Natural Erosion

by Karen Jones

“You’re like the Queen,” he used to joke, “taking your handbag everywhere, even to the beach.”

She knows she should miss him, miss the children. She does miss the sea, the shock of spray on her face. Not the sand. Not those ground down particles of something that used to be bigger, stronger, scratching at feet already itching to leave.

Back in the city she inhales exhaust fumes and fast-food outlet fake aromas and feels at home. She’ll call what he thinks of as home later. On the underground she clutches her handbag to her chest, trying to stay afloat.

This story won First Prize in the February 2021 Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Karen Jones is a flash and short story writer from Glasgow. Her work is included in numerous anthologies and magazines and frequently found on long and short lists. Her story, Small Mercies, was included in Best Small Fictions 2019 and nominated for The Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She is Special Features Editor at New Flash Fiction Review. Her novella-in-flash, When It’s Not Called Making Love, is published by Ad Hoc Fiction.

Details About a Purse that Occupy the Mind as we Wait for a Prognosis

By Laurie Marshall

What matters is not so much the size, but the shape and material it’s made of. A square, hard-sided bag will hold a precise number of items with no room for last minute additions. A small package of tissues might gain access, but why weren’t they the first thing in? The rest – lipstick, lotion, gum and mints (yes, both) wallet, keys, phone charger, Tylenol, list of prescriptions, pens, reading glasses, and the watch she wears even though the time is right there on her phone – none of these will matter on the day you carry your mother’s purse for her.

This story won second prize in the February 2021 Micro Fiction Competition.

About the author: Laurie Marshall is a freelance writer and collage artist in northwest Arkansas. Her flash fiction has appeared or is forthcoming at Paragraph Planet, Janus Literary and eMerge Magazine, and will be included in the 2021 anthology from Two Sisters Writing & Publishing. She shares her space and heart with her husband, teenage son, too many pets, and not enough houseplants. @LaurieMMarshall on Twitter

The Truth About Lobsters

By Sally Doherty

Fisherman John would meet me here with two lobsters every Saturday. He’d press them into my hands with a wink and a squeeze. It was his dimpled smile that softened my shell though his kisses tasted of salt and his calloused skin was rough against my own. People say lobsters mate for life. But that’s not true. Male lobsters are promiscuous sods. Sooner or later the female has to fend for herself with ten thousand eggs under her tail. People say lobsters don’t feel pain. But that’s not true either. Beneath the tough exterior, they are tender and raw.

This story won the People’s Prize vote in the February 2021 Micro Fiction Comp.

About the author: Sally Doherty lives in leafy Surrey with her husband and three-legged Labrador. She dabbles in flash fiction with pieces published by Reflex Fiction, Spelk Fiction, Ellipsis Zine and Funny Pearls, and she has twice won Retreat West’s micro fiction competition. She is also the judge for WriteMentor’s quarterly flash competition. Primarily, Sally writes middle grade novels. You can find her on Twitter @Sally_writes , Facebook and on her blog

Laura Geddes Married a Doctor

Donna Greenwood

It reminds her of the time she inter-railed around Europe with Laura Geddes. They’d lost their traveller’s checks and had to sleep on a bench at Utrecht station. The smell of dust and piss at Kings Cross conjures up this teenage memory. Of course, she’d been fearless then, when the darkness had no face.

She pulls the coat over Ethan’s legs as he sleeps on the bench. Charlie nestles under her parka, thumb in mouth. He’s retreated back to babyhood. Without bitterness, she remembers that Laura Geddes married a doctor who doesn’t threaten to kill her children in the night.

This story is joint winner of the People’s Prize vote in the January 2021 Micro Fiction Competition.

About the author: Donna L Greenwood writes flash fiction, short stories and poetry. Her work has been nominated for Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction. She has won or been placed in several writing competitions, the most recent being Molotov Cocktail’s ‘Flashpocalypse’. Her most recent work in print can be found in ‘The Corona Book of Ghost Stories’, ‘A Girl’s Guide to Fly Fishing’ (Reflex Press) and ‘You, Me and Emmylou’ (Ellipsis Zine).

After Our Oldest Leaves for University

Sam Payne

Our youngest wants to know when her wings will grow. It’s bedtime and she’s having trouble sleeping in the big room all alone.

Soon, I say. Soon, like her sister, she’ll throw her arms wide, find feathers unfolding into wings.

I list the birds she could be: a hummingbird, shimmering golden green; a nightingale, pink throat open, singing to the moon; or an eagle soaring close to snow-capped mountains in a bare blue sky. 

When she’s sleeping softly as a gosling, I tuck her in, kiss her forehead and double check the window on my way out of her room.

This story was joint winner of the People’s Prize vote in the January 2021 Micro Fiction Competition.

About the author: Sam Payne is a writer living in Devon. She holds a BA in English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing. In 2020 she was awarded first place in Flash 500, runner up in the Retreat West music themed quarterly competition and third place in the 15th Bath Flash Fiction Awards. She tweets at: @skpaynewriting


Linda Grierson-Irish

You’d always wanted to fly away.

Your obituary charts your ascent. Local boy made good, role model for a fledgling generation. Hope and stardust in an airborne metal gift box. The sky’s the limit, for those who’re willing. 

Our town remembers you with a ceremony. The school kids hang wonky Boeings, fluttery with foil and expectation. The mayor cuts a ribbon for your portrait in the library.

But I remember your hand on my mouth. The sudden leering pitch of the chapel roof. The wingbeat scuffle of a bird who’d blundered in by mistake, scrabbling to find a flight path.

This story won Second Prize in the January 2021 Micro Fiction Competition.

About the author: Linda Grierson-Irish lives in Manchester UK. Her stories have appeared in journals and anthologies, been shortlisted twice for the Bridport Prize, included on the BIFFY50 2018-19, and received two honourable mentions for Best Microfiction 2019.