Wow. Can we just say something? Something a little bit cheesy or, sticking with our American tone today, corny? We’re really thankful for you lot. Another batch of brilliant, bonkers, bitesize bits of fiction filled our inbox today and we had ever such a lovely time reading it all.
Now for the important part, though.
RUNNER-UP: Francesca Walsh
You Said You Were Tall
She: “You said you were tall.”
He: “I am.”
She: “You’re standing on a chair.”
He: “So you’re sizeist and speciesist. Nice.”
She: “I am not. It’s just you’re not what I was expecting.”
He: “Can’t say I’m too thrilled myself. I made it quite clear you had to be vegetarian.”
She: “I usually am but I eat when I’m stressed.”
He: “Stressed? You’ve had three meat starters so far and one of them was raw.”
She: “It’s called Steak Tartare.”
He: “Funny name for a COW.”
She: “Well they had to make your granola specially. It’s not even on the A la Carte. That’s coming off your half of the check.”
He: “You’ve got a very big head.”
He: “Your head. It’s very big. And hairy.”
She: “Everyone says I have beautiful hair. And it’s a hell of a lot better than a shrivelled bald head with skin hanging off your BEAK.”
He: “It’s called wattle. And it’s a sign of virility.”
She: “Don’t you go getting any ideas. I promised Carol I’d go to dinner with you because she said you were lonely this time of year. THAT’S as far as it goes. DINNER! And that was before I saw YOU.”
He: “Don’t you patronise me. You shallow ornithophobic.”
She: “How dare you call me that. I just don’t like YOU. I don’t care what you are.”
He: “So, will we do this again?”
She: “Sure. We have chemistry.”
RUNNER-UP: Bikram Sharma
On Thanksgiving, Pa decided he no longer wanted to remain a human. “It’s simple, really, this body is old and inelegant.” He pulled at the loose skin under his neck. “Just for a day, I’d like to be a bird and fly. That’d be something to be thankful for.”
“Oh yes?” Ma said. “And what about your family?”
“I’ve got 364 days for you, my darlings.”
He locked himself in his study and Ma resumed cooking, muttering to herself. Hours passed before there was a colossal explosion. The door was ripped right off its hinges. Pa hopped out, looking very much a turkey. He cocked his head, inspecting the damage he’d done.
Ma loomed over him. “Oh well done. Please, why don’t you make a mess of the living room as well?”
Pa clucked in indignation. His feathers were long and black, beautiful, but under his bald head dangled a loose flab of pink skin.
“A turkey,” Ma said, exasperated. “You can’t fly, you oaf!”
He shook his body and took a few ungainly steps to the window ledge. Flapping his wings, he took off, soaring low and clattering to a stop on our neighbour’s roof. His claws dug into the shingle and dislodged a tile, which fell to the ground and shattered. He looked at us. Even from that distance, his guilt was unmistakable.
“Should we help him?” I asked.
“There’s no helping a man like that.” And yet, Ma opened the window wider, waiting for him to return.
WINNER: Christopher Wakling
“A-s-k-a-n-c-e,” he says. “Look it up.”
“I know what it means.”
He pecks at his muesli. “Sure you do.”
“Christ, I’ve had it up to here with your judgemental bullshit,” she says.
“I’m trying to help.”
“No, you’re doing what you always do: you’re belittling me with assumptions. I don’t need one of your fancy Harvard degrees to know what’s really going on here.”
“Whatever. Eat up.”
A car hushes past outside. The smell of bacon rises from her plate. Sunlight falls through the blind, underscoring the cruet with an insulting shadow.
“I never asked for this,” she says.
He looks up. “For what?”
“You know full well what.”
“A full English breakfast?”
“I just thought you could do with feeding up.”
She holds his eye for a moment. Ever since she started the five-two diet he’s been doing this, forcing her to eat huge meals on her ‘normal’ days. Four weeks in and she’s actually gained weight. Meanwhile, he just keeps on with his sanctimonious vegetarianism and power-walking, getting thinner and thinner. A glass of full fat milk for Christ’s sake. And him so … gaunt! I want to murder him, she thinks. Seventeen months ago she was reassuring her mother that the age gap didn’t matter, and now she’d like to snap his scrawny neck, roast him whole. He turns to face the window and the horrible wattle beneath his chin sways.
“Looks like it’s going to be a nice day,” he says.
Congratulations, Francesca, Bikram and Christopher! And thanks to all who entered. We can’t wait to roll the Christmas prompts out…