Award Four

Caroline Reid
October 2016 Commended

Last Dog

by Caroline Reid

After I had my dog put down I went to the beach where I saw another black staffy chomping on frothy waves like she was that crazed with thirst and hunger she could have drank the ocean, eaten all the fish, dived to the bottom to feed on crays, munched her way through the Great Barrier Reef, before gobbling up the entire Pacific trash vortex. Then a squall of kids stormed out of the Life Savers Club, scaring the shit out of me in their red rashies, and when the staffy heard them she took one quick preserving look over her shoulder, plunged into the sea and paddled like mad. And I remembered my first dog, the way she took ill suddenly. After the fits you could smell the terror on her, metallic and wet like steel pipes left in the rain and I was hard on myself because I got more upset over that dog than my dad, who had died the previous summer. I’d watched him shrink to half his size in the hospital bed, wiping grey gunk from his mouth, holding my breath against foul smelling boils that erupted on him daily as if anger were its own revenge. I watched the staffy drift to safety further up the beach and I thought that when the oceans fish have dried up, the reefs are white as Styrofoam and there are only starving mobs of kids left, this is the way the last dog will go. Hounded by a herd of freckle-heads across blistering sands, she will be forced to dive beneath toxic waves before disappearing for good. I sat in the shallows and let the sand fill my knickers, knocked the top off a bottle of bourbon and bawled my bloody eyes out.

About the Author

caroline-reidCaroline Reid wrote her first commissioned work for theatre twenty years ago and since then her plays, fiction and poetry have been consistently performed, broadcast and published. She has written for arts organisations, schools and community groups; and has created work alongside independent artists, artist with disabilities and young people. In 2016 she was writer-in-residence at the South Australian Writers Centre and a finalist in the South Australian Poetry Slam. She is currently working on her first novel. Caroline lives in Adelaide, where she loves to go walking with her family in the shade of her pink and green umbrella.

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Michelle Elvy
October 2016 Commended

Whale Shark

by Michelle Elvy

I dreamed I was a whale shark dreaming he was a boy dreaming he was a whale shark dreaming he was a boy dreaming he was a whale shark dreaming he was a boy. Illuminating. Diving. Soaring. All in one night, or maybe it was one hour, or even one minute. I dove down down down and found fluorescent charms swinging from the snouts of seahorses. I flew firecrackerfast, fearsome and jubilant at the dizzying depths and the iridescent shape of things. I fed on plankton but they weren’t plankton at all – they were morsels of delight, merry magical minstrels skipping on my tongue, pressing and lifting at the same time. Between bites (gapes, because there’s no chewing when you’re a whale shark) I napped and dreamed, and I was the boy, and I had a ladder, and I climbed and climbed and climbed. The ladder went up to the top of my house and beyond. It touched treetops and the salt of the sea-sky in the harbour. It exceeded the reach of my mother’s call, way out in the everdark of the night. I dove through silk raindrops and I was a whale shark again, pectoral fin browsing slippery sand. And then I was a boy again. Shifting back and forth, down and up: first tail swish, long and smooth and elegant like a shark but not a shark, then boy with hands – hands! – digging a mote of water for protection (naturally) around a castle, singing sea-lavender songs. As a whale shark, I dreamed the boy, and as a boy, I dreamed the whale shark. And so on. Blueblack of ocean to blackblue of sky. Down and back up. Swimming laddering lunging climbing.

I can be anything in my dreams.

I open my mouth and swallow the stars.

About the Author

m-elvyA writer and manuscript editor based in New Zealand, Michelle Elvy edits at Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction and Blue Five Notebook. She is chair of NZ’s National Flash Fiction Day and Assistant Editor of the critically acclaimed Best Small Fictions series. This year, she is assembling an anthology of New Zealand flash, with Frankie McMillan and James Norcliffe. Currently in East Africa, Michelle is writing two collections, one essay and one flash, inspired by the extraordinary animal life she’s encountered during her travels aboard her sailboat, Momo. ‘Whale Shark’ is from those new stories. Read more at and

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Interview with Robert Vaughan
Flash Fiction Award Judge
July – October 2016

Robert VaughanRobert Vaughan teaches workshops in hybrid writing, poetry, fiction, and hike/ write. He has facilitated these at locations like Alverno College, UWM, Fox Valley Technical School, JMWW (online), Red Oak Writing, The Clearing and Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos. He leads writing roundtables in Milwaukee, WI. He was twice a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award for Fiction (2013, 2014). His short fiction, ‘A Box’ will appear in the Best Small Fictions 2016 (Queen’s Ferry Press). Vaughan is the author of four books: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press, 2012); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps, 2013); Addicts & Basements (CCM, 2014). His newest, RIFT, is a flash fiction collection co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press, 2015). He blogs at


  • You’ve been senior flash fiction editor for JMWW literary journal for six years and have also been fiction & poetry editor for Lost in Thought Magazine and guest editor for Smokelong Quarterly. What makes a piece of flash fiction stand out for you?

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