Winners

Novella-in-Flash 2018
About the Winners

Luke Whisnant
Winner

In the Debris Field

Luke Whisnant's fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have been published in over 50 different journals and anthologies in the USA, the UK, France, and Portugal. He is the author of four books: two poetry chapbooks, Street and Above Floodstage; the story collection Down in the Flood; and a novel, Watching TV with the Red Chinese, made into an independent film in 2012. Whisnant is Professor of English at East Carolina University, and is a two-time winner of his department’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Since 2006 he has edited Tar River Poetry, a nationally ranked magazine of verse. His website is lukewhisnant.com
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Novella-in-Flash 2018 Award
Winners and Judge’s Report by Meg Pokrass

The Novella-in-Flash Fiction is one of my favorite forms in the genre and it is truly exciting that more flash fiction writers are experimenting with it. Thank you to Bath Flash Fiction for creating this opportunity and providing the impetus. This is my second year of judging the Award and it’s been an honor to do so.
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February 2018 Judge’s Report
Tara L. Masih

Stephanie Clement Photography

Consider my introduction to the following Bath Flash Fiction contest results as a kind of Thank You letter. A Thank You to the many contestants who participated, and to the staff who had to create the long list. But mostly this is a Thank You to the writers who listened. In my judge’s interview, I asked entrants to “Try to do something unique. Unique can mean using different subject matter, vocabulary, format, syntax, punctuation. Experiment a bit. Let loose. Find a story that has to be told. Make the judge forget the outside world for a moment.”
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Jo Gatford
February 2018 First Prize

Things Left And Found By The Side Of The Road

by Jo Gatford

Baby car seats, sometimes with babies in them, swiftly recovered. Nettles flourishing in the face of toilet breaks. Things said in anger and in tiredness, whipped free from wound down windows. Singular shoes. Houses turned into islands, refusing to bow to the bypass, clinging to their land. Roadkill; fox-ochre and badger-stripe and innards turned outer. And crows, wherever things are dead and forgotten. Shopping lists never fulfilled. Plastic bags, flocks of them, as everlasting as the old gods. GPS-related swearing. A horse, filthy white, the same colour as its hay, watching the traffic, dreaming of leaping three lanes to greener grass. Dozing lorry drivers, longwave sewn into their sleep. The shouts of children: Cows! Red car! Lions! Lions? No. Cows! The snap-shut replies of parents who should have stopped for a wee miles ago. Imaginary friends, abandoned because of older sisters who said they were babyish. Garden centres where time is liminal and space folds in on itself somewhere between the box shrubs and the trellis. Petrol stations, though never when you need one. Yawns no longer suppressible. A cigarette butt flicked through a window slot, its glowing ash streaking back inside to burrow into denim thighs. Traffic cones like shells for urban hermit crabs, crushed and dented, flashing silently into the night. A moment of lapsed concentration. A time when you wouldn’t make it home for Christmas, or the weekend, or at all. A time when these were Roman roads and the unexpected turn would not have existed. A time when all of this was nothing but fields. Car parts, tyre skids, blood spots, and perfect cubes of safety glass. The knowing sighs of EMTs. Roadside recovery phones standing at respectful intervals like neon orange sentinels. Angels, fallen, bewildered in concrete, wondering where all the souls have gone.

About the Author

Jo Gatford is a writer who procrastinates about writing by writing about writing. Her debut novel White Lies won the Luke Bitmead Bursary and was published by Legend Press in 2014. Her short fiction can be found in Smokelong Quarterly, Litro, Aesthetica, PANK, Open Pen, The Fiction Desk and elsewhere. She is one half of Writers' HQ – a writing organisation which offers online writing courses, workshops and retreats for 'badass writers with no time or money' – and swears at people on the internet for a living.

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Lee Nash
February 2018 Second Prize

When The Rubber Hits The Road

by Lee Nash

Everything conspired against him: the wind, first stealing the flames he’d kindled and torching his thatched cottage, then tearing away the corrugated iron roof of the home he’d built in its place; the Amazonian climate that finished his mother and sister; the mosquitoes and sandflies, maddening and everywhere. Everything and everyone: his business partner who walked; his long-suffering wife who at last set sail for Blighty, never to see him again, leaving Henry to his new conflict, a chain of coral islands off the coast of New Guinea; Queen Victoria and her version of justice. Still, he managed to pack those 70,000 seeds into the Amazonas, safely tucked between banana leaves, and now the wind was with him. Fast forward to the flames that clear the land in Malaysia and Myanmar, China and Cambodia, making room for neat rows of Hevea brasiliensis, to the demands of industry, the elastic bands and erasers, the half of all our tyres, engine belts, gloves, electrical wiring, emulsion paints and condoms – rubber smoothing and cooling us all the way. Fast forward once more to the infamous bio-warrior, carrying spores of South American leaf blight; with a nod to Mr Wickham he’s brought an ample supply and under a dubious guise. As the aircraft touches down, he bites on a rubber bullet, thinks of the Indian slaves castrated by the barons, the cash-rich labourers’ lust for cars, and welcomes the chaos that will ensue. With a measured pace, he walks his infested Wellington boots over the ripe plantations, clipboard in hand, while latex drips from the spiral scores into the waiting cups. The scarred trees recede in every direction; he flexes his leg muscles, still stiff from the flight, and starts to relax. The wind will do the rest.

About the Author

Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editor and proofreader. She writes in a range of forms, with a fondness for haiku, haibun, sonnets and flash fiction. Her work has appeared in print and online journals including Acorn, Ambit, Angle, Magma, Mezzo Cammin, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Heron's Nest, and The Lake. Her first poetry collection, Ash Keys, is published by Flutter Press. You can find out more at leenashpoetry.com.

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Molia Dumbleton
February 2018 Third Prize

Why Shit Is Still Like This Around Here And Probably Always Will Be

by Molia Dumbleton

Joey says his crispest memory of his mom is that ticky-ticky click-click-click of high heels on linoleum in the mornings and the clatter of plastic dishes and bracelets and curse words in the sink and her insistence that he hug her low and fast before she put on her pantyhose Jesus c’mon hurry now be a good boy because they’re expensive and runs were always blamed on him Goddamnit Joey even when he didn’t touch her legs not at all and all his trucks were in the other room besides.

The sound of those wind chimes she hung on the front porch still gets to him now he swears they put him in some kinda mood real fast whenever some girl he’s trying to go home with has them outside her apartment when they get there For fuck’s sake chimes you gotta be kidding me rubbing his nose in the way her sweet smoky smell used to go out the door with her into the cold air and into that loud car of hers down the road and away again an entire heart’s lifetime tick-ticking away in his chest before Mrs. Lewin and her big smell would get there to find him alone truck-handed and gob-faced at the plastic glass of the storm front door.

About the Author

Molia Dumbleton’s work has been awarded the Seán Ó Faoláin Story Prize; Columbia Journal Winter Fiction Award; Dromineer Literary Festival Flash Fiction Prize; and Kelly Barnhill Micro-Fiction Prize. She has been a Finalist for the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Award; Indiana Review Half-K Contest; The Hemingway Society’s Hemingway Shorts Contest; and Iowa Short Fiction Award. She has also been a Peter Taylor Fellow at the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop and a Susannah McCorkle Scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in The Kenyon Review, New England Review, The Stinging Fly, and others. She currently teaches at DePaul University and is a reader for The Masters Review.

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Tracey Slaughter
February 2018 Commended

Compact

by Tracey Slaughter

It’s a junkshop find that brings back the smell of them – a kind of sweetened pinky-beige topsoil my aunts would carry everywhere with them, gilded flip-open discs of powder, hard-caked, that still puffed traces over everything. A push-in metal tooth worked the clasp, then they’d unhinge it, anywhere they needed to, perched on a bus-seat, queueing at the cinema, blotting off steam and suds over the sink. Inside lived another face. A swipe of coating for the wrinkles and pitting, a swab of glamour for the sweat and the soot, and they’d dab and polish with their onion-skin hands, and re-emerge, their smiles resurfaced, to take themselves off to a matinee or square off their seats in the cafeteria for a good old session of sip, hiss and gossip. Friends met them there, equally floral and bloodyminded. But it took my aunts to preside. And I pick the bronze disc out of the litter of the shop, and I fiddle with the rust of its scalloped fastening, and a gust of them wafts out, the sound of them cackling, the squeak of their complicated undergarments, the musk of their costumes, all dancehall and armpit, the cumbersome tamped-down plenty of their blue-silk busts. Always jolly, until you crossed them. Thick as thieves, a formidable old-maid front, glossy and tough as they come. Mouths akin to fruit in their tropical acrylic, over a crooked assortment of teeth. Battlers. Hard-nuts. And I used to be able to see myself in the circle of light, when I rifled their handbags, I used to take a peek and think I could rub in their tint, could repaint myself robust, could frost my little face with a swish of their moxie, be brazen, bold-as-you-please. But I’ve disappeared in the mirror. It’s like dusting for fingerprints.

About the Author

Tracey Slaughter is a poet and short story writer from Cambridge, New Zealand. Her work has received numerous awards, including the international Bridport Prize (2014), shortlistings for the Manchester Prize in both Poetry (2014) and Fiction (2015), and two Katherine Mansfield Awards. Her latest work, the short story collection deleted scenes for lovers (Victoria University Press) was published to critical acclaim in 2016. She is currently putting the finishing touches to a poetry collection entitled ‘conventional weapons’. She teaches at the University of Waikato, where she edits the literary journal Mayhem.

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Elisabeth Ingram Wallace
February 2018 Commended

Satin Nightwear for Women Irregular

by Elisabeth Ingram Wallace

The walk to the Allotment is wet and full of cats, taut muscled screams darting under cars. It’s clunky, carrying all the bulbs she hoarded in one plastic bag, a bin-liner, stretched to a thin translucent skin.

When I get to her plot, I plant them. Ten halogen, twenty-two bayonet, and thirty-seven screw bulbs.

The ground around me is worming, and when I walk away the earth shatters.

I take her two nightstand drawers full of polyester nightwear to the wasteland behind Lidl. Giant white French knickers, black slips, a blood red chemise.

The labels are cheap and Chinese and the brands don’t translate. ‘Queen Silky Unique’, ‘Satin Nightwear for Women Irregular.’

I squirt lighter fluid, drop a lit match. When I walk away the sky bites and coughs through me. I can taste the perfume burn, her tight satin cling.

Her cookbooks next; one-hundred and twenty-three.

One is handwritten.

Her life in cakes, pages clotted with butter, her fingerprints, still. Two sheets stick, crack open an echo; a Rorschach of coffee, spilt decades ago - cockroach, demon, shadows. Her face.

Next day, I walk past it, already displayed in the Oxfam window. 99 pence.

For three weeks, I walk home a different way.

I walk the long, wrong way home and think of another window, the one in the hospital. I opened it wide. “My wife is too hot,” I’d said to the nurse, “she needs air.”

But I needed air. I didn’t want to be alone in that room, with her last breath. I wanted it out.

I tell everyone. I am OK.

Burying her is easy.

It’s just filling a hole. Burning her up into sky, and walking away.

About the Author

Elisabeth Ingram Wallace lives in Glasgow, and is spending 2018 writing her first novel. Her flash fiction is published or upcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, Atticus Review, Flash Frontier, and every Bath Flash Fiction Award anthology so far! She has a Scottish Book Trust ‘New Writers Award’, a Dewar Arts Award, and won ‘Writing the Future 2017’ with her sci-fi short story ‘Opsnizing Dad’. She studied English as a mature student at Oxford University, and has a Creative Writing M.Litt. with Distinction from the University of Glasgow. You can find her on Twitter @ingram_wallace

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October 2017 Judge’s Report
David Swann

As a boy, I loved a story about a football player whose team had just won the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium. Sitting in the dressing room after the match, the player complained he'd lost a contact lens out on the pitch. One of his team-mates is supposed to have said, 'Well, this is our lucky day – why don't we go back out and find it?' According to the story, they did just that, and found the contact lens within moments!

I've never known whether the hunt for the lens ever happened, and I don't care – because the story's full of some weird ancient storytelling truth that I trust.

Now I often remember the tale when I'm entering writing competitions. The pitch at Wembley is vast, and success seems impossible.

Yet sometimes the luck is with us. Sometimes there's a glint in the grass.
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Rose McDonagh
October 2017 First Prize

Pony

by Rose McDonagh

“Look,” Declan said.

Joanna moved to the living room window, from which she could see the back green, the bright square of it.

“Oh,” she said. Her pony was munching grass under the washing-line.

“Bloody hell,” Declan said, “Some nutcase has gone and got themselves a horse.”

“Looks like it,” she said.

“What were they thinking?”

The thing was she’d pitied it, all plastered in mud and roped to a lamp post.

“Maybe they didn’t think, maybe they just did it,” she said.

The pony walked under a low-slung bath towel. Its shadow created a cut-out shape. Declan heaved the window open and let in the gentle sound of teeth tearing grass. “Idiots. They’ll not be able to keep it.”

“How’d you know?”

“You can’t keep a feckin horse in a shared garden.”

“It’s more a pony,” she said.

Dinner smells and radio noise rose from the other flats.

“How did they even get it here?”

It had clopped along the pavement. Only once stopping to eat questionable flowers. “I don’t know,” she said. Its forlornness had spoken to her of vocation.

“They’re expensive,” he said.

“Probably won’t cost more than a big dog.”

Declan turned to her. “You’re not going to start moaning at me for a bleeding dog again?”

“Honestly, no.”

“Good. I worry dogs lead to babies.” He pinched her arm, leaving a white patch.

“Ow. I’m over dogs and I’ll never get on to babies. I’ve got finer things to think about nowadays.”

They stepped away from the window and headed into their nook of a kitchen where nothing was cooking.

Out back, the pony shook its mane full of sun and its silhouette shivered. Other figures gathered at other windows. They gazed at it the way they would have gazed at a bonfire.

About the Author

Rose McDonagh was born in Edinburgh. She has had writing published by BBC Wildlife Magazine, Gutter, SmokeLong Quarterly, Fairfield Review, the Guardian online, The Eildon Tree, Brittle Star, The Nottingham Review and New Writing Scotland. She read at Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2017 as part of their Story Shop programme. She currently works for two Scottish charities.

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