#QUICKFIC 12/07/2019: The Winner

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

Sweetness Follows

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

Sam

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.

‘Evacuate. Emergency!’

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.

Sam, Sam.

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

Lick

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.

#QUICKFIC 12/07/2019

It’s Friday
I’m in Love

with the sunshine and the good times and the #QUICKFICs that are going to be bought into this world today! For it’s 9:50 am, and we have work to do.

If you’ve joined in on this particular iteration of a flash fiction competition with us before, head on down to the prompt. If you’ve no idea what a #QUICKFIC is, have a quick read through the rules:

  • On Friday mornings (at 9:50 am) I present to you a prompt. Images, playlists, writer’s quotes, you name it and we’ll prompt you with it.
  • Your task is to create a short story of 250 words or less inspired by that prompt.
  • Paste your story into the body of an email including a title and your word count, with the subject line #QUICKFIC 12/07/2019
  • Send that email to academy@faber.co.uk no later than 2:50 pm GMT on the Friday afternoon.

After that your part is done. All you have to do is wait in a tense silence as read your pieces and pick a winner, revealed at 3:30 pm GMT both here and on Twitter.

AS we all know, no competition is complete without prizes! This week your winner recieves copies of Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights (the stunning new cover version, nonetheless!) Gordon Burn’s Alma Cogan and Alafair Burke’s The Better Sister.

 

Prompt time? Prompt time.

 

 

Go!

By entering Faber Academy’s flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC , you’re granting us non-exclusive worldwide permission to reprint your story on our website should you win.

#QUICKFIC 05/07/2019: The Winner

Runner Up: Natasha Davies

Then I’ll Know

“Move”

“Just move out of the way, Jesus fucking Christ”

Idiot.  I tap my watch.  Nothing. Tap.  Tap.  Tap.  It suddenly announces a fluorescent 17:38.  I’ve got twenty minutes. 

It will be fine.  My mantra.  Twenty minutes.  Three minutes from here to the tube.  Give or take the two minute wait on the platform.  Then a five minute tube ride, two minutes through the station and up the stairs and then no more than three minutes to the bridge.  It will be fine. 

I get to the platform.  I’ve missed one, but it will still be fine.  Tap.  Tap.  See?  Fine.  I stare at the board; the incoming train is three minutes away.  Still fine.  I get my phone out of my pocket, disrupting an ancient collection of receipts.  I scroll until I find the message.  “One last shot at this?  Meet me at our place?  18:00.  If you’re not there, then I guess I know”. 

The intense heat inside my body feels like its burning me.  I have to be there.  Whatever this emotion is, an exhilarating chase, plain stupidity, love?  I don’t know, but this time, this time, this is the time. 

And then it happens.  I see the illumination in the tunnel.  The crowd gets ready, bags picked up, newspapers tucked away.  The vibrations, the breeze consumes us.  This kid.  This kid just steps towards the line, passive, breathes in the rank darkness, and jumps.  Silence, a collective earthquake, and somebody screams in my head.  

Runner Up: Nathalie Kernot

Capture

She catches the very edge of his face, his cheek a fish-white flash in the corner of the frame. By the time she lowers her phone he’s almost gone, but she follows the flicker of his jacket in and out of the crowd. She should be keeping her distance. She isn’t.

It was the walk that she recognised, springy and delicate, his shoulders a little hunched. He passed so close she could have caught his hand. His fingers bitten red by the cold. His hair dark where it edged out from under his hat. The picture is blurred but she’ll remember his expression, his mouth drawn wide, not quite a smile, the skin around his mouth folding back like thin wings.

Now he rounds a corner and she surges after him, the warmth of strangers at her back. He’s been at work, she guesses. Under his coat his elbows are swollen with the folds of shirtsleeves, his wrists so thin and pale that for a moment, the bones look bare. If he works nearby, how many times have they passed in the crowd without her knowing? Her fingers flex on her phone. How many times have they touched?

As he reaches the bus stop he turns, almost to face her, and she pivots in turn, staring into the dark restaurant window at their sides. He looks up at the movement. In the reflection she can see the startled equine flare of his eyes, the exact shape and colour of her own.

Winner: Harriet Gillian 

Street Photography for Beginners

“Oh no.” Tony tutted. “Really? You’re going to go with that one?”

He and Barbara had been paired up at random. 

“Maybe.” Barbara said, examining the image she’d just taken.

Tony waved his wrist and pursed his lips. “Your funeral.”

Barbara frowned. Tony had taken his ten shots on the theme ‘street life’ the minute they’d left the classroom and stumbled across some world-weary street sellers. He’d thrust his camera right up in their faces while they batted him away like a boring mosquito. After all hope had faded that he might actually buy something, he was comically seen off by the shorter of the two women and chased through the crowd into the nearest shoe shop. Barbara had documented the moment for class, or the police, whichever came first. Either way, she was pleased with that shot.

“Chop chop, Babs.” Tony tapped his watch. 

She thought she might wallop him. 

A local man puffed some sweet smelling pipe smoke in their direction and Tony’s face contorted in disgust. Her shutter clicked.

“Shall we head over there?” Barbara pointed towards a man holding a small agitated monkey. 

Tony strode over like it was his idea, camera in one hand, fingers waggling, simply asking for trouble, on the other. 

Barbara raised her viewfinder and waited for the inevitable. It’s funny, she thought, that she’d come all the way to Asia, only to find her photographic muse was a middle-aged man from Dorking. 


I think we all know a Tony. And thank goodness for them, with their unintentionally inspiring ways! Congratulations to Nathalie, Natasha and Harriet and the warmest of thanks to everyone that submitted. It gets harder and harder to pick each week!

See you next time for more. Until then!

For a look back at our previous #QUICKFIC flash fiction competitions, click here.

#QUICKFIC 05/07/2019

Good morning #QUICKFIC fans! We’re jumping in fast and furious this morning — no muss, no fuss, no waffle from me, just pure writing prompt goodness. Read on for your instructions if you need them, or just scroll down to the prompt if you’re a returning flash fiction aficionado.

Rules! We keep it simple: you are going to see a prompt at the bottom of the page, from which we ask you to get inspired. Channelling the emotions and pure writing power that prompt inspires in you we ask for:

  1. A piece of flash fiction 250 words or less. Short and sweet!
  2. Your work to be given a title, copy and pasted into the body of an email with a line giving me the wordcount
  3. Send it to academy@faber.co.uk with the subject line #QUICKFIC 05/07/2019 no later than 2:50 pm GMT 

Then you’re done! My duty and privileged is to read through your work and pick a winner, revealed at 3:30 pm GMT both here and on Twitter.

Your winner gets these brand spanking newly released books: Graham Farmelo‘s The Universe Speaks in Numbers, Shiv Malik’s The Messenger and Joanna Kavenna’s Zed.

 

Ready? Here’s your prompt, and goooooooo:

By entering Faber Academy’s flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC , you’re granting us non-exclusive worldwide permission to reprint your story on our website should you win.