Drop your pens, you styluses, your meme generating software (Thom) and still your fingers on your keyboards, for today’s flash fiction competition is over and done and a new winner we must crown.
Here’s one last look at your prompt:
Runner Up: Jessica Joy
He watched the yacht drift away. The sea lapped the hull like a thirsty dog.
The tide had turned and, with no energy to swim, he floated on his back; away from the shore, away from any chance of rescue.
He never imagined it might end like this. He thought he would be shot down by the Board, hung by his shares or crushed by his assets. This seemed so benign. No heart attack at the gym, no Monday morning stroke in the coffee shop. Instead, a slip, a twang of rope, a snap of bone, a yell, a splash.
The water changed colour to a bruised purple. He felt his life force seep into the ocean. The life force he had driven into contracts and deals and negotiation. The life force that had paid for the house and the boat.
Now, he and the sea were in accord. The brine welcomed him with puppy licks round his ears and affectionate nibbles at his toes.
Later, the waves would bowl him over and drop him on the beach in their own macabre game of fetch. He would crunch and flop on the pebbles, a much-loved toy.
For now, he watched the rippled reflection on the stern, the shimmer of his villa in the midday sun and the sparkle of water droplets on his foot, as it bobbed past his head. With equanimity, he realised none of them mattered to him anymore.
Runner Up: Nafisa Muhtadi
I stretched my arms out as the sun rays warmed my skin and wind whipped my hair. I quickly retracted my arms as I was still wobbly. My sea legs hadn’t arrived yet so my land legs were working overtime. Jamie didn’t have his sea legs either but he was sat on the deck, eyes glued to his phone. I squinted in his direction.
“Can you even get a signal out here?”
“I’m hooked up to the marina.” His gaze didn’t stray from his device.
“Didn’t this boat cost, like, 20 million dollars?”
“We’re renting it, sweetheart.”
“So?” I bristled at the term of endearment, a sign that he was miles away. “We should still enjoy it.”
Jamie had developed a hugely successful app game, where fruits and jewels tumbled down the screen, which had paid for our trip. It wasn’t that I was ungrateful but more an exercise in cultivating gratitude and mindfulness. I grabbed the phone from him.
“Hey!” He stood up, feet unsteady, and before he knew it I pushed him overboard. It’s okay. I knew he could swim. The sea shimmered and Jamie thrashed in the water, mouth gaping like a stunned fish.
“Take in the view, sweetheart.” I waved a hand like everything the sun touched belonged to me.
He eventually stilled himself to a gentle float. “I can’t wait for your turn.”
My feet were firm on deck. The horizon met the sea in a thin-lipped kiss. “Gotta catch me first” I winked.
Hell or High Water
The skin on my nose is turning crisp like roast chicken skin. What would mother have said about my lack of suncream? Nothing good, I imagine. Never mind the fact that I’m swimming a mere 15 minutes after a large, alcohol-fuelled lunch.
What is it about the sea that brings some primordial comfort? That old cliché about feeling small, perhaps. My life has been spent in the pursuit of largeness, of trying to intimidate, to overpower, but now the feeling of insignificance and dissolution is euphoric. I laugh, out loud?
The sensation of being on the border of drunk while the waves rock my body is neither pleasant nor unpleasant. It just is. I squint my eyes half shut, so that the shapes of the boat and of the clouds and the sun swerve and blur.
I wonder vaguely if my feet would reach the bottom – is it my imagination that the boat is getting rapidly further away?
I tip my head back, so my ears and my hair are submerged. I shake my head from side to side, like I used to in the bath. The old, familiar feeling of my hair swirling around my head is a punch of nostalgia. I hear myself gulp in air or out tears, impossible to tell.
In the distance, I hear shouts.
“Theresa! Are you coming back for dessert?” Philip’s voice.
As I should have predicted, there were many characters meeting their unhappy ends this week, but sprinkled in there were some joyful moments! Big congratulations to S.F, Nafisa and Jessica. Thank you one and all for your wonderful pieces.
Until next week!
For a look back at our previous #QUICKFIC flash fiction competitions, click here.