Insructions 2

Competition Twelve Shortlisted: Instructions for sweethearts watching Spitfires leave by

  1. Pick a clear night, creeping from a warm summer’s day. Pluck the hope from its centre, polish lightly and tuck it away.
  2. Go to the river, sit on the bank. Lose yourself in the soft rattle of wheat as it waves at your back.
  3. Take a moment to breathe, to wonder and stare. Piece by piece, offer your heart to the low hanging sky.
  4. Worm your fingers, sequentially down into the earth. Anchor your soul, grow roots, before you turn to the marsh.
  5. Flick out your tongue, the tip tasting the air. Drag in salt and ozone, let it collide with your brain.
  6. In the following rush pick out five bright stars. Wink at them, flirt a little and tell each one his name.
  7. Put your faith in the violet ink of the heavens as you watch the plane rise. Imprint the shadow of wings on your eyes.
  8. Afterwards, wrapped in silence and velvet, find a solitary hare. In the moonlight salute it. Cross your fingers, swallow your tears.
  9. Then head home to your bed and the spider of sleep.
  10. Wait for the morning. Count the whites of your knuckles as you cling to the sheets.





Rachel Canwell is a writer and teacher living in Cumbria. Her debut flash collection ‘Oh I do like to be’ was published by Alien Buddha in July 2022. Her short fiction has been published in Sledgehammer Lit, Pigeon Review, Reflex Press, Selcouth Station and The Birdseed amongst others. She is currently working on her first novel.



Photo – Richard Walker –


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