Photo Flash Challenge #2: Finalists
Update: Winner announced!
Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry or voted! Once again, it was a great response and really nice to see so many votes! This time there was a clear winner, Miriam by Wiebo Grobler. Congratulations! Wiebo, you’ll receive one free entry into a Quarterly Themed Flash Competition.
Names and bios of the finalists have been added below. Thank you to everyone that contributed, either by entering or voting!
Hope is a fragile thing.
Hope is a flickering light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Hope is a fractured eggshell in the palm of your hand, an overgrown pathway from which there are no detours. No turning back.
Hope is lifting yourself from a small, dark place, formulating a careful plan, daring to get excited. Dreaming of freedom. Letting yourself make wishes.
Hope is taking that fragile dream, a fundamental giant squeezed into the size of a mustard seed, taking that glimmer from the edge of your horizon and telling your one good friend about it. Not asking for permission, for validation, just telling her. Sharing the hope. You thought you had one good friend. But then having her laugh in your face, the eggshell crunched in a second, the light extinguished. You dared to dream, to plan, to look beyond the darkness. Now what?
Hope is picking yourself up again. Piecing together delicate shards. Deep breath in. Slow breath out.
Hope is a fragile thing.
Author Bio: Celia Jenkins is a freelance writer specialising in travel writing and stories for children. She grew up on the island of Guernsey but spent several years living in Asia (China and Japan). Now living in the UK, she keeps herself busy with four different part-time jobs. If she doesn’t have a pen in her hand, the void is usually filled with knitting needles.
She’s been hiding so long in the damp shadows. I wonder what desperation has brought her limping into the open, to the edges of my vision. Does she want to come home at last?
Her small body twists and stretches. She’s keeping close to the walls, edging towards the leaves surrounding the door, the one that leads into the light. Her soft, wet face is almost real. She’s cradling something. I think she’s trying to smile.
I came here to try to remember. We used to play here when we were children. It was a ruin even then, condemned by the same authorities who once sent people here for being different. Empty, overgrown, marked for a demolition they never got round to. If you head back down this corridor to the warren of wards and treatment rooms, you can still see the patients’ rusted beds, chairs, even the morgue with its white slabs half-hidden under mouldering leaves.
She used to walk up and down our street, carrying a broken doll, cooing to it like it was alive. They said she’d lost her baby when she wasn’t much more than a kid herself. It was a sad story, my mum said.
She died twenty years ago, not long after they committed her to this place. I watch her with my pity and my love and for a moment she looks back into my eyes before she covers herself in shame and melts back into the sheltering dark.
Author Bio: Clare lives on the north-west coast of Scotland. Her fiction and poetry has recently appeared in Fearless Femme, The London Reader, Northwords Now, Biggar Science Festival’s The Powers Of Nature anthology and was longlisted for TSS Publishing’s Flash400 2018. She is working on her first novel, a dystopian fiction called Light Switch. She works as a freelance researcher, and helps run her family’s six-acre organic croft. Follow her on Twitter at @clareobrien.
Miriam’s gaze drifts over the house, the roof had collapsed a long time ago. Boston ivy, Clematis and Bougainvillea, grow unchecked, covering most of the walls, creeping into windows and peering into rooms with doors no longer on hinges.
She walks up to the front door and pushes the ivy out of the way. The house smells of must and musk. There’s the scurry of tiny claws inside. The walls are covered in graffiti and some things more revolting than spray paint.
She remembers the night the military came. Her mother’s pleading, her father’s soothing voice, placating, but most of all, the angry shouts from the soldiers.
They had been right, her father was a spy, but she only uncovered the truth years later. They made him kneel, a gun against his temple. He looked at her, a smile on his handsome face and then he winked just before they pulled the trigger. As if he knew she’d do the right thing. Her mother was shot running to his aid and her brother taken away, screaming. She never saw him again.
Left in the dark, she was found by a neighbour. She excelled in school and flew through law school driven by a singular purpose. Justice.
They could no longer hide. She was coming for them just like they did.
Miriam pulls up the floorboard with the crowbar and digs down into the soft earth. There was the clang of metal on metal as she struck the box her father buried forty years ago. Inside were old sepia photographs of men in uniform. Written on the back were notes of names and missions.
She walks out with the box underneath her arm and looks back at the house. It was a kaleidoscope of colour. Her parents would have loved it.
Author Bio: Born in South-Africa and raised in a small farming community, Wiebo only had his imagination to keep him occupied, till he discovered the magic of books. He fell in love with the characters within from an early age. Soon he started to create his own worlds and stories in his head. These stories developed voices, which clamoured to be heard. So, he writes. Shortlisted for his Flash Fiction and Poetry for the Fish Publishing Prize he had various stories published in Molotov Lit, National Flash Fiction Day, Reflex Fiction and more. You can follow what he is up to on Twitter at @Wiebog.
Everything felt right. How she loved this house. They’d turned a derelict farmhouse into such a happy home. She smiled with utter contentment, sitting cross-legged on the rich parquet floor, admiring her newly-painted walls. Inhaling deeply, a fusion of wax polish, fresh emulsion and sweaty trainers, with just a hint of warm chocolate from the batch of cookies she’d baked for when the kids got back from school, she revelled in a perfect sense of Family.
She heard Lily and Alex racing across the garden, laughing, goading each other to reach the biscuits first. Schoolbags dumped by the open doorway, gym kit discarded against the pristine scuff-free walls, they filled the hall with life and laughter. They brought in the sun that hovered reluctantly on the doorstep, its rays creating theatres for the dancing dust motes, the gentle breeze providing their choreography.
Jack would be home next, loosening his tie as he strolled from the car, pausing to admire the garden they’d tamed from wilderness, mentally noting his evening task: deadheading the roses, perhaps some weeding? He’d drop a kiss on her hair, inhaling her Dulux scent appreciatively, shout a greeting to the kids and mix himself a G&T, no ice. He’d bring it through to the kitchen where she’d be chopping veget…
‘Hello Jenny. You look comfy down there. Can I join you?’ The smiling stranger perched beside her, apparently reluctant to sit. ‘We wondered if you’d come here. Heart-breaking, isn’t it?’
What were they on about? How rude to break her reverie. Before she could protest, arms gently raised her and guided her through the rubble to the waiting car.
‘Tragic,’ she heard through muffled confusion. ‘She can’t accept they’re all gone. Husband, kiddies… Arson… He was involved in some bad business… No wonder she’s lost it.’
Author Bio: Jan Brown lives in Yorkshire, UK. She enjoys writing, is rediscovering her imagination and discovering flash fiction.
We were fourteen when we found it, one summer, a couple of miles from the estate where our childhoods seemed to pass so swiftly, one familiar day after another. Its splintering door was locked from the inside, but none of the windows were fully intact. Through overgrown brambles around each side of the house we climbed until we found one with an opening big enough, knocking a few remaining shards out of the tattered frame with sleeve covered fists.
Dust erupted from the floorboards as they groaned beneath our weight, fluttering through beams of light, the afternoon sun slipping through the cracks between the plants winding their way up the crumbling brickwork.
We stayed there longer each day, exploring every corner of that old house. Another family’s treasures from another lifetime, resting amongst the nests and the weeds growing through the cracked wooden beams.
We each dared the other to spend the night. Wrapped in sleeping bags, torches in hand – the calls of the owls preventing sleep.
Countless nights spent there that summer, feeling braver each time. The haunting sounds of the world outside gave way to a familiar laugh, the chill of the evenings to the warmth of another body.
Summer ended, the excitement passed. The days that followed seemed less familiar, taking longer to pass.
One winter afternoon, I followed tyre tracks up the previously untouched road, alone. The rain kept the dust down as metal claws fed debris into a rusty green skip.
Author Bio: Sam Rollings lives in North Yorkshire and above all is a lover of stories. She has been a writer of fiction since she could hold a pen. If she’s not wandering the Dales she can be found curled up with a book, or scribbling away at her next story. You can find her on Twitter: @sammiloobas.