Competition Five Judges Report by Rosaleen Lynch
What I love about flash fiction stories—they plant seeds—sometimes they blossom as you read and other times long after, sometimes they gather in your mind like a dandelion clock and the wind scatters them again and who knows where each one will land or which one will grow.
How lovely it is to have the opportunity to read such a great long list of flash fiction, but how hard it is then, to curate them into a shortlist! I enjoyed reading them all and found something in each piece to take away. I chose the shortlist for each story’s quick immersion into a world and the response elicited, whether a chuckle or a lump in the throat, surprise or curiosity, they all impressed in one way or the other and stood up to a number of readings, finding in each one something to resonate or explore long after reading. Each one planted a seed.
The shortlisted stories all had quick germination times, grabbing the attention but plunging you into their worlds in different ways. ‘Tiny Pieces of Sky’ used a child’s perspective and the imagery of pathetic fallacy to create an ominous feeling from the start to build suspense throughout, while ‘The Physics of Attraction’ was fun, filled with unfolding wordplay and made me smile to the end.
The two highly recommended stories were full of emotion, pain and glimmerings of hope. ‘Night is an Unbroken Line’ as a title said so much and was reinforced again and again with the ‘what ifs’ of it, a dream-like quality, and the shedding of a flickering light on those nights of insomnia which can haunt. ‘Guilty’ on the other hand presented a call to revolution, with the desperation and pain of a mother hidden behind wordplay, images of protest, bravado and pomp, as she rails against bureaucracy and argues both sides of the nature-nurture debate.
The winning story ‘2He’ kept bobbing up and down in my mind after reading it. I was intrigued by the title. I loved the voice from the start. The opening line and use of the second person, drew me in and joined the first couple of dots but didn’t reveal the whole picture, tempting me to read on, pointing me in the right direction to join the rest of the dots myself.
The conceit of ‘2He’ worked brilliantly. It was poignant, ironic and darkly comic. The use of anthropomorphism allowed the story to bloom in the language and imagery on the page, and flower into fields of thought on what it can mean to experience grief, loss and change and sprouted ideas around imperfect relationships, attachment models and objects, needs and how they are filled, coping mechanisms, comforts and resilience and so much more. ‘2He’ did what flash fiction does best, plants seeds in your mind, you can enjoy watching grow.