February 2019 Flash Fiction

It’s that time again …

The prompt for this month is “S is for …” Only 100 words maximum this time. Should be easy, right?

Normal rules apply:

Entries must be in by midnight Wednesday 20th February 2019. Voting will open soon after and close at 11.59pm on Tuesday 26th. Winner announced at the Members Night on 27 February 2019.

Conditions of entry

Your entry must:

  1. Be in 12 point Times New Roman font
  2. Have single line spacing
  3. Have a title
  4. Include the author’s name
  5. Include the word count, not including the title
  6. Be submitted as a Word.doc, or .docx file (PDF files lose all formatting in their transition)
  7. You must be a current member of Ballarat Writers.

Submit entries to: competitions@ballaratwriters.com


January 2019 Flash Fiction

It’s here, finally! The moment that you have all been waiting for amid the madness of the Christmas rush. Drum roll, please …

The topic for the first Flash Fiction of 2019 is REDEMPTION and you have a maximum of 220 words.

The winner was entry #6 – Neville Hiatt! Congratulations, Neville, great start to the competitive year.

Thank you to everyone who voted. This competition had the highest number of votes seen in a long time. Keep spreading the word.

Six entries for your consideration this month! Make sure you read them all, scroll through to the bottom of them and vote for your favourite. Poll closes at 11.59pm on Tuesday 29th January. Spread the word.

It is essential that stories are judged exclusively on their merit, including (as appropriate for the item), punctuation, syntax, spelling, and grammar.

Please vote only on the story’s worth, and do not allow personal loyalties to influence your vote. Our aim is to encourage all writers, not discourage any through having no chance of winning solely on their excellence.

Please vote for the best all-round submission. That is true honesty and good-citizenship.

Entry # 1 – Redemption Code

Is it still called a queue if you can’t see the people in it and you don’t seem to move?

I’ve been on the phone for so long my finger nails have grown. I’ve got it on speaker so I can put the phone down and get on with the important things in life. Washing, washing up, getting the kids ready for swim lessons. It’s like exam time when everything else is more important.

‘Your call is important to us’ the voice punctuates the monotonous muzak and interminable self-promotion advertising spiels.

‘But you rang me’ I yell. ‘How hard is it? Your website says “get us to call you if you can’t get this sorted out”. So, you called me back and you put me on hold.’

It’s just a movie I want. Gone are the days of buying a DVD over the counter. No, now I have to buy it online so I can ‘have access to it whenever and where ever I like’ – so long as I am connected to the internet, of course.

A voice comes back on the line. ‘Thank you for holding. We apologise for the error on the gift card. My supervisor has confirmed that the details you provided are correct. You can now use your keypad to enter your redemption code.’


Entry # 2 – Arianna

Arianna told her driver to stop in the middle of the square. She could have asked him to go into the café to buy cigarettes, but she wanted to stretch her legs and feel the early morning air on her face. Arianna reeked of night; she wore it like the fur coat wrapped around her, defying the late October chill.

Three young women sat outside the café; they were tanned caramel; their health and humour erupted as they passed a bottle of soft drink between them. Arianna knew the sounds of their English were Australian; they were sounds she had once known as well as her own body.

Twenty-five years ago she had not boarded a flight to Melbourne, refusing to read the pain of her lover’s words, nor hear his shattered, wondering voice.

The Australian women had slept on the deck of a boat overnight; they were in Athens to collect letters and money from home. They’d pooled their last drachmas for the soft drink, and watched chickens turn seductively on the rotiserrie in the café’s window.

‘Now there’s a stunner!’ one of the women said as Arianna walked past.

Minutes later, a bulging plastic bag thumped onto their table.

‘For you!’ Arianna said, turning towards her car and leaving the hungry women to devour the chicken.


Entry # 3 – Being Swept Along is Not Enough

Francis Drake, explorer and patriot, tacking down the coast of Patagonia, saw the smoke of fires. I will capture a Patagonian, he announced, to tame and Christianise and take to England as a gift for her Maj’!

A dozen fierce volunteers came forward. Muskets and swords advanced, they entered jungle paths and green valleys and, by God’s grace, found two Patagonians. One was a mother, the other a four year old son. They drove her off with sticks. They took the boy.

She screamed. Of course she screamed. Cries of outrage erupted fore and aft. The volunteers raced for hours, panic giving them strength, muskets giving them hope. The boy they tossed from shoulder to shoulder, dropped, dragged and regained but never released. What was the use if the prize was lost?

In the end though, at dusk, they left him on the shale, accidentally dead, and rowed away. Over the dark water, Drake heard the Patagonians, weeping their pitiful curses. He was saddened. Not for them. Not for the boy. For England. For the queen. For God.

In the ship’s chapel, he took a knee. ‘Forgive my failure, Lord. I will redeem myself against the Spaniards.’

He hoisted anchor. And a week later God killed him with dysentery on the shale of a similar Patagonian beach.


Entry # 4 – ‘I don’t want to live somewhere else, Mum.’

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. It doesn’t have the calming effect I’d hoped for. The motel room still has the lingering odor of stale cigarette smoke, despite it being our temporary home for the last two months. Lucy is stretched across the bed, kicking her legs against the mattress and staring at the ceiling.

‘I know you don’t, baby, but we can’t go back.’

Our home was beyond redemption, reduced to rubble and ash. Nothing existed of our old life anymore, and even the land we had called ours, peppered with eucalypts and bird calls was deemed unsafe. Surely there was nothing unsafe about it anymore. Tree trunks stripped of their leaves stood like sentinels watching over an eerily silent, charred land.

I slam the laptop shut and rub my eyes, afterimages of insurance forms still clouding my brain.

‘You don’t need to be afraid anymore, Mum,’ Lucy smiles, rolling onto her stomach. ‘We know what to do now.’

I grab her hand and press a kiss to it. I want to believe her, but there is nothing calling me back to where we used to be. Nothing positive, no saving grace. Only the ghost of flames gone by.


Entry # 5 – Heat of the Moment

The hot sun beat down upon the pavement as she struggled along, the groceries weighing heavy on her arms as Thomas dawdled behind her. His face was flushed and blonde curls lay plastered across his sweaty brow. She felt her shoulders slump as she looked back to see he had stopped, and was standing by the fence plucking a flower. A feeling of rage and frustration suddenly engulfed her.

‘Come on Thomas! For goodness sake hurry up or I’ll leave you behind’, she screamed, her face flushed and angry. Stomping back towards him, she held the bags in one hand, grabbed him by the arm and yanked him up.

Thomas backed away; eyes full of terror and fear. Trembling, the tears flowed as his face crumpled and he slumped to the pavement.

She felt a stab of horror and shame as she knelt beside him and gathered him in her arms.

‘I’m sorry Thomas; I didn’t mean to yell at you. Don’t cry now, I’m sorry I got angry. I would never leave you, you know that.’

Thomas put his arms around her neck, and hung his head.

Her heart felt the sharp pain of regret. ‘I love you so very much,’ she whispered fervently, hugging him tight.

His little body softened as he pulled out the crushed flower.


Entry # 6 – Max

His smile was as wide as the main street.

His heart as big as the river that caressed that town, like he used to hold me.


The newspaper said he had a wife and kids but we hadn’t reached that part of our story.

Now the only thing I can touch is my memory of him.


My heart emptied when I heard his lunged had filled with water.

He’d left one island to call this island home.

Now he’s exploring eternity while I feel like I’m lost at sea.


Those arms that held me safe, now a hollow space.

His smile reflected love brighter than the moon on a cloudless night.


As I leave his ashes with the sea, tissues scattered about my house.

Days flow one to the next.


Knock knock, knock knock.

His mother is at my door.

She places in my palm a heart shaped velvet box.


I open it already knowing it’s contents.

Princess cut, wrapped in gold.

Shining as bright as his smile once did.

Clutching his mother tight I close the lid.





Entries must be in by midnight Wednesday 23rd January 2019. Voting will open soon after and close at 11.59pm on Tuesday 29th. Winner announced at the Members Night on 30 January 2019 -if I have the date right.

Conditions of entry

Your entry must:

  1. Be in 12 point Times New Roman font
  2. Have single line spacing
  3. Have a title
  4. Include the author’s name
  5. Include the word count, not including the title
  6. Be submitted as a Word.doc, or .docx file (PDF files lose all formatting in their transition)
  7. You must be a current member of Ballarat Writers.

Submit entries to: competitions@ballaratwriters.com

Pamela Miller Prize and November’s Flash Fiction

The final Flash Fiction competition for the year is also the Pamela Miller Prize, so get your pencils sharpened and see if you can win the $100.

The winner is Entry #3 from Lois Gray. Congratulations Lois.

The theme is SUMMER and there is a maximum word limit of 250.

This year, judging will be undertaken by your colleagues – fellow members of Ballarat Writers. The committee will appoint a team of three judges. Their decision is final. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t get to read and vote as you normally do. It’s just that this time, the online voting will not determine the winner. It will be interesting to see if the judges concur with the masses!

Seven entries!! Wow, you guys like to write for money! Normal polling is below the entries, but remember that we have a judging panel for this one – so the decision of the masses doesn’t count – democracy seems overrated these days!

There are no story titles. More than half of the entries used the same title (Summer) and I felt this could interfere with the voting. So this time, just take note of the number of your favourite story, OK?

Entry #1

Summer’s been inside me all year ‘round. It lurks there, simmering, till it rises from my ribs to my forehead. I look like a Nullarbor sunset.

Stand back! Caution! Hot Surface!

Covers off. Sweat, sweat, sweat. My bed is Adelaide in January. It wakes me as it builds. It’s coming, it’s coming. Rising, rising, my blood is boiling in a nightly fever dream. It’s 2.00 am before a work day. Great! Covers back on as the shivers set in.

I’m wearing beads today—beads of sweat strung under my eyes. I can feel my colleague staring quizzically. He knows nothing about hot flushes. He just thinks I’m losing it.

Should I cut my hair? Get this winter-weight coiffe off my neck? I attract funny looks as I reach back to hold it away from my skin, using my other hand to drag at my collar. I lust after some air. Blissful air.

I know no one cares. No one cares as I sit at Sturt Street traffic lights, trapped by the seat belt, wearing a coat. A coat! Gotta love Ballarat and its tee shirt-Thursday, coat-Friday Novembers. Why did I leave my coat on in the car? The other drivers are listening to their Bluetooth beats and surreptitiously checking texts while I’m having a parked-in-sun-all-day, sauna-on-wheels experience. I ponder leaping out to strip off before the lights change.

There are workers installing decorations near the town hall. All I want for Christmas is … winter.

Entry #2

It was a hot humid summer when we met, in a stuffy room filled with people who’d gathered at a writer’s workshop.  We ‘clicked’ as women often do, and continued to meet each summer. The days were long and warm and we chatted late into the night, as the moths circled around the outside light on the porch.

We read out our stories – tales of meaning reflecting the events of our lives, our families, our desires. We shared our #metoo moments well before the world shared theirs. Empty wine bottles lay beside the rubbish bin, and discarded take-away containers gathered on the kitchen bench. We had no time for cooking, for the garden beckoned when we sought reprieve from words. The smell of roses and lilies wafted around us as the summer sun beat down upon our skin.

Time seemed endless; we had no warning these days would end, until that fateful visit to the doctor when my friend spoke of debilitating back pain, and the worst was confirmed.

Our visits now became more frequent, more urgent; so impatient were we to capture our stories in whatever form we could.

When we knew these summer days were ending, she looked at me with knowing eyes and a sadness that wrenched my heart.

‘I still have so much writing to do,’ she stated, defiant.

Now another summer has passed, and while the rays of the sun are fading, like the memories of my friend, their warmth remains forever in my heart.

Entry # 3

We children stepped off the veranda and walked to the gate. The crisp scorched ground under our feet was typical of the hot dry seasons of our childhood. The coastal breeze began its afternoon frolic over the farm. We were just five miles from the beach, as the crow flies.

Gran and Grandpa had spent the afternoon with us. Dad’s parents often came to visit. They were the ones who brought us very special and rare Violet Crumble treats. Of course, the sugary delicacies were immediately consumed and already we were looking forward to next time, when they might even stay over for a day or two. As they drove away we waved goodbye and turned back to the coolness of the veranda.

Earlier, despite the heat of the day, Mum had whipped up a sponge cake. Her old Sunbeam mixmaster whirled full speed as she deftly threw the ingredients together. The golden wonder, cooked and cooled, she filled it with cream, and topped it with mouth-watering passionfruit icing.

Gathered around the table, afternoon tea was served on Mum’s best china. Rarely did our grandparents visit without reflections on their proud heritage. So, in those days when children were seen and not heard, we sat still, listening to our gentle and quietly spoken Grandpa. He recalled how, filled with great hope and ambition, our ancestors’ migrated from Britain a century earlier, and flourished.

Then as his voice drifted off, he leaned back in the big leather chair, beaming.

Entry #4

Summer summary: how to describe such an expansive season in a mere 250 words? Impossible! Summer brings such joy – and dread. Outdoor sporty girl transmuted into melanoma woman. Terrible fear mixed with 50+ sunscreen. Ugly wide-brimmed hats (hates), long-sleeve shirts hot and graceless. Every day, check the UV, must only swim in the beloved sea before 10 and after 4. Start a new Ballarat fashion: carry a parasol like small pale Asian women, who smile at me gratefully – this is OK, here too, then? I smile back, happy, no shirts needed, air on my skin.

Moving to Ballarat saved my life. What’s that? the intern asked, and body whisked away, mind still there in the surgery saying, What? WTF? What now? Kids, partner, mortgage…to surgery, to more surgery, to big machines and endless kind-eyed doctors prodding and feeling with knowledge in their fingers.

Family history, I discovered, uncles dead, cousins with chunks missing. Twisted genes running through our family with the dark hair and laughter.

Summer. The sun is trying to kill me. But I am alive.

Entry #5

Summer means Christmas. I am, you are, we are Australian. Except the carols and movies are mostly set in the northern hemisphere. I’ve spent 3 Christmas’s abroad and this year will probably be my fourth. My first saw me meeting the love of my life, an internet romance. The Christmas bells led to wedding bells, alas they weren’t for me. My arrival lit a fire under a locals feet and he proposed to her while he still had the chance.

It would be years before I returned this time I knew I was her only one and as we watched the New Years Eve fireworks I knew this would be the year I’d pop the question. Alas just as I was about to make those arrangements she called it quits.

Third time lucky? Well my last trip was for the love of the country, the weather and the people, no romance this time. There’s something about being knee deep in snow that feels a lot more like Christmas than getting sunburnt at the beach. Watching my breath blow away in the wind cheered on by the flashing lights. If one could bottle it they’d be a gazilllionaire.

Friends celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary this month and one thanked the other for still not growing up and asking that they never do. It’s this sort of wonderment for life that a white Christmas brings out in me. It’s like I’m living in those carols and movies I watched as a child.

Entry #6

“Summer is coming.” observes the man next to me at the BBQ.

“Hmm,” I reply, “and what’s your name?”

“Jack; and you?”

“Well, how about that? I’m Jill, shall we grab a bucket of water?”

“Not today thanks. I’m expecting someone very special to turn up. She’s the love of my life, and I adore her.”

I say, “Message received Jack, but anyway, you’re a handsome man.”

“Gee, thanks Jill, I must say you’re not bad-looking yourself. Actually, you are an absolutely stunning looking woman.”

“Thank you,” I say.

“Yep, I’d bet that guys hit on you all the time.”

“No, I wish. It seems to me that guys think I wouldn’t be interested. I don’t know, but they seem to think I’m out of their league, you know, that they would be punching above their weight to ask me out. I’ve been quite lonely lately.”

Jack says, “Well, there are plenty of eligible men here today, I could introduce you to a few if you want?”

“Yeah? Great, thanks.”

Jack’s face breaks out into a broad smile, and he straightens as a woman walks toward us. She’s wearing brown. Brown lace-up shoes, a heavy brown skirt that flaps about her ankles, brown wool cardigan undone and running down at the front over a brown jumper. Her arms hang loosely at her sides as she walks, and her greying brown hair is carelessly coiled in a loose bun.

As she reaches us, Jack says, “Jill, meet my beautiful wife, Summer.”

Entry #7

When my brother and I, prowling the undergrowth, discovered a nest of honey bees, gone wild; when he put a stone over the hole in the log and we stood still to watch as the comers, too busy for high jinks, rose and turned in the air, checking their bearings; when he dared me, ‘Put your ear to the log, Robbie, and hear what a thousand captured bees sound like’; when I did and heard the querulous hum of business gone wrong, of the thrum in liquid honey and the slow grind of wood lice encased in cedar; when he smashed the log then, with a boulder and ran and left me exposed, caught out, ear to the nest, in a sudden wind of bees; when I froze until one speared out of the crowd, finding my guilt a suitable target for the drop of poison that might otherwise have gone unnoticed down the throat of a bee-eater; when I ran, then, crying out my terror, clasping the dying one against my own eleven year old log of a chest; when I wailed to my brother of his treachery and he laughed and said, ‘I’ll pee on the sting for you if you want, that’s the only way to take the pain away’; and when I paused to wonder and he said, ‘But you’ll have to ask me nicely’ and I looked around at mum’s hydrangeas with the bees dipping carefully in and out . . . that was summer.



The timeline is:
Entries open when you read this;
Entries close 16th November;
Online voting has been extended to 27th November, and
Winner announced at the Member’s Night on 28th November

Normal rules:
You have to be a member of Ballarat Writers;
Only one entry per member;
Email entries only to competitions@ballaratwriters.com;
Entries must be in Word format, 12pt Times New Roman, single spaced, have a title and include the word count, and
Be received before midnight on 16th November 2018.

October Flash Fiction is here

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and vote. Your feedback is important. It is as important as sales of a book, of likes on Instagram and laughter at Words Out Loud.

Congratulations to Johanna Botman for her win with Entry #4! Johanna polled more than half of the votes.


It’s time to put your mind to the task of choosing only 99 words to create a story.

The prompt for this month is “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin …” Which 99 words will you choose to follow these?

You have a maximum of 99 words after the ones that I gave you, ok?

Here are the entries. Voting buttons are below the submissions. Which one is your favourite?

Entry # 1 – A Holiday from Hell

‘Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…’

‘I saw Beatrice recently – she told me of a horrifying experience she had while on holiday.

She was driving around New Zealand in a new hire car and came across a one-way underpass. She pulled up behind a huge transport truck waiting for the green light.

Suddenly, the truck starting backing into her. She couldn’t get the gear into reverse! Screaming, seeing the bonnet crashing towards her, the truck suddenly stopped!

She scrambled out as the guy leapt from the cabin.’

‘What happened then?’ my friend exclaimed, eyes wide.

I took a deep breath, ‘well, it just got worse…….’


Entry # 2 – The Surprise Ending

 “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.”

The wrinkle of the latex gloves feel strange. Not as bad as the cold hard metal of a speculum though. It’s becoming my new normal, this invasion. This head-down, legs-open kind of transaction. The only part of me that’s interesting is the bit the baby comes out of. But I guess that’s always been the most interesting part of a woman.

“Do you want me to do a stretch and sweep while I’m down here?”

“Not today, Doc.”

You’d think he could look me in the eye while he offers the surprise ending to my internal exam.


Entry # 3 – Before the Year Ends

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin..

It was years of unanswered prayers before you came back into my life and now I think of you every night when I go to sleep and every morning when I wake up.

Reaching my hand across to the empty side of the bed you once occupied.

I know you’ve been in other beds since then, I’m not throwing stones so have I.

But they left me feeling emptier than our bed is now.

So this is why not for the first time I’m laying it all on the line and asking you once more to be my wife.


Entry # 4 – The Winning Poem

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. But I reckon you won’t believe me when I tell you about my poem.

It was dark night. I was alone. The bus was late. I was the only passenger and, as I sat at the back, I looked out beyond my reflection.

There was the poem, impressed into the glass. I read it and I cried. It was written for me, about me. When I tried to touch them, the words morphed and faded.

I had to memorise what I could, I transcribed it later at home and entered it in the competition.




Entries must be in by midnight Wednesday 24th October 2018. Voting will open soon after and close at 11.59pm on Tuesday 30th. Winner announced at the Members Night on 31st October 2018.

Conditions of entry

Your entry must:

  1. Be in 12 point Times New Roman font
  2. Have single line spacing
  3. Have a title
  4. Include the author’s name
  5. Include the word count, not including the title
  6. Be submitted as a Word.doc, or .docx file (PDF files lose all formatting in their transition)
  7. You must be a current member of Ballarat Writers.

Submit entries to: competitions@ballaratwriters.com

September 2018 Flash Fiction

As Spring finds its way into our lives and we can think about putting away our winter obsessions, this month’s prompt might set you on your way to others … (I am not legally responsible!)

“Who did you follow today?” is the prompt. You can do whatever you like with it. You don’t have to answer the question, as such, but you do have to use ‘follow’ in a thematic sense.

Maximum of 150 words in any genre.

And the winner is Stephanie Gold with Entry #4 – Rufus! Congratulations and well done.

Entries are in! Five to read, savour and vote on. Get going and tell your friends.




Gelid hunched his shoulders and surreptitiously looked behind him. Yeah she was still there her light tread gaining slowly, inexorably on him. His features tightened in distaste he closed his mind to her perfume, colours, image, warmth and sweet taste. He shuddered and trudged on with urgency.  He would endure and rise again.

He wasn’t a psychopath. Sure in his travels he had killed humans and animals alike. He watched impassively as some had railed against him while others had revelled in what he brought them.

He stopped and listened Flora was nearer and stronger. He could feel her confidence. He snarled in fury, time to move far, far away and recreate this beauty elsewhere, this sparkling whiteness, this stillness, this biting cold, this sharp smell and taste of snow and ice.

Who was that fool who said, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

Entry #2 – A Cool Dude

It seems it’s the in-thing to be a cool dude; young people often follow and mimic those they consider cool.

I met a cool dude recently, in the supermarket car park. Driving slowly, I spotted two young boys riding battered old BMX bikes—wheels moving in all directions—flying back and forth over speed humps.

They wore minimal clothing; no helmets. One boy was a cool dude, sitting low on the bike, knees up around the handle-bars, real layback. Cap on backwards, oversized black singlet, jeans low on his hips, hanging around his buttocks.

Glimpsing the car, they turned abruptly and swung my way. One boy moved over. But the cool dude aimed his bike in my direction, swerving back and forth. I braked hard as he rode straight towards me.

Then quick as a flash he sped past, and with great disdain, roared back at me, ‘WATCH YOURSELF BITCH!’

Entry #3 – The faded old red barn painting

I followed a man today as he left the doctors office.

He looked no different to anyone else in the hospital except for the cane he was carrying.

Folded up it looked as dead as it’s owner looked alive.

I stood watching as he took in the carpet.

Thousands had walked on it and not taken notice but this man was taking it in.

Then he went to the old painting on the wall.

I wish I could have seen his face because his body language suggested he was a bit perplexed by the landscape.

He went from looking to touching, to looking to touching, as if his brain was struggling to mesh together what he had grown up hearing described to him and was now seeing for the first time.

I followed him outside as he focused on everything around him while everyone else followed their phones.

Entry # 4 – Rufus

Rufus brushed his sleek form against the side of my leg. I promptly shifted him aside with my white trainer and continued my pamphlet perusal. Seconds later my perusal was paused by paws, padding my papers. Rufus had silently sprung onto my table and was now giving me that look. That searching look that only a cat can give its unobliging owner. I glanced out of the window. The room was still chilly, but the sky outside was a beguiling blue. I looked over at Rufus and sighed in defeat. ‘Alright’ I said as I reached up at the shelf above me and collected his collar and lead. I harnessed his silky figure carefully and followed him to the back door. Rufus loved to wander. I followed as he sauntered out into our musical garden, filled with birds, bees and bud laden trees all singing, it’s Spring.

Entry #5 – Leader of the Pack

Tall, slender, sporting seriously blonde hair, her complexion was classic peaches and cream. Acne never presumed. The ignominy of braces a memory, her teeth, straight as picket fence posts, shone like ducco.  She worked the playground with the grace of a skater, drawing up and pivoting to attend to hopeful calls from acolytes seeking her company. We practised her movements—the fluttering of long fingers, the flicking of shimmering hair, the elegant angle of the head as she turned the full force of her attention on a supplicant. We believed our own attributes inferior. Squat, tubby bodies waded across the asphalt on flat feet, arms flailing as we strove to emulate her éclat. Despite orthotics, braces, and ballet such efforts were futile—these desperate attempts to imitate her, risible. Our discipleship was unwavering, embedded, corrosive. It signalled a lack of self-awareness, an absence that festered, tainting the future.

Voting closes at 11.59pm on Tuesday  25th.


Entries must be in by midnight Wednesday 19 September 2018. Voting will open soon after and close at 11.59pm on Tuesday 25th. Winner announced at the Members Night on 26th September 2018.

Conditions of entry

Your entry must:

  1. Be in 12 point Times New Roman font
  2. Have single line spacing
  3. Have a title
  4. Include the author’s name
  5. Include the word count, not including the title
  6. Be submitted as a Word.doc, or .docx file (PDF files lose all formatting in their transition)
  7. You must be a current member of Ballarat Writers.

Submit entries to: competitions@ballaratwriters.com

August 2018 Flash Fiction

August Flash Fiction prompt is from an overheard conversation “It’s illegal. You know it’s illegal”

Do with that what you will – maximum words = 170

Voting has closed. The gate has been shut! The winner was Entry #3- You Can’t Do That. Congratulations to Johanna Botman.

Entries are in … vote for your favourite under the last entry. Voting closes 8.00pm Tuesday 28th August.

Entry #1 – CATCHIT

Dunno why I went…dirty dishes, usual pigsty. But past breakfast mess, I saw smooth sea, sun glinting. Why not, anything’s better than this. I enjoyed the first hour. Chopping bait, salty skin.  Kev gotta few tiddlers, threw em back, pissed off.

“Ya cuttin’ bait too small,” he grumbled. I felt sick, the swell getting up.

“Let’s go in,” I said. Kev kicked the empty fish box.

“Nah, gotta beat that arrogant arsehole Bert. Thinks he owns the bloody ocean. I’ll show him.” Anger rose like steam. “Yeees,” he yelled, rod bending, a promising arc. The baby snapper flapped, entwined in seaweed. I reached down.

“Nah, we’re keeping it,” he said. “But it’s illegal, you know it’s illegal,” I muttered. We headed back, smashing through a big swell. Crowds milled about the boats.

“Just a minute sir, routine limit check.” He peered into the dinghy. “Well, you’re the first empty boat we’ve seen today. Bad luck eh?”

Kev clutched his stomach.

“Hang on,” called the fisheries officer, “Open your shirt mate.”


Entry #2 – Into the Night Sky

Jake saw them enter the darkened alleyway, and dashed into a doorway. The older boy prised open the shop door while his young mate kept watch at the end of the street.

Cars quizzed past the alleyway, and stragglers roamed the streets. It was past midnight and a full moon pieced the clear sky.

Jake watched the boy sneak out of the shop, a box tucked under his arm as his mate rushed to join him. Jake pushed further into the doorway, ears pricked.

They opened the lid of the box, eyes wide with delight. The young boy hesitated, ‘Should we really do this?  It’s illegal. You know it’s illegal,’ he muttered.

‘Nah it’s not,’ the boy scoffed, excitement mounting, ‘people do it all the time.’

They flew down the street towards the beach, Jake following at a distance.

Reaching the sand they halted, struck a match, and watched the rocket take off into the sky with swirls and swirls of coloured stars. The boys looked up in wondrous joy.


Entry #3  – You can’t do that

‘It’s illegal. You know it’s illegal. You can’t spend every Saturday this way.’

I’d said it a thousand times before and a thousand times before he wouldn’t listen.

‘Babe’ he started.

‘Don’t. I know it’s going to be bad when you call me Babe.’


‘That’s not going to work either’

‘What could possibly go wrong?’

This was always the last desperate attempt to get me to give in and let him have his way. He knows that I can’t answer that question – that I don’t even care to try to answer. I just rolled my eyes. He had won.

‘You get the food, I’ll get the drinks. The disk should finish copying in 5 minutes.’

‘If I have to. What did you choose this time?’



Entry #4 – Overheard at a local coffee shop
“It’s illegal. You know it’s illegal.”

“Well I guess I’m going to jail then because I’m not going to stop.”

“It’s not worth it. Change it slightly to make it fit with the new laws. Surely you can get the same message across without risking losing everything.”

“The truth needs to be spoken. The law has been wrong before, they are wrong now and I am sure they will be wrong again in the future.”

“I wish you’d reconsider.”

“I wish you weren’t so afraid.”


Entries must be in by midnight Wednesday 22 August 2018. Voting will open soon after and close at 8pm on Tuesday 28th. Winner announced at the Members Night on 29th August 2018.

Conditions of entry

Your entry must:

  1. Be in 12 point Times New Roman font
  2. Have single line spacing
  3. Have a title
  4. Include the author’s name
  5. Include the word count, not including the title
  6. Be submitted as a Word.doc, or .docx file (PDF files lose all formatting in their transition)
  7. You must be a current member of Ballarat Writers.

Submit entries to: competitions@ballaratwriters.com

July Flash Fiction

Another challenge for July for Flash Fiction.

Your entry has to be about a meeting of two people. You have a maximum of 100 words for one person’s point of view and 100 for the other person’s point of view.

So, 200 words maximum – no minimum.

And the winner is …. Entry #3 from Linda Young. Well done. By far the most voted for.

Four entries this month. You can vote for the one you like best using the poll below.

Entry 1 – Of God

1st para 95 words           2nd para 99 words

“Of course there’s a God. He does everything for us. He’s forgiving, generous, takes care of us and loves us all. He rules and orders our lives. He promises us a place beside him in Heaven. He forgives our sins and gives us eternal life. Just look around, do you not see the beautiful world He has given us? The birds, the animals, and all the creatures and living things on this earth and beneath the sea; He made them all, for us, his children, to enjoy. Do you think all this happened by chance?”

“If that’s the case my friend, then why do we have war and pestilence? Why does he cause a bus to crash that kills 40 people, and when one person survives we call that God’s intervention – a miracle? Isn’t that a dreadful thing to do to us?

That great Greek thinker, Epicurus, said,

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing?

Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able, and willing?

Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing?

Then why call him God?”


Entry 2 – NO LIES

Words – Him 97           Her 67

“Excuse me mister, but my friend Shyanne would not lie to me!”

“No, I reversed out of the parking bay and as I went into first gear, there was the slightest touch onto the rear of a car in the opposite bay. I got out; there was no damage to either vehicle, so I drove away.”

“Shyanne said it was an older man who stove in the passenger side front of my car. She said it was you in a dark blue car.”

“Hey! I’m thirty-three. My car is light blue, not dark, and, if yours was so badly damaged there would have to be some damage to mine. Check please.”

“No, there’s no damage, and it is light blue. But she said it was you in the Aldi carpark.”

“I was in Coles next door. I saw a girl smash a bollard in Aldi. She was young, wearing a red top and tartan skirt.”

“Shit, it was bloody Shyanne! The lying little bitch!”


Entry 3 – Stand in Judgement

She struggles onto the tram, finds her balance and looks around for a seat. Grabs a strap and glares at the young bloke seated near her, his hoody pulled down, eyes on his mobile phone.

“Typical,’ she grumbles, lips pursed, ‘always looking at the phone, doesn’t see anyone else. Just like the rest of them. Look at that dirty jumper, and jeans in tatters, what would his mother think of him?’

She grips her purse firmly in front of her, and tightens her hold on the strap.


The young bloke’s in his own world, looking at photos of his parent’s European holiday. He’s happy; has the house to himself while they’re away.  Needs to plan for the exams coming up, so gets off the phone, stuffs it in his pocket and glances up.

He catches sight of her standing there, trying to hold on, and feels a tug of his heart. ‘She looks just like my gran,’ he thinks, and jumps up. ‘Sorry, have a seat, I didn’t see you’. He senses her hesitations so moves away, thinks again of his gran and dials her number.


She grunts, plonks down on the seat and gives a loud sniff.


Entry 4 – The Street.

The young mum held tight to her little girl’s hand, staring, eyes narrowed, at the old man sitting outside the café. His hair was matted; beard scraggly. As he muttered to himself he picked at his fingernails, black and dirty from years of unwashed toil.

“I bet he smells horrible,” she thought, silently vowing to keep clear as she passed by.

Then she was distracted by the sale items in the store window and promptly forgot all about him.

We watched the street together, she and I. She arrived at my table with no announcement, plonked herself down and began her observations. Her ponytail bobbed as she talked, her large round preschool eyes smiling at me.

She liked talking to old people because they had lots of stories to tell.  She didn’t mind if people were fat and wobbly or skinny and knobbly. She smiled benignly at them all, passing us by as we chatted.

The young mum turned from the window, froze.

“Narelle – get away from that old derro; get into the bloody car!”

As her Mum grabbed her hand to drag her away, she looked back apologetically and gave me a sad, tentative little wave.

 Total word count:  197

Young mum – 99

Old man – 98





Entries close Wednesday 18th July at midnight. Voting will open as soon as possible after that and close at 8pm on Tuesday 24th July. Winner announced at Members Night July 25th.

Conditions of entry

Your entry must:

  1. Be in 12 point Times New Roman font
  2. Have single line spacing
  3. Have a title
  4. Include the author’s name
  5. Include the word count, not including the title
  6. Be submitted as a Word.doc, or .docx file (PDF files lose all formatting in their transition)
  7. You must be a current member of Ballarat Writers.

Submit entries to: competitions@ballaratwriters.com.

June Flash Fiction

News!! This month’s Flash Fiction has a three way tie between entries # 2 (Johanna Botman) #6 (Guenter Sahr) and #7 (Neville Hiatt). Congratulations to all.

Welcome to Flash Fiction for June 2018.  See below Conditions of Entry for the fabulous entries!

This month’s challenge is a little different. You have 99 words. No more, no less. Any subject, any genre. BUT, you must use the word AMBITION as the 50th word.

That means 49 words, ambition, 49 words. No variation of the word AMBITION.

Let’s see what you can do with that. Good luck and, most of all, have fun.

Entries close Wednesday 20th June at midnight. Voting will open as soon as possible after that and close at 6pm on Tuesday 26th June. Winner announced at Members Night June 27th.

Conditions of entry

Your entry must:

  1. Be in 12 point Times New Roman font
  2. Have single line spacing
  3. Have a title
  4. Include the author’s name
  5. Include the word count, not including the title
  6. Be submitted as a Word.doc, or .docx file (PDF files lose all formatting in their transition)

Submit entries to: competitions@ballaratwriters.com by 11.59 pm Tuesday 20th June 2018.Voting will open here the next day and will close at 6 pm on Tuesday, 26th  June.

Entry #1 – Mum Would Be Happy

It was the day my mother died. She was quite young really, only fifty-five. It had been a hard life for her. A loving husband, but no work. They had seven children to cook, clean, and provide for; almost impossible just on the dole.

She failed to achieve her ambition of being in showbiz, consoling herself in the knowledge that her offspring were educated, loving, and caring.

That day was the worst of my young life. Only thirteen, motherless, and trying to understand the wildly fluctuating emotions of puberty. My vow that day was to become her; an actress.

Entry # 2 – What I Should Have Done

I should have kept going past the city on the freeway that allowed me to rush past the skyline, past the traffic.

I would have kept driving through the night on roads waiting to be useful then disappearing in the darkness behind.

I had no idea. I had no ambition.

I could have driven on until I was alone.

Instead, I made the turn off the freeway, off the highway, into the street and parked in front of the house. They were waiting for me there. All of them. I was filled with anxiety when I faced them. Alone.

Entry # 3 – What’s in a Name?

Jane had planned to write a novel ever since she won the Flash Fiction competition in high school.

Tom scoffed, ‘Anyone can write a book.’

Maryanne frowned, ‘You won’t make any money from writing.’

Still Jane was not deterred; she’d succeed, for within her was the driving force of ambition.

But as the years rolled on, and her novel progressed, Jane found that ambition was not enough in the world of publishing. She sent her manuscript to numerous publishers, accepting the rejections with increasing alarm.

Until one day it dawned on her, and she changed her name to Jack.

Entry # 4 – Ambition

“How to succeed in business without really trying”

was his favourite movie,

and he had read Norman Vincent Peale’s

“The power of positive thinking” five times at just seventeen years old.

He studied accounting, then business management,

graduating with Honours and an MBA from Melbourne University.

His one burning ambition was to retire at thirty five

and travel the world in a manner he would

like to become accustomed to.

But the world conspired against him,

overworked and underpaid, and management

didn’t accept his pushy style.

All alone on his thirty fifth birthday

he admitted failure, and hanged himself.

Entry # 5 – My Fair Children

Mother was a woman of ample proportions. Her personality likewise was never mistaken for uncertainty nor ambivalence. That is until she met her second husband, Professor Higgins. No quiet lamb was he, I assure you. “Give me a boy and I’ll make him a man”, he asserted with grand ambition.

Simply amazing was his amplitude, the way he kept on and on at us, to make us in his image. Until at last, after two whole months, on the eve of the Royal Gala, she did it. Casting aside all ambiguity, she screamed “Admit it! You’ve inherited thirteen daughters!”

Entry # 6 – Life in the (write) zone

Oh, my gawd! Ninety-nine words, no more and no less.  What a seemingly difficult task (and somewhat contrived, as they all are!)  Only a particularly sadistic exponent of the art of creative writing would devise such a task; perhaps there is more than one such in Ballarat. Ah, yes, ambition, it drives us all.  Whenever there is a solitary exponent of a refined art, others are certain to become emulators after an appropriate interval; a tidal movement that ebbs and flows with some unique variations in content, but traversing the same inter-tidal zone where chaotic life thrives in abundance.

Entry # 7 – 2016

I grew up believing that driving a car would get me pregnant and kissing would give me cancer. Touching someone was how the devil got you to do what he wanted and using the telephone was how people could read your thoughts. I don’t think it was my mothers ambition to make me believe all these lies it was the voices. I know now that my mother was crazy. The world outside is scary and dangerous but it’s also beautiful and surprising. She’s dead now, but some days I think it was easier taking care of her than this.

Entry # 8 – Political Reality

He finally made it, anointed

as the Country’s Prime Minister.

He didn’t really understand

what this meant,

but he smiled anyway,

a smirk of insincerity

dressed up in lycra;

he just thought he looked really good.

His advisors weren’t going to tell him

anything different.

It was his focussed ambition,

he had made it,

he felt good, no great

and powerful,

he felt omnipotent.

But the problem with omnipotence

is that voters don’t like it,

and many worked to break it,

by consensus or a knife in the back,

it doesn’t matter either way.

Now he’s just a pest.

Entry # 9 – Mother Love

If only he could win something. An award, whatever the size, whatever the significance, would set him up. His blurbs would thereafter include the descriptor “award-winning” – a magnet for the eye. But our man George had come to know that (frustratingly) all dreams are unattainable when fuelled solely by ambition. George took a long hard look at himself. Could he live inside the boundaries prescribed by the depth and breadth of his talent? Self-publishing had never been in his career plan, and he doubted that his KDP earnings could feed his growing family. Perhaps his mother had been right.


Flash Fiction for May 2018

Thanks to all who voted – a larger number than we have had in recent times.

Joint winners this month! Entry #4 – Maureen Riches and Entry #5 – Johanna Botman

Well done!


Voting closes 6pm Tuesday May 29 2018. Enjoy.

Entry #1 – Return of the Prodigal

Father glanced up with startled surprise as Sally and I approached; my mother spinning around, confusion written across her face. I hesitated as my brother reached for his children, holding them close beside him.

I had not seen them since that day I flew out of the house, my father yelling abuse at me, his face suffused with rage, my mother collapsing.

‘You’re making this up,’ she screamed, as she slumped heavily in the chair. ‘Why are you doing this?’

I left and never looked back.

Now I see the years have wearied my father. Did he ever think of me during the years I struggled, my soul tortured by a sense of betrayal? And my mother, who now turns her head away and shrinks into herself, did she ever care?

I gaze at the scene before me of the picture-perfect family, and I’m flung back to those cold and lonely years I spent running – further and further away from the ugliness I felt around me, and within me.

But I’m no longer that lost and angry young man, and as I grip Sally’s hand, I stare at my father and know the day of reckoning has come.



Entry #2 – And About Time Too

“Hello Rosemary, thanks for coming. Glad you worked out my directions. How’s things?”

“Good Frank; good. Your map was sooo easy to follow. And you; how are you?”

“Just great. Umm, would you like to sit?”

“Yes, of course. What, no kiss?”

“I’m not that pushy; sorry.”

“It’s not pushy. It’s about time. Kiss please.” He goes to peck her cheek, she turns, they touch lips. “That’s better Frank. My, you’ve brought enough food for a family.”

“Umm, I wanted this to be special for; um, for us, for me, I mean, um …”

“It’s alright Frank. It’s sweet of you; and what a lovely spot you’ve chosen.”

“Um, Rosemary, um, you see this tree here?”

“Yes, it’s very old isn’t it.”

“My parents brought us here for picnics when I was young. It was very special for them. Um, ahh, it’s, it’s um, where Dad proposed to Mum.”

“How lovely.”

“Rosemary; I know it’s only been nine weeks, but …”

“The best nine weeks of my life actually, Frank.”


“Yes, really; I’m so happy when I’m with you.”


“Yes, really.”

“Oh! Will you, um, marry me; please?”

“Frank! I’ve been waiting! Yes, a thousand times, yes!”


Entry #3 – Too Close to the Truth

‘Sir take a look’

Leroy leans over peering at the photograph under the microscope, then grabs the table to steady himself.

‘Those cunning bastards all the high tech options of communication and they resort to coded messages hidden in a tree in a photograph.’

‘Get it to Abbey right away, tell her to work on nothing else until it’s decoded.’

‘No need Sir the message reads, 14th June 2018 19:00’

Leroy barely hears him as his attention is distracted by the breaking news on the TV.

American defense system fails as Seoul is bombed by North Korea.


‘The scene is still missing something.’

‘Put more Chinese take away containers in there.’




‘Sir take a look’

Leroy leans over peering at the photograph under the microscope, then grabs the table to steady himself.

‘Those cunning bastards all the high tech options of communication and they resort to coded messages hidden in a tree in a photograph.’

‘Get it to Abbey right away, tell her to work on nothing else until it’s decoded.’

‘No need Sir the message reads..’

No one hears him as their attention is distracted by the breaking news on their phones.

25 Million dead.


Entry #4 – No Picnic

‘I’d watch the caravans leavin’ town…all the other blokes haulin’ their families off on holidays. I’d tell meself, a man’s a mug…you should be doin’ that…but there woz never enough money. I worried how you kids felt at school with all yer mates talkin’ ‘bout where they’d been and what they’d seen.’

Dad is an old man now and I tell cheerful lies to comfort him. We had felt left out but we would never have expected a holiday. Mum’s constant worrying about bills meant we knew dad couldn’t afford train tickets to the beach, let alone a caravan.

‘We went away once though.’ He pulls a creased photo from his wallet – Dad, Nana, Uncle Jack and the kids somewhere I don’t recognise. I’m not in the photo and Dad just coughs when I ask.

‘Fitzroy Gardens,’ Mum says when I try her. ‘Jack took us on visiting days.’

‘Visiting days?

‘You were in the Royal Children’s for ages with meningitis. There was no Medicare then or health insurance and never much money after that.

There is a lump in my throat as it hits me. The reason Dad couldn’t be the bountiful father he longed to be, was me.


Entry #5 –  I Hate That Photo

That picture sat on the mantlepiece for years. I have always thought that he is staring at me but I am in the picture. You can’t see me.

I knew that look. It pierces me still. It’s the look he gave me when he was angry and perplexed at how he could have produced someone as stupid as me.

I remember the picnic. It was the only time his parents came to visit. He was anxious. I was eight – how could I have known that? Perhaps I didn’t know it then, but I came to know him with that look.

A private person, my father had made himself into his own man. His move to Australia was the ultimate opportunity to do that. No relatives, no other point of reference – complete reinvention to be what ever he wanted to be. Until they came to visit. Suddenly, all those generations of genetics were revealed, highlighted and reinforced. His created world spun out of control, out of the control that he had so carefully built.

I will never know what caused his anger that day but it echoes down the years through that stare.

I hate that photo.





Flash Fiction entries are open to Ballarat Writers Inc members only, but anyone may vote for their favourite story.

This month’s Flash Competition parameters are:

Key word/phrase:    There has to be a reference to the this image. For instance, the reference could be that it is a starting point for the story, it could be that the story is told from one of the participant’s point of view, the photo could be sitting on someone’s mantlepiece – anything, so long as it is mentioned in the short story.


Genre:     open

Word count:     No more than 200 words (the title is excluded from the word count)

Conditions of entry

Your entry must:

  1. Be in 12 point Times New Roman font
  2. Have single line spacing
  3. Have a title
  4. Include the author’s name
  5. Include the word count, not including the title
  6. Be submitted as a Word.doc, or .docx file (PDF files lose all formatting in their transition)

Submit entries to: competitions@ballaratwriters.com by 4 pmFriday, 25th May 2018.Voting will open here the next day and will close at 6 pm on Tuesday, 29th  May.

Our next Member’s Night is held at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel in Pleasant Street on Wednesday, 30th May where the winner of this month’s flash fiction competition will be announced. The evening starts at 7pm and all are most welcome. You can have a very good meal there from about 6pm and then stay on for the fun and frivolity.

April Flash Fiction Entries

Four entries this month. Please read, enjoy (and vote – if you are a member)

Entry #1 – KOALA BEAR?

  Outside the window, a gum tree’s mighty boughs stretched to the moonlight filtering through scudding clouds. High in its branches, a grey shapelessness hung from the main trunk.

The young Asian girl on the ground tugged at her boyfriend’s arm and pointed upward. “Look Guang, a koala bear,” she exclaimed.

The young man beside her looked up, and replied, “No, I do not see it Chizu.”

“There, near the top; it’s hugging the tree.”

“Oh yes, I think I see it – yes, I can. But I can tell you that while it may well be a koala, it’s not a bear. Before we came to Australia, I read that they’re marsupials that nurture their young in their pouch. They’re not bears at all.”

“Well thanks, Guang; you’re such a smarty-pants; but what about the Drop Bears that the nice bus driver was telling us about? Are koala bears, sorry, koalas, the same as the Drop Bears he was talking about? You remember, he said if we look up into a gum tree at night when there’s a Drop Bear in the tree, it will fall onto us as soon as we stop looking up.”

“No, Chizu, I wasn’t there when he said anything like that. I can’t imagine anything only falling on you when you stop looking; that sounds weirdly stupid. Sounds like a ‘let’s trick the tourist’ kind of thing. It’s not real.”

They turned away, and he suddenly screamed as a grey, soft, flat, and empty-looking thing, like a toy bear with the stuffing pulled out of it, landed with a ‘plop’ on his back.

She too screamed as she pulled at it before they both ran, shrieking, to the safety of the hotel foyer.

The bus-driver chuckled as he walked away with his toy and string.


Entry #2 – Easter Joy

Outside the window, I see the woman struggling along the platform as the conductor blows his whistle. He waits for her; she clambers onto the train, trying to catch her breath, and charges down the aisle. Heavily laden shopping bags swing back and forth, whacking disgruntled passengers as she pushes on. The train is packed, and the seat beside me is empty.

She flops down heavily, squeezing herself into the small space. The strong smell of cigarettes permeates the air. Sweat pours down her face and she’s gasping for breath. I offer to hold her bags as she gets out her inhaler, takes a puff and lets out a deep breath.

The bags are filled with Easter eggs. I’d suggest she load them onto the racks above, but this seemed unwise.

Her phone rings, she grabs it, stabs her finger on the screen, and yells out, ‘whada want?’

She listens, and yells again, “I told yous I’d get the f*****g Easter eggs, I’ve got them. What?… I got them at the Salvo’s.’

The woman across the aisle catches my eye, and I quickly look away.

‘What,’ she screeches, ‘you’ve got what?’ Silence ensures for a second as her face flushes red and angry.

‘How’d you get them?’ She sits bolt upright in the seat, ‘I’ve told you never to take money from that f*****g creep, haven’t I? What did he want?’ She attempts a deep breath, reaching for the inhaler.

‘Why’d he give you money?’ she yells again as she takes a quick puff. ‘Don’t give me that bulls**t, he always wants something.’

She’s struggling to talk. ‘I’ve gotta go, yous just wait till I get home!’ and jabs at the phone.

‘Bloody kids’, she grumbles, snatching back the bags.

The train whizzes through Footscray as the phone rings again…..


Entry #3 – Hugs

Outside the window was were I first saw her smile. She was hanging there in the morning sunlight.

I don’t think I’d ever saw her smile before. I knew her daddy was beating up on her bad, but what could I do I was just a kid too.  She didn’t look as bad as those kids on TV, but I wished she had someone to help her take a bath and clean her clothes. She never spoke not even when I gave her my snacks from school if I ever forgot to eat them. I’d give them to her when we got home. She would just take them and go inside.

We lived next door to each other on the first floor. She was already there when we moved in. I never heard any noises coming from their apartment. I sometimes wished I would so someone would do something. The teachers never seemed to do anything even when she kept missing days. She wasn’t at school the day they told us about the things parents shouldn’t do to their kids, I only hoped her daddy wasn’t doing that to her too.

That’s why I was so surprised to see her smiling when I looked out my window that morning. I’d asked her before not to do it, but she would often climb into that tree. I think she thought it was a safe place.

It was so dangerous to get there though. She had to climb out her bedroom window, stretch out to then cling to the edge of mine, before climbing over onto the tree. But there she was hanging there with a smile on her face, I’d never seen her happy before.

I think that rope hugging her neck might have been the only hug she ever got.


Entry #4 – Deliverance

Outside the windowless room at last, my lungs struggle with my first breath of freedom.

I’d endured more than two hundred days of confinement in darkness and isolation; silence except for muffled sounds that ignore my attempts to attract attention, with futile kicks and punches against the insulated walls and fortified door. Whoever put me here had prepared the space well.

Day after day, I lay in wait for another chance for rescue. Surely someone will realise I’m here and free me.

I’d woken abruptly from one of my long periods of sleeping. Sleeping had been the only escape available to me and I’d taken greedy advantage of it to stave off the terror that this was all my life would ever be.

It was like something had crashed into the room. Noises started to amplify. The floor quivered and quaked under me. Had someone finally heard me?

Something batters the walls. The room seems distorted and smaller from the incursion. If it keeps going it’ll crush me.

‘No!’ I yell. ‘Stop! I’m in here.’

I wait for the noise and battering to stop but it doesn’t. There’s nothing to do but despair at the irony of being entombed after all my days of waiting for deliverance.

Thump-thump! Roar! The sounds intensify and the room shakes violently, again and again. The forces must be deep and malevolent to cause such disturbance.

My heart pounds out a rhythm of panic. I have to work on the door so I push and push until its weakened structure starts to give way.

I forgot I was tethered, so I don’t think I’ll make it all the way out. Then something grabs me and tugs without mercy.

If birth is this hard, what will living be like?