BIG thank you for today’s round of #QUICKFIC, Faber Academy’s Flash Fiction Competition everyone!
Here’s the prompt once again:
Runner Up: Jennifer Harvey
We took so many photographs that day, do you remember? You pulled the film from the camera with an amused impatience, and we stood, our heads together, waiting for time to reveal itself.
I can still see you now, the memories laid down as a back-up, just in case. You are stood in the garden, the sun behind you, light shining through your dress, the image overexposed. Your body a shadow, your face obscured.
But you were smiling, I remember that.
There is one of me turning away from you (I never did like having my photo taken), and I was confused when I saw my expression, that far-away look in my eyes, as if I was contemplating another time.
“Oh, but you always look like that,” you told me. And I looked again at the photograph but failed to recognise myself.
Later, you put them all in silver frames, that summer day fixed and held beneath glass like it was something precious and not some fleeting, fragile thing, as impossible to capture as the flutter of your voice when the paper transformed.
“Oh, look! Look!”
But even as you shook the film into life, the colours were evaporating, those pieces of us dissolving, grain by grain, until we became shadows. The two of us fading, minute by minute, day after day, becoming what we always were and what I understood that day when I turned away from you.
That we were nothing but ghosts.
Runner Up: Kate Delaney
I should be packing. I know I should be packing. But I’ve reached the bookshelves, his bookshelves, and I can’t bear it.
I slump onto the floor and close my eyes. After a moment, I compose myself and that’s when I notice the camera. It’s one of those fancy new polaroid things, very hipster.
The white plastic casing is swaddled in a beautiful leather holder. As soon as I touch it, the smell wafts over to me and I’m back at the shopping centre as a four-year-old getting my first pair of school shoes. It’s funny how smells can transport you places, and they do it so instantaneously that before you realise it, you’ve been ripped away from the present whether you like it or not.
The camera still had three images left. He didn’t get to use them all. I press the ‘on’ button and the front lens pings out, standing to attention. There’s a whirring noise, only slight, like what I imagine a dying robot would sound like. Don’t think about dying, Hannah.
I take a look through the little rectangular window, the one that kids these days wouldn’t know what to do with. I’m sure it has a name but I don’t know it. He would have.
The world is distorted. A crack intersects the lens from top right corner to bottom left. I aim it at the bookshelf and prepare to fire. Maybe this way, I’ll never have to say goodbye.
Runner Up: Thom Willis
Did you forget where you left your keys? They’re over there, just by the…
the camera flickered its small light, counting down, indicating indicating
there’s pasta in the fridge. Cold pasta, no don’t worry, it’s fine, it’s a pasta salad. You don’t have to…
fluttering its rainbow-filmed eye, the photograph popped into digital existence
well have you even tried it? Oh, do you have our number? I wrote it…
in its past self a plastic flywheel skimmed an instantly-developed photo from the slot in its base, but that was so long ago
please ignore that. It’s not plugged in. Oh, it’s flashing…
in its past self a charge of powder detonated
it’s a stills camera anyway, it’s not like a nannycam or anything, not sure why it went off like…
in its past self it was painting with light on glass
we have to go, just tuck it into the books if you’re worried…
in its past self it was alchemy
here, I’ve taken the batteries out, honestly it’s…
in its past self it was magic
Winner: Nicky Tate
Lost and Found
The first photo is of the back of her jacket, (blurry), at the garden gate.
She’d not even had a proper play with her new toy and scolds her daughter who shrugs her shoulders. The paper film is expensive.
A second photo appears. It is of the keys to the shed – (missing for days). The photo shows them skewed behind a radiator. Puzzled she checks, and there they are. She always secretly believed she had a guardian angel although hadn’t expected it to be so small and white.
Then more. The silver dolphin earring mislaid when she was only a child. Tiny and tarnished on tarmac it is, God knows where. The purse left on the bus at university, (the really nice orange one with the tassel). The purse appeared to be in a box, full of other purses, dust.
More pictures follow. Snatches of past friends, lovers, faces weathered, some smiling, some not. She begins to collect the photographs and places them tenderly in an album. Turning the pages is time travel and she is comforted.
Soon the photos which appear narrow to just one face. Again. This picture is not so comforting, because it triggers the metallic taste of regret. But again. There he is. Living. She even thinks she knows where. A photo helpfully provides the answer.
She takes up her coat and runs, through the garden gate.
Many congratulations to Jennifer, Kate, Thom and Nicky! Particular kudos must go to Kate, who spent the first few hours of her day off writing this. I cannot think of higher praise than that. Many many thanks to everyone who submitted today. It’s good to be back!
Until next time.
For a look back at our previous #QUICKFIC flash fiction competitions, click here.