if you're in the anthology or were shortlisted for the micro competition by checking out our previous blog post.
Without further delay, it's time to announce the results of this year's micro fiction competition!
Again, I want to thank our judges for doing such a stellar job of reading through all 600 entries, narrowing it down to just 24, and then again to only 10. Thank you to Kevlin Henney, Ingrid Jendrzrjewski, Angela Readman, Rob Walton, Brianna Snow, and Anne Patterson.
I also want to thank everyone who submitted, and to congratulate again all of the authors who made the shortlist -- that, in itself, is a huge achievement. The quality was very high, and this made for a very tight race to the finish.
The Birth of the Baptist by Fiona J. Mackintosh
Pull by Charmaine Wilkerson
A Nice Bit of Linoleum by Rachael Dunlop
Highly Commended Stories:
Fifth Grade by Lisa Ferranti
Death of a Friend by Amanda O’Callaghan
Forgetting, Remembering by Catherine Edmunds
Things I Never Saw Again After You Dumped Me By Text Message by Rebecca Field
1990 by Alan Beard
Louise by Elaine Dillon
White Lies by Anita Goveas
Congratulations to all of the authors of our winning and highly commended micros!
All of the stories are published below, will appear on our website in due course, and will be published in this year's National Flash Fiction Day anthology! We hope you love these micros as much as we do!
The Birth of the Baptist
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.
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, head 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
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.
Highly Commended Stories:
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.