These are all the things I think when my sister tells me she’s pregnant

Fiona Dignan

That she is Sunday’s child, and I am Wednesday’s. That she glides through life with the grace of a swan. That I am the swan’s feet desperately flapping beneath. That I despise the fullness of her, the flatness of me. That it’s my fault my womb is a burst balloon. That it was she who accompanied me to the clinic when I was barely sixteen. That it was she who held my hand as the doctor said complication, infection, scarring.

That she is offering me the chance to love the nearest thing I will ever have to my own child.

This story won First Prize and the People’s Prize in the November 2023 Monthly Micro Competition

Author: Fiona Dignan started writing during lockdown to cope with the chaos of home-schooling four children. This year, she won The London Society Poetry Prize and The Plaza Prize for Sudden Fiction. She was a finalist in the LISP poetry competition and is Puschcart Prize Nominated.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The Ages at Which Her Faith in Justice Will Transform into a Plaintive Wish for Good Luck

Liv Norman

Watching her father’s shrug, his creeping smile, as he checkmates her again.
‘Fair win,’ he says. ‘Do better next time.’

Standing at the student bar with her boyfriend, his hand edging up her skirt as he drains pints.
‘Just my fair share,’ he winks. ‘Wear lace next time.’

Leaking breastmilk and tears in the meeting room, while her colleague announces his promotion.
‘Fair’s fair,’ he whispers. ‘Show up next time.’

Comforting her weeping teenage daughter, who should be safe at school, but wasn’t.
‘It’s not fair,’ she says.
Hoping that there won’t be a next time.

This story won Second Prize in the November 2023 Monthly Micro Competition.

Author: Liv Norman is a writer of short fiction and lives in Surrey with her husband and three children. Credits in Splonk, Retreat West, NFFD, Paragraph Planet.

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

Eve and Adam, 1955

Emma Phillips

There was a bonfire but instead of Guy, they torched an effigy of you. My mother’s hot dog lips fixed in a grimace as your straw goatee fizz crackled. The Waltzer churned my stomach; I vomited apologies into the grass.

When they ran you out of town, they thanked the Almighty for my release, as if God could ever take me Ferris wheel high.

You were the devil’s own, pinking my cheeks until I was spun to candy floss. They hollered good riddance to flames as you burned. I licked my lips, longing for that toffee crunch of the apple.

Author: Emma Phillips grew up by the M5 in Devon, which led her to big cities, then Asia, before she returned to her roots in 2013 to bring up her son. Her work has been placed by the Bath Flash Award, Best Micro fiction 2022, Free Flash Fiction Competition and her words appear in various places in print and online. Her flash collection Not Visiting the SS Great Britain is forthcoming from Alien Buddha Press. She tweets @words_outwest.

Photo by Mark Fletcher-Brown on Unsplash

Fairground Distraction

Julian Cadman

Watching the passing plane, Sarah pondered whether the turbulence on their honeymoon flight had been an omen.

A passing unicorn, dipped in front of her, as if mocking the trajectory of her marriage. Had ‘I do’ become ‘I’m done’?

She waved as her children passed by, then looked over at her husband, back turned, engrossed in his mobile. Maybe his secret mobile, she’d discovered last week.

Looking back at the children, she smiled as their horse and racing car began slowing down on the carousel.

Was her marriage going round in circles as the attraction was coming to an end?

Author: Julian Cadman lives and works in Hampshire and took up Creative Writing as a hobby seven years ago. He particularly enjoys writing flash fiction and short stories.

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Fragile Night

Gabe Sherman

Her skin is delicate like tissue paper: sinew and wrist bone, her insides wrapped tight like they’re trying to be her outsides. She’s white but not like heavy cream, more like a hemophiliac — she exudes translucence. I want to hug her.

Gentle, I remind myself, floating toward the doorway.

In my arms, she is sand, spilled across the floor, which is to say I feel myself losing time through cracks in the hardwood. It’s so late the night suggests first light and I’m struck because I miss my mother, my grandmother, my sister, the gnarled oak roots in Northeast Ohio.

Author: Gabe Sherman is a writer based in New York. He loves to cook, play basketball, and watch the seasons change.

My Sister’s Life Was Nothing Like A Rollercoaster

Alison Wassell

The sensation seeking life was not for Louise, the adrenaline adventure, the racing heart, the dizzying heights, the freefall plunge, anticipation, fear, the exhilaration of those moments left hanging upside down.

The dodgems, though, she could relate to. Day following day, zooming around the same small circle, going nowhere, fast, the bumps, the shunts, the occasional pile-up, the knowledge that someone else’s finger flicked the switch that controlled it all.

Hook a duck is more her thing now. Placidly paddling, you’d struggle to pick her out from the crowd. Sunshine yellow on the surface, only she knows the scars inside.

Author: Alison Wassell is a short story, flash and micro fiction writer with no plans whatsoever to write a novel. Her work has been published by Reflex Fiction, Retreat West, Bath Flash Fiction Award, Ellipsis Zine, Litro, NFFD and The Phare.

Photo by Nik on Unsplash