Tag Archives: creative writing prompt

#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 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 19/07/2019: The Winner

A dreary day outside, but your #QUICKFIC pieces sure made up for it! Your prompt was this slightly odd looking contraption:

Let’s see what you made of it…

Runner Up: Zoya Afzal

The Pit

Sometimes she wishes she could dig a hole deep into the earth, build a little cove surrounded by wrought iron gates and hidden entrances, and spend the rest of her days out of reach. 

She dreams of existing only within the parameters of her own mind- flashes of colour blur into a murky brown haze, distorted voices shift into a distant buzz, and not a single pair of inquiring eyes fall upon her. She lies in her pit feeling invincible, invisible, victorious, defeated.  

Her brain terrifies her, it paralyses her. But this is what she wants, right? She wants to be free, she wants to be safe. She craves a moment, a lifetime of silence and security. Surrounded by nothingness. This makes sense, doesn’t it?

No. She hates the isolation. Every day she shuts herself further and further away, deeper within the suffocating loop of guarded walls and jagged barbed wires. Her pit is her nightmare, her haven, her inescapable prison. She wants to scoop out her brain, maybe try a new one- her mother has an innumerable amount of high heeled shoes perfectly tailored for different occasions, why can’t she have her own line of tailored brains? She wants a brain that doesn’t shut itself into crevices, that doesn’t seek comfort through isolation and misery. 

She lies in her pit, immobilised by fear, desperately wanting to throw herself into the hustle and bustle of life, of purpose, of happiness.

She wants to feel happy.

But she’s stuck. 

Runner Up: Catherine Oddy

One Afternoon

Bless! The little creature is running as fast as it can.

Of course speed, like size, is relative.

Poor dear — darting around the foliage — surely it must know that its orange flank is doing it no favours here.

Look! Despite appearing emotionally committed to escape, it’s keeping to the mud paths instead of hopping through the bushes to the road out of the park. It’s all the same to me but quite illogical, yes?

Now, I’ve found with these tiny beasts that panic both sears the wits and infuses the body with visible electricity — be it a tremor or shimmy or jolt. Of course we must be fair — being suddenly overwhelmed with an empty head and spasming limbs would make hatching an exit plan difficult for any prey. That said, you should watch for this unique dance next time you find one. It’s quite a thing when performed in your honour, if you can call it that.

And how predictable! When given the option, if there are any stairs within sprinting distance, they will always try to escape up them.

I can’t help but feel for it now that it realises there is nowhere else to go.

There. It’s laying down in submission. That was quick.

Please note that feasting like this is an art form of sorts. You must squint your eye and lean in slowly. Too much intense staring can spook it further and you can be left with sour meat. No one likes sour meat.

Watch me.

Winner: Julian Goode

Solitude

Solitude. That’s what he craved. Finding a space to be away from the world. Away from all the hectic madness.

He’d been seeking it out since he was a boy, climbing trees beyond his back garden. Venturing further when he could escape, when his parents were happy he was old enough to go into the hills by himself. There were some great places rejoiced in back then; and he’d been looking for similar ever since.

Anti-social? He wasn’t that. He loved people. Some people. His family; his closest friends from boarding school and university; his girlfriend, obviously. He was happy in and around them. But he often felt the need to get away, or for them to go away, so he could control his surroundings.

Starting work in London that hadn’t been easy. There were plenty of parks, woods and grasslands if you knew where to find them. But it was never quite the same as boyhood.

He’d jumped trains at weekends to every remote Home Counties beauty spot he could think of trying. In the end, wanderlust had got the better of him. But his backpacking plans didn’t feature the usual twentysomething hotspots. He sought a different extreme, a different path to euphoria.

And he’d stumbled upon it by accident, in a clearing behind his island hostel. An ornamental garden containing various bamboo structures, including a magnificent tower. Like a helter skelter without the slide. Lying there alone sky-staring was simply perfect. He’d finally found it.


Congratulations to Zoya, Catherine and Julian. Everyone that submitted, you have my eternal admiration and thanks for your brilliant pieces.

I’m on holiday next week, so no prompt. #QUICKFIC will be back again in August. Enjoy your week off!

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

#QUICKFIC 19/07/2019

The more things change, the more they stay the same as the saying goes! We’re all a change here as Faber Academy welcome some new team members on board, but you know what is reliable (ish) always here (most weeks) and eagerly awaiting some more pieces? That’s right, it’s #QUICKFIC, Faber Academy’s Flash Fiction competition of wonder and delight.

New comers, please hold as I whip you through the rules of our game. Old hands, your prompt is ready and waiting down below, so keep on scrolling!

Step 1: Far below all the words and the blather is a prompt. Every Friday morning at 9:50 am, you’ll be presented with a new inspiring prompt.

Step 2: From that prompt, write a piece of flash fiction 250 words or less. 

Step 3: Once it’s perfect, paste your story into the body of an email. Include title and your word count alongside it. Use the subject line #QUICKFIC 19/07/2019 and send it to academy@faber.co.uk no later than 2:50 pm GMT on the Friday afternoon.

Step 4: Wait in a state of anxiety until 3:30 pm GMT when I reveal the winner here on the blog and on Twitter.

Hot off the presses, your prizes this week include the newly published The Stories You Tell by Kristen Lepionka, the Gordon Burn Prize shortlisted For the Good Times by David Keenan’ and Out of Egypt by André Aciman.

Should any of those take your fancy, step right this way for your prompt. Remember, 250 words to me by 2:50 pm.

And at last, the prompt to inspire you all…


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 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.