Monday 21st February 2022
Flash Fiction Short Story Competition winners!
1st Place: The Writing on the Library Wall by Chantelle Taylor
It’s a fresh kinda morning, the air smells damp like rain, there’s a slight breeze but nothing too cold. The world is silent. Not in an eerie way, just peaceful. Calm.
“Coffee morning 8-10”, was the writing on the library wall. That’s how I knew that things were going to be okay. That’s how I knew I was making the right choice. The people that go to library coffee mornings are good people. Kind people. The typa person I wish I was more like. I bet there’s old ladies there, who smell like biscuits and knit warm scarves. There probably some literary enthusiast, a teacher, or a drama student. Clever people. People who’ll make smart choices. Chances are there’s at least one wayward, looking for shelter and warmth – revelling in the free brew and making use of the facilities. I hope they’re not interested in you; I imagine they’ve got no interest in you. Why would they take a second glance, why would they bother themselves with more burden?
This is where I’m starting to doubt myself. What if there’s just that one bad egg, not bad but just slightly dishevelled. The kinda egg that could do good, but you wouldn’t want to bet your life on ‘em doing the right thing every time a situation presented itself. Am I making the right choice? Oh god, I’m over thinking. I’m probably that egg. There can’t be many eggs worse than me. Bet none of them would do what I’m doing.
I’ve been sat here for 30 minutes now, watching the library wondering about the people at the coffee morning. I don’t want to be late, of course. I have to be the first one there so as not to make a big commotion. But also, I can’t be too early. Thoughts are flying round my head, so quickly I can’t grip hold of them. I dunno what I’m thinking any more I just know my mind is so full.
It’s been a rough three days. There’s not much that can prepare you for this typa loss, for this sense of grief. The feeling of regret. I know lots of people have been through this, but I am alone, and I am lost, and I’m drowning. Other people seem to deal with this with ease. Take it in their stride. God, I wish my mum was here to hold me. I wish I had a partner who could support me. Just someone who loves me.
But I don’t.
It’s just me and I am fighting to breathe. I can barely look after myself how can I possibly care for anyone else. How can I be responsible for a whole other person?
As I lay you down on the library steps, wrapped up in your crocheted blanket encased in your car seat, I let out a little sigh of relief. Goodbye my sweet child. I’m sorry I couldn’t have been more for you.
2nd Place: Twenty Girls by Lisa Williams
Friday. Assembly day. A big one – the headmistress was hoping to find out who was responsible for the writing on the library wall. No one was to leave until the culprit was revealed. Blazers had to be worn in assembly. It was a rule older than time itself. No one knew why. The teacher searching through the jumble of Lost Property had no idea but knew someone would forget theirs.
She retrieved a Blazer that smelt of a well exercised sports sock, took it back to the classroom and started the register awaiting the inevitable, forgotten blazer plea.
Amatullah had stitched the sleeves.
Barsha added the labels.
Chandni inspected the bolts of fabric.
Dina starched the collar.
Eva ironed the lapels.
Fariha fixed the pockets.
Farah lined up the shoulder pads.
Hridi fixed the inside zip.
Ishika had handsewn the button holes.
Kwan had cut the cloth.
Musarrat spread the lining on the cutting table.
Munazza cleaned the tables at the end of each day.
Nazia steamed the cloth.
Orpa attached spare buttons.
Prottasha kimble tagged the sizes.
Rafsan bagged them up.
Rifah, recently promoted to Quality control, checked each one with care.
Sanjana added a hanger, size facing forward.
Tanha kept the needles safe when they broke.
Tahira joined sleeves to the jacket.
All twenty of those girls dreamt of education and in their dreams of school a forgotten blazer or writing on a library wall never appeared.
3rd Place: Charlie and the Ice Cream by James Clark-Pratt
Just ask him.
Maybe he’ll say yes.
What’s the worst thing he could say?
He won’t send me away, just for asking a question.
But he might.
John has done so much for me.
He wouldn’t throw away all the money he wasted on me because I asked some stupid question.
Or maybe that’s the reason why he would get rid of me.
No, he’s not going to get rid of me.
He must have forgiven me for the writing on the library wall incident.
Yes, he has, it was a long time ago.
Okay, but even if I do pop the question, will he accept?
It’s such a big ask.
John is the one and only reason, why I smile at all, these days.
How can I ask the man who has given me so much, to give more?
I’m just selfish.
He keeps telling me that I’m worth the cost, but am I?
He didn’t have to rescue me from that awful place.
The place where children cry over the fact that they live there.
I was at the end of my rope until John showed up.
He could have chosen any of the children there to go live with him.
And yet he chose me.
He chose the child who was deprived of happiness, loving parents or care.
I was deprived of these things for a good reason too.
My parents didn’t abandon me for nothing.
They got rid of me because I don’t deserve any of these things.
So why did John take me with him?
I have asked him, repeatedly for the reason why I am in his care.
And he would always say the same thing.
“Cause you’re worth it, kiddo.”
But I cannot find a reason why I’m worth it.
This whole thing is idiotic.
I don’t even know why I thought this would remotely be a good idea.
I’m going back upstairs…
If I’m not worth it, then why does John say I am?
John is good and fair.
He wouldn’t tell a child that they’re worth the time and cost because they’re not.
He would say that because he knows that they’re genuinely worth it.
Oh my god.
I’m actually worth it.
And that means that the question isn’t stupid.
I’m going to ask him.
I’m walking there now.
I could back out, he hasn’t seen me yet.
He’s watching me walk over, I have to ask him now.
I’ve stopped at his chair.
Time to do it.
Take a deep breath.
“Can we please, go get some Ice Cream”.
He closes his book, and I am trembling.
Maybe this was a stupid idea.
He stands up.
I can’t go back to the orphanage, I just can’t.
He opens his mouth.
He looks straight into my eyes and says, “Sure thing.”
Oh my gosh.
He actually said yes.
“And do you know why?”
“Why?” I ask.
“Cause you’re worth it, kiddo.”
If you find the right people or person in your life. Then the reason why you matter becomes a little bit clearer.