The Patchwork Comforter

There’s no rhyme or reason to the quilt your mother’s crafted from the clothes you were wearing when you died. It’s small enough to cover the beautiful baby you won’t ever have. It’s a dirty t-shirt and bloody sweatpants.

She’s given your brother the one made from sparkling moments and hard-earned degrees. He’s down on his luck these days and ever so slightly thrilled.

She drapes the heavy quilt over her heart at night; swears she can feel you twitching. She pulls you close this time, cradles your head on dark wet tarmac and whispers, ‘I’m here. Don’t be afraid.’

This story was shortlisted in the April Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Julia Ruth Smith is a mother, teacher and writer. She lives by the sea in Italy. Her work has recently been chosen for publication in the NFFD Anthology, Reflex Fiction, Chaotic Merge Magazine and Anamorphoseis Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @JuliaRuthSmith1 or at the beach.

I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing

Shadows skim across the floor. Stephen pulls Sally from her box. Presses a switch. The buckled bedsit lights up as his wife comes alive. She points to the dented clothes rack. Kimono, Stephen says. Sally shakes her head. Slips on a minidress and go-go boots. Her mouth opens and a dissonant cadence lands in Stephen’s brain. Lyrics about perfect harmony and peace throughout the land. His ringtone before the mushroom cloud invisibled. Sally’s warble stays on an endless loop. Stephen’s head throbs. His eyes burn. He snaps his fingers and Sally’s features go slack. He’ll fix her settings tomorrow.

This story was shortlisted in the April Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Roberta Beary has words in The New York Times, Best Microfiction 2019/2021, and Best Small Fictions 2020. Beary collaborated on One Breath: The Reluctant Engagement Project, which pairs their writing with artwork by people with disabilities. Beary lives in County Mayo, Ireland where she tweets her micros @shortpoemz.

Home Truths and Three Shades of Orange

We jump the train, swig cans by the sea. A burnished drawbridge. A sinking sun. I joke there must be thousands of suns, all huddling beneath the horizon. You tell me I’m talking nonsense.

Our first flat. We smoke on the fire-escape, call it our balcony. You steal marigolds but we don’t have soil. Each time we smoke there’s little heads shrivelling, until I can’t look anymore.

The core of molten lava in a volcano is 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Nothing can live there because when it explodes, lava destroys everything in its path.

You told me you couldn’t stand nonsense.

This story was shortlisted in the April Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Bio Kate Simblet (she/ her) social works by day, plays with words by night. Lives in Brighton, loves the sea.

Fish Out of Water

“Emperor Angelfish – Harlequin Tusk – Pyjama Cardinal”

Fish facts flowed off his tongue, releasing pressure from the information compressed in his head and filling the silences with a reassuring certainty.

With absolutely no understanding of the subtle, non-verbal dialect of adolescent attraction, he still didn’t know how he had invited her along to the aquarium, but she was brilliant at logarithms and he liked the dimple that appeared as she tasted the names in her mouth.

Noticing the shine of her strawberry lip balm so close in their reflection, he snatched a breath.

“A purple Tang” she said. He was hooked.

This story was shortlisted in the April Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Jan Erskine-Power. An ex-civil servant, I enjoy gardening, reading and crafting. I love short fiction especially flash and micro.

Time’s Up

My mother stroked my hand and said she was feeling my age about the time she dropped her jewelled watch down the drain. I said it was a metaphor. She said the heart of being is not letting go. I wasn’t sure but still she grasped the nodding Jesus until it turned into a dachshund. Then both Christ and the watch had gone.

A gold-tipped, gull-winged car flew over the altar.

I expect they do cocktails now, she said. Mine’s an El Diablo.

The waitress smiled angelically and brought a large one. I ordered mixed nuts with my Last Word.

This story was shortlisted in the April Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Susan Wigmore enjoys writing short things though has recently challenged herself to work on a novella-in-flash. She likes experimenting with form, which is exciting but can also land her in trouble. Some small successes in print help to keep her going.

Ella’s Lexicon

Ella’s lexicon lingers, though she is long gone. Ruth twists what will always be, for her, basghetti around her fork, incanting the words not words to summon her daughter.

Strawbabies, pumcakes, hitabottomus, frumpits, viginer.

Boiling water for her evening meal, and taking down a packet from the shelf, Ella feels a tug on the final thread that ties her to home. She ignores it. She is schooled in a new language now.

Dysfunctional, toxicity, pernicious, estrangement, complicated.

She scrolls as she eats her pasta. One day soon, she thinks, she’ll change her username and finally lay Basghetti Girl to rest

This story was shortlisted in the April Monthly Micro Competition.

About the author: Alison Wassell is a flash fiction and short story writer, longlisted, shortlisted and placed in various competitions and published by Reflex Fiction, Retreat West, Bath Flash Fiction Award, The Cabinet of Heed, NFFD and other random places.