Oooh. Well now. That was exceedingly enjoyable. Thanks so much to everyone who sent in stories – some absolutely beautiful pieces and some totally creepy ones too. In the very best way.
Anyway. As you’ll recall, we asked for 250 words on this picture:
And here are our winners.
RUNNER-UP: Alison Chandler
I feel I should warn you the thing that happened to my face happened very suddenly.
Hours earlier, I remember looking through the kitchen window to see if it was raining. And of course it was raining; it was the weekend, it was the bank holiday. I felt quite satisfied reaching for my anorak, thinking rain, cold barbecue, damp squib. Every bank holiday party I’d ever been to conformed reassuringly.
When I got there all was as expected. Tom who was usually drunk was drunk. Lisa who was usually cheerful was cheerful. The wind was blowing off the sea, barbecue smoke was flowing inland like a stampede.
And then the boy from the island appeared. Well he said he was from the island. Is he? Was he? Island, wasland.
What are you doing here? he asked.
I live four doors down, I answered.
That wasn’t what he meant.
Come to the sea, he said.
So we went, and we stood, and we looked at the waves disturbing the pebbles which tried to stay where they were but couldn’t quite hold their positions. And then he took a step towards the island and then another and another and that’s when the thing happened to my face. I felt it lose all control of itself. No more fixed smile, no more I’m in charge, no more how d’you do yes, fine, you too?
Don’t turn around, he said. Don’t turn around.
WINNER: Jill Palmano
What is it to wait? What goes through our minds? The projected thoughts of some imagined event? Played out behind our eyes in cinematographic detail? We embellish, of course. It’s only natural. To invent is to be human. I think therefore I am, someone said once.
Sometimes it’s important to step out of the mind and re-enter the body. Like now. What’s my body feeling? Cold and wet and I’m shaking. Can’t seem to stop. Relax and you stop shivering, someone said that once, I think. Who? Oh, her.
Put on her coat. Go on, take it off her body and put it on. She doesn’t need it any more. I’ve always coveted this coat. The colour, the fit, the price tag. Guess I can keep it now. They won’t know it was hers. When they come, they’ll think she wasn’t wearing one.
They’ll arrive in a dingy. Bright orange, sturdy looking, even though it’s only rubber and air. They’ll be wearing yellow coats, red life jackets. Colourful and capable. We will coordinate, them and me in her red coat. I’ll be shaken. Shaking. No blood in my face and I’ll feel safe in their hands.
When they ask, the wind will pick up the surf and send flecks of salt foam into our eyes. A gull will hang above, screeching. The sky will turn white. It will be beautiful. When they ask me what happened, I’ll think of something. Inspiration comes when you least expect it, someone said once.
Congratulations, Alison and Jill!
We’ll be back next Friday with another QuickFic prompt – join us! We’d love that!
Meantimes, if you’d like to read another story about a girl in a red coat (and one we think is pretty wonderful), you should absolutely go here.