Running Away Themed Flash Results

Thanks to everyone on the shortlist for your patience while I read your stories again. It’s been a tough decision but I now have the results…


Winner: The Names Of Stars by Rosie Garland

Why I chose it: The unexpectedness of what happens when the narrator hides in the loft during a family Christmas gathering is excellent. Love how the star signifies the distance the narrator really wants to run from her situation. And that the ending poses as many questions as it answers. Beautiful use of language too, a really light touch on a dark subject. Great stuff.

Read it here


Runner-Up: How Not To Feel by Mary Thompson

Why I chose it: Love the disjointed sentences that show how disconnected the narrator is from what she’s doing as she’s all consumed with the emotions she’s feeling about something else. It perfectly captures the human desire to numb pain in ways that end up causing more.

Read it here


Runner-Up: The Hanging Tree by Lucinda Hart

Why I chose it: Beautiful, atmospheric writing that makes the situation timeless. It could have been set in any era and it is only the final line that reveals that we knew who it was all along.

Read it here



Well done to all the writers who made the shortlist too. I really enjoyed all your stories:

  • Resolution by Jac Harmon
  • The Book Group by Nancy Ludmerer
  • The Bunker by Claire Whatley
  • Unfinished by David Osgood


If you love writing flash fiction then we have lots of great flashing things coming up:

23rd March – Fantastic Flashing Live

A 3-hour workshop in London Bridge based on the online course where you’ll be experimenting with voice and style to create new stories. Info here.

31st March – Fire Themed Flash Comp Deadline

Send your stories to win cash and get published on the website. Info here.

1st April – Fantastic Flashing Online

The original 2-week online course where you’ll learn lots of new skills, create loads of new stories and make new writing friends. Info here.

12th April – Flash SOS

A weekend course where you’ll get the insights and tools needed to revive an old story that’s been gathering dust in a drawer. Info here.



How Not To Feel by Mary Thompson

How Not To Feel

Mary Thompson


Observe the tall Argentinian as he approaches you in the bar. Admire his thick curls and glint of a crucifix. Feel foolishly flattered when he stops and says, ‘You are beautiful.’

Savour his intoxicating smell as he places both hands on your shoulders and leans in.

Momentarily believe that things will be fine.

Hear the music fade as you pad down the beach together towards the sea. Catch laughter and words from surrounding clusters. Lie back and imagine you’re in a planetarium (there are no stars in London). Then think, no. This Is Real.

Slip the smiley pill he proffers into your mouth and swill it around with your beer.


Feel the weight of him as he obliterates the stars. Smile as he runs his hands down your thighs. Absorb the lap-lapping of the water. Giggle as it tickles your toes and wets your jeans.

Stagger to your feet and feel your head huge and echoey as if in an astronaut’s helmet. Search for your bag, the burnished orange one, the one your dad bought you as he knew how much you wanted it. How much he yearned for you to be happy. Despite everything.

Dwell on this as you search more. Not just your patch now but everywhere. Ask more clusters and more clusters.

‘Sorry,’ they say and glance up for a second.

Wander back to the whirring music. Place your hands on your ears to block it out. But hear Pablo asking, ‘ella ha perdido su bolso lo has visto?’

Reach the bar and the thumping beats. Push through the juddering crowd to find Cathy dancing alone at the back.

‘My bag is gone.’

See her worried face, but hear Pablo. ‘You want to come with me?’


Follow Pablo away from the beach and down the main street. Hear screeching motorbikes, then stumble down dusty path into silent darkness. Feel his warm hand. Hear the flip flop of feet.

Enter cold stairwell and his apartment with glimmer of light in corner. Observe clothes strewn all over. Half-made bed. Condoms.

‘Drink this quickly, you forget.’

Throw back the drink. Vodka.


Stare at the blurry wall, feel him behind you. Same smell but wall is ice cold. Spot a small heart in the gloom, scrawled at the bottom in biro. Feel the tears run.

‘Are you okay?’

‘My dad is dying.’

Hear loud tick of watch.

‘I will stop.’

‘No. Keep going.’

Watch sunrise seeping under balcony door, illuminating beer cans, crisp bags, life.



Mary Thompson lives in London, where she works as a freelance teacher. Her work has recently featured in various journals and competitions including Flash 500, Fish Short Memoir, Ink in Thirds, Retreat West, Reflex Fiction, Flashflood, Ellipsis Zine, the Cabinet of Heed, Memoir Mixtapes, Atticus Review, Spelk, Firewords, Fictive Dream, Funicular Magazine, Ghost Parachute, Vamp Cat Magazine, LISP and Cafe Irreal. She is a first reader for Craft Literary Journal.


Please let the author know if you’ve enjoyed her story in the comments below.


This Time See White by Mary Thompson

This Time See White

by Mary Thompson

Simpering doctors bring medication and soda. ‘A little of what you fancy won’t hurt.’ And stand there gaping with dazzling smiles as tiresome tang sputters off tongue.

Close eyes, see yellow. Lope along sandy, Cornish beaches with rucksack and family. Stop for snack at hut on Porthminster. What was it called? Continue to end and plunk down on red and black patterned rug with hole in middle. Why didn’t we fix it? And lie there all afternoon till sun has set and we’re as golden as lions. On way home, go for fish and chips with lashings of vinegar. Grace opts for haddock. As always. Why did we split? While Duke and Daisy argue over last remaining sausage.

Have the cod, please, one of you. For God’s sake.’

Silly things.


Cram suitcases into Mini Clubman.

Are we there yet?

Break down on motorway. Fist through windscreen. Tears.

Sorry,’ I never say.


Loath to recall the bad. Must remember the good. That’s what the book says. As if a book can tell you such things.

Brownie camera captures sweet smiles. Remove glasses and gaze into lens. Sunflowers, runner beans, mint; windbreaks, cloudy skies, sea; Slow-blinking, tiger-like cats. Love.


What a sunset,’ says nurse.

Open eyes slightly and burnished beam slinks through blinds. Beautiful. One tremory hand lifts glass for drink and water sloshes over side.


Gentle thrum on door and Daisy enters in periwinkle jumper with Joshua in squally rage.

‘What’s wrong, son?’

Puts bundle of boy in my arms.

‘He knows I’m sad, Dad. He feels it.’

Nod and close eyes.

This time see white.


About the author: Mary Thompson’s stories have been long-listed and shortlisted in several publications and competitions including Flash 500, Fish Short Memoir Competition, Writing Magazine and Kishboo magazine. She has also taken a number of flash fiction workshops run by Kathy Fish and Meg Pokrass. Follow her on Twitter @MaryRuth69

If you enjoyed this story please let the author know in the comments below.