Consolations

Kate MacCarthy

Early on in the yawning chasm days, a flock of jackdaws flew by as I opened the curtains onto a pale dawn. Hundreds of arrow-fast inky dashes disappeared over the horizon, and I refused to think it was you. 

You weren’t in the kingfisher I saw by our river or the train ticket bookmark I found in a paperback. The feather at my feet was just a feather at my feet, although I picked it up and kept it. Nonsense, you would have said. There are no consolations. 

Today, the jackdaws flew past at dusk. A whole sky of them.


This story was shortlisted in the November 2021 Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Kate MacCarthy is a writer based in Yorkshire.

A Sign of the Times

Stephen Gallagher

Every breaking wave ushers in that great hush you hear right now, the half-remembered memories, childhood holidays, waves, sea, the blind woman with the dog, the old man selling periwinkles, the blowholes on the cliff tops gushing spray up into the sky remembering when they were Gods. The sea-side traders, yelling, selling their merchandise. All the signs of a previous life. 

Now, November, on the beach each hush carries a smile, a gesture, a snippet of a conversation, a burst of fragmented audio, light/dark, past/present, and those Derridean binaries returning from the past like static on a broken radio.


This story was shortlisted in the November 2021 Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Stephen is a writer from Ireland.

A Man With a Cracked Heart Walks into a Bar

Sharon Boyle

Concealed words riddle his body: fractured across his heart; overworked – liver; underused – penis. He taps the pint glass, glancing at her on the bar stool opposite. Lonely scrawled on her forehead. And round her heart, a wavering impaired

She too must have a trail of regrets clattering at her heels. 

He chances a smile. She looks away. He dips his head, sips his pint, his eyes flicking up. 

And he catches it, the sign: her lips softening, just for a second.

Soon he’ll go over and talk, hesitantly. She’ll remain guarded till, relaxing, her heart shivers and settles on paired.


This story won the People’s Prize in the November 2021 Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Sharon lives in East Lothian and writes around her part-time job and family life. She has had several short stories and flash pieces published on-line and in magazines, including Ellipsis Zine, Exeter Writers, Writers’ Forum and Cranked Anvil. She tweets as @SharonBoyle50 

She is Everywhere and Nowhere

Kimberley Shiel

Anna wasn’t my real mom, but she stayed the longest. 

After she left, I relived every fantastical bedtime story she told me, from feeding a baby kangaroo in Australia, to dancing the samba in Rio de Janeiro. 

Dad called her a lying tramp. 

Sometimes, I believe that I chose to travel the globe with my camera because I’m chasing a ghost. 

I met Johnny and his daughter while photographing the CN Tower. 

They want me to stay. 

The empty spot in their toothbrush holder competes with the safety of my toiletry bag. I pray I will make the right decision.


This story won Second Prize in the November 2021 Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Kimberley Shiel lives in Winnipeg, Canada with her husband and their mischievous cat, Maui. By day, she is a professional accountant. By night, she is an amateur writer who appreciates micro fiction and flash fiction. Although now a city girl, Kimberley grew up on a farm. Before becoming an accountant, she studied Psychology. She also enjoys gardening and painting.

The Shadows Cast by Silent Stacks

Charles Prelle

A man in a well-worn suit faces the crowd. He’s well over six feet tall, a barrel stuffed into a perfectly pressed white shirt. A banner reading ‘One factory. One family’ trembles above him in a stiff Midwestern breeze. He raises a megaphone to his lips. From there his words become distant, fragmented. 

…closing down

factory……

profit…

shareholders…

…cutting costs

unsettling time…

apologies.

A tattered American flag flutters overhead. Grey and pink stripes. Fifty grey stars. A few miles away my daughter plays in piles of orange leaves. My wife watches distractedly as clouds spill across the horizon like oil.


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

About the author: Charles Prelle is a London based writer and playwright. His short fiction has been published in The Cabinet of Heed, Ellipsis Zine, Idle Ink, Storgy and Reflex Press among others. Charles’s writing has been longlisted in Flash 500, Glittery Literary and Reflex Fiction and is included in the Reflex Press ‘Beguiled by a Wild Thing’ anthology. Find him on Twitter @CharlesPrelle or on his website https://cprellewriter.wordpress.com/

What the Small Ones Know

Marie Little

Day weaves through trees, wind calls in circles like an incantation. I see you: your Hunter wellies, your waxed jacket, your flask of warm pretence. You trail your shampooed dog through centuries of forest. You never see me.

Today you have a child in tow, pink and glossy as a cake. The dog pulls as you close on me, sniffs like a truffle-pig, scrats at bark. I hold my breath. I watch as the earth tells the dog, who tells the child, who picks up the talisman, presses its feather to her face, then slips it silently into her pocket.


This story won 1st Prize in the October 2021 Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Marie lives near fields and writes in the shed. She has short fiction featured or forthcoming in: The Birdseed, Catatonic Daughters, The Cabinet of Heed, Re-Side, Sledgehammer, Gastropoda, Free Flash Fiction and more.