Flash Fiction Friday

Last week, we set a Flash Fiction challenge for the Lucy community: 500 words on the theme ‘The Digital Revolution’. Here, we present you with the winning entries, plus a treat for your Friday afternoon: a couple of sublime poems from Creative Writing MPhil student Charlotte Cornell. Enjoy!

Ed’s Note: the Chronicle team are currently sulking up in the tallest turret of Maenad Manor, having received only two Flash Fiction submissions this time round. We promise to give you all a little more notice next time. For now, we have a winner: Caroline Vinall. Congratulations! You win prosecco. 

 

The Tinderbox
by Caroline Vinall

Swiping left yet again, Daisy began to reflect on her increasing pickiness with regard to men. Too skinny, too chubby, wonky nose, crooked teeth – it amazed her how anyone could find anyone remotely attractive when there were so many imperfections to be found. Mind you, the digital revolution in online dating had meant that she was now much more aware of her needs in a partner and her own seemingly shallow take on attractiveness.

Her first foray into the world of online dating had been disastrous, with enough traumatic experiences to complete a boxed set of Mr Men. Mr Weird referred to himself in the third person. Mr Perfect seemed amazing, but was caught texting his girlfriend to say he was at his mate’s. Mr Sensitive gushed about his baby boy and then watched him sleeping via his phone for the entire evening. Mr Macho got drunk on purpose in order to stay over, was dissatisfied with sleeping in the spare room then demanded a full cooked breakfast in the morning. Oh yes, Daisy had had her fair share of peculiar dating experiences.

Yet here she was again, after her first couple of days in her first job, sitting in a pub in her newly chosen home town, scanning the bar, swiping left on her phone, scanning…

…then he smiled at her. A broad and all-encompassing grin. Cheeky with undertones of pure passion. Dark eyes enveloping her in his gaze. Broad shoulders, strong and secure.

She froze, transfixed as he arrived at her table with a simple “I’m Jamie. Drink?”

Daisy could feel her heart racing as she mumbled a pathetic response and he laughed, shouting over to his mate at the bar to get another one in. His sheer presence on the seat next to her made her skin tingle with excitement and, as they relaxed in each other’s company, they chatted with ease about life, love and future plans. No awkward silences. No ‘emergencies’ at home. No escape via the toilet window…

…and he was still there in the morning. Passionate, thoughtful, masterful. A keeper. One for life.

They both had to rush off, tousled and flushed from a heady night of sheer indulgence with plans for future encounters and sweet kisses of promise.

Daisy collected her thoughts as she arrived at work. Smiling to herself secretly, she settled down to her first real day in her new job, her mind wandering deliciously, as she remembered every second of the previous night. The touch, the kiss, the passion…

A crash shattered her reverie. The door burst open and a pupil entered her classroom, dropping into the nearest chair.

“Sorry I’m late, Miss. Had a bit of a wild night.”

Daisy froze, transfixed as he smiled up at her with a simple, “I’m Jamie, Miss.”

 

***

Innishur
by Kate Blake

The half-remembered Aran island of Innishur inches tentatively away from the Galway coastline, groaning and straining against the currents of its own history. Ancient legend tells of a giant, large enough to cross the North country in a single stride, who deposed an old king in a long-forgotten war. The giant set the unfortunate monarch on a rock at the farthest end of the westernmost tip of the peninsula, a rock that wobbled and shivered shale into the pound and suck of the waiting ocean. Then, having steadied himself against the snow-capped mountains, he drew all the winds from the four corners of the earth into the chasms of his cheeks and blew out a mighty gust, tearing the rock from the mainland, naming it in the sibilance of the squall and the sea. Innishur.

Many thousands of years later, the gales are still blowing. The trees of Innishur lurch and buckle like tipsy scarecrows, never quite righting themselves, so that each trunk curves in on itself in a flail of desperate supplication to the Gods of old. Sheep lean at forty degrees, the wind making candyfloss of their hindquarters. All fruit bends like a banana. Nobody wears a hat.

The people of Innishur build their houses in their own image. Centuries of battling the bullying North wind have culminated in a single island dictum: in every imaginable walk of life, bottom-heavy is best. Kitchens and living-rooms on Innishur are cavernous; nobody in the world makes chairs and tables big enough and so all furniture appears doll-sized, ridiculous. Bedrooms, however, are decidedly on the cramped side. And it is in one of these poky bedrooms that Margery Carey now stands, examining her bottom in the tapered mirror on the wall of her tapered house, sighing.

It was practical, she knew, for her to carry all her weight in her lower quarters. Her mam had been the same way, and her granny. Fine island women, they had managed to stay upright for most of their lives and had raised their sheep and their children with a rough tenderness, kissing bumps and brewing strong tea whenever the wind blew one of them into the spackled side of the barn or against the sharp corners of the drainpipe in the yard. Her father, too, had been an Innishur man through and through: twice as wide at the fundament as he was at his sharp, narrow shoulders, he’d held Maggie’s hand and kept her on her feet for most of her childhood. Her parents had made a wonderful match, though Maggie often wondered whether they’d been able to hold each other when they made love. It seemed unlikely. Perhaps they’d made do with waving, or blowing kisses. She was glad it had worked out for them, but frankly she’d prefer the sex without the semaphore. And so Margery had made a decision, and was currently scrutinising her form in the trapezoid of the mirror, wondering how she might best describe herself to the shadowy faces of Plenty Of Fish.

“Hi, I’m Maggie. I’m 34, and my bottom sure can take a battering!”

Perhaps not.

Margery sighed again, heavily, a gusty tribute to the island she loved. It was no use anyway. They’d tried installing wifi on Innishur once, but the wind had sent three successive engineers flailing into the freezing waves of the North Atlantic, and she didn’t expect they’d send anyone else for a while at least.

 

***

Dandelions
By Charlotte Cornell

 

To him they are dirty lions,

manes stroked by the spearing long grass

of the Veldt.

 

As he knelt,

fisting yellow into brass,

bunching soft heads into red giants,

 

I am older: seeing just clocks.

Where he sees a savanna’s plain,

metres are miles.

 

He turns and smiles;

lost in delight, imagining a game

where prides still roam

on the rocks.

 

 

Radio
By Charlotte Cornell

Radio on:

some disaster

or other.

 

News,

the weather,

a jingle.

 

A couple:

elderly faces,

lined

 

like waves

ever-sounding

in space,

 

said

“I love you”

once.

 

Now

words fall

silent.

 

Radio on:

A tree falls

In a forest.

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