Congratulations to all who entered the Flash Fiction Writing Competition, we are pleased to announce the winners.
1st Prize: £200.00 – Rose Dean
2nd Prize: £150.00 – Pete Clark
3rd Prize: £100.00 – Becky Reed
4th Prize: £75.00 – Maddy Smith
5th Prize: £50.00 – Tony Dyer
Dawn heralded the first surge of hope. The skies pink-edged but clear, shed a cascade of light across the gloomy street with rows of houses mirroring the same bleak, grey stoned pebble-dash architecture standing like silent sentries down the empty way. To Melissa, the sight was both familiar and unwelcoming. This house, the garden and even the street leading to the city centre had become a prison, it was only recently that she had accepted her sentence and watched, with fading hope through the rain-misted windows. Now, her stomach flipped somersaults, and she wondered if finally the street would lose its grey cloak and forge a welcome home.
Opening the window just a fraction, she lit a cigarette and blew a spiraling cloud of smoke out through the gap, hoping that the smell would not cling to the russet red curtains. They had been cleaned specially and their vibrancy had re-emerged. Melissa inhaled with a sense of appreciation and guilt, for six months she had given up the evil weed but now, an overwhelming desire for each and every chemical rushed through her. This deadly cocktail was somehow making her feel alive, instead of choking her, it revitalized her, it eased her tension, and her muscles relaxed.
This street was timeless she realized as her position by the window became fixed. It was as if others who trawled the streets barely acknowledged her presence. She bore witness to acts of infidelity, betrayal and to the power of love. Men would come and go but the women remained, at first gentle, soft, warmed by their intense feelings of lust and love, then faded, brittle as their lives travelled a path most bitter. Their gold rings tarnished. She had become one of them, but now, was grey, a shadowed figure peeking out into a multi-colored dimension that glinted, glimmered beyond her reach. But today, she would emerge, eyes wide, chin resolute and she would take her place back into society.
Time ticked away as Melissa showered. The hot water soothing her skin, turning it as pink as the earlier sky. Her skin -soft, the fragrance of forget-me-nots, lingering in the air, long after she had left the bathroom sanctuary and had dressed, the long lined wrap-over robe clinging to her curves, hip bones rubbing against the rough fabric.
The sky had turned blue in her absence from the window and she greeted the shadows at the door with resolution and pride, their eyes kind. Stepping out in to the fresh air, skin relishing the warmth, she blinked in the unaccustomed light. Even the grey stone buildings stood erect, saluting her bravery, like an agoraphobic emerging from the confines of self-imprisonment. Melissa took her place along the street, the crowds parting like waves, eyes veiled, emotions barely contained. She felt the pressure of the men’s’ arms supporting her, as if scared she might snap under the weight of expectancy. She recognized that this was the end of her journey, as if past deeds had rushed up and caught up with her. Fate. She was now facing hers…alone. A single pale face in the crowd, which now was shrouded in expectancy.
Alone. She still felt the love, slowly at first and the support as the hearse drove slowly down the street bringing home her man, one last time. The soldier who had given his life for the sake of peace. While icicles began to thaw inside her heart, a new emotion sprang forth. Pride and love for all that he had been and all that he would remain – for her. ‘God bless,’ she called out silently as the hearse went by, and heavyhearted, began the slow walk towards the cemetery.