April 2020 Micro Fiction Shortlist

We received so many great stories this month so well done to everyone who got longlisted last week and an extra well done if you made the final ten. But also really well done for even writing and submitting something in such strange times.

Thanks to Emma Finlayson-Palmer, Amy Barnes and Joanna Campbell for helping to read and choose the lists – we have had a good debate about some!

We received 139 entries – the most ever – so the cash prize is £278, in addition to a free entry to the annual Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize. The runner-up will get a free entry too, plus both stories will be published in the Flash Fiction section of our website.

Voting is anonymous so please don’t tell anyone what your story is called.

Voting is now open until 23:59 on Monday 27th April. We are trialling a new voting system that shows the number of votes each story is receiving as we thought this might add to the excitement – but the official results will still be announced on Tuesday 28th April.

Enjoy these great micro fiction stories and then vote for your favourite in the poll at the end of the post.

A Nice Cup of Tea

Snick, snick, snick. A tiny sound as the slender stems break under her fingernail. Just the topmost leaves, the most delicate in flavour. Snick, snick. Only a few from each tree. Aged trees, older than her great-grandmother, and twice as gnarled. Stunted by generations of women picking their leaves.
Phut, phut, phut. A kettle bubbles in the darkness of a tumbledown hut. In the fug of warm milk and hot flames her rain-soaked, weary muscles ease. Phut, phut. There’s nothing delicate about this brew. Sweepings, twice stewed, and boiled with cardamom. Flavour drowned out by spice, bitterness shrouded by sugar.

Big Brother

From the fence, you told me that our hill was Mount Fuji, back when I hung off your every word. You told stories in pretend Japanese, with translations. You promised we would climb that mountain, one day. You said you would always protect me because that’s what big brothers do.
Here at the foot of the real mountain, with some of your ashes at my feet like clumps of cherry blossom, I am disappointed.
The real wonder was in your voice, your wide eyes, your expansive gestures. They never changed.
I needn’t have come here; you belong on our hill.


Dinosaurs and the Weary

Giant dinosaurs sleep on their bellies. Spiked armor on display to ward off enemies. I stand back and admire the great beasts that hide from the world to rest. They persist in their existence, despite a whole people who would call them extinct. I see their magnitude and gargantuan invisibility.
But why do they sleep, when they know we are afraid? Why do they let us say what we say about the asteroids and the great winter? Don’t they know that we fear something lonely, something beyond us. I beg them awake, to rub our heads in this dark night.


In the House of the Devil

Your pisco breath hot on my cheek, you push into me.
Through the window, I count the rooftops, until black swallows them, and I wonder how many other homes harbour secrets like magma.
Only tourists search the sky for the volcano here. The locals try to ignore it, though it tars the town, lake and everything in between with its name. In Mapuche, Villarica is Rucapillan, or devil’s house.
I should have listened to their warnings.
In the morning, my skin and the sheets are streaked with your eruption.
You lie dormant.
Lava comes from the Latin verb to wash.


Item One Hundred and Twenty-Five: To Climb a Mountain

Once pristine, the paper was smattered now with deep, grubby creases, each item struck through in turn, dark against pale. Until the last.
She stood looking out at the view, the blossom tinged air lifting the edges of her scarves as the scent of the sun caused her heart to ache.
He would have loved this.
Their tomorrow had swirled into rounds of poison pumped into tired veins, until, there was only yesterday and their home echoed with promises left unfulfilled.
She pulled the urn from her bag. Watched as he kissed the breeze and brushed the peak at last.


I must tell her what I see. The picture is postcard-sized, glossy, parted like bird’s wings in one corner, sky bending unnaturally.
A photograph.
My therapist tells me I must play along. There’s a woman in the foreground. Mountain shining through an endless mist.
Somewhere hot?
She nods. Flicks eraser scum off her notepad. I see a beautiful woman oozing confidence. Not dwarfed by what faces her, but humbled by its complexity. Familiar with every crack, new and old. Fiercely independent. Or hiding fears of a world she cannot fix?
Possibility, I say finally. I see no end of possibilities.


Sacrificial Lamb

The boy waited patiently, an invisible shadow. Spewing gravel, the jeep skidded to a halt beside him. Out they rolled: joking, braying, bleating, hoisting identical rucksacks onto broad shoulders, comparing altimeters on oversized watches.
Once they’d sauntered past the tree-line, the boy sprang to his toes, gentle as the soft gloaming, and fast as the foehn. Gliding past them, they thought he was the haar sweeping in.
Cloud lapping at his feet, the boy waited at the summit. Though all were guilty of desecrating the holy mountain, only one would pay the price by stepping into the watery cloud.



My father could climb mountains with one stride. His rucksack was heavy with a lifetime’s burdens, but once he smelled the foothills, it seemed to weigh nothing at all. For years, he set his foot against the incline and challenged gravity.
When I was tall enough, I joined him. My pack contained water, sandwiches and an empty space for burdens of my own. Yet, even without days to weigh me down, I struggled to keep up.
Next time will be easier, my father never said. He gave me scalding coffee from a flask and taught me the victory of inches.

Torn Sky

A rip in the sky appears like a mountain shadow planted in the view. Pilgrims come to watch the heaven’s fault-line let our future in.
The aurora borealis, shooting stars and lightening, seep symptoms of our pain. At the edge of the world we stand, find the wound, peel back this second skin and let blood fall like rain on Chernobyl fires.
A goose with patchwork burns crosses the field, honking at break of day. We do not wear black. We put the sun back in the sky, sew the tear up and let our eyes mist with the view.

When Coffee is in Your DNA

Java was his idea.
Find your roots.
I don’t need to.
Aren’t you curious?
The sari was his idea.
You’ll look like a native.
I don’t need to.
It’ll keep beggars away.
It won’t.
The temple was his idea.
Explore your heritage.
I don’t need to.
You do, really.
I don’t.
Being alone was my idea.
Can’t I come?
I don’t want you to.
You do really.
I don’t.
Staying was my idea.
You know I can’t.
I’ve found my roots, it’s what you wanted.
It’s not.
He doesn’t drink coffee now, he says its taste is too bitter.

We think these are a fantastic selection and we hope you’ve enjoyed them too. Vote for your favourite below. If you are having trouble accessing the form below you can also vote on this link: https://www.retreatwest.co.uk/poll/april20-micro-shortlist/


April 2020 Micro Fiction Shortlist

This poll has been finished and no longer available to vote !

Why Black Swans Make for Great Stories

In 1696, Willem de Vlamingh, a skipper for the Dutch East India Co., was sent from his native Holland to Australia to look for survivors of a ship thought to have been wrecked on the continent’s west coast. Despite all his efforts, he never found the vessel or any of its crew but he did come across something else: the presence of black swans.  Many strange and exotic species were being discovered in these uncharted territories at the time but this sighting was of particular importance, for up to this point in history it was thought that only white swans existed. So adamant was this belief that a popular proverb had circulated in Europe since the Roman satirist Juvenal wrote in 82 AD : rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno ( a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan). This term was used ironically, in the same way that today we talk of pigs flying or pink elephants. The black swan was a metaphor for all that could not exist, until of course, due to an intrepid sailor, the impossible became possible. Once this happened the term’s meaning transformed: the black swan became a symbol of the improbable. In these times Corona Virus is seen as a black swan.

But what has this got to do with writing Flash Fiction? Well, quite a lot actually. The improbable, the random, the unexpected are what drive stories. If we followed a character that went about his or her daily business without a deflection of any kind we wouldn’t muster much narrative tension or impetus but when we lift that character out of certainty, introduce a glitch, a challenge to the status quo, then we assert enough pressure on them to reveal something insightful to the reader.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable, and his subsequent books, his latest being Skin in the Game explores this idea by looking at how society deals with seemingly random happenings and suggests ways to make our world black-swan-robust, in other words a society where we reduce the impact of events such as the market crash of 1987, or CV-19 and exploit the positive ones such as the internet.

Taleb defines the phenomena as something that:

  1. is a surprise to the observer,
  2. has an impact on their life,
  3. but with hindsight could have been expected.

These three criteria mirror closely the ingredients that a story moves through – conflict (surprise), deflection (impact) and resolution. The last condition is particularly interesting; this idea that the event was predictable. From the relative privilege of retrospection, we can work out the reason why wars start, why empires collapse, why economies crash. Often, the mark of a successful story is how, when looking back over the series of actions and choices the character has undergone, the outcome feels inevitable. With hindsight we say ‘of course!’ rather than ‘where did that come from’?

Whereas in the real world we strive to reduce the impact of negative black swan events, as writers we want to harness their power. Of course, this is Flash and whatever surprise we present the observer/character, it has to be kept to scale so here’s an exercise[1] in Black Swan generation:

Start with a character immersed in their daily routine and have them find a physical object which threatens their status quo either physically or emotionally. Keep the setting small – a room, the car, the garden shed, a cupboard. The object should create a strong reaction in the character, strong enough to change the course of their trajectory within the scene you have placed them in and act as a conduit to reveal something meaningful to both the protagonist and the reader. For example, a woman racked with remorse for an affair she had years ago, finds an earring in her husband’s sock drawer. And of course the outcome needs to fit within the whole; however slight or subtle, every twist and turn of the action must support the ending.

This idea of randomness and uncertainty can help in the creative process of writing itself. Much of the art of storytelling involves making connections between details that don’t seem to have any link. It is the tension created in this process that causes the reader to think “I must know how this is resolved.” If you are struggling for inspiration try developing a story combining a character from one of your story ideas with a predicament or setting from another. This may be enough to produce that single and interesting rare action that will push your character and story deeper. If you are at a loss for a seed idea, use a plot generator site (there are a variety of them on the web) for the same reason.

And remember that creativity thrives in the impossible. What you might think is difficult to achieve today will no-doubt become possible in the future and that includes producing a crafted and original work of flash fiction. So persist and you too will create your own positive Black Swan.

Join Amanda and myself for a weekend of interactive, supportive flash writing April 17th -19th. Then we have a 2 weekend memoir-in-flash course May 8th – 10th and May 15th – 17th. We then have a month of wonderful prompts for the whole month of June! More details here: https://www.retreatwest.co.uk/online-writing-courses/

Mary-Jane Holmes has work included in The Best Small Fictions Anthology in 2016, 2018 and 2020. Her microfiction has recently been included in Best Microfictions 2019. A twice nominated Forward Prize nominee and Hawthornden Fellow, Mary-Jane has won the Bridport, Martin Starkie, Dromineer, Reflex Fiction and Mslexia prizes, and International Bedford Poetry competition as well as being shortlisted and commended for many more including the Beverley International Prize for Literature 2020, The Troubadour and Oxford Brookes Poetry prize. She was long-listed for the National Poetry Prize this year. Mary-Jane’s debut poetry collection Heliotrope with Matches and Magnifying Glass is published by Pindrop Press. She enjoys teaching creative writing both online and in person (when possible) around the world. She holds an Mst (distinction) in Creative Writing from Kellogg College Oxford and is currently working on a PhD at Newcastle University. @emjayinthedale  www.mary-janeholmes.com

[1] Adapted from Michelle Brook’s Rattlesnake In The Drawer writing exercise


February 2020 Micro Fiction Shortlist

February 2020 Micro Fiction Competition Shortlist

Once again, thank you to everyone who submitted to our lighthouse-themed comp and well done if you made the longlist! We received our highest ever number of entries, so the prize fund for the winner is a spectacular £260!

And thank you to Ali Thurm for providing our prompt! Retreat West Books will publish Ali’s debut novel One Scheme of Happiness on 27th February. You can pre-order your copy here or find out more about her unsettling tale of uneasy friendships on our website here.

Voting is anonymous so please don’t tell anyone what your story is called.

Voting is now open until 23:59 on Monday 24th February. Winners will be announced on Tuesday 25th.

Enjoy these great micro fiction stories and then vote for your favourite in the poll at the end of the post.

A Warning to Those at Sea

You saw me, in my element, dancing in the waves. Those body rolls, you said, hands skimming down my curves, pausing again at that place where scales met skin. I shivered, wanting more.

If you loved me, you would, you said, as I undulated back into my briny loneliness.

And so, one day, I did.

People say the rocks are sharp as daggers. But that’s nothing to the vicious bite of new-hewn feet on land. To the agony of your betrayal.

You cast off from the shore again, so here I am.

Bleeding, crawling, climbing.

To put out the light.

An Unusual Holiday Let Opportunity

Your holiday will begin with an exciting boat ride to the island.

  • Ignore the mermaid tails embedded in the rocks.
  • Take care whilst treading the desiccated bones of sailors and bairns.
  • Avoid the cobwebbed corpse of the keeper yawning in the dust.
  • Don’t touch the selkie skins or the skull of the Stoor Worm.

The management confirms these will eventually disappear.

The lighthouse, being operational, has an electronic fog signal. Guests can use the ear plugs provided to mute the sounds of the ghost pipers, the siren songs and the monster Modernity as it rolls and crushes, rolls and crushes.


Change, Rising Fair

‘Ten years?’ I say.

His face is passive, he’s survived tempests, my temper is nothing.

‘Time passes quickly up here.’ His eyes are on the horizon, I am no more distracting than the wheeling herring gulls outside. I try again.

‘You could’ve written. We thought you were dead.’

He turns away, pours water from a battered kettle into an equally distressed teapot. The familiar domesticity of his movements enrages me, but I take the cup when it’s offered. He peers at the brass barometer on the wall and frowns.

‘Change.’ He says. I put down the cup and hug him.



The lighthouse beam eclipses the smoky-faced moon, which is waxing gibbous tonight. Its dazzling ribbon floods the tormented sea, leaving the rocks in darkness, while I loiter here alone at the top of the steps.

I was guided to this place through the dreamscape, and from here I see it all – what has happened and what is still to come. As I listen to the gentle swoosh of the rotations, I count the eclipses till I run out of numbers. I can see things now as the ancients once saw them and the future is brimming brighter than ever.


Goodbye to all That

There are 4 of them. All dressed in shades of black except for Davy. Davy is in grey which matches the sky. They laugh at Jimmy because he says his suit is the colour of outer space.

“The salesman in the shop said so.” It’s the first time they have laughed today.

The lighthouse where they once played, hid, ran to, is boarded up now. Rust bleeding into plaster, the lamp long since extinguished.

“Ready?” says Graham. They nod in unison and watch as he scatters ashes on the wind and the ghosts of 60 years ago dance in the dust.



Low tide, and she hitches her skirts waist-high, wades through salt and bladderwrack. Linen petticoats begin to bloat; silt squashes between toes.

She reaches the iron tower on the rocks, its fire licking rainclouds.

The package between her breasts remains dry: nutmeg, mandrake.

She looks back. They begin to line the beach, armed with torches. But she will do as she pleases. She will lie beneath the tower’s heat, while her cunning, quick fingers conjure him, again, in an unholy prayer.

And she will stay here, with him, entranced – until the fire above her wanes into embers and ash.


Kopu Lighthouse

As we approach through the conifers, you say it is your mother. Solitary in starched skirt, rocky edges hewn cold and sharp, her beacon-face both warning and admonishment. And from that tiny barred window of a mouth: Watch you don’t turn out like your father.

I lean into you and say, “To me, it is a Dalek.”

Back home, while you sleep, I ease a sonic screwdriver under your pillow, with a note: For those tricky, maternal moments. And whisper that I know—with that same conviction with which tide lures ship to sandbank—you will never be like him.


Significant Notes on Lighthouses

There are 19,000 worldwide.

On maps they look like chess pieces.

Ornamental versions are popular in fish tanks.

You once said stars are lighthouses in space, guiding people onwards.

Aged six, I gained a C grade for my project describing how lighthouses protect ships from angry waves.

Aged eleven, I received an A grade for my poem depicting mothers as lighthouses and fathers as volatile waves.

After he left, we bought a boat and visited a different lighthouse every weekend.

In hospital, I hold your hand, crepey brown like a treasure map and wait for you to find your star.


Tending the Light

They bring a revolving night-light to your room and we watch its cool finger sweep the ceiling. Your breath slows to match its rhythm and I imagine your tinnitus whispering traveller’s tales in murmurs of the sea. Though I stare deep into the ebb tide of your ocean eyes, you drift beyond my reach.

Born under its beam, you ensured the light shone true. Now your own is fading.

Your absence aches in the grey dawn. Looking from the corridor window, the lighthouse stands sentinel. Through dissolving mist, its beam caresses me while it lights your way.


The Banshee’s Daughter

The air around the lighthouse is possessed of a new and fickle madness. The lamp’s beams dance across the shoulders of the rowing girl and touch her face: her expression a thundercloud of grief for the ancient betrayal of her sex. Around her, water, cold enough to crack human skin, licks the spines of sea-urchins who trace the shadows of her oars, watchful and ready.

As the girl’s boat shivers between the rocks, her laugh envelopes the grinding wind, like needles shrouded in silk: sharp enough to be mistaken for her mother’s wail, sincere enough to herald the same fate.



If you can’t see or use the voting panel below, you can cast your vote on this link: https://form.responster.com/rlHqEb



February 2020 Micro Fiction Longlist

Thank you to Ali Thurm for providing this month’s brilliant prompt! Retreat West Books will publish Ali’s debut novel One Scheme of Happiness on 27th February. You can pre-order your copy here or find out more about her unsettling tale of uneasy friendships on our website here.

We received our highest ever number of entries (130) and so the winner will receive an equally impressive £260, in additional to a free entry to the annual Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize. The runner-up will get a free entry too, plus both stories will be published in the Flash Fiction section of our website.

The final ten will be published next Monday with public voting opening at the same time.

All readings and votes are anonymous so writers if you are on this longlist, please do not tell anyone which story is yours.

Thank you to all who submitted and congrats if you made the longlist!


  • A Point of Light
  • A Warning to Those At Sea
  • An Unusual Holiday Let Opportunity
  • Anyer Lighthouse
  • Betrayal
  • Change, Rising Fair
  • Chiaroscuro
  • For mother
  • For the Drowned
  • Goodbye to all that
  • Incantation
  • Incubus
  • Into the Light
  • It Is Water
  • Kopu Lighthouse
  • Letting Go
  • Lookout
  • Mad, Sad or Bad?
  • Nothing Lasts
  • Pharos
  • Quicksand
  • Safe Passage
  • Salt Kiss
  • See The Light
  • Shaken Houses
  • Significant Notes on Lighthouses
  • Smeaton’s Tower Ten O’Clock
  • Standing into Danger
  • Tending the Light
  • The Banshee’s Daughter
  • The Dimming Light
  • The Last of the Lighthouse Keepers
  • The Lighthouse
  • The Lighthouse Keepers Wife
  • The Tyrant
  • The Walrus
  • To rent: Repurposed Lighthouse
  • Together Again
  • Walking in the Steps of Another
  • Wreckers

Enjoying our Flash Fiction comps? Check out our new Flash Fiction Memberships, tailored to suit the flashing enthusiast. And as an added bonus, sign up in January and you will receive our entire back catalogue in ebook free of charge!

January 2020 Micro Fiction Shortlist

January 2020 Micro Fiction Competition Shortlist

Well done to everyone who had a story on the longlist. We’ve had a few debates but the shortlist is finally decided upon! Congrats to all the writers whose stories appear below. Voting is anonymous though so please don’t tell anyone what your story is called.

Voting is now open until 23.59 on Monday 27th January. Winners will be announced on Tuesday 28th.

Enjoy these great micro fiction stories and then vote for your favourite in the poll at the end of the post.

A Birthday Wish

Cake was an unheard of treat in the orphanage and so the anticipation of sweetness on tongues brought smiles to sad eyes. The candle wick released a hiss as the flame took hold, Lorna closed her eyes – and wished.

The damp grey melted and she opened her eyes to a beautiful forest clearing. Whispers of her mother’s voice curled about her until warm arms folded her into a perfumed embrace. Matching brown eyes shone as they danced, feet damp with dew, hair swirling free, their laughter breathless.

Under a soft lunar glow, a sleepy smile carved itself against salt-streaked cheeks.


An Exquisite Pain

Sylvie’s excited to be turning four – the doll she’s begged for, the cake with too much icing, the party games, the four candles to puff out with her delicate wisps of breath. To her, four means big school and pinafore dresses and pig-tails with bubble-gum bows.

I dream of it too. For her. And for me.

In reality, an ever creeping shadow looms. Our subsuming is inevitable. The four allotted formative years end so They come.

She goes.

The hopeless unknown shreds me daily – one choice too permanent to contemplate, the other to exist without my beating heart.


Diary Entry: The Presents Keep Coming

I’d prayed all night, lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and the mosquitoes said Yes, Jesus and Mary said Yes, even God said Yes. I could eat the whole cake! Another surprise – a lovely dress, a pair of red leather shoes – the type we can’t afford – ever so special! I put them on straight away and waltzed into the kitchen. Mum said she couldn’t see anything, would I shut up. She was cooking all kinds of nothing, my stomach was rumbling and it was getting cold. Daddy, your shoes are under the bed. Nobody can see them except me.


Frosting Trails

She catches the sugar drops of his words on her tongue. They’re sweet and warm like an iced birthday cake. She swallows them. Always.

His glances are like silk and she doesn’t feel the barbs. His hands trace frosting trails in her skin, linger a pulse-beat at her throat.

Where are you going? What time will you be back? Who’ll be there?

His words taste like love, his love feels like safety, and his safety feels all-consuming.

His love hurts, but she thinks it’s better than no love at all.

She could almost take it. But their daughter is watching.



And when I am Queen, I shall build a castle of shell and stone, and I shall stand on the tower and scream into the sky scattering crows like arrows of my anger, and I shall sweep down the stairs with steel in my blood and send armies to meet you and their shields will blind you with the white heat of my fury and their swords will slice you like milk.

And you will say shhh, it’s okay, and stroke my hair. And I will let you wrap me in your smell and my castle will crumble like sand.



A snapshot, black and white. Each minute detail etched roughly into the back of my eyes. Is it real, this memory? My room, a stark prison cell. The cake, a peace offering from my familial warder. Icing slammed against the side of the cake. White sweetness against the black. The cake knife glints as it lies there, daring me to cut and slice. Wasn’t I lucky to have such a lovely cake made for me? That’s what everyone said. They didn’t see the butter being beaten to a smooth, submissive pulp. The hidden anger as the wooden spoon was wielded.



Mama tries not to come to conclusions about boys’ natural urges. Outside Gustav is rattling his pedal-driven go-kart against a bucket, while inside Phoebe sits alone in front of her 4th birthday cake. Round and round the wheels spin, kerthunk, kerthunk. Why? Mama would seriously like to know what besets the child, but she will not call him yet again. Instead she prepares to light a match.

“Mama,” Phoebe interrupts. “Can’t we wait for Papa to come back?”

Another crash. Mama places the matches beside the cake. She’s trying so hard not to
come to conclusions about boys’ natural urges.


Safety in Numbers

“Not one lick of buttercream,” Mama warns. “The cake is for the party.”

Simi bites her tongue before it talks back.

Turning four means helping scrub her brother’s stiff grey socks. Four for starting school. Four, the number of probing fingers on Uncle Pachy’s right hand.

Simi glares at the cake until her eyes water. She pokes it. Buttercream gives way, knuckle-deep, and Simi bores four even holes.

She pictures herself in the schoolyard, morning light sunbursting on the windowpanes, disappearing in a clatter of uniformed children. The safety in numbers.

Simi scoops up buttercream and takes a bite.


The Making of a Monster

After she told them about her vision on the beach, showed them the sculpture she had created, they kept her in a room. It was bare only for a simple bed and the sand she moulded into her prophesies. Once a week they allowed her to go to Mass. She was made to stand in front of Father Howard while he studied the reflection in her shiny black patent shoes and told her she was ‘holy’. One day she would squeeze the sand into an image of Father Howard and then she would pound it into obliteration with her fist.


When The Last Flame is Blown

‘Is this Mum?’

‘Yes…she’s about five.’

My sons are sorting through my things. Kneeling, heads bowed, piles of photos dripping through their fingers.

‘Yes,’ I chuckle; ‘Me on my fourth Birthday! I was cross, your grandad had forgotten the candles.’

The boys nod and sigh.

The photo’s moved to the bottom of a pile, then absently shuffled like a deck of cards. We could play Poker or lay them face down like Tarots.

The shuffled pack is tossed into the binbag.

‘No!’ I shout.

They don’t hear me; I’m the silent sudden chill that breathes goosepimples down their spines.



If you can’t see or use the voting panel below, you can cast your vote on this link: https://form.responster.com/46o3UJ


January 2020 Micro Fiction Longlist

Thank you once again to Susmita Bhattacharya for providing this month’s prompt. You can read Susmita’s stories in two of our anthologies: Nothing Is As It Was and our latest charity anthology, No Good Deed.

We received 85 entries so the winner will receive £170 and a free entry to the annual Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize. The runner-up will get a free entry too, plus both stories will be published in the Flash Fiction section of our website.

The final ten will be published next Monday with public voting opening at the same time.

All readings and votes are anonymous so writers if you are on this longlist, please do not tell anyone which story is yours.

Thank you to all who submitted and congrats if you made the longlist!


  • A Birthday Wish
  • An Exquisite Pain
  • But I’m…
  • Button, Shell, Cork
  • Diary Entry: The Presents Keep Coming
  • Disappointment tastes sweet like sugar
  • Forgive Me Father For I Have…
  • Frosting Trails
  • Fury
  • Hide and Seek
  • Monochrome Memories
  • Negative
  • Playthings
  • Prayer Alone Isn’t Enough
  • Safety in Numbers
  • Sweet Dreams
  • The Destiny of Cake
  • The Making of a Monster
  • Unlit Candles
  • When the last Flame is Blown
  • White Wedding

Enjoying our Flash Fiction comps? Check out our new Flash Fiction Memberships, tailored to suit the flashing enthusiast. And as an added bonus, sign up in January and you will receive our entire back catalogue in ebook free of charge!