Dinosaurs and the Weary by Sarah Kings

Dinosaurs and the Weary

Sarah Kings

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.

 

***

About the author: Sarah is a writer, a teacher, and a mother. She has a B.A in English and is currently enrolled in Drexel University’s MFA program in Creative Writing. Sarah has been writing stories, poems, and books for as long as she can remember. Her latest fiction publication can be found in the March issue of La Piccioletta Barca’s Literary Magazine.

When Coffee is in Your DNA by Anne Howkins

When Coffee is in Your DNA

Anne Howkins

  

Java was his idea.

Find your roots.

I don’t need to.

Aren’t you curious?

No.

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.

 

 

***

About the author: Anne writes short fiction when she’s not working for a charity or messing about with her horse. Her work has appeared in Reflex Fiction, Retreat West, Flash 500, Lunate, Bath Flash Anthology and in Shrimps, Gobstoppers and Sour Monkeys, an anthology released by Fosseway Writers, who are an amazingly supportive group.

 

 

April 2020 Micro Fiction Competition Results

April 2020 Micro Fiction Competition Results

Thank you again to Cath Barton (@cathbarton1) for this month’s prompt; it inspired 139 entries, which is the most we’ve ever received!

The writer in first place will receive a cash prize of £278, as well as a free entry into the annual Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize. The writer in second place will also receive a free entry, and both stories will be published in the Flash Fiction section of our website. Congratulations to our winners! 

First place: Dinosaurs and the Weary by Sarah Kings

Read Dinosaurs and the Weary

Second place: When Coffee is in Your DNA by Anne Howkins

Read When Coffee is in Your DNA

 

Next month’s competition launches on Monday 4th May, so please do check back then to get involved. Thanks for your entries and votes, everyone — until next time!

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.

Possibility

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.

 

Strider

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?
No.
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 !

April 2020 Micro Fiction Longlist

 

Many thanks to everyone who sent in stories for this month’s micro fiction comp, and to Cath Barton for the inspiring prompt that generated the most entries we’ve had so far. Which means the winner will receive a cash prize of £278 as well as free entry to the annual Flash Fiction Prize.

Of the 139 entries we received we’ve got a longlist of 40 stories. All readings are anonymous until the final judging is completed so only the story titles are show here. If your story is listed please don’t let anyone know what it is called! Congrats to the 40 writers who made it through.

April 2020 Micro Fiction Longlist

  • Ancient Indonesian Tattoos, East of Java
  • A Ghost is Here
  • A Nice Cup of Tea
  • Big Brother
  • Carefully Crafted
  • Changes of Fortune
  • Dinosaurs and the Weary
  • Dormant Power
  • Elsie – The Love of my Life
  • Everything Left Behind
  • Garden Party Guidelines
  • Homecoming
  • How to Climb a Mountain
  • Item One Hundred and Twenty-Five: To Climb a Mountain
  • In the House of the Devil
  • Life and Death
  • Lost in Translation
  • Maesta
  • Nadia’s Mission
  • On Preparing to Climb a Mountain for the First Time: I Will Not Let You Stop Me
  • Paralysis
  • Possibility
  • Sacrificial Lamb
  • Search Continues for Missing Botanist in Roen
  • Strider
  • Ten Seconds Before the End of the World
  • The Ache
  • The Distance
  • The Grey Monolith
  • The Mountain
  • The Other Mountain was on Fire
  • Time to Sow
  • Torn Sky
  • Tristão
  • Up, Up and Away
  • Utopia
  • Walking on Chocolate
  • Working from the Top
  • When a Man is not a Mountain
  • When Coffee is in your DNA

 

We’re busy reading again and the shortlist of 10 stories will be online for public voting on Monday 20th April. Good luck everyone!

March 2020 Micro Fiction Comp Results

March 2020 Micro Fiction Comp Results

Once again, thank you to Gail Aldwin for providing this month’s prompt. Gail is a Dorset-based writer of fiction and poetry. Her short fiction collection Paisley Shirt was longlisted in the best short story category of the Saboteur Awards 2018 and her novel The String Games, about a child lost on a holiday in France, is available through her website, gailaldwin.com.

Thank you to everyone who entered and/or voted. We had 154 votes and it was very close between several stories. The prize fund this month is £234.

 

First place winner: Reclamation by Kathryn Aldridge-Morris

Read Reclamation

Second place: Carousel by Joanne Withers

Read Carousel

 

April’s competition launches on Monday, 6th but if you can’t wait that long join us on Twitter (or Facebook) for a live flash comp on Thursday, 2nd April. It’s free to enter and very much focused on letting go and inspiring new ideas. We had a fantastic reponse with the last one, so hope you’ll join us for more fun!!