We received nearly 350 entries across the four categories in this year’s Flash Fiction Writing competition on the theme ‘Our World’. We are grateful to our judges for their careful consideration of the shortlisted stories that was drawn up by a small team led by Jackie Carpenter, who organised this year’s competition for the Festival. Jackie and her team had the challenge of reading all the entries to select the final shortlist for the judges to decide on the winners. They chose a winner in each category and two highly commended runners up.
Congratulations to them all.
WINNERS AND HIGHLY COMMENDED
18 and over
Hope in a moment
Aware of others being present, his confidence started to ebb away. Seconds felt like hours as he searched her face for signs of a positive response. He had tried so hard to get this right.
Then – two longed for words he wished for arrived …
Pin … verified …
She smiled! He nodded.
When they need to remember that they can still be happy, Denise and Mike gently lift the delicate zootrope from the sideboard, place it on the coffee table and spin the forty flickering photos that chart the final few seconds of their medal winning dance. The predictability always surprises them.
Maisie Travels the World
Maisie smiles as she leaves the travel agents. Not for her the so-called convenience of internet booking. She prefers the personal touch.
Back home she spreads out the glossy brochures. She makes a cup of tea, opens her journal. And without a single carbon footprint, she sets off for Africa.
The Healing Power of Coffee
In Takayama’s oldest coffee shop, Mr Saito wipes the counter. For years he has heard the terrible and the wonderful things. A young man, distraught and sweating, leans over and says, ‘They have found me.’ Mr Saito understands much but not in Russian. As always, he smiles and says, ‘Espresso?’.
12-17 year olds
Making A Mark Means …
Battered books, found abandoned on a bench, now read and reread, well-loved. Wilting plants, saved from the clearance box, now blossoming. Cooking vegetables in the pan, the sizzling like the splash of raindrops. Finding something to love about the world, however many faults you may see within yourself, cultivating sunshine.
Born on an island of the coast of Africa, I adored everything about the island: the beautiful animals, the wildlife and the native people. Suddenly, my father told me we were moving. To England …
I arrived and there was nothing I knew. At all.
My world. Your world. Our world.
It was cold.
I had no shelter. I could hear the cars cross the bridge.
The lights were bright, and yet it was dark.
No one helped in the morning, it was a test for tomorrow.
The bin had fire, but it wasn’t warm.
I wish I could go back.
Under 11 year olds
Deep Down Under
Silversweep darted through the water at the tail of her pod. She hadn’t eaten but was still optimistic, expertly hunting for prey. In the corner of her eye, she spotted a stray fish. Darting towards it, Silversweep snapped, swallowing the rubbery meat. It tasted wrong. She realised too late:
One in a Million
A lonely bottle floats onto the twinkling water. The water ripples as the plastic swims by. It doesn’t know it isn’t alone. It is being followed by millions of identical bottles.
This rubbish doesn’t always survive. They’re stopped by hungry turtles and starved whales. No one survives in this world….
Caves of the rainforest
The boat swayed gently and softly. Excitement shone through my eyes. No crying, no shouting, no rage. Just me in the rainforest. The smell of the brazing leaves gave me chills. Heavy winds swallowed my breath. It was as if , overnight, nature had painted the sky.
The Broody Hen
She sat on her eggs, hoping they would hatch. Lovable they would be she thought. She would raise them to be good chickens. Click. An egg was put beside her. It was white. Not a chicken egg she decided but she got her wing out and put it underneath her.
HMP Foston Hall
Full of plastic
And talks of Brexit
Deal or no deal
Once a gameshow
Do we gamble
I’m not bothered
As my world
Involves ROTL and parole
Relinking with family
Learning from the past
Building my future
Not speeding along
To the exit like Brexit
Covered in plastic
No-one can take my thoughts
No-one can take my pride
My freedom gone
But no-one can take what’s inside
To some I’m just a number
Who cannot do any good
But one day I will be free
To do the things I should
Why’s it hurt me so deep?
Tossing, turning, unable to sleep.
Looking at my reflection in the mirror,
A washed up drug user
Couldn’t get any thinner!
My only credit is my beautiful son,
I will beat this addiction to be able to say I did it, I won!