Runner Up: Natasha Davies
Then I’ll Know
“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
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.