Quiet

Mum doesn’t agree with enclosed/silent orders, nuns who waste their lives praying when they should be helping people. You silently dissent. Extreme nunhood is for you the ideal, unlike being in a rowdy family.

Books about nuns keep arriving from the Catholic Book Club. You know eighteen is old to be accepted for a noviciate. Best apply the moment you turn fifteen.

Or get a quiet job, buy a quiet flat/house, live a quiet life. And find quiet places to go on holiday, places that smell of incense.

Mum sighs. “You were a bouncy little girl, but you went quiet.”


This story was shortlisted for the September 2023 Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Frances Gapper’s stories have been published in three Best Microfiction anthologies and online in places including Splonk, Switch, Wigleaf, Twin Pies, trampset, 100 word story and New Flash Fiction Review.

My Name Was Different

I apologise to dad in the Arrivals Hall.

‘The flight was delayed. Hardly your fault, was it?’ He takes my backpack, saying, ‘That smell is familiar. How was Amsterdam?’

I describe cafés and riding bikes downhill without brakes. I don’t say that I arrived early at Schiphol, checked in, then fell asleep across metal chairs. Or that upon waking, my eyes opened directly into eyes the colour of Delft Blue, and we spoke fast, ignoring our lack of common language. Or that my name was different in Dutch, announced repeatedly by loudspeaker until I understood, rose and ran without turning.


This story was shortlisted for the September 2023 Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Kate Coghlan is a freelance writer/editor with an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths. Her work has been published by Mslexia, Loft Books, the Dulwich Festival, Spillwords, Visual Verse and the Personal Bests Journal. Twitter/X @Kate_Cogs

Hindsight

If, opening the fridge, you had noticed the last two eggs and decided to poach them, instead of cereal, or if I had not pointed out the baby sick stain on your shoulder, or if Eliza had not pleaded with you to hear her spellings, or if you had not paused to brush my hair off my tear-streaked face and tell me what a great job I was doing, then the woman who lost control of her Fiat Panda at 8.46am this morning would have ploughed into someone else’s life, and today would have been a day like any other.


This story was shortlisted for the September 2023 Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Alison Wassell is a short story, flash and micro fiction writer from North West England.

Needs Must

We’re not sure who first came up with the idea, but we all applauded when the decision was made. We turned out with balloons, tight and shiny as blisters, the day the Pump was pieced together in the dead centre of town. Faced with the need for more and more sacrifices, the Pump has now streamlined the process. Of course, it takes at least two men to operate, three if there’s a struggle, and it isn’t without its heartbreak. But it’s efficient. There’s hardly any mess, now they’ve perfected the procedure. I’ve started a business selling earplugs, which is thriving. 


This story was shortlisted for the September 2023 Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Katie Holloway writes tiny stories in the south of England. She is often tempted to uproot her family to go and live in a tree. Katie has received a DYCP grant from the Arts Council England, a nomination for the Pushcart prize, and the first prize in the 2023 Retreat West prize (flash fiction category). Katie tweets @KatieLHWrites

Instruction Manual For ‘Fitting In’ At Your New School

  • Make sure your mask is fitted correctly before leaving the house; set it to ‘fixed smile’; don’t allow any hairs to stray.
  • Keep your fiddle toys hidden in a secret pouch in your blazer. Only use in EXTREME emergency.
  • If you feel the urge to stim, pretend you are a statue: keep your hands by your sides; count to ten.
  • Don’t speak unless spoken to. Stick to subjects of interest to your peers. NEVER mention your niche hobbies.
  • When Mum asks how your day went, set mask to ‘I’m OK’.
  • Once you are alone in your room, you may self-combust.

This story was shortlisted for the September 2023 Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Originally a journalist and sub-editor, Sarah Barnett’s words have been performed by Short Story Today and Act Your Age Productions. She’s been published in Flashflood 2021 and 2023, Paragraph Planet, Five Minutes, Retreat West, and Free Flash Fiction. She also has a speculative novel in the works.

A Beginner’s Guide To Displacement

Callie raises her hand long after other students give up. Mrs. Wilson announces, “Right again.” Later, Callie will sit alone at the lunch table working out an equation. Even later, she’ll graduate cumma sum laude in engineering, get hired by a top firm, and spend her weekends calculating power output and friction loss. On Mondays she’ll sit at a conference table. The project leader will ask a question. Callie will raise her hand. Her male coworkers will call out answers. She’ll accept a beer after work, rebuff sexual advances, and wonder what to do when the numbers don’t add up.


This story was shortlisted for the September 2023 Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Sally Simon is a retired teacher writing from upstate New York. She’s putting the finishing touches on her first novel.