Flash Fiction

Lavanya Vasudevan
February 2019 Third Prize

Sunday Crossword: These Three-Sided Polygons Trap Lovers (9 Letters)

by Lavanya Vasudevan

La, sirs, do you grin at my tales, do you think that I con, that I lie? Then let me tell you of this tangle, sir. Time must untie it, not I.

My beau, my swain, my love last night, he’s grinning in high cotton. He brings me to this crumbling inn, and right away I smell something rotten. “’Tis the last day of the last reign of the Tsar El Gin,” he says, “though his court is the largest in the land.” I nod and tap my nose; it’s a game we’ve played before. But this time, he’s having too much fun, and I wink and nod because I understand. The serving wench, she lingers at our table and wipes it with a tinsel rag. Her ears glint with stolen gold, a sterling ring I ken that I once had. I sit and smile and stand and sit, and now my anger’s lit. So, I pour him a drink, all neat and nice, and another, and another, and in a trice, he’s snoring and reeking of gin, staler than yesterday’s rice. Now, I say again: I’m no liar, gents, I ain’t like those cheating rats. They steal my ring, he two-times me, I strangle him, and that’s that.

Darling Tsar, pour me another, will ya? My heart’s broke, and it’s a real sting.

About the Author

Lavanya Vasudevan was born in a large city in South India that has since renamed itself. She is a recovering software engineer who lives near Seattle, Washington and reviews children’s books for Kirkus. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Jellyfish Review, Lost Balloon, Pidgeonholes, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @vanyala.

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Sharon Telfer
February 2019 Commended

Her safe word is ‘circus’

by Sharon Telfer

But that’s before trombone blares clarinet reedy squeaks bass drum thrums and clowns slick her lips oversize scarlet her nose glows holly berry and what’s with her feet seee them streeeetch still everyone knows clowns are scary right so here’s that word slipping through kiss-stopped smack by whiskery sea-lion bark the candystripe ball bouncing to and fro to and fro never dropping dipping into silver-slippery fish pail dipping for silver-glistening prize then whipcrack reels her back a necklace of teeth cradles her throat her head deep in a red raw meat furnace blazing and this must be it now must be no leopard-skin strongman diabolos her up on dappled appaloosa thumpety thump splayed arms she’s tread tread treading thighs to that pounding rump round and round that very second as she’s giddy-sliding her teeth bite, hard, and up she rises in glitterball twirl hanging on nothing but a smile while her toes find a line a fine one and sole by sole she chalks forward her body eeling this way that held up by held breath only and there it is the board she’s going to make it don’t look down the great O below her she looks down her arms wing back legs like clappers ringing a five-bell peal but firm fingers snatch her tipping ankles wrists spin her spirals loops somersaults ‘til hands release a great gasp gusts from under and she’s comet tailing sequins falling no net falling yet here come the clowns again sirenning in hosing glitter while wheels fall off circling like a flower blooming and she lands on her back like a starfish safe at last in the bull’s-eye of the pulled white sheet.

About the Author

After cutting her teeth on Ad Hoc Fiction, Sharon Telfer won the Bath Flash Fiction Award in June 2016. She has also won the Reflex Fiction Prize, and been selected for Best Microfiction 2019. In 2018, she was awarded the New Writing North/Word Factory Apprenticeship for emerging short story writers. She is an editor at FlashBack Fiction, an online litmag showcasing historical flash. She lives near York, UK, and tweets as @sharontelfer.

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Jonathan Saint
February 2019 Commended

Fingers

by Jonathan Saint

We are going to fly, my five-year old son and I.

I am parenting alone. I choose the word ‘parenting’ because ‘fathering’ means something entirely different – ‘mothering’ is warmth and cuddles. I ‘parent’.

Smugly, I decide to pre-empt the challenges of take-off by purchasing mints – for the sucking and better equalising of the ears. We choose the sweets and then, for the development of my son’s social engagement skills (and exposure to low-stakes responsibility), I give him the mints, and a €2 coin, and stand behind him in a supportive, protective kind of way.

In front of us, second in line, a tall, sharp-suited man of middle age waits with his water and Times. My little one, holding the mints, swaps the coin to his other hand, or swaps the mints, or both, and drops the coin. It bounces high and rolls out… and then back… in a wide arc, until it returns to the queue, topples over, and settles finally on the shiny tiled floor.

Our queue leader completes her extended transaction. The businessman looks up from the news. My son crouches to pick up the coin. The man, all politeness and deference, steps back to make room for the many-bagged woman.

In the twinkling of an eye, I watch. I watch as my son’s little fat fingers try to lift the coin. I watch as the thick, black two-inch brogue heel lifts and steps back towards the five infant fingers grappling with an errant coin. I watch as the sharp heel comes down.

Conservatively, a 90-kilo weight transfer takes place with that backward step, as the man smiles magnanimously over his glasses at the bag-laden woman.

My son almost has the coin when the heel comes down.

His fingers are only small. Hardly pianist’s fingers. Perhaps a drummer.

About the Author

Jonathan Saint is a New Zealander living in Dublin since 2000. He left work in 2016 to write fiction for adults and children and wishes he’d done that a long time ago. He was shortlisted for the Writing Magazine inaugural Picture Book Prize in 2017 and won the Christmas Flash at the Staccato Literary Salon in 2018.

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Things Left and Found by the Side of the Road
Bath Flash Fiction Volume Three

133 short short fictions selected from the winners, short listed, and long listed authors from the three rounds of the 2018 international Bath Flash Fiction Awards. All 300 words and under, these stories are by writers representing over twenty different countries. Experimental fictions exploring many different themes and subjects which show the variety possible in his exciting and continually developing genre.

“Writers flowed but did not meander. I went to places I haven’t been before, and I was shown ordinary objects in a different light, heard language used in a new way, smelled new smells, felt new feelings.”
Tara L. Masih, novelist, short story writer, editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, author of My Real Name Is Hanna

“A fascinating dip into the psyche of creative writers at this point in time… lots of examples of great writing here, by great writers.”
David Gaffney, novelist and short story writer. Author of More Sawn-Off Tales, All The Places I’ve Ever Lived, The Three Rooms in Valerie’s Head

“The standard was high… powerful writing and interesting themes… a feeling that many writers were working hard and pulling from deep resources.”
Nuala O’Connor, novelist, poet and short story writer. Author of Joy Ride to Jupiter, Miss Emily and Becoming Belle

196mm x 134mm, 168pp
Paperback ISBN 978-1-912095-63-6

£9.99 GBP Buy Now

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Interview with Vanessa Gebbie
Flash Fiction Award Judge
November 2018 – February 2019

Vanessa has won multiple awards for both prose and poetry, including a Bridport Prize and the Troubadour. Her flash publications include Ed’s Wife and Other Creatures (Liquorice Fish Books) and the weird/irreal collection Nothing to Worry About (Flash: The International Short Short Story Press at Chester University) as well as many individual publications online and in print. She is author of three short story collections (with Salt and Cultured Llama), a novel (Bloomsbury), and two poetry publications (Pighog and Cultured Llama). She is also commissioning and contributing editor of Short Circuit, Guide to the Art of the Short Story (Salt). She teaches widely www.vanessagebbie.com.
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Award Round Up October 2018

This was our tenth award and we thank everyone who entered. Nine hundred and thirty four fictions from thirty-two different countries:

Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

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October 2018 Judge’s Report
Nuala O’Connor

It’s always a privilege to judge a literary competition, as judge you’re seeing what’s white hot, what writers are writing about now and the way they’re writing about those things. If the long list is representative, popular occupations in 2018 include predatory stepfathers, lost love, childhood traumas, and more benign childhood memories featuring, particularly, the smells of youth. War and dead babies feature too, as they usually do in story competitions. A lot of stories were written in the second person, a POV I have a strong attachment to. Second person alone, though, is not enough to carry a piece if there aren’t several other things going on, in terms of language and story.
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Fiona J. Mackintosh
October 2018 First Prize

Siren

by Fiona J. Mackintosh

In the wet slap of the haar, the lassies slit the herring mouth to tail and pack them into briny barrels. I see her head move among the rest, brown curls escaping from her shawl. She has the juice of silver fishes in her veins - it’s in the raised blue of her wrists, her raw fingers, in the taste of oysters when I lick her down below, her skirt canted up and knees apart.

They say despair can be a man’s making, but that’s not how it feels to me. I give her everything I have - primrose plants, stockings, greenhouse fruits – and everything I am, a stiff-collared man behind a counter at the bank. She says my palms smell of money and loves their smoothness on her skin, but then she sees the brown sails coming, the lads home from the draves, swaggering in their thigh-high boots. She rests her elbows on the bar, pink mouth open, as this one tells of breaching humpbacks and that one tells of waves the height of mountains. I loathe their muckled arms and sunburnt faces and wish them at the bottom of the sea.

She knows the only times I venture out are on the calmest days, sometimes to cast a line and once a year to watch the puffins hatch. It’s not an epic life, not one likely to inspire the poets. But when the Reaper goes down with all hands lost, it’s my door she comes to and cleaves herself to me from head to heel. She says, “I need a man who willnae leave me wantin’.” Afterwards, cross-legged on the bed, she hangs a pair of cherries over her ear and, giddy with my unexpected luck, I take them in my mouth, stones and all.

About the Author

Fiona J. Mackintosh is a Scottish-American writer living near Washington D.C. whose fiction has been published on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2018, she has won the Fish Flash Fiction Prize, the NFFD Micro Competition, and the Bath Flash Award and was runner-up in Reflex Fiction’s summer contest and Retreat West’s quarterly themed competition. Her flashes have been nominated for The Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction, and her short stories have been listed for the Bristol, Galley Beggar, and Exeter Short Story Prizes. She was honored to receive a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist’s Award in 2016.

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