We’re delighted to announce the shortlist for the latest Monthly Micro Fiction competition – well done to everyone whose story appears below! The winner of the People’s Prize is decided by public vote, so scroll down to the bottom of this post to vote for your favourite. The winners of the cash prizes are decided by our judging panel. We’ll announce the results on 24th November, so there’s a week to have your say…
Good luck everyone!
A Still Small Voice
A still small voice whispered “it’s time to feel wild again”, so I hiked to a secluded spot I knew. Keeping only my boots on to walk the last stretch, I left clothes and belongings behind, hanging in a bag on a branch. Slipping off my boots I stepped into the river, feeling the water tickle my naked body. Then I spotted someone. They just walked over and grabbed my bag, winked and ran off. As I heard the still small voice again, butterflies danced my insides. Dripping wet, with my boots on, I started walking. Now I felt wild.
My parents told me to take the pills and I’d feel better. I would soon go back to run along the Bisatto canal, shouting with friends.
I did not want to feel better. With the fever I saw the roots of trees. I goofed around carried by the wind. There were no words to say it. No verbs, adverbs and not even the subject: I.
They just walked over and grabbed my wrists, my father with a glass of water to swallow the pills. I had no choice, hoping everything would be the same. Knowing it would not be.
The sedatives are wearing off so I slip on your dressing gown and turn on the TV to see Sky News interviewing survivors. A woman describes her rescuers as heroes, they just walked over and grabbed my arms, lifted me from the rubble.
I stroke your side of the bed and imagine a scenario where confusion caused by concussion explains your absence. The camera cuts to what’s left of the train station. Something catches my eye. I press pause on unmoving escalators covered in shattered glass and plaster. There, half hidden in the debris and dust, a man’s empty shoe.
The Hubble Telescope turned 30 during week five of lockdown. So instead of homeschooling I decided to share wondrous NASA images from deep space with my son. But after three minutes of quasars and galaxy clusters so huge they could bend light, I ran to the bathroom. Too much. All those theories. They just walked over and grabbed my intestines in a twist. Had the earth also had enough? Had it simply stopped to sit on the cosmic toilet, waiting and wondering, blaming the cheese and resolving to live on cooled boiled water. Perhaps the earth was one of us.
She’s mine; of course she is. Do they really think a mother can’t recognise her own child?
I don’t understand why they’ve taken her away from me. I was coming out of the hospital after our check-up and they just walked over and grabbed my baby.
I keep telling them that she needs me, that’s it’s time for her feed, but they won’t even let me see her. Even through these padded walls I’m sure I can hear her crying.
It’s strange how the mind plays tricks on you, though. I could have sworn I gave birth to a boy.
It would work this time. This god would answer us.
Never had there been such a drought. Even the great trees, whose roots ran deep, wilted under the perpetual punishment.
Heat smothered the expectant crowd outside an ancient tower dedicated to the false god, Money.
The front line undulated. Frank shivered. He squeezed his shoulders together and slunk backwards into anonymity. I tried to follow in his wake.
They just walked over and grabbed my wrists. Swooping down for my ankles, they bore me into the twisted metal temple.
Where a blade waited and a hungry god slumbered.
Ringing the Changes
I admired the dress in the mirror, a few accessories freshen it up every time.
Starting again in a different town, different job. Carol in the office welcomed me.
“Come round for a coffee.”
“You need a man,” she empathised, not expecting her Dave would be the chosen candidate. Cupid’s Arrow struck across her living room.
Blue flashing lights strobed through the Registry Office. They just walked over and took my bouquet, clicking the handcuffs around my naked wrists. Wedding vows replaced by a police caution.
I never can wait for the decree nisi.
Standing shivering outside the elegant house, the stark choice rattled around my head. University, travel, freedom versus unrelenting responsibility, hardship, tediousness.
Sixteen years old.
My greatest achievement? The tiny life growing inside me, conceived with passion and love.
Placards, offering ‘Financial and Moral Help’ with a faded picture of the Virgin Mary were pushed into my face by the angry protestors; they just walked over and grabbed my hand forcing a plastic foetus into it.
‘Be a good mummy. Don’t kill me’. The cry of ‘ Murderer!’ followed me as, with steely determination, I pushed open the clinic’s heavy door.
The Youth of Today
Leaky bus shelter. Cold damp bench hard on a pair of under-fleshed buttocks. Used to have a nice arse, I did. And tits, too, that stood up on their own. Bus was late again. Gang of bloody teenagers coming down the road all pierced and whatnot. Ridiculous. Music from somewhere. Loud. Perky, though. Got my feet tapping. Expected a snigger, mocking, the usual. But they just ran over and grabbed my hands, twirled me round a bit. In a nice way, not rough, or mean. Gave me a can of cider and a wave. Felt like I’d been on Strictly.
Two kids, pre-teens, full of sass, skinny as fawns. They just walk over and grab my bag. I hang on. Everything slows, my shocked blood, the street hum, the handle’s rip.
Balloons, candles, party poppers and favours, rainbow out, feather-light. As they land, time speeds back up like someone turned a dial.
One kid bends to the bright packets, something in his face I don’t want to see. I can’t stop this crazy pant-laugh. He picks out the tiny wind-up shoes, the kind that keep walking, into walls, off the edges of things. He stuffs them in his pocket. Runs.