The Winter of Relationship

Dettra Rose

A harsh white blanket spread across the sky and every grassy blade.

Penny’s fingers numbed sticking posters to lampposts.

Missing Cat. Freddy.

Later, her husband, Rob, said, ‘I never wanted that cat,’ and dumped Freddy’s dish in the bin. Penny fished it out.

A dead rat was on the doormat in the morning. Penny whispered, ‘Freddy?’ and hid a saucer of milk behind her bike. Rob turned the engine of his car, drove off in a snowstorm. Penny buckled in the silence. No goodbye, kiss or smile.

Three days later, Rob still wasn’t home. Penny didn’t put up any posters.

Mixing Milk Thistle Tea

Rae Cowie

Peat-smoke drifts from the fire, as she crushes tiny milk thistle seeds with a pestle.

He groans in the bunk; a sheet bunched by his pale feet. His complexion that of cream gone sour. No longer fit to roar that the neighbours call her a witch.

She adds boiled water and sets the cup to his lips. ‘For your liver,’ she says.

He gulps. A dribble trickles across his cheek. She wipes his greying stubble with a cloth.

‘Tastes foul,’ he manages, before slumping against the mattress.

Elderberries gleam, like beads of black jet scattered across the table.

She waits.

This story won First Prize in the Sept 21 Monthly Micro competition.

About the author: Rae Cowie’s flash fiction has been shortlisted in Flash 500 and the Scottish Association of Writers’ competitions, as well as being longlisted for the Bath and Cranked Anvil awards, and published by Retreat West, Romance Matters and Potluck Zine. Her short stories have been longlisted by Fish Publishing and published in the Scottish Book Trust ‘Rebel’ anthology, The Scottish Field Magazine and Northwords Now. She writes in rural Aberdeenshire, creating a debut anthology, one flash at a time.

My Velcro-baby

Rosaleen Lynch

I have a velcro-baby, her skin loops like mine, born from a womb of hooks, unable to keep others as secure as the fastenings on her baby shoes, her caesarean cut the hook and loop, to peel her out of me, but a burdock burr won’t stick to another burr, or a chestnut to another and she won’t sleep on my chest like her father’s, or latch onto my breast like books show every other mother’s breast, we’re both loops, can’t bond, we’re too alike, her father says when she turns teen and runs rings round me, and we circle the same ground, spiral until he connects us again, the hook to our loops, and when the clock-hand spins its wheel of fortune, taking him in its embrace, we turn in on ourselves in cycles of pain and self-help books, closed-off until I cut through my loops to make hooks.

This story won First Prize in the Online Flash Fest Micro Competition.

About the author: Rosaleen Lynch, an Irish community worker and writer in the East End of London with words in lots of lovely places and can be found on Twitter @quotes_52 and

Conscious Connected Breathing: A Beginner’s Guide

Releases unresolved issues

Inhale. Exhale. How can breathing clear years of anger and suppressed emotion? I flick my eyes open, gaze around at those in cross-legged nirvana. Maybe.

Allows confidence to grow

He destroyed every shred of self-belief. I couldn’t cook, was a useless partner, hopeless mother. His dismissive snort shattered every aspiration. Force the chatterbox monkeys out of your head, the teacher said. Focus on the breath.

Improves physical health

It started with one glass, poured in the kitchen with the fridge open. Hoped his blaring TV would drown out glugging Chardonnay. Ended with clanking bottles smuggled into the bin in the early hours. I inhale. A sensation of blood flowing, purging within.

Experience the sensory body

I hear breathing around me, a wave vibrates from the community of silent strangers.

I feel my mind release the endless spiralling thoughts.

I see my way out of the labyrinth.

This story won Second Prize in the Online Flash Fest Micro Competition.

About the author: Denise Bayes is a teacher in Barcelona who writes short fiction especially Flash and Micro. She has been shortlisted in Retreat West, Flash 500, Wells Literary Festival and NFFD NZ Micro Madness. She loves all things Flash.

All the women in my world

Eleonora Balsano

To the heartbroken girl sobbing in the street at 5 am I’d say, Hang on in there, you’re getting stronger.

To the exhausted mother taking the motorway at midnight, her sleepless, screaming baby strapped in the car seat, I’d say, You’re doing it right.

To the fifty-three-year-old woman lying awake beside her husband at night and wondering, will I ever fall in love again? I’d say, It’s up to you.

To the white-haired lady in neon earrings and battered old fur crossing my street every morning, her steps heavy and tired, her chin powdered and fierce, I’d say, Please take my hand.

Tell me that all these years, the crushed hopes, the slivers of joy, the nights of despair, will make sense in the end.

That I, like the others, will make it alive.

This story won Third Prize in the Online Flash Fest Micro Competition.

About the author: Eleonora Balsano is a journalist and writer based in Brussels, EU. Her short fiction has been featured or is forthcoming on publications such as FlashFlood, Retreat West, Micro, Fictive Dream and others. Eleonora lives with her husband, three sons and a feisty Jack Russell.


Slawka G. Scarso

At first their voices are camouflaged by our voices. Muffed by our chatter; by our children saying Mum, look at me, look at me; by the splashes in the water, and the portable radios hidden from the sun. Then, like a ripple, we start to notice. We point our toes, step on plastic chairs, to get a better view. As the first threats echo on the beach, we drop our books, our crossword puzzles, our conversations, and pull our mobile phones out. Our cameras film the fight, the moment the knife comes out, and slips in. We hug our children, cover their eyes, our cameras always pointing at the scene.

As the ambulance silently pulls away, the officers ask us what we saw, and why we didn’t stop them.

‘We don’t know,’ we say. ‘It was all so sudden.’

Then we count the views rocketing on our mobile phones.

This story was Highly Commended in the Online Flash Fest Micro Competition.

About the author: Slawka G. Scarso has published several books on wine in Italy and works as a copywriter and translator. Her stories have appeared in Ellipsis Zine, Streetcake Magazine, Necessary Fiction and Spelk, among others. She lives between Rome and Geneva with her husband and her dog, Tessa. You can find her on Twitter @nanopausa and on her website