I did not realise quite how cruel I was to taunt you all with the sight of sweets when you’d be writing so close to lunchtime. Sorry! My penance is definitely the endless loop of Friday I’m in Love that’s been running through my brain all day.
Here was your prompt!
And here are your winners:
Runner Up: Thom Willis
The end is always the same. Inevitable. Everything broken. How do we begin to explain how it happens, every time? Sweetness cracked like eggshells, hope dimming on her face. Light palled by drawn curtains, summer alive and prowling at the edges of our experience. Birdsong filters through an open window and the realisation that it is late afternoon comes with it.
In the intruding haze, she thinks of a fairground. She cannot hear the roar of the rides nor the bass throb of the music, but she sees the lights whirl in the day-for-night room and smells the rich combinations of fried onions, burnt sugar candy floss, the deep warm scent of the enormous whirled lollipops that promise so much and deliver fragile sweetness and little more than furry teeth and sticky fingers. Other smells; oil, bent and snapped grass, people – their perfumes, their sweat. His sweat, her own.
He kisses her, eyes open. She stares at him. Awkwardly, his eyes close. Hers do not. He breathes hard, like a racehorse, settles down next to her. Her eyes still wide, she runs her hands distractedly across her face and rests her head on his chest. His heart beats the rhythm of the fairground. She breathes him in, sweat and rubber and a background of cracked leather seats. She rises and falls with his breath. His heartbeat slows to something more comfortable, and the crowds begin to drift from the fair. She sleeps, and dreams of sugar.
Runner Up: Aliya Ali-Afzal
The floor started to shake. I gripped the nearest shelf, but it jerked away from me. Jars of jam crashed near my feet, like brittle water bombs, spattering my trainers red.
A siren blared.
I’d been searching for Vanilla extract for Sam’s birthday cake. His school was ten minutes away. I took out my mobile. No signal.
I pulled myself forwards on shelves that kept slipping out of my hands. I put each foot down hard, to grip the floor, like wading in the sea. I reached the milk aisle. It was white and wet. I could see the car park through the door.
Six more aisles. I grabbed another metal edge. Someone pulled the sleeve of my t-shirt. I slipped. A man in a red jumper ran past, as if sprinting to the finishing line of a race.
I tried to get up. Pain sliced through me. I anchored my elbows into the floor, screaming through the pain. I couldn’t move. The strip lights danced on the ceiling. The milk seeped into the back of my jeans.
Then, the shaking stopped.
‘Help!’ I shouted past the alarm that still rang out.
One last shudder, as if the earth exhaled. Above me, a broken jar of candy sticks trembled towards the edge of the shelf. It jumped. Others followed, small, large, glass, tin. I watched the shards rain down on me, floating as slow as snowflakes.
I shut my eyes. All I could see, was Sam.
Winner: Jennifer Harvey
Mama says I shouldn’t have these thoughts.
‘Means the devil’s in your head,’ she says.
And I think of the devil. How he feels to me. Not that crazy idea of him people have, I know the devil that way, I know he’s bad news. But I know him my own way too. And he’s a shiver in my stomach, he’s a flutter in my throat, he’s a gasp of laughter I cannot control.
‘Lick,’ he said to me yesterday.
And I licked. A sweet, sugar rainbow, proffered with sticky fingers. The tang of imagined kisses.
‘Lick,’ he said to me.
And I licked. Caught a scent in the air, musky and ripe and dizzying. The smell of something awakening.
‘Lick,’ he said to me.
And I licked. Heard a growl, low and rumbling, like a wolf in the forest. The sound of danger.
And I could tell Mama things. All the places where he is. Not only in your head. He is more than a thought. He’s a taste, a smell, a sound, a force that lingers forever.
‘Lick,’ he says.
And I open my lips, flick my tongue and take the taste of him inside me again.
Now we’re all craving candy. Congratulations to Thom, Aliya and Jennifer on their brilliant pieces. And congratulations to everyone that submitted this week. I never cease to be amazed by just how creative you can all get with a single prompt.
Now, off to the sunshine you all go! I’ll see you next week.
For a look back at our previous #QUICKFIC flash fiction competitions, click here.