Text Box: Text Box: Winning Entries Third Quarter 2017

First: Oxygen by Linda Grierson-Irish

Second: Earl Grey by Claire Whatley

Third: The Bee Keeper by Karen Jones

Click on the titles above to read the three winning stories

Highly Commended: The Soul of a Fighter by Mandy Huggins

 

Judge’s Report for the third quarter’s competition 2017 from Chris Curran

Such a superb short list! I enjoyed each and every story and it wasn’t easy to pick my winners. So, congratulations to everyone and thank you for a really pleasurable reading experience.

In the end the judging process has to be a subjective one and for me the stories that stood out were those that lingered in my mind between readings. It might have been a situation, a character, or a series of potent phrases that resonated with me, but something pulled me back to read again and again and to find new pleasures each time.

It’s interesting to notice the common threads that emerge in a group of unconnected stories like this. As always there were the big themes: death, love, violence, vengeance etc., but I haven’t seen the grim reaper cropping up in person so frequently before, nor read a short list containing two very different stories featuring insects in jars!

Flash fiction works best when it catches the reader slightly off-balance, so that we are able to see a possibly familiar situation through fresh eyes and this is something all my choices achieve. Another thing they share is an intriguing central image that encapsulates and amplifies the theme.  And I do love a perfectly judged final line.

 

1st: Oxygen

 My first choice is a wonderfully tender story about two young sisters whose futures will be very different. The narrator’s voice in this one is so intimate that I could almost feel her breath on my cheek while she whispered to me. As she enters the heady days of adolescence she longs to embrace life and love, but aches for the company of her sister who, in one of the story’s many beautiful phrases, is only a shimmer of fluorescence and mischief and what might have been.

 

2nd: Earl Grey

A cup of Earl Grey tea works here as an ideal metaphor for the comfort sought from strangers. The story is a delicate character study of two women that slyly catches the reader off guard just as it does the narrator. Whether we approve of the main character’s initial response or condemn it, the author ensures that we experience our own moment of discomfort towards the end. And the ending of a story as short as this can too easily spoil it. Not here. The last line provides that wonderful, ‘Ah, yes!’ moment of satisfaction at recognising the perfect resolution.

 

3rd: The Bee Keeper

At less than three hundred words this is one of the shortest stories, but it provides exactly what I want from flash fiction: a whole world captured in a few perfectly judged words and phrases. Bees trapped in a series of jars provide the central image in this vivid snapshot of a nightmare existence. And the echoes reverberate long after the haunting final sentence.

 

Highly Commended: The Soul of a Fighter

Full of beautiful imagery this is another story that explores how we come to terms with grief and move on after loss.  Here a child finds consolation in the magic of nature and in reclaiming a much-loved ritual.

 

We regularly receive several hundred entries each quarter, so those making the long and short lists should feel very proud.

 

Short Listed Entries for the Third Quarter 2017 — in alphabetical order

 

A Dedication to the Creator of Flat Shoes by Catherine Waterhouse

A Flip of the Coin by Susan Howe

An Affair of the Heart by David Stephens

Better to Hit the Jackpot by Kathryn Ratzko

Earl Grey by Claire Whatley

Echoes by Richard Chalk

Flurry by Jacqueline Winn

Heat by Taria Karillion

Her Treadle Sewing Machine by Averil Meehan

It Had to Happen by Diane Simmons

Lies by Rod Griffiths

Mince Pie Anyone? by Miranda Barlow

One Time My Sister by Melanie Napthine

Oxygen by Linda Grierson-Irish

Skin by Hilary Taylor

Smoking Kills by Trish Leake

The Bee Keeper by Karen Jones

The Decision by Veronica Robinson

The Dust Man by Kathryn Ratzko

The Soul of a Fighter by Mandy Huggins

Viral Father of the Bride – Oh Yeah! by John Bensink

Waiting to breathe by Jamie D Stacey

What's Inside Me by Jamie D Stacey

Where the Plan First Occurred to Her by Amy J. Kirkwood

Wiggle by Jane Westwell

 

Long Listed Entries for the Third Quarter 2017 — in alphabetical order

 

A Bag of Wistful Thinking by Marjan Sierhuis

A Dedication to the Creator of Flat Shoes by Catherine Waterhouse

A Flip of the Coin by Susan Howe

A Man of Means by Emma J Myatt

Agent Orange by Scot Siegel

An Affair of the Heart by David Stephens

Audit in Orange by Taria Karillion

Better to Hit the Jackpot by Kathryn Ratzko

Earl Grey by Claire Whatley

Echoes by Richard Chalk

Flurry by Jacqueline Winn

Forecast by Brindley Hallam Dennis

Four Below Zero by Peter Burns

Heat by Taria Karillion

Her Treadle Sewing Machine by Averil Meehan

Improbable Happenings in Ballywoolly by Bernadette M. Smyth

It Had to Happen by Diane Simmons

Lies by Rod Griffiths

Love by Scot Siegel

Meeting my Sister by Hilary Taylor

Michael's Marrow by Gary Amphlett

Mince Pie Anyone? by Miranda Barlow

One Time My Sister by Melanie Napthine

Oxygen by Linda Grierson-Irish

Planet Earth Is Closing, Please Make Your Final Choices by Taria Karillion

Release by April Edwards

Skin by Hilary Taylor

Smoking Kills by Trish Leake

Snow White by Rosemary Collins

Something to Prove by Alice Penfold

The Bee Keeper by Karen Jones

The Decision by Veronica Robinson

The Dust Man by Kathryn Ratzko

The First Love by Olivia Pope

The Soul of a Fighter by Mandy Huggins

The Strike by Victoria Bird

Time, Difference, Japan by Jason Jackson

Viral Father of the Bride – Oh Yeah! by John Bensink

Waiting to breathe by Jamie D Stacey

What's Inside Me by Jamie D Stacey

Where the Plan First Occurred to Her by Amy J. Kirkwood

Wiggle by Jane Westwell