QuickFic 11/03/16: The Winner

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That right there is a line from Wordsworth’s ‘A Character’. And it was also the prompt for this week’s QuickFic competition.

We asked for stories, of 250 words or less, inspired by that prompt – which you promptly delivered. We marvelled at how many strange – and marvellous – contrasts could be found in one prompt. You are all excellent.

Here are the two which we thought were just that extra bit excellent:

 

RUNNER-UP: Jamie Groves

A Hush Descends

The foreman pauses, a greedy pause, a selfish ellipsis, as all eyes rest on him.

“… not guilty on all charges.”

A murmur sweeps the courtroom, the public gallery erupts – I love that expression, so beloved of courtroom drama, but so true – and the respective barristers and solicitors shake their heads or allow themselves a glimmer of smugness. But I look at her, whose face I’ve known for nearly four decades, and I see.

I see the expectation, the unbearable unknowing as her fate hides behind the lips of the foreman. I see her jaw tremble, her lower lip tucked behind her teeth, her watery blue eyes imploring, the same expression as when she watched Cerys, 8 years old, the mother of Christ struggling to remember her lines when the Archangel showed up.

I see her eyes wince shut as the foreman takes his moment, her jaw clenched, as if she’s already heard sentence, seen the black cap, knelt at the block. Her chin I see tighten, dimples of despair, a helplessness unmatched since she lay, swollen belly smeared in jelly, desperately trying to decipher the sonographer’s expression.

I see her head fall, as those decisive two words are read aloud. Relief, you may say, the unburdening of tension. And for a glimmer of a millisecond, before the tears and glad smiles of justice served, at the corner of her cheek and the wrinkles round her lips, I see the fleeting suppressed smile of the woman who killed my daughter.

 

WINNER: Thom Willis

A Blank

“You’re drawing me again,” she said. A simple, flat statement of fact which remained unacknowledged. She continued to stare out of the window and his pencil continued to drift across the paper, settling down to create borders around the soft off-white, shaping her face.

“I can never get it right,” he said after a while, reaching up to scrunch the paper from the corner. “Your face is impossible.”

She looked away from him, indifferently amused. “Maybe,” she said to her reflection. “Maybe you’re just bad at drawing? You never let me see your sketches. All I have is a bin filled with balls of paper.”

“You’ve never looked?”

“I don’t want to see my face crumpled and torn. I don’t want to know how I will look when I am old.” He said nothing to this. Swooped another silver-grey streak of graphite around her hair. Threaded pearls on the long strings around her neck. Crosshatched the shadow at the line of her jaw. The face on the page was blank. The face on every crumpled piece of paper was blank. He had reached the limits of his ability, and it was her.

 

Congratulations, Jamie and Thom! And thanks to everyone who entered. See you all back here next week?

Happy weekends, happy writing.

QuickFic 11/03/16

Good morning.

Shall we play a round of QuickFic?

Before we do, let’s remind ourselves of the particulars. We’re looking for stories of 250 words or less, inspired by the prompt which we’re about to show you. You should send those stories (along with a title and a wordcount) in the body of an email to academy@faber.co.uk by 2:50 this afternoon.

You might win these books!

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Daffs not included. They’re Ian’s.

Ready?

Here it is, this week’s prompt:

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Ooooh.

See you back here at 3:30!

By entering our QuickFic writing competitions, you’re granting us non-exclusive worldwide permission to reprint your story on our website should you win. The winner will also get a chance to win a place on one of our Start to Write one day courses, because at the end of the year we’ll be choosing our favourite of all the winners – the champion of champions, basically.

For more creative writing exercises, click here.

QuickFic 04/03/16: The Winner

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Alors. Another round of QuickFic draws to a close; one by one, those fictional bikes are collected, mounted, their kickstands booted up as their fictional owners putter off back into the slushy swamp of inspiration.

We enjoyed it while it lasted.

A most hearty merci beaucoup to everyone who sent us a story – there were some absolute treats in there. Well, if you count revenge, murder and theft as treats, which we totally do. It was all brilliant. C’etait magnifique. Mange tout.

Anyway, a winner we must crown! Let’s do that.

RUNNER-UP: Z. M. Raymond

Riding

At first we didn’t notice them arrive. They came at night. One at a time at first and then more and more until it was impossible for us to say that we did not see them. They leaned against lampposts. They leaned against each other, tyres touching, rubber to rubber. The streets were full.

Their leather saddles whispered of soft exotic adventures and their wheels winked at us in the sunshine. I tried to ride one but the saddle bucked under me and the wheels jerked and shook until I fell off onto the hard road.

They moved at night but we never saw them. We found them leaning up against our walls, against our doors. Our own bicycles sensed their presence and became resistant to our touch. We heard their cries for freedom so we shackled them down. We locked our sheds and ignored their pleas to feel the open road beneath their wheels.

Someone decided that the bicycles needed to go, we needed help. The next day we heard the hum of the scooters as they collected in the lanes. They waited for darkness and then they breached the boundaries of our village. The sounds rose up to our windows. The screech of twisting metal pierced our sleep but we pretended not to hear. We closed our curtains against the flapping rubber and the hollow quiet.

In the morning we stepped outside to find the bicycles corralled, chained up into a pen. We left them there.

 


WINNER: Liz Falkingham

When She Came To Town

A rumour is a pot of jam, left out on a hot day. The first wasps are lucky; right place and time. Then, by some mysteriously telepathy, others come until the buzz becomes the draw, covering that first sticky-sweet siren call.

That was how it was when Bardot came to Paris. No-one knew who first spoke her name, dropped the pebble in the pond. Paul remembered traffic on the street, parps of car horns, some unseen boy shouting ‘Mama, attendez!’ Sounds lifted on rising air, slipping into the room where he and Camille lay on the bed, sweat cooling on their skin. He had begun to reach for her again when she had sat up, saying ‘what’s going on?’

Knelt together at the window, naked supplicants, they saw the weird herd of abandoned mopeds and bikes. Beyond, cars stood with doors open; their owners following others at some unheard command, dog-whistle pitch.

‘Que ce passe?’ Camille called down to an old man, who smiled and raised his cigarette in salute of her bare shoulders then shouted back ‘Bardot! Dans le parc!’

‘He says Brigitte Bardot is here, in the park!’ she said, pulling on her knickers. ‘Let’s see!’

Paul had watched her dress. The taste of her was still on his lips; what he wanted was here in this room.

Later, in some café, Camille shrugged it off.

‘Everyone gathered round, pushing, and then I heard it was just some old woman with a little dog. Maybe not even Bardot.’

 

A huge congratulations to both Z and Liz – but this is an especially special occasion, because Liz is our very first Two-in-a-Row winner! Well done Liz!

And a big thanks to everyone for their excellent imaginations. We do ever so enjoy you taking us out for a spin round the block on them each week.

Happy weekends, happy writing!

QuickFic 04/03/16

Hello there, you beautiful flashy flash fiction writers.

It’s almost time to reveal this week’s QuickFic prompt. It’s a little bit eerie, a teeny bit French, and hopefully packed to the margins with inspiration.

But before that, let’s remind ourselves of how this thing actually works.

You should:

  • Look at the prompt
  • Write a very small story, of 250 words or less, inspired by that prompt
  • Give it a title, and tell us your word count
  • All three of those things (story, title, word count) should go into the body of an email
  • Send that email to academy@faber.co.uk, by 2:50pm today and certainly no later

And that’s that! We’ll read ’em all, and then at 3:30 we’ll announce the winner. That winner will win these wonderful books:

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Cool. Ready?

Here’s this week’s prompt then:

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Where’ve they all gone?

Tell us! And we’ll see you back here at 3:30.

By entering our QuickFic writing competitions, you’re granting us non-exclusive worldwide permission to reprint your story on our website should you win. The winner will also get a chance to win a place on one of our Start to Write one day courses, because at the end of the year we’ll be choosing our favourite of all the winners – the champion of champions, basically.

For more creative writing exercises, click here.