#QUICKFIC 16/08/2019: The Winner

Absolutely astounding writing landed in my inbox today. Note to self: more prompts involving circles. They are very inspiring. Here is the fabled prompt:

On to your runners up and winner!

Runner Up: Katherine Collins

 On all scales of magnification

The thing about fractals is that they contain their own kind of symmetry; the thing about creation myths is their struggle between form and disorder. The thing about this woman, in this moment, is that all her dreams and all her lives in all her centuries were exactly the same. Never did it occur to her to change one instant of her repeated life, one flicker of her echoed dreams, because nothing was constant, except her.

She always died in middle age; always of an illness beginning with the letter s: scirrhous, Spanish Flu, Swamp Fever, scarlatina, septicaemia. She never waited expectantly for news. She always told stories about fantastical coincidences, which she never recorded or wrote down. She never crinkled her eyes to try and see something just out of focus. She always dreamed of pollen-heavy insects with wings made from curved metal plates scored with minutely spaced lines diffracting the light into the full colour spectrum. She freed captive animals, believing that they possessed immortal souls, and never had a single jolt of déjà vu.

She was always born quickly and her eyes were a marvel, such an unusual hue; what spirits, witchcraft, Gods, rare genetic anomalies were responsible, they wondered. Never did they speculate for one moment that, by a random fluctuation in the chaos, she was operating, at ascending degrees of infinity, as the single, finite point in the whole complex logic they called the universe.

Runner Up: Thom Willis

May Queen in July

This hole is in your head. You have not imagined it, it is in your head. The line of gold bleeds light into your clear, clouded, pearlescent, missing, hidden, shaded, augmented eyes. Your head is the path. This is not in your mind, it is in your head. Look behind you and see how you ripple through our spaces.

Every time you breathe, you choose also not to and the ripples swim and darken, become deeper and more profound. More of you is gone, till the last of you winks out behind a broken wave. The golden thread dims. Please breathe. Your hesitation causes uncertainty. The wrong choice. You are not prepared for this, even as you have been shaped by the walk to reach this point.

The path you walk to each lighted spot is garlanded; honeysuckle and elderflower, juniper and pine, scents the you of now can follow to the next you. May Queen in July, Spring in November. Your path is scented with change and opportunity, follow to the previous you, along the golden line, through the darkening ripples, through the hole in your head.

Runner Up: Hetty Mosforth

Versailles

Theoretically this is a romantic trip. It has all the right components. Last night they dined out on red wine and a rich stew that is with her now, still sitting heavy on her stomach. They ate in the cooling evening air, a waiter squeezing past every few minutes, bearing plates between the crowded Seine-side tables. After dinner – when she was fugged with wine and jetlag – she’d been proposed too. Thankfully it had happened on a quiet street.

In front of her, the Hall of Mirrors runs on and on. She has been round once already, looking into every pane of glass, trying to find a married woman amongst her many reflections. Since the proposal, her fiancée has stayed close. In the Hall, their eyes met often, and he slipped his arms around her waist, camera bag hitting against her hip. She leaned into him, throat constricting.

All morning they have wandered the palace, taking in the gilt and ghost of excess. Most of their tour has involved being plugged in to an English language audio guide but for the Hall of Mirrors there is nothing. Visitors are left to appreciate it in their own time and on their own terms. With no dry, distracting information to mask her running thoughts, she has to consider the consequences of a yes. Everything extends away from her, mirrors and future at once. Catching her own eye, she tries to fathom a way out.

Winner: Lucy Grace

You

You said yellow was your favourite, it was sunny like my hair and you bought me a jumper, high-necked, long-sleeved, exactly the right type of yellow, and I bought a yellow cushion but not the right kind, and you threw it at me but only joking, it was only a cushion, it could be sent back, tomorrow.

You said I was fatter, too many lattes, and you made me small lunches to eat at my desk, I didn’t feel fatter but you had taken the long mirrors so I didn’t have to see myself, to suffer and upset myself, you were considering my feelings, just being kind.

You said I looked tired, my family were draining, they were too demanding, my sister especially, that they couldn’t be trusted to take care of me, only you cared properly, you knew me, really knew me, and we were both lucky to have each other, weren’t we?

You talked about children, said it’s safer when younger, that we should start trying right away. You couldn’t understand it, why it wasn’t working, you didn’t see the tiny pills I hid in my bag. You took me to doctors, arranged clinic visits, counted and mounted, sealing me in.

And I sit in this white room and pull at my yellow cuffs, bobbles falling like pollen balls, and when I look down I see a long trail of them, from here to there, and if they were breadcrumbs they would be more use.


Some might say picking four pieces is cheating, but to them I say that whittling is down that far was torturous. Big congratulations and all my thanks to everyone that submitted this week. Reading through every one of them was an absolute pleasure. Big congratulations to Katherine, Thom, Hetty and Lucy, this weeks champions.  

Bye until the next time!

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

#QUICKFIC 16/08/2019

Are we rolling? We’re rolling! Cheers to another Friday and another round of #QUICKFIC, Faber Academy’s Flash Fiction competition. To those about to enter today’s round, I raise my large mug of coffee to you.

And how does one enter, you might be asking? If you’re not asking, scroll on down to see today’s prize and prompt. If you are asking, read on below

  • On Friday mornings, 9:50 AM GMT I give you the gift of 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 piece of flash fiction into the body of an email. Make sure to include a title and your word count, with the subject line #QUICKFIC 16/08/2019
  • Send that email to academy@faber.co.uk no later than 2:50 pm GMT on the Friday afternoon.

I’ve been getting quite a few late entries lately that can’t be considered, so please please please do take note of the deadline: 2:50 pm GMT is your cut off, and not a single second over!

At 3:30 pm GMT we all return to the blog and Twitter. for the winners to be revealed. And what does your lucky winner get? Books!

Today you’re in with a shot of snagging Devotion by Madeline Stevens and Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More  by Stephen Hough. One fiction, one non-fiction, because variety is the spice of life. (The peaches will not ship well and are not included.)

 

Rolling right on, you ready for your prompt? Because here she is!

 

Annnnnnnnd 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 02/08/2019: The Winner

Oh it is good to be back! You all welcomed the return of #QUICKFIC with wit and verve and beauty, as always. Here was your prompt:

Let’s see who are winners are, shall we?

Runner Up: Alison Drury

Tiddly winks is dangerous

Whiskey and Cleo, brother and sister, were fiercely competitive. Since they were kittens they had always tried to be the biggest and bravest and bring home gifts to show their hunting prowess.

Wiggly worms hung, feigning death, like drooping moustaches under pink noses. The pile of gifts curiously remained the same size as the worms burrowed under the lounge rug. Despite their best efforts, they couldn’t escape through the polished parquet flooring and were unceremoniously scooped up into Tupperware and released back into the wilds of suburbia.

Mini field mice played ball until they spotted their chance to scuttle through the skinniest of gaps, taking refuge under kitchen cupboards. The kittens took turns to be on sentry duty; hours and days, eager to pounce.

A bat in the bedroom. A Mum under the duvet. A naked Dad with a shoebox. Both squealing with ‘delight’ at their latest gift.

A frog squeals too; a tap on the back, a squeal and a hop. Tiddly winks for kittens the greatest of games. A tap on the back, a squeal and a hop … and disappears out of sight.

Weeks later a flat fried frog is released from the VHS player.

Runner Up: Amanda Jones

Lethal Creatures

On Monday, I painted a mermaid on the edge of the pool, giving her a razor-clam necklace. ‘You’re weird’ he said. I nodded, agreeing. It’s the best way. Then the day went on as normal. I showered in the evening, being careful with the tender bits.

Tuesday was Tanya’s day to go outside. I gave him my wrists for the handcuffs and he locked me to the usual radiator. She swam, splashing and giggling.

 On Wednesday, I painted a wolf with huge claws. ‘Why?’ he asked. ‘ I am painting a bestiary of lethal creatures’. I said. He nodded but I knew he didn’t understand. Then, same as Monday.  Went into town to the shop. Came back. Lay down when instructed. Showered. Went to bed.

 Thursday was Tanya’s day again. They went into town, ate ice-cream.

 On Friday, I painted a frog with big teeth. He raised an eyebrow. ‘All the better to eat you with,’ I said and he laughed, misunderstanding. Then, the usual thing.

 The shopkeeper asked why I don’t leave. ‘It’s complicated,’ I said. ‘And it will be over soon’. He nodded.

 Saturday – Tanya’s turn again. She swam. ‘Your paintings are odd,’ she said.

 It’s Sunday, I am painting a sprite, pistol tucked into her tunic. ‘That looks almost real’ he says, coming over. When he’s close, I shoot him like the man in the shop taught me.

 I unlock Tanya’s hands. She’s tearful, missing her ice-cream. ‘You’re mean,’ she says. I nod. 

Winner: Natasha Davies

A Child Again

“What are they painting?” I smiled, whispering to Mum.

We stood for a while looking at the rich creations unfurling before us.  I watched her eyes focusing, a moment of recognition, her mouth moving to shape a word. 

“Can you see what they are?”  I encouraged. 

She searched hard, she knew, but the word was gone, misplaced somewhere, taken by the disease.  She looked at me, all at once frightened, lost.  This woman, her skin lined with age, her hair grey with the loss of immunity from time.  A child again.  She focused hard on me, contemplating her hand intertwined with mine.  Then she scanned my face, nothing.

“Its Claire Mum, your daughter.” I smiled, but my eyes filled with tears.  It was too much. 

She nodded.  “Can we go back?  I’m cold.” 

“Ok Mum”.  I signaled ascent.  We made for the car, I bustled her in, strapped her seatbelt safely across her tiny frail frame.  “There we are.” I said keeping my tone light, sorrow disguised.  We drove in silence, Mum watching the road, wincing occasionally, the pain of a memory coming and then fading.  As we pulled in, I waved to the neighbour, “who’s that?” Mum asked conspiratorially.  “Clive Mum, from 52, we don’t like his new wife, remember?” 

“No we don’t” she murmured, leaning in to me.  “No better than she ought to be.”

We laughed together and made our way in. 

“Cup of tea” I called from the kitchen.

“Froggies” she said, “they were frogs”. 


Congratulations to Alison, Amanda and Natasha! Tune in again next week for another round.

Bye until then!

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

#QUICKFIC 02/08/2019

One week off and #QUICKFIC turns to poetry? I couldn’t believe it. Never fear though, for #QUICKFIC, Faber Academy’s Flash Fiction competition is back and more prose focused than ever.

For those who have never played, or that got tempted in last week and found themselves burning with curiosity, here’s how this whole thing works:

  • 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 02/08/2019
  • Send that email to academy@faber.co.uk no later than 2:50 pm GMT on the Friday afternoon.

At 3:30 pm GMT we all return to the blog and Twitter. for the winners to be revealed. Easy enough!

That lucky winner gets my undying devotion, a place in our hall of fame and, most importantly, three books. This week we have some of Faber & Faber’s newest releases; Stefan Spjut’s Trolls, Sue Prideaux’s (award-winning!) biography of Nietzsche, I Am Dynamite! and Eoin McNamee’s The Vogue. 

 

And to be in with a shot of winning those, all you have to do is write me a little something based on this here prompt…

 

 

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.