Runner up: John Peter Horsam
La Fete de Sainte-Jean.
I knew it was solstice, well vaguely, Australians don’t celebrate such
things. Here in France it’s a very special occasion. It’s not banging
drums and being a Druid, it’s a Fete De La Musique. All the squares are
full of performers… jongleurs, minstrels, mountebanks too, possibly.
The ancient city is performing for me too, shadows and flashes on Gothic
It’s also La Fete de Saint-Jean. I’m called John, a musician too, so
it it really is my day.
Not the best of days for photos, overcast. It hasn’t been good for my
project, I’m after shooting stars. I’ve sat up all night, twice this
week, trying to catch just one. I get quite good star trails…. but
nothing untoward ever crosses my lens.
Tonight, I’m in the crowd, but not really. I’m the outsider. It’s
quite obvious. A woman, my age I’d guess, touches my arm.
“The best photos will be over there.” Good English.
It’s a roped off playing field. There’s a man eating fire…. bit
boring if you’ve hung out with as many hippies as I have.
She kisses me.
Didn’t see that coming.
The fire-eater has set fire to his hair. A French gasp is a lot
different from an Australian one.
I have my shooting stars. I’m bedazzled.
I’d love to tell you we’re now married, but she’s gone, faded away
before the last sparkles flickered out.
Runner up: Roger Evans
Sit here by me, daughter, and learn your history. Tonight you will start your future, just as I did with my mother all those years ago.
Out there is the Dreamer, living in his ramshackle hut. He is old, older than we know. He was old when I was young and sat where you are now.
Every night he dreams, not such dreams as you or I may have, but dreams of lives, short and long, rich and poor. And each morning he wakes and a new name is inscribed on the many faceted gem by his bed.
Tonight, midsummer’s night, solstice, the Dreamer will not dream. Instead he will bring his year of dreams to this barren patch of ground, whilst we wait. For we are the Watchers – as essential a part of this as the Dreamer; without us to Watch no-one would know of his Dreaming, no-one would validate its worth.
See the barren patch of ground? It is not devoid of life because of a lacking; it is ready, open, for the Land to listen.
Tonight those dreams will burst forth from his hand; incandescent, radiant, a rain of furious fireflies burning their days in moments, to fall flaming to the ground.
And the Land will remember.
Winner: Chloe Heskett
“Welcome to Grafton, Pop: 121.”
The sign flashed by me, and in the back of my mind I vaguely registered that I was passing through a town. If you could call it that. My headlights briefly lit a mini-mart, before leaving it enveloped in darkness behind me, along with the rest of the so-called town.
The road felt endless, and worse than that unchanging—not even a curve in sight. What a place to run to. It felt like a cruel joke: I fled the mundanity of my life, but there my path stretched—endlessly, mind-numblingly laid out before me. You can’t get away, it whispered through the sounds of my tires on pavement, you can’t change your life.
I turned on the radio; nothing but static. The miles ticked by slowly. I drifted.
That’s when I saw it: the light up ahead. Not headlights, not a town; it was like a cloudburst where each drop traced a luminous streak through the air as it fell. Dumbstruck, I didn’t even think to slow the car as I whooshed by. There was a man at the middle of it all. Solidly built, of late middle age and in a canvas jacket and jeans.
The beauty of it, and the ordinariness of the man, filled my eyes with tears. I wished I had stopped, or at least slowed down. I peered into my rear view mirror and started—it, he, was gone. Darkness filled the landscape behind me.
Many thanks to you all for your lovely submissions. A round of applause for John, Roger and Chloe — Chloe, what a wonderful debut! Welcome to the #QUICKFIC club.
I’ll see you all next week at the earlier (less monstrous) time of 9:50. Or does starting it earlier make me more monstrous? Who can say. Either way, until then, goodbye!
For a look back at our previous #QUICKFIC flash fiction competitions, click here.