Two Halves Flash Fiction competition
We received another excellent range of entries for this challenging competition, to produce two related pieces of flash fiction, each of up to 150 words, relating two sides of a story, event, or conversation. The brief required that the two halves should inform each other but also work as individual pieces.
The shortlisted entries tackled this with ingenuity and dexterity: from the precise and painful teenage memory of Early Pleather to the penny-dropping denouement to the exchange of texts in Mixed Messages, these stories made the most of the format. Good Night, Sweet Dreams perfectly captured the enduring bond between father and daughter; Hermit Crabs/ Moving cleverly contrasted the crabs’ need to ‘move on’ with that of humans, and Possession left a lingering chill of fear and suspicion within a plot that could carry a novel.
It is coincidence that the winner and runner-up both deal with accidental deaths. Whilst one is deeply lyrical and poetic, the other is almost matter-of-fact, a clear-sighted account of the aftermath of a tragic error of judgement.
Fisherman, 66, Killed by a Leaping Swordfish while Boating with his Wife near Fanning Springs by Eleanor Walsh.
An astounding piece of writing which brings together the final seconds of a man killed in a bizarre accident and his wife’s experience of the same event. The intensity of the moment is vivid: her realisation of his imminent death contrasted with his dying memory of an ordinary domestic scene. Their togetherness in these last few moments, but also the isolation of their situation, is emphasised by the intimacy of the setting on a small boat, with all the horror pinned into a few seconds by precise and detailed description which highlights the couple’s powerfully-felt sensations. A very well-deserved win.
Hit and Run / Loss by Caroline Jenner
A poignant, thoughtful, subtle and, above all, very moving account of the death of a child in a road accident, seen first from the perspective of the driver and then the mother of the child. The factual tone and tidy structure resemble something that might be reported in a newspaper, but in which both sides recognise the tragedy that has affected each of them in different ways. The mother’s unspoken acknowledgement that her teenage daughter’s negligence contributed to the outcome adds to her sense of grief and loss, and with it the attribution of guilt and responsibility shifts uneasily.
Congratulations to Eleanor and Caroline, whose prizes are on their way.
Alphabetical by title
Early Pleather Margaret Morgan
Good Night / Sweet Dreams Caitlyn McQueary
Hermit Crabs / Moving Tracey-Ann Plater
Mixed Messages Vanessa Horn
Possession Alison Allen