April this year, I took part in the Writers Victoria 30 Day Flash Fiction Challenge. 9:00 each morning, I received a one-word prompt, which was a fab way of forcing my brain into the writing zone. Some days, I wished it would arrive much earlier, so I could lie in the luxury of bed dreaming up a new short story before facing the office. Wishes aside, I set about crafting my flash fiction, which had to be whittled down to exactly thirty words – no more, no less. Each entry then had to be tweeted before close of business. Of course, I’m impatient and wanted the job done and dusted ASAP, so I could get on with my day.
A thirty-word story didn’t seem that difficult at the outset, but when those words have to convey meaning, a story arc, character and scene, each freaking letter counted.
My efforts paid off on day thirteen, when my entry was chosen as the winner for the day. I won’t lie. It was a tiny thrill.
Here are my thirty entries tweeted to: #WVFlashFic @Writers_Vic #word
It wasn’t real, but she wore it because it made him smile. She liked the fragility of it in her fingers, knowing the power and acidity of a careless heart.
She lays the t-shirt flat, runs a hand to ease wrinkles, reshape. The iron hisses and she grits, pulling at the corners, the goddamn seams that refuse to line up.
Fresh to this foreign world, each furred and clawed bundle blindly bulldozes past siblings – unconscious sacrifice – searching, sensing, padding, prodding, inherent primal instinct a suckling magnet to mother’s milky bounty.
Muculent lumps showcased on luminescence. Beast and beauty. Try one. He stabbed it with a tiny fork, pressed her clamped lips. Enhances sex, he hinted. Neither initiation was happening tonight.
How the fleeting bubbles, glinting rainbows in the sun, made her eyes widen, sparkle beneath those dark lashes, too long, too lush, while dimpled hands reached and crushed worlds within.
Two hundred and six bones, lost in a field of war and clay. His smile, his touch, his promise, held within a failing heart, far across the sea. Never dulled.
When she’d started, she could barely touch her toes. She’d focused, sweated, swore, sacrificed, cried even. Now she could touch the sky, only to realise there was nothing to grasp.
It crept up inside her, a hatchling chick pecking at the crust of her scepticism, hope bound tight as he opened the file. ‘Negative.’ Her relief burst in breathless gratitude.
Grandmother’s lace tablecloth, antique; her sister’s ribbons, worn on summer days; mother’s precious brooch, fragile, tarnished; wildflowers in her hair. She wore the love of her womenfolk to her marriage.
He shifts, uncomfortable in his body, closes his eyes with fragile determination. Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow he will take control, be accountable. Midnight, he wakes and opens the fridge.
He rubbed at it, the gold patina, faded along with their lives. Neither had ever removed them. Even now, though flowers, tears and soil separated their bodies, they remained undivided.
She ached for his mouth, pulling at her breast; keened for his tiny fingers, curling with ecstasy; his fragility, warmly bundled against hers, against the endless cold that stole him.
She stares, imagines its ears twitching, its nose. Last year she didn’t wait, and it was gone in minutes. This year, she would devour the bunny with her eyes first.
On the verge, a last breath. Let go? All that’s led to now, wasted? Push. Push. Nothing gives. Go under, go around, go over. ‘Go through,’ you say. Experience. Surrender.
He didn’t know his heart could bleed. Yet, here it was, dripping, exposed, victim of a rampant rage of misunderstanding. How? He’d spoken so carefully, so specifically. Fucking Dragon Dictate.
I’d long expected it; it was second-hand, probably third even, the weave having grown finer with each wash, though lately I’d handled it as carefully as a prayer, albeit unanswered.
Mike wakes. Harsh light, blue curtain, stethoscope. Fogginess for a moment, then clarity. A slip. A thud, crack. Margie has a ‘told-you-so’ look. Should have used matt tiles.
In her final hours, she reveals her truth: the vulnerable child who became the crone, who never forgave, never accepted, loved. I touch her hand. I am not my mother.
It had fastened its suckers to the brickwork, like a thousand millipedes clawing upwards. Mary said there was decay. We heaved, tore, leaving nothing but a memory, a ghostly imprint.
Bracken scratches as she weaves towards watery murmuring, a jarring slip in steep mud, catches herself. A moment to breathe, leans forward, satisfied. A flash of silver in her net.
Charlie was the shyest. They would crawl over him, their spidery mechanical legs straddling him, slipping down the dome of his carapace, while he sat retracted, obstinate. A true hermit.
Her tiny feet wobble inside giant shoes as she scoots along the carpet, lipstick smeared across her concentration, an earring tangled in her hair. She stops, beams her mother’s grin.
Hangdog eyes, tortured posture and ragged clothing, he stung our privileged consciences, eked our last tourist dollars, coins. His gratitude: a gold-laden grin, blingy enough to gild Shakespeare’s painted lily.
She’s been lying so long crystals have formed on her skin. Crinkling in the folds of her elbows, knees, crunchy under her nails. A garment of the ocean’s dried tears.
While he was away, she could breathe. Now, driving to the airport still soaked in a last night of freedom’s wine, she tightened her decision like a wall of muscle.
Her notes are a soft waterfall, each velvet drop easing through my pores, an osmotic symphony, filtering joy to my hollowed senses. Singularly sweet. Can I die from musical diabetes?
He loves to tease the tourists. ‘Prehistoric reptile,’ he says. ‘Lived here all its life. Swim anyone?’ I dive in. Eleven years and yet to witness the shy, harmless freshie.
The last one jumps in. Just me and the captain now, abandoned to the breaking bubbles. ‘Nothing down there that’ll hurt you,’ he tries again. I smile, yearn, back away.
Can’t believe I missed this one. Too busy having a cervical MRI.
Teensy particles between her fingers, finer than sugar grit, sprinkled, powdery. A careful touch to her tongue. Indiscernible? Perfect! It would be served intimately, generously, with a terminally sweet smile.