Congratulations to our three winners who provided some very creative and inspirational stories for our Flash Fiction writing competition, all within a mere 700 words. A big thank you to everyone who entered, we received some fantastic submissions.
1st Prize: £150.00 Alice Talbot
2nd Prize: £100.00 Peter Stevens
3rd Prize: £75.00 Carol Lawson
More Than an Armchair
by Alice Talbot
Beautifully crafted, the old chair always drew attention but now, it seemed forlorn, empty as if it too mourned the loss of its owner. The memories overwhelm me as I trail my fingers across the beautiful wood remembering Joe sitting here night after night, a whisky in one hand, gazing up at the stars through the bay window.
“A man has to have a chair fit for the purpose Jodie. From here, I survey my kingdom.”
He’d always said that if he lost all his money or his business, none of it mattered, but he’d never let his chair go. I remembered how his face had lit up when he smiled and every line etched across his features told a story of his adventurous life. I would never forget how he’d taken me in after finding me on the streets; a dirty faced six year old crying after my mother had died of an overdose in a squalid basement. I couldn’t remember much about her, but Joe had just swept me up in his arms and taken me home. I’d found out later I’d never even been registered, so Joe changed my name and I became his daughter, Jodie, a chip off the old block. I had been so lucky even though Joe survived on his wits and constantly broke the law –forgeries, art theft, gambling…. he was a self-made man and fairly wealthy, although his methods were dubious.
“I’ll always look after you,” he’d promised, “I have a few tricks up my sleeve for your future, don’t you worry.”
But now, he was gone. The house had been repossessed and everything was disappearing. I couldn’t even think straight let alone battle against the obstacles that had besieged me since his death. Joe had seemed immortal, his love of life and his fighting spirit had kept him young, and his death was as much a surprise to me as it must have been for him. I’d found him in his chair, cold to the touch. Heart attack they’d told me afterwards. Whatever plans he’d had for my future had died with him. I wanted to cry, but the emotion was a hard knot within me, I felt as if I had let him down, after all, he’d given me a wonderful life and taught me so much, yet I couldn’t function anymore. I was frozen in my grief.
Even now, the furniture was being bundled into the waiting vehicles. Soon my life here would be over, the house was being sold off – his cleverly evaded debts had caught up with him and now his memory and his home were being bled dry by the bureaucrats’ we’d hated so much.
“I need to take that chair love…” A voice behind me made me jump.
“No, please, not this. I need to have just one thing to remind me of him. I can’t lose it all.” My face must have shown my desperation because his face softened and he nodded, “Yes, I …I can see that. Don’t worry; maybe take it somewhere safe?” He turned away quickly, leaving me alone in Joe’s favourite room – the library, although all the books were long gone and the shelves mocked me with their emptiness.
I began to move the chair out of sight from the main hallway; I was determined to keep it. As I struggled to move the chair, pulling it hard, the sudden force made it topple over and that’s when I noticed the envelope taped underneath the seat. My name was scrawled across the front in large, swirling letters. I recognized the writing. With trembling fingers, and glancing around furtively in case anyone was watching, I tore open the envelope finding papers within.
An account number, password and statement of an offshore account with so many zeros that I could only stand and stare, open-mouthed. Millions of pounds stashed away. Joe had saved me again. Now, my tears began to fall and my heart ached with my love for him and the pain of his loss. I turned the statement over and it said:
To your future – love Joe x