It doesn’t matter WHAT we do.
It doesn’t matter HOW summery and lovely and unimpeachably cheery we make the prompt, you still manage to find some darkness. Is it just something to do with writing competitions?
Look at this picture.
Isn’t it charming? And extremely happy? And yet…
As ever, we had a lot of great entries to QuickFic this week, and as ever, judging was hard. But jeez, guys, come on, lighten up.
Anyway, here are the lauded entrants – two up-runners and a winner, all with very different approaches.
Runner Up: Crisa Cox
Things aren’t meant to fall from the sky. I mean things other than rain, sleet or snow (I correct myself automatically now, lest he get there first). There is something unnatural about seeing a black silhouette projected onto that bright blueness and about the speed with which it drops: both too fast and too slow at the same time.
We approached marriage cautiously, testing the idea out before committing and then, as he turned 40, bowing to the pressure to produce an heir (a girl would have been no good as his sister already had three). He did not want any more children: too much mess; too much chaos; too much interruption.
I wasn’t a very good mother: too indulgent; too impulsive; too idealistic. “But I only wanted”… He said that should be my epitaph. He hated it when I failed to think through the consequences of my actions. He hated having to pick up the pieces.
But I only wanted to re-create a childhood moment that now seemed so long ago: the lack of resistance against dusty feet, the saltiness on the upper lip, the bloody tang of the rust on the safety strap. The way you could look up and out and wave at the ants in the distance as your life hung by a metal thread.
It was all there as I had remembered: the primary colours, the heart in mouth and the shrieks of the fairground. I just hadn’t expected it to be so real.
Runner Up: Anstey Spraggan
Even as a child, Martin knew the portal was in the linimal seconds where the Chair-o-plane hit full swing, the pallid legs flew horizontal and excited squeals found an edge of fear. He knew he would be the keeper, like his father and his father before him. The portal was a last resort, a place of refuge. Not for sale.
It shared the characteristics of most portals hidden in fairgrounds – tiny coloured lights, tinny music and that twitch of dissolved chip fat on summer air. It is no coincidence that candy floss and magic smell the same.
It had the same Health and Safety restrictions; the height limit, the maximum weight of 18 stone. The fat Russian he’d shoved through the other day had certainly been over, but he hadn’t returned. Hadn’t come back for his money.
Martin’s grandfather had used the portal for smugglers before he’d disappeared. He remembered his own father hurrying people through in the war. In honest moments Martin remembered their frightened eyes and their religious scripts in undecipherable squiggles. No money changed hands for their safety.
‘You the bloke with the portal?’
Martin nodded. The man had the dead eyes of a killer and an envelope of cash.
He closed the bar over the man’s stomach.
‘And you,’ said a voice he couldn’t see but had imagined many times. ‘Get on the ride. Your time’s up.’
Above the Big Wheel two buzzards circled lazily on faux thermals from the engines that drove the vast cranks.
Winner: Jo Bradshaw
Those Poems On The Tube
We’ll know if it works because we’ll feel like heavenly bodies
Again you remember angelhood don’t you?
Yes but sorry I’m just
Catching your words on the wind there’s
A slight delay
Won’t it be nice to speak without vocal chords
Not have to shave or
Or read those terrible poems on the tube
Yes those terrible poems on the tube they
Don’t scan at all
I smell fear and Head & Shoulders are you okay?
Phantom wings are searing my scapulae and also
I’m really going to miss
What do you think?
We’ll make it my love you’ll see
We’ll soar into the heavens arm in arm
Winged to the end
Let your belief lift you up
No you twat I will miss
Those chips from the pier
All melting crunch of malt
I hated those
Never mind are you
Ready to rock
I’ve forgotten how to fly
I’m letting go
We will ascend once more
Oh bugger it
Mind that seagull
Congratulations to Crisa, Anstey and Jo. And to everyone else, thanks so much for playing – and see you again next week!