The results are in for the Byron Writers Festival annual Flash Your Fiction competition. With over 170 entries, the field was very competitive this year.
Congratulations to the winner, Sharon Fraser, for her story Underwater Lily. The first runner-up was C.J. Vallis with How Hard Could it Be? and the second runner-up was Caroline Henning with The Note. Congratulations also to the ten shortlisted authors, listed below. Each of the shortlisted stories will be printed and displayed at the Byron Writers Festival site this 2-4 August. Read on for the top-three winning entries.
Underwater Lily by Sharon Fraser
Lucy woke in the dark to a watery dance of shadow and light on her ceiling. Someone had left the pool lights on.
She scanned the bedroom, still monotone in the predawn light. She liked this colourless time. She wasn’t ready for colour. Lily’s bed was empty and perfectly made. A bear, just like hers, slumped miserably against the wall.
Lucy and Lily were identical, except that Lily was profoundly deaf. Most people addressed both of them through Lucy, mistaking Lily’s deafness for absence. Most people were stupid. But now, she really was . . . absent.
They used to feel like one person. The same person. Only Lily’s deafness reminded them that they were different. Except when they were underwater. Then, submerged in the weightless, transparent volume, they were absolutely one. Together again, identical, in the silence. Just as they had been in the womb.
Lucy got up and crept out of her room, their room. She padded through the house and outside to the pool. The first rays of sunlight were creeping over the edge where she stood at the deep end, making their way slowly across the surface. She dived in, once again, looking for Lily.
How Hard Could it Be? by C.J. Vallis
Three unopened boxes, dark summer sky and chilled beer.
‘Should we wait until after Christmas? Hire someone?’ She sounds scared, eyes flicking to the back room where her kid is tucked into bed.
He slides a Stanley knife down the cardboard joins and opens the flaps. Inside, instructions and diagrams dare him to fail. He pauses. Blusters through, ‘I figure I can handle it.’
But by her reckoning they’re in trouble.
Why does he insist?
Not to be outdone by poles and frames, a jumping mat, safety net. ‘I’ll help.’
On her phone she plays a YouTube of a white middle-aged man in Minnesota assembling a trampoline on time-lapse.
By an outdoor lamp, they sweat in shadows and snap the ring into place, ram metal together. His skin pinches between steel springs; he bleeds and swears. She fetches Band-Aids, a screwdriver.
Somehow the anchors have been lost. The whole wobbles. More drinks.
Hours later, they test-jump the trampoline. For now, the mat holds. Giddy, she wishes out loud, ‘Santa, fly down and fix the world.’
Let’s decorate the trampoline in tinsel.’
It will shimmer in sunlight. Hide any unused hooks.
The Note by Caroline Henning
When Ally finds the note in a bottle washed up on Laverty’s Beach, she almost walks straight past it. The frosted glass, worn smooth by years at sea, doesn’t give itself up easily in the morning sunlight. At home she cracks it open, carefully removes a square of folded paper from the broken shards. She traces her finger along foreign words, admiring the writer’s hand – precise and steady. Ally loves the swirling gs and ys and js the best, imagines a young man with dark, tussled hair sitting at a wooden bureau writing to his lover. She understands odd words and phrases. 21 janvier 2009. Ma belle fille. Je l’aimais. She cannot get the gist though. When she shows the note to Corrine two weeks later, she watches, appalled, as her friend brings her hand to her mouth and gasps.
Beneath a slender birch tree by a bend in the river a woman stands flanked by two policiers. She clutches a photo of a smiling girl reclining on a couch. The woman stoops, taking a handful of cool earth between her fingers. Her daughter in the palm of her hand. For a moment there, then gone again.
Congratulations to the other shortlisted writers, whose stories will be displayed at the Festival site this 2-4 August:
Christine Johnson: Trolley Trance
Denise Marshall: The Beast
Suzanne Novak: My Act of Remembrance
Beth Gibbings: Two Truths
Tracey Lloyd: Escaping the Vortex
Madeleine Ackerman: We First Met as a Metaphor
Dettra Rose: Alesandro Goes Home
Thank you to all those who entered the competition.