Melissa Goode
June 2017 Commended

Acute intoxication

by Melissa Goode

We arrive home from the hospital and you lean hard against me as we walk up the front stairs. Sweetheart, you say, straight into my ear. You smell of chemicals and antiseptic. The children in the school playground opposite our house scream and play, mad animals, running around their cage. They squeal and laugh.

“I’ll go to bed,” you say.

You sway down the hallway. You sail. The drugs make their way through your body—I don’t know their names, their compatibility. The ones the doctors put into you and those you put there yourself. Don’t fucking freak out, you said. I kept waiting for your heart to stop. I did.

The curtain rings rattle and you make the room dark, your skin white-green, your hair black-green. I put your suitcase at the end of our bed. You slide between the sheets, still clothed. It slithers into my stomach, acidic, and it stays. I don’t know what it is, maybe anger. Or rage.

“I thought you were going to die,” I say.

You open your eyes and close them again. “Nope, still here.”

“I don’t think you heard me,” I whisper.

You open your arm wide and beckon to me. I lay down beside you, on you. Your heart pounds beneath me, your chest rises and falls, your skin is warm, dense. I hear the children play. They shout. The bell rings for them to return to class. In another hour and ten minutes, the bell will release them from school.

As the sun sets, I will get out of bed and you will be asleep, peaceful, your chest barely moving, as if I have risen from your burial place. Outside it is quiet and then it is not. The birds sing all at once.

About the Author

Melissa Goode’s work has appeared in Best Australian Short Stories, New World Writing, Split Lip Magazine, Atticus Review, Cleaver Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Litro Magazine, and Jellyfish Review, among others. One of her short stories has been made into a film by the production company, Jungle. She lives in Australia. You can find her here: www.melissagoode.com and on Twitter @melgoodewriter

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Interview with Charmaine Wilkerson
Winner of the Inaugural Novella-in-Flash Award

Charmaine tells us how, on a walk around the ancient wall of Rome she arrived at the inspiration for her wonderful first prize winning novella-in-flash How to Make a Window Snake. When writing at her dining room table, she had to battle interruptions from her family and from others in distant time zones. It is interesting to learn how the structure of this novella emerged and how Charmaine was influenced by many different authors writing stories within stories. The tipping point for her to give the form a go, was reading the novellas-in-flash and essays by Meg Pokrass and others in the guide My Very End of the Universe published by Rose Metal Press. Ending the whole piece was the most difficult part of the writing for Charmaine. But take advice from her if you are embarking on a novella-in-flash – don’t force it. “Let your stories emerge, breathe some life into them, and then see if this is the structure that will allow them to blossom.”

You’ll be able to read How to Make a Window Snake, and the two runner-up novellas-in-flash by Joanna Campbell and Ingrid Jendrzejewski shortly. Our publisher, Ad Hoc Fiction, is in the process of compiling the book, due to be published in June.
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May Flash Fiction Evening

Friday 26th May 
7.30 pm – 9.30 pm
late bar, free nibbles
St James' Wine Vaults
www.stjameswinevaults.co.uk
10 St James Street
Bath
BA1 2TW

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We've another great line-up of six flash fiction writers who will each read a selection of short fictions for ten minutes each. There's a break after the first three readers for drinks, nibbles and chats.

Reading this time, two of our regulars, Meg Pokrass and KM Elkes plus new to the reading series Joanna Campbell, John Holland and Tracy Fells. Jude Higgins organiser of the Bath Flash Fiction contests and of these events will also be reading.

Come to hear a huge variety of flash fiction. It's always a lot of fun. We'd love to see you there.

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Flashing in March
An account of our last Evening of Flash

There was a full house at the spring Evening of Flash Fiction at St James Wine Vaults, Bath on 17th March. It's a wonderful venue with a friendly bar downstairs, and we're made to feel very welcome by owners Mandy and Neil who like to support artistic ventures in the local community.

images courtesy of Rebecca Noakes

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Novella-in-Flash Round Up

BathFlashWe were inspired to launch the inaugural novella-in-flash award by reading the excellent guide on the subject, My Very End of the Universe published by Rose Metal Press in 2014. Meg Pokrass's flash novella, Here, Where we Live is one of five novellas in this book and she also has a craft essay in the book. The novella-in-flash is one of her favourite emerging forms, and we were thrilled when she agreed to judge the first competition.
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Novella-in-Flash 2017 Winners

I was honoured to be asked to judge Bath Flash Fiction Award’s inaugural novella-in-flash contest. There were many strong novella entries making the competition fierce. It was fascinating to see the different way each writer approached this challenge!

One of the most important traits of the flash novella is in creating a sense of urgency that pulls the reader in quickly. This is achieved through pacing, stand-alone story strength, and the creation of unforeseeable dramatic tension. Ultimately, success relies on the crafting of an inventive, non-traditional narrative arc. The short nature of the novella-in-flash does not allow for much context or rumination. Instead, it relies on tragic urgency.
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Interview with Emma Zetterström
February 2017 Flash Fiction Third Prize

Emma lives on the edge of a Swedish forest and tells us that when she is writing, she often compares the landscapes of Sweden and Scotland, where she is from. In Sweden the seasons are definite, unlike Glasgow, and the skies are very dark with many visible stars. Working as a translator and a teacher of Swedish to refugees, she thinks about words very carefully, and draws inspiration from her knowledge of different languages, the similarities, the differences and the gaps in between. She refers us to a poem to illustrate this. Emma moved from song writing, to writing lyrics which felt like a natural shift and she loves the enormity of what flash can express in a small amount of words. Like many of our other prize winners, her tip for writers who want to enter the Bath Flash Fiction Award is to keep re-reading your work and to get other people to read it too and edit a great deal. Then take the plunge and send. That final action is always worthwhile.
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