BWI Flash Fiction Winner for June 2019

I apologise for the delay in advising of last month’s FF winner, but I’ve been having computer issues.

The winner was Rachel O’Neill with “Salty Tears”. Congratulations Rachel, and we hope you’ll be at our next Members’ Night on Wednesday 31 July at 6.30pm at The Bunch of Grapes to receive your commemorative engraved wine glass.

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BWI Flash Fiction competition for July 2019

Subscribe to the flash fiction update newsletter here.

Our Flash Fiction prize will be a commemorative wine glass engraved with the Ballarat Writers logo, and details of FF month, winner, and title of story if it’s not too long – the title I mean.
The BWI Flash Fiction Competition (FF) for this month (July 2019) is for a story, or poem, or otherwise, of not more than 300 words (NOT including the title). Write whatever it is, based around – imagine if you will, that there is a person standing outside a pizza shop with another person. One of them may, or may not, have magic powers. Write a story or some such.

Entries close at 11.59pm on Tuesday 23rd July.
Remember –

  • Times New Roman 12pt
  • Single line spacing
  • Must have a title or it will be rejected
  • Current BWI member
  • One entry each member
  • Submit as a ‘word file’
  • All conditions must be adhered to – e.g. not even one word over 300 (discipline!)

Voting will close at 11.59pm on Sunday 28th July. Judging may be moderated by non-entering member readers. The winner will be announced at our Members’ Night on 31st July.

Your entry must be sent as an attachment to an email file. In the email make sure to include your name, the title of your entry, and the word count of your entry.
Submit your entry to: competitions@ballaratwriters.com

Voting time for BWI June Flash Fiction

1          THE JOURNEY

The orchard stood on the crown of the hill in Mount Pleasant many years ago, but on the return of servicemen from the war, the need for more housing led to its demise. A few brave trees resisted this destruction. The gnarled apricot trees stood as silent testament to the orchard that had once thrived and every spring produced orange fruit in its upper branches.

The fruit was shared between the lorikeets, a family of possums and Ben and Caitlin. Sugar, lemon, ginger and apricots over a low heat made the jam that went into sterilised jars and used at picnics.

Grey clouds slowly rolled in from the west as Ben and Caitlin finished the last of the apricot jam on their scones baked earlier in the day. The rain hit suddenly and everything was loaded into the car except the empty jam jar which was abandoned to the storm.

The jar rocked on the old wooden picnic table and finally succumbed to a stormy blast, dropped off the slab and rolled down the grassy bank into the swollen creek. The Southern Ocean was no great distance away and the creek gurgled its way into the briny carrying the jar with it. The waves welcomed the jar and the next high tide carried it up the beach ready to greet the morning sunrise.

 

2          Still dark night

Momentarily content, I lie waiting in the silence until the world awakens. This treasured time is so fleeting. Before I can make a sound, birds are chirping. Cold air nips my skin, distant car engines scratch my ears, irritating my mind. Give it back- the quiet that is so quickly snatched away the moment one re-joins the waking world.

Darkness becomes dawn. Peace is now gone, emptiness dissolved. My bucket reminds me that it is still full. I fight with the sheets that tangle around my upper body, I battle with the crowd trying to climb into my bed. Responsibility, obligation, expectation, judgment, regret, commitments, concerns… they make no ordered cue but instead push in indiscriminately. Fatigue, heaviness, anxiety, depletion and survival all press against me like bargain hungry customers at a Boxing Day sale.

Pleading with the light to stay at bay, to let my eyes pretend that day has not yet intruded upon me, I tug at those same tangled sheets and bury myself under them. This cave is warm. This cave alludes to be safe. The weight of the covers is enough to remind me I’m alive, but is not enough to suffocate me. The dull glow creeping in at the edges, enough to guide me but not to blind me.

How I long for the return of the still dark night.

 

3          The Sands of Time

If I could put wisdom in a bottle, I’d set it to sail upon the pounding waves of the sea in the hope it would land in some far off foreign land. There to be found by a small child, scurrying along the beach, searching for lost or discarded treasures left there by well-off foreigners.

I can picture her in my mind’s eye as she looks with wonder at the strange object. She knows this is meant for her; for it is a message from her father, whose spirit she has always felt, but whose presence she has never seen. She hides it in the pocket of her straw bag.

She hurries on, holding it close, then catches sight of a bright trinket half covered by the sand. She pulls out a beautiful bracelet, with ruby stones attached to a gold bangle. Her eyes light up with joy; this she will keep for herself. Looking around quickly, she tucks it in beside the bottle.

She makes haste as her mother will be waiting for her return, bringing bits and pieces she has found to be cleaned and sold at the market. Heading towards the house, she can see her mother collecting the eggs. She hurries to a tin hidden beneath the mattress of her bed, quickly places her treasures and closes the lid.

Each night she strokes the bottle, and with it comes the wisdom of understanding:  her father is with her always.

 

4          A Quilt full of Memories

She sat on the edge of the beach a quilt covering her lap.

Every square evoking a memory from her life.

Her husband.

The honeymoon.

Their son.

All but memories now.

No grandchildren.

Nothing but this quilt left.

 

Her eyes once sparkled like the ocean.

Now her hair the colour of the white sand.

A quilt full of memories.

Love, the thread holding them all together.

The flowers her husband planted.

The medal awarded to her son after the war.

every square a marker in time.

Each memory as precious as the next.

 

An empty jar in her hands.

They met at this spot at dusk in 1959.

It was were they’d said goodbye to John.

Now she was saying a final goodbye to her Bert.

As the last rays of sunlight laid his ashes to rest in the waves.

Her gaze was lost in the horizon.

 

She pulled the quilt tight around her.

Her white hair covering the flowers her husband planted.

The places they had visited formed an edge around the quilt.

Memory after memory as their camper travelled mile after mile.

It sat in the parking lot now with a for sale sign in it’s window.

 

The moon illuminated the centre of the quilt.

6 hand prints all joined together in the middle of her back.

As special as all the other memories were.

Family was at the centre of it all.

 

5          Salty tears

In a bottle is a message,

Of love in times gone by,

Hope sees it floating aimlessly,

Through a silent anguished cry.

Tossed away regretfully,

This heart could not hang on,

So into the waves I set you free,

My favourite memories, gone.

 

The pink dusked sky grows darker,

It’s so real that you’re not here,

Recollection fails me

To recall your words so dear.

I look into the distance,

And realise my sad mistake,

I call out longingly to you,

But no sound can I make

 

My salty tears of nothingness,

Fall into the empty ocean.

Null and void of tenderness,

Understanding and devotion.

Now absent of all feeling,

I wade into the vacant space,

Gasping for breath as I slowly drown,

Reaching out for your embrace.

 

BWI Flash Fiction competition for June 2019

The BWI Flash Fiction Competition (FF) this month (June) is for a story of up to 246 words (NOT including the title) using this picture as the theme or prompt. Okay, so I don’t know how to put a picture in here – it was a picture of an empty glass jar on a sandy beach at dawn or dusk with gentle waves in the background. Use that mental image as your theme/prompt.

I was feeling a little whimsical when I wrote this 😊

Entries close at 11.59pm on Thursday 20th June.

Remember –

  • Times New Roman 12pt (most measurements are Roman)
  • Single line spacing (double is too much
  • Must have a title or it will be rejected (I need to know)
  • Current BWI member (it’s only fair)
  • One entry each (unless there are extraordinary extenuating circumstances)
  • Submit as a ‘word file’ (others are messy)
  • All conditions must be adhered to – e.g. not even one word over 246 (discipline!)

Judging may be moderated by non-entering member readers. The winner will be announced at our Members’ Night on 26th June (all being well)

Your entry must be sent as an attachment to an email file. In the email make sure to include your name, the title of your entry, and the word count of your entry.

Submit your entry to: competitions@ballaratwriters.com

BWI FF for May 2019

You all know the idea now. Be honest, be fair, and no email stacking please, not that anyone would, of course.

1          I Love You
He stood frozen. She had never said that before. They had been friends for years. She had even spent weeks in his country. Now here he stood about to leave hers and through the unfamiliar tears she says I love you.

His brain fires off multiple thoughts at once grinding everything to a halt. It’s like the old movies with steam coating the train platform in a haze of nostalgia and everything runs in slow motion. Except this is a city bus station and the driver looks like she ate puppies for breakfast.

Should he say it back, she looks so alone. What does she mean by it? They’ve been friends for so long. Does she want more or is she just sad to see her friend leave? The biggest question of all though is does he join the departing travellers or rejoin her?

2          To Leaf or Not To Leaf

Red and yellow leaves floating on the breeze from the south.

Climate change has not affected the autumn fall as the trees shut down from the icy blast.

Chain saws remove the last two years of growth from the plum and banksia trees.

The falling leaves reveal nests hidden for so long in their protective cape.

Leaves lying on the ground covering the soil and weeds, waiting for the rain to turn them into mulch.

Sun hiding behind the clouds, the smell of fresh quince pie wafting from the kitchen.

Time to enjoy the warmth from the crackling wood fire.

Poet’s Corner red mellowing the mind.

But wait its May, time to pay the Writer’s guild and enjoy another poet’s corner at the Java lounge.

3          Untitled

I think today might be a good day to die. I’m 70, and I am tired. I never thought I’d make it. Depression knocks you about but life drags you back. Its kids due to be picked up or a knock on the door or would be hypnotized by a dance of sun and shadow on the flooboards, or a phone call or the dog licking my hand. Suicide really  can be avoided just by getting through the next 10 minutes. In places where gun control is lax the highest number of fatalities is suicide. Its easy to skip 10 minutes when death is a slip of a finger away.  No more abyss to claw out of. Thoughts drift, and invade out of context and cornet of my mind reminds me I haven’t checked if the pink rose by the shed has flowered yet? I would like to die in my garden. To melt into the earth, the roots of a rose curled in the palm of my hand. I must force this old body from the chair though it takes all my strength. Reality is a picture with no depth yet an image of soft pink frilled petals and perfume calls, and I stand, I rejoin life, I will see the rose’s first blooming. It will only take a few minutes.

4          Join or Rejoinder

I really shoulda warned ya.

Be using grammar that Grammarly will scorn, yeah.

Turn the page if you’re feelin’ torn, yeah?

The premise is the audience you’re to reach,

oh this you’re to ponder.

 

Means and ends, you’re feelin’ mean.

Apocrypha apostrophe,

because you’re seein’ wicked kings.

 

But who speaks out, rattle their status quo?

Is it somebody you doth know?

Audience to such ends, grow.

 

But reach, a platform, a rebuilt step on the king’s broken ladder.

A place to launch mission.

Take a seat if you’re a fellow mad hatter!

 

Yeah, king’s coin at entry to tea party.

Ends and king’s meanness emphatically thematically can’t be told apart-ly.

Have to play the game to break the game,

contradiction and conflict at the heart of art.

You wanna live forever, marine? Or do you wanna head start?

 

Re-join to rejoinder, I’m gunna say it matters.

For a rejoinder at a TV screen just spatters.

En masse they hear our sabres rattlin’,

Re-join to rejoinder, audience be matterin’

Find your cause, writing prose no pause, open doors, rewrite laws, compassion calls.

But above it all, resist the fall, find the gall, re-join to deliver rejoinder all!!

Zeitgeist is waiting

5          You’re In or You’re Out

‘Hey, come over here and join us,’ Ted hollers, gut straining against a dirty shirt, the belt losing the battle. He wipes his nose on a sleeve and pulls up another stool, beckoning.

‘Pour us another one Pat,’ he yells to the barman. ‘And one for this good looking sort,’ he adds, leering at the woman approaching the bar.

‘No thank you, I don’t want a drink,’ she retorts, lips pursed as she backs away.

‘Hey don’t get uppity with me missy,’ he snapped. ‘Doesn’t hurt to be civil; too good for us here hey?’

He lunges towards her, falls off the stool and plunges head first onto the edge of the bar. Blood spirts from his crusty scalp.

His mate grabs him, hauls him to his feet. ‘Come on Ted, you’ve had enough, time we went home.’

‘Bitch, who does she think she is,’ Ted grumbles and glares at the woman. ‘What do you expect, coming in here to the men’s bar, dressed like that,’ he barks.

‘Don’t worry about it Ted,’ his mate mutters, giving him a pat as they head towards the door.

‘I’ll be watching you!’ Ted yells out.

‘Take no notice of him miss, he doesn’t mean any harm’, the barman chortles. He gives a jerk of his head. ‘The ladies lounge is out the back.’

6          To Go or Not to Go?

It’s that time of year again. Australia Day. Which means only one real thing – start of the school year.

Tomorrow I start the treadmill again – try to get him up in time for school. That means try to get him to bed tonight at a decent time. But can’t stop the in-bed stimming. No iPad, no TV, no radio, not even a book. But still he stims. And loud. Enough to keep me awake. Allowing me the pleasure to lie in bed and worry.

Once we are finally there, it will be dealing-with-the-new-teacher time. After that is dealing with the new integration-aide …

I’ve learnt to dispense with homework long ago. Don’t bother with the readers. Once he’s home it’s Golden Gaytime, Playschool, then the trampoline, right up to teatime.

Imagine. Imagine. If we didn’t join, if we homeschooled. I take him to the zoo, the beach, bushwalking; we could try to identify every bird in Australia, then maybe the world. Go to bed when we want, get up when we want. Maybe after a few years I’ll regret it – but sounds too attractive now.

If I can … reach down … find the phone. Good. Scroll through, switch off the alarm. Sigh! Now roll over and go to s l e e p …

 

FF for May 2019 – “Join”, or, “Re-join”.

May is the time for you to join, or re-join, Ballarat Writers. It would, therefore, seem appropriate to have as our FF prompt the thought of “Join or Re-join,” That’s the theme or prompt for you, and you have up to 222 words to use (NOT including the title).

Entries must be in by midnight on Wednesday 22nd May 2019. Voting will open soon after and close at 12 noon on Tuesday 28th May. The winner will be announced at the Members Night on Wednesday 29th May 2019 at The Bunch Of Grapes Hotel in Pleasant Street Ballarat.

Conditions of entry

Your entry must be sent as an attachment to an email file. In the email make sure to include your name, the title of your entry, and the word count of your entry, not including the words in the title of your entry.

  1. Be in 12 point, Times New Roman font.
  2. Have single line spacing.
  3. Have a title.
  4. Be submitted as a word.doc, or .docx file, (PDF files lose all formatting in their transition) If you use PAGES on a Mac then you can still save the document as a .docx file, or you can download WORD for Mac (I think WORD is best, but that’s just me).
  5. You must be a current member of Ballarat Writers. That’s why the theme/prompt is about joining.
  6. One entry per member.
  7. All conditions as above must be adhered to – e.g. just one word too many, or the wrong font, will invalidate your entry.

Judging may be moderated by non-entering member readers.

Please make sure you make full use of F7, and, or, GRAMMARLY. Call me if you need assistance with these, on 0409023919.

Submit your entry to: competitions@ballaratwriters.com        Happy writing – Phil

VOTING for BWI April FF

Please vote carefully for the entry you consider best in areas including, readability, appropriate spelling and punctuation, general grammar, syntax, and ‘feel’.

Voting closes at 11.59pm on Monday (Easter Monday) 22 April

1 Captured by a Genius.

The emotions I felt as I read those first words were ones I rarely felt in my job. My red pencil normally needed sharpening before the end of the first page. I left it neglected on my desk that night  as I read chapter 2 on my walk to the train. Dinner went cold as I devoured chapter 4.

I knew so much would need to be cut. It was as if his brain was the train engine and he’d held pages above the smoke stack collecting every single thought as he powered forward at full speed. Yet I felt every single page belonged in a frame hanging in the Louvre.

As the candle wick extinguished in the puddle of melted wax, I crawled into bed unable to stay awake any longer. As soon as the sun pierced my eyelids I fell back into a world I’d lived in but never experienced like this. The imagery was like a weekend lived every day of the week.

I don’t know what happened in my home that weekend I was transported into a world I knew I had to share with the world. Editing it was going to be the challenge of my career. How to mould and shape this manuscript into something that would sell without losing it’s soul. When that day finally arrived though, what a day it would be.

2         The Colour Red

Four year old Amy spins around and around in her new red coat, the grass soft upon her feet. The birds in the forest beckon as she takes off through the open gate, and scampers down the path.

Inside the house the family celebrate her grandfather’s birthday. Balloons float above tables of food and drink.

Out the back of the homestead the children play, caught up in a game of cricket.

Paul wanders outside to the watch them, drink in hand, looking for the red coat.

‘Where’s Amy?’ he calls, an edge to his voice.

Robbie yells, ‘She’s out the front,’ and takes off after the ball.

‘I told you to look after her,’ he bellows.

‘She’s just dancing on the grass,’ Robbie retorts.

Paul heads around the side of the house, calling out. The front lawn is bare and his heart misses a beat as he notices the open gate. His eyes fly up to those on the patio.

‘Is Amy inside? Have you seen her?’ he shouts, panic rising in his voice.

His brother disappears inside then dashes back to the patio. ‘No she’s not here.’

Frantic now, Paul flies down the path.

At the edge of the creek he catches a glimpse of the colour red floating amongst the reeds. Overwhelming emotion engulfs him as he slumps to the ground, and lunges forward.

A torturous wailing echoes through the forest.

3         Emotion

He couldn’t talk anymore, his breathing too laboured and now choking him.

He let go of my hand and made the sign of the cross with his left thumb on hog forehead .

I had never seen this before.

He coughed and was quiet.

All over.

Relief the main emotion I felt, then sadness and love.

 

4         The Storm

Fishing boats

On rainy seas,

Wash out of the dark

And through the waves.

 

Towards the shore,

Cliffs timelessly bleached,

Like looming headstones

On certain graves.

 

A fear delights

Within the heart,

Against the will

Of frightened man.

 

A torture riles,

And stirs the gut,

Then churns the swell,

Waters and sand.

 

It twists their minds

Sense of control,

And strangles,

Each exhausted breath,

 

Vindictively longing

To take them down,

One last swallow,

To morbid depths.

 

A vacuumous pull

Brings the darkest dread,

Sucked from the surface,

Out of the light,

 

Into the black

Of Poseidon’s throat,

He splutters and coughs,

They desperately fight.

 

Kicking out teeth,

Clinging to tonsils,

One well placed punch,

Then spasmatic release,

 

Ejected from

The salty gullet,

Back to the rhelm

Of pending peace.

 

Gasps of confusion,

Gasps of relief,

Tired bodies tossed

On the surface still rough.

 

They roll to the rocks,

Coral tearing their skin,

Praying to God,

That their strength is enough.

 

But the perilous sea

Shows no emotion,

Saline spray will not

Quench their thirst,

 

With each rolling wave,

They are losing the battle,

As daylight fades

The storm grows worse.

 

Into the small hours

Their weary souls cling,

Held tight to the hope,

That they will be found,

 

And as morning breaks,

Their hearts lie, still waiting,

Poseidon named victor,

Of this final round.