Tag Archives: creative writing exercise

#QUICKFIC 18/11/2019: The Winner

Runner Up: Thom Willis

Time Alone

Imitation snow on the window, light blazed, bath filled with thick bubbled. Almost time. Later, water clouded and slick with scented oils, the cold invades once more. Time passed, the time is past. The steam misting the cold window now water again, soaking into the snow-foam.

Cold tiles. Feet bare, tread high and find the bath cold, water stale and still. She steps in, lies back. The water moves slows, closes clammily over her skin. Imitation snow on the window spreads milky patches across the sill. The lights are dim, the blue night grey in the white bathroom.

It is a ritual, performed for no one and no purpose. The oil on the surface is flammable and its blue flame dances will o’the wisp in the room. Corpse-lights. Here, Dracula’s coachman sets a rock to dig in the morning. She extends a leg, and allows all to slip greasily back into the water. She speaks, addressing the room. She incants.

The light will soon be on the other side of the window. True snow is promised in the mellow bulge of the clouds, banking over the distant hills. She takes the water in a small bottle, caps it. Curses, blessings, simple comforts for superstitious minds. She trusts its power. Walks, feet flat to the frigid floor, back out the way she came. Time over.

Runner Up: Charlotte Risdale

How has it come to this? It’s Friday night, I’m in my twenties (just), and look at me. These are meant to be some of the best years of my life. All I had wanted was to sit back in a hot bath with a cold gin and read my book. Instead, I’m here in a lukewarm bath with no gin, trying to get an awkward patch of hair on my ankle without taking off half my skin all for a date I don’t really want to go on with my sister’s friend, Steve. Not that there’s anything wrong with Steve – I’m sure he’s a lovely guy. It’s just hard to mentally prepare yourself for a date you’ve been railroaded into by your mother who thinks it’s about time to start thinking about settling down. Obviously this is a ridiculously antiquated idea, and normally I would call her out on things like this, but sometimes it helps to placate her. Like, for example, when she is the woman helping you pay rent because your long-term boyfriend suddenly announced he had decided he was going to back-pack around Asia without you and left you to pay the entire rent for your apartment in Islington which you definitely could not afford but was ‘an investment in our future’ (his words, not mine). So here I am, in 2019, crumpled up in the bath, getting ready for a date my mother arranged for me. God, I need a gin.

Winner: Jessica Joy

Peach

I’m ten again. I hate this bathroom. It’s still as cold and soapy as it was back then. I prefer a shower but the shower never worked. A quarter-filled with tepid water, a bath forces you to hug cold knees or to contemplate your stomach and thighs. A bath coerces you to lie in your own dirt. And guilt. I avoid baths, usually.

My parent’s bathroom hasn’t changed one iota, since the Eighties. Cheap white suite. Cheap peach-coloured tiles. More ‘budget rental’ than ‘hotel boutique’.

Peach. I can’t stand peaches. They make my tongue itch. I was a peach once. Well, more than once. That’s what Uncle Mo called me, his ‘Little Peach.’

The track marks on my arm look like teeth marks. “Just one small bite of my Little Peach.”

I can hear the murmur of voices downstairs in the sitting room. They think I don’t know what’s going on. The invitation was to Sunday lunch, with the family. But it’s another Intervention.

I pull out the plug and lie back hoping the water will whisk me down the drain with all the scum and dead skin and hairs. I shiver in the empty bath. My shoulders squeak against the base.

There is a tap, tap, tap on the bathroom door. I freeze. But it’s Mum’s voice that whispers through the gap, “Are you coming down now?”

Maybe this time I’ll have the courage to tell them the truth. Maybe this time I’ll show them the real scars. 


Thank you all for some lovely interpretations for what even I deemed  ‘a weird prompt’ everyone! Biggest of congratulations to Thom, Charlotte and Jessica. Charlotte, if your piece has a name let me know and I’ll add it in.

Look out for a #QUICKFIC announcement coming soon. Until then!

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

 

#QUICKFIC 18/10/2019

Good morning sunshine! The weather has finally turned, I’m snug as a bug in a rug in a fluffy jumper and the pile of leaves outside my house made a delicious crunchy noise when I jumped in them. As we all know the only thing better than a crunchy leaf pile is a good old round of #QUICKFIC, Faber Academy’s Flash Fiction competition.

I know we’ve had a few new joiners, so if you don’t know what this oddity is, read the rules below. If you know what you’re about, scroll just a little further down to the prompt way below and get cracking!

  • At the end of this blog post you’ll see a prompt.
  • From that prompt, I’d like you to write a piece of flash fiction, 250 words or less (not including the title, because I’m nice,)
  • Once you’re happy with your piece, copy and paste it into the body of an email, including your title and a word count.  Use the subject line #QUICKFIC 18/10/2019.
  • Send that email over to the team at academy@faber.co.uk by 2:50 pm GMT on the Friday afternoon. And not a moment later!

From 2:50 to 3:30 pm it’s waiting time until the winner and runner ups are revealed on the blog.

This week’s winner can claim a beautiful pile of non-fiction wonders. We’ve got Can You Solve My Problems? by Alex Bellos, Mr Lear by Jenny Uglow and The House Party by Adrian Tinniswood as this weeks prize:

(Typewriter and beautiful autumn weather not included)

Then, as ever, it is my duty and privileged to reveal the prompt!

Drum roll please…

 

 

 

 

 

Annnnnd 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 11/10/2019: The Winner

 

Runner Up: Sarah Nash

Cherry Tomatoes

Congratulations!Happy Anniversary!Surprise!

Dust settles over the garden like a cobweb blanket, muffling the sounds of evening.

Are you hiding, you cheeky pair?

At your age?

Fifty years. What an achievement.

A mouse scrabbles, a toad rumbles, a rat scratches.

Bit of a let down.

I wanted to pop the champagne.

They’ve only got beer. Honestly!

Silent petals drop from the flowers with the passing of years.

Perhaps they’ve gone for a walk.

They haven’t even eaten yet.

It’ll all go soggy.

Fireflies light the paths and the lamp remains unlit.

Cherry tomatoes are one of Mum’s favourites.

Last taste of summer, she always says.

Dad’s not so keen, though.

The leaves on the plate wither and fade in the gathering gloom.

It’s a bit late to go for a walk.

I don’t like the idea of them out in the dark.

Do you think they’ve taken a torch with them?

There are rocks along the way but they gaze ahead and do not falter.

Perhaps she told him before they sat down.

He won’t be able to cope without her.

We’ll just have to help him between us.

The path is long and winding but they have always walked it together.

What shall we do?

What can we do?

What do they want us to do?

On and on they stroll, hand in hand, fingers entwined, steps in tune.

On and on, into the white light and the forever.

Runner Up: Sam Heague 

The Broken Kingdom

She always was funny, even right up until the end. I mean, who else plays dead in a hospice? F*ck sake, Kimmy! My face breaks into half a smile. God I miss her. Why can’t you still be playing dead now?

Like always, I cooked this meal for two with one eye looking out over the garden. That was her space you see. I built this house with my bare hands, as they say, but she reimagined the garden with hers. A whole kingdom built together (queendom if you asked her), over a lifetime. Sometimes I still expect to see her out there. Sometimes I even think I do, daft old sod.

“Are we ’avin’ a party tonight?” she used to say, grin on her face, inspecting the feeding-of-the-five-thousand sized meals I’d prepared for dinner.

“Our kids have all left home now, y’know?”

I can still almost hear her say it now…

I know, Kimmy. I know.

I stoop and trim two of the freshest roses from the bush and inhale them deeply, before placing them in a glass. So colourful, so vibrant, so alive, I think. It was only three weeks ago today that I scattered her ashes over this garden of ours. God I miss her. The roses keep me going, just about: a kingdom broken, but not totally.

Winner: Casey Bottono

Writers Retreat

Like me, late summer fights to hang on. Just sometimes, it is easier to escape into a world of your own making. That’s why I didn’t notice him at first, standing there anxious not to break the dream.

In the world I’ve made, your body can’t betray you. In the physical world, no such luck. Harry clears his throat and weighs his words carefully.

“Do you want to come out in the garden with me, love?”

He took his grief out on the earth itself, while I escaped into my stories. Life slowed to a crawl, and I shut every door I could.

Early September days I stumble, but he’s trying. Eyeing cold coffee in a stained cup, I move towards the kitchen. The cup goes in the sink, he slips his hand in mine.

“Close your eyes, sweetheart.” Surprises frighten me, and my body braces.

We embark on an incredible journey, or so it seems. After the longest time, he releases my hand for just a second.

“Take a seat.”

While I’ve been locked in my stories, he’s made a splendid dinner, just for the two of us.
As though for the first time, I see the garden verdant and determined. Maybe I can blossom too.

Harry fills my glass and his own, then raises it aloft.

“To Rory, our little lion heart…and to life.”

I echo his toast, and something loosens. Like the leaves changing colour on the trees, Autumn is a chance to start again.


What a welcome back! Contemplative and moody, just like the weather. Congratulations to Sarah, Sam and Casey. Many thanks to everyone that submitted.

May your weekends be dry(ish) and cosy. See you soon!

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

#QUICKFIC 11/10/2019

Welcome home, flash fiction fans! The Academy’s new term is in full swing (hi to all the new students) and so it’s time to kick #QUICKFIC back into gear too.

Thanks to the long break I’m going to whip you through a quick rules refresher before we get to the good stuff. If you remember every detail of how to play, scroll on down. If you don’t, or you’re completely new, here is how #QUICKFIC works:

  1. At the bottom of this blog post and on Twitter on Friday at 9:50 am you’ll see a ‘prompt.’ Usually these are pictures, but sometimes I throw a curve ball. Keeps you on your toes.
  2. After gazing at the prompt for a while I’d like you to write a short story of 250 words or less inspired by what you see.
  3. Paste your story into the body of an email, including a title and your word count, and send that email to academy@faber.co.uk by 2:50 pm GMT that Friday afternoon.  Use the subject line #QUICKFIC 11/10/2019.

Once 2:50 pm hits I read through all the pieces and pick the runners up and winner both on this blog and on Twitter. 

Winners get not only my undying admiration but also an actual, physical prize in the form of books! This week you stand a chance of winning In the Fold and The Temporary, both by Rachel Cusk, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera and What Happened? by Hanif Kureishi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And all you have to have to do to get these in your possession is write me a wonderful little tale based on this beautiful scene…

 

Get writing!

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 30/08/2019: The Winner

Runner Up: Grace Coleman

Unit 6, 44 Lancaster Way

The rent was cheap and the location was great. A dodgy district once, now micro-breweries and cafes. Need to snap it up, quick, quick, the estate agent had said. Feeling generous, delirious, he had laughed, a little too hard. The paperwork looked in order, but there was a smell, like rusty tin, that didn’t fit with the piles of coffee-speckled papers in the agent’s office. Mike didn’t question. He was an artist, not a business man or detective. He found beauty in the dashes and dots – breathed life into text. Money transferred, keys handed over, the next stage of Phoenix Web Solutions set in motion. Mike approached 44 Lancaster Way, paint coming away at the edges like orange peel. There were dots on the cement steps inside. He bent to look, reaching out a finger. A dog barked. He walked up, tilting his head to the heavens, a maraca-heart in his chest. The second key opened the second door. The only light inside came from a box window, head height, letting grey slip into the room. A chair faced it, surrounded by inch-long cuts of string. Mike ignored the sweet smell, unpleasant in the stained walls. The source of the noise appeared, white fur now brown. A tail wagged, confirming the transfer of ownership. Why dwell on the past? DIY wasn’t Mike’s speciality, but he was an artist. He traded keyboard for paintbrush. White. White. White. Folding away secrets like the closing of a book under each coat. 

Runner Up: Nathalie Kernot

New Ghosts

His eyes begin to hurt when it gets dark. When he looks up the squares of neat blue sky in the window, segments of an easy jigsaw, have turned muddy with the departing light. He turns from the wall, and meets the eyes of a white ghost.

The ladder creaks as he clenches his hands, hissing a gasp. One heartbeat a hard throb in his chest. In the space before the next, the figure’s pale features ripple and settle, his own eyes staring back at him. Wide and black as holes in the twilight. His reflection’s cheeks pockmarked by the dust on the mirror. His mouth open.

He breathes, made strange by the mirror, the light, little finger-bruises of paint on his cheeks. This gutted room, where he has never spent much time, his visits to his father usually confined to the lounge.

The sheet on the floor stirs. A face beneath it, his father’s or his own, like a struggling lamb in caul. Another movement, and, small in the gaping door-mouth, a dog.

White, matching the paint. Its eyes big gold things, flattened in the sideways light from the street.

“Hello,” he says. Thinks about crouching, offering his hand, finding its owner. Instead, holds still.

It makes a curious noise in its throat, but doesn’t approach. He bends, slowly, to retrieve the fallen paintbrush.

He raises it again to the wall and the dog turns to leave, the sound of its claws on the ground like a clock, ticking. 

Winner: Fran Egan

The Card In The Window

It was a weekend job. I got the call on Friday afternoon, snuffling round the park on Bury Street, picking up desiccated dog mess and nodding to the resident purple-rinsed perambulators. A usual ‘refresh’, couple of coats of magnolia and I’ll be done. I always take Pookie with me – there’s usually no one around to mutter about health and safety. Just me, the roller, a large a tin of paint and paddy-paws crumpled in the corner, snoring with a gentle purr.

It smelt different straightaway. A tinge of something rotting, a saltiness in the air-conditioned space. Donkey jacket off, overalls on, Pookie unusually alert, I started. I noticed a pinhead of red winking at me from the corner. One quick roll and it was gone. Moving round the room I spotted several more. A scattering of scarlet seeds blooming on the muddy walls. What was this place? There was a churning and a swilling from the overhead pipe, a slurry of waste desperate to escape.

Pookie was licking, accompanied by a whine of discovery. Liquid was pooling under one vent, a puddle shaped like China marching across the floor. Red, unrelenting and viscous. I smothered and mopped, chucked the damson-stained dirties in the over-sized bin. It dried up. I hurried up. My back to the self-closing door, I didn’t see it come in. I turned to see Pookie scamper out the door. As I stepped forward, the blade sparkled against the newly-painted door jamb.

Card read: DECORATOR NEEDED. WEEKEND WORK.


I have missed your tendency to, as a group, see a perfectly benign image (like, say, a sweet fluffy dog and pristine white walls) and think “hmm, yeah, menace and death in that one.” Never change! Congratulations to all who submitted this week and a huge round of applause for Grace, Nathalie and Fran.

Goodbye for now!

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

#QUICKFIC 30/08/2019

Hello hello and welcome to the last days of summer. Faber Academy has a shiny new home and #QUICKFIC, our Flash Fiction competition, has shiny new bookshelves I can take photos on! It’s all very exciting.

Even more exciting (to me, personally) is the pieces that you’re going to produce. Alumni of #QUICKFIC, skip on down to the prompt at the bottom of the page. Newcomers, read on for the rules, regulations and requirements for this particular game:

  • You’re going to see a prompt on Friday morning at 9:50 am. Prompts can be anything, including but not limited to: Playlists, Wikipedia Articles, Quotes From Authors/Books/Taylor Swift Songs Because The New Album Is Great, Pictures and anything else I can come up with, so be prepared!
  • You then write a 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, and send that email to academy@faber.co.uk by 2:50pm on the Friday afternoon.  Use the subject line #QUICKFIC 30/08/2019.
  • Once 3:30 pm hits, whip on over to this here blog or Twitter for the winners to be revealed.

Your winning author does, of course, receive a prize. This week we’ve got Louise Doughty’s brilliant new novel Platform Seven and, ahead of the release of her new novel Girl next week, Edna O’Brien’s August is a Wicked Month

 

On with the show! Here’s your 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.

#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.