CONGRATULATIONS to Alice Bhatt, winner of August’s Flash Fiction competition, for her story ‘A Closed Gate’. Take a look below to read the story.
August’s Flash Fiction prompt is “Please shut the . . . “
You are limited to 250 words (not including the title).
Our Flash Fiction prize is 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.
Voting closes at 11.59 pm on Tuesday 27th August.
- 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 250 (discipline!)
Once entries are posted, voting will close at 11.59pm on Tuesday, 27th August. Judging may be moderated by non-entering member readers. The winner will be announced at our Members’ Night on Wednesday, 28th August.
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: email@example.com
Irene (in lieu of Phil while he’s sunning himself in Europe)
Thanks to all who submitted this month. Here are the stories awaiting your vote.
Entry 1 A Closed Gate
He had left the gate open. The ute was new, but I knew it was him. Flashy, yellow-green, the colour of envy – real farmers didn’t buy that sort of thing. Real farmers didn’t leave gates open. No one left gates open. No one, except him.
“I brought you your favourites!” He held up a packet of pine nuts. He looked pleased with himself.
I kept the screen door locked.
It had never ceased to amaze me how his sense of reality could be so utterly divergent. An onlooker could have concluded that he had just dropped in on his way back from the shops – that he had seen me yesterday – that we were in the honeymoon phase of our relationship. His face betrayed no recognition of the fact that we had not laid eyes on each other for three years. He seemed to have no recollection of the police, the courts, the fact that I had blocked his number and asked him never to contact me again. Still, even at the time, he had reacted to my decision to leave with astonishment. Why wouldn’t hospital staff allow him to see me? He’d said feminism would be the death of us.
“What sort of welcome is this?! You could at least say ‘thank you!’”
I kept my gaze steady.
“Please shut the gate on your way out.
I closed the door.
Entry 2 A Quiet Night at Home
Dom and Luke having a quiet night in front of the tv after a long day. They both had working long hours lately because they were having money troubles because of their plans to hire a surrogate to carry a baby for them. They were desperate to have a child together but it was so expensive dom feared that it would never happen. Luke was convinced that they would eventually make it happen but for the moment he was happy for it to be the two of them. Luke stood up and said “well I going to turn in for the night, please shut the lights off when you’re done” Luke then walked to their bedroom leaving dom to watch the end of the movie. Dom stayed up for a bit longer trying to quieten the thought buzzing around his head. Around midnight dom crawled into bed beside his husband and had sweet dreams of the family he hoped they would have.
Entry 3 Date Night
“Please shut the hell up,” she says, but we’re the only two people in the cinema, so I’m not going to.
“We need to talk about this,” I say. “And it’s not like you’re watching the film. You’ve been on your phone for the last half hour.”
“I’m listening to it,” she huffs into her little glowing screen. “I’m enjoying it. Or I was.”
“But you know what’s going to happen. Patrick What’s-His-Name and the blonde one will have a fight. She’ll leave town. He’ll come to his senses, chase her down and they’ll make out on a beach or something.”
“Of course I know that; it’s a rom com, it’s not Citizen Kane. If you shut up and listen, then maybe you’ll get something out of the movie too.”
She shoves the phone back in her handbag and snatches the popcorn. Meanwhile, Blondie has just started laying into Patrick What’s-His-Name.
“Told you so.”
“Do you really think,” she says, “just because you know how it’s going to end that the rest of the movie’s a waste of time?”
“A little bit, yeah.”
She throws the popcorn back into my lap and swings her handbag onto her shoulder. Without so much as looking at me, she gets up and storms out of the cinema.
“You’re such an arse,” says the blonde one as she slams the door on Patrick What’s-His-Name’s nose. Now she’ll be leaving town.
I scoff a mouthful of popcorn. It’s okay, they’ll be together in the end.
Entry 4 Moonlight and Dawn
“Please shut the … “ he jolted from the stupor into which he had sunk. The words echoed in the dim room. What had she said? Familiar clatterings from the kitchen drifted through the miasma in his head. Close the what? What was she on about! He was a procrastinator, he knew that. Shutting doors, closing minds, choosing sides, making decisions – all the same sort of thing. He liked to sit on fences. Anything else meant closing options, losing that vision where anything was possible. You still had to act in the end of course. He turned toward the kitchen shouting angrily “Close – what!!” And then he remembered. There was no-one in the house save himself. She had died, in this room, on this day two years ago. He had watched this day approach with dread. The night before he had started reading the philosophy textbook his concerned son had left. In case it had anything to offer better than the rope coiled and hidden beneath his bed. The door was slightly ajar. A thin strip of silver at its edges signalled – moonlight, or dawn? He stood, and groped his way over the debris of lost months and pushed the door open. Outside the approaching dawn glimmered on the edge of the paddocks, on his son’s head bent over a newborn lamb. Something inside his heart seemed to lift from the blackness within like a broken reflection rising from a stained mirror. Behind him a ghostly hand closed the door.
Entry 6 The Mountain Man
The sun felt so relaxing. The wild flowers smelt delightfully fresh. The mountain air had her longing to breath in another lung full without expelling the last. It was a rare moment of relaxation.
Frank left as soon as Elsbeth was born. He didn’t want a cripple for a daughter. Their small village had given her as much support as they could.
Every cent she could earn went towards Elsbeth’s care. They had never been on a holiday. High in the mountains thanks to an anonymous gift, Hilda was struggling to stay awake as the sun caressed her face.
As her mother dozed in the sun Elsbeth waved to the man walking his donkey.
“Would you like to say hello to him?”
“I would Sir but you’ll have to bring him closer.”
“Stand up and walk to him.”
“But I can’t Sir I was born crippled.”
“Stand up Elsbeth and walk to him.”
Elsbeth pushed up on her arms. There was something in his voice that compelled her to try. As she stood for the first time in her life she walked to him giving donkey a tearful hug hello.
Walking back to show her mother she stood above her thinking how different she looked from up here.
Hilda woke feeling cold as Elsbeth blocked out the sun.
An hour of tears later they walked back into their holiday cottage.
“Please shut the …” “Door” caught in Hilda’s throat. It felt so foreign saying that to her daughter.
Entry 7 Week One
‘Please, shut the bloody racket and get to sleep,’ Rob roared as he flung the blankets off and stomped to the door, slamming it hard. ‘Christ’, he thought, ‘how am I going to last another week of this!’
Two weeks he was to have them, after a fraught and long drawn-out battle in the courts. And now after one week his nerves were already shot. He took time off work, thought it would be a good break, but it seemed more like a prison sentence. Stuck here with two small active boys, he felt the familiar craving engulf him once again.
In the middle of the night he found the bottle, took a few swigs, and settled as sleep came smooth and easy.
When he woke he knew he had to get out of the house; meet up with his mates. He’d only stay a short while, long enough to have a cigarette and a quick chat. His mates understood what he was going through, they’d been there.
The morning dragged on, the boys constantly fighting and screaming. He gave them lunch, then sat them down in front of the television with a packet of chips and a coke, and told them he’d be back soon. With their eyes fixed upon the brightly colored screen, they barely heard him leave.
He shut the front door with a hard pull and checked the deadlock was in place. Scanning up and down the street, he hurried off towards the pub.
Entry 8 Wind of Change
What did you do to my walls? I’m not used to plaster sheet walls, they were all tongue and groove boards the last time I was here.
I’d like my blanket. The crochet one with the coloured squares please, and a cup of tea. If I can’t have my chair at least bring me my blanket, or did you change that too?
Neat squares, not a mistake anywhere, never dropped a stitch! Purple and green with a cream scolloped edge. I finished it the day before your father was born. Bought him home in it a few days later, all bundled up. That’s why I kept it. It reminds me so much of him… where is my Joe?
Joe, where are you? Oh Joe… so young, so young…
There used to be a vase there, on the mantle, in front of the mirror, with flowers from the garden. You should bring in some flowers, I can still see them out there, through the glass. At least they will always stay the same. Can’t break their spirit.
Have you heard from Vera? Is she coming for tea? You better bring another cup. She likes hers with milk and sugar, just lemon for me. In a pot. And unless you’ve moved them, there’s Jam Fancies in the tin above the stove. That’s all.
Oh and would you please shut the window. Though I fear it’s to late, the wind of change has long since blown in; guess I’m stuck with this now.