Flash Fiction

June 2024 Long List

Congratulations to all the authors who have made our Award long list and huge thanks to all who entered.

Author names are yet to be announced, so while it is fine to share that you are on the long list, we do ask that you do not identify yourself with your particular fiction at this stage.

We receive many many entries, and occasionally some entries have the same title. We have sent an offer of publication email to all authors on the long list. Please do not assume you are on the long list unless you have received that publication offer. If in doubt, contact us.

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February 2024 Long List

Congratulations to all the authors who have made our Award long list and huge thanks to all who entered.

Author names are yet to be announced, so while it is fine to share that you are on the long list, we do ask that you do not identify yourself with your particular fiction at this stage.

We receive many many entries, and occasionally some entries have the same title. We are in the process of sending an offer of publication email to all authors on the long list. Please do not assume you are on the long list unless you have received that publication offer. If in doubt, contact us.

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Dawn Tasaka Steffler October 2023 First Prize


by Dawn Steffler

Because the internet said, children who lose a parent to suicide are more likely to die from suicide. Because for Tyler’s fourteenth birthday, I took him to Disneyland and thought we were having a good day, until his eyes brimmed with tears while we were in line and he mumbled, “I’m sorry, Mom — I don’t think I want to be here anymore.” And I knew he wasn’t talking about Space Mountain. Because my therapist said, “I know you’re angry. But you need to hold space for Tyler to grieve.” And I remember thinking, does no one give a fuck about me?

My husband hovers. I hear songs on the radio that croon “I’m sorry”, or I’ll see a heart-shaped cloud, or the Mexican place has a new banner, “Life is hard, tacos help.” I always ignore him. But two hours ago, Tyler barged into my bedroom, he’s receiving an award at tonight’s Senior Ceremony and his dress slacks are too short. I wanted to say, You’re just like your Dad, always leaving stuff to the last minute! But I didn’t. I said, “Would you like to look in your Dad’s closet?” And Tyler examined each hanger, the scrape of wire on wood, the rustle of fabric. He selected a navy suit and a pinstriped shirt still in the dry cleaner’s plastic sleeve. And when he emerged, I felt like I was looking at a ghost, except this ghost’s hair was shaggy and falling into its eyes.

And now I’m standing at the back of the gym. When Tyler accepts his commemorative plaque, the flyers on the table next to me flutter and ripple. And I whisper, “Fuck off.” I whisper, “Yes, he turned out amazing. No thanks to you.” I whisper, “Well, thank you. That means a lot.”

About the Author

Dawn Tasaka Steffler is a fiction writer from Hawaii who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a Smokelong QuarterlyEmerging Writer Fellow, StoryStudio Chicago StoryBoard Fellow, and Best of the Net nominee. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Many Nice Donkeys, Milk Candy Review, Flash Frog, Pithead Chapel, Stanchion, Ghost Parachute, and others. She truly does believe tacos make life better. Find her on Instagram, Twitter and Bluesky @DawnSteffler and at www.dawntasakasteffler.com

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Mairead Robinson October 2023 Second Prize

Butterfly Effect

by Mairead Robinson

That night you flipped out, drunk on vodka you found in your brother’s room as you rummaged for weed, you didn’t know that your best friend, too numb, wouldn’t speak for three days, and as you flipped, alone and raging, you didn’t know your teachers, on hearing the news, would rolodex their heads for anything they might have ever said, and you didn’t know as you emptied the bathroom cabinet for something to be enough, that your neighbour would stare at the fence, recalling a six-year-old on the trampoline, pigtails lifting into twin smiles as you bounced up down, up down, and you didn’t know as you smashed your own face in the mirrored doors, the bath filling dreadfully behind you, that your mother would say you were everything, just everything to her, and as you stepped half-dressed into tepid water, you didn’t know that the boy you slept with after a party, the one who bragged to his friends, would never again hold anyone close, and your mother’s boyfriend, who said you were all grown up, before he slunk from your candy-striped sheets, your pop-star posters, would hold your mother up at the funeral, eyes hard-glazed, like a daughter to me, he’ll say, lies the only truth on his face, and you didn’t know, as you gripped a glass shard without thinking, felt such calm sluicing through, that your brother would find you and be too afraid to know what to do; he’ll turn off the tap, towel-mop the tiles; soft white soaking up pink, and you didn’t know, when you flipped into that grey blur, that you’d be buried in the pale lilac chiffon you wore to your prom, cocooned in a casket painted by your cousin with poppies and vines and big yellow swallowtails fluttering through leaves.

About the Author

Mairead Robinson writes and teaches in the South West, UK. Her work has appeared in Ellipsis Zine, Crow and Cross Keys, The Molotov Cocktail (Flash Monster 2023), Free Flash Fiction, Full House Literary, Voidspace, and in various anthologies too. She is supposed to be working on a novel, but has become hopelessly addicted to Flash Fiction. She tweets @Judasspoon and skeets @maireadwrites.bsky.social

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Sally Jubb October 2023 Third Prize


by Sally Jubb

It was the way she gave him chocolate. Fed him, I should say, as if he was still a baby. Not that you’d give a baby chocolate. Then she sort of played with it in front of his face, him with his lips parted, as she waved it about. The way a cat’s head follows left to right, right to left, if you taunt it with a bit of chicken, that’s what she did to him. I watched her in the mirror, as I put on my necklace before leaving the house.

Later, from the window, I watched them in the garden, deep in lupines. She put a straw between his lips. The liquid was pink, the glass bottle flashing in the sun between her fingers. I imagined her saying the word suck, and remembered a stranger’s fingers dragging my nipple over his face, him rooting blindly as the milk came in spurts, the stab as he latched on, the crying, him sucking on and on, the hopelessness of it.

She’s carrying him now between the trees, lifting him high in the air, him reaching down with his fingers touching her face. Now she takes his fingers into her mouth and shakes her head about like some daft dog. He’s laughing. I only know her name. I don’t know who she really is. These agencies make stuff up. Joy is very loving and caring. Joy is endlessly patient and loves nothing more than to play.

They’re holding hands now and pointing at something on the lawn. A blackbird, or maybe a starling. Sturnus vulgaris. Whatever it is she’ll have to go.

About the Author

Sally Jubb lives in North Yorkshire. She received the Andrea Badenoch Award (Northern Writers Awards) in 2015. Since then, her work has appeared in various anthologies, including The Bristol Short Story Prize, The London Magazine, Best British Short Stories (Salt). She won the Colm Toibin Short Story Prize in 2017. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck College, London. She recently completed a horror novel.

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Autumn Bettinger October 2023 Highly Commended

Train to the Last Iceberg

by Autumn Bettinger

His tangled blond curls flutter in the breeze kicked up by train wheels. The zoo slides by, passing a giraffe licking metal poles and an elephant staring into the sun. She points towards the polar bear, a great white blotch on a barren scene. She taps her son’s shoulder, calls his name, but he keeps looking at the plants and people that chug by.

She watches the water fall from the bear’s fur in soft sheets, pattering old plastic jugs that litter the enclosure. Even in a zoo, where great murals depict the ice melting in the arctic, they give Polar Bears trash to play with.

The train heads towards a tunnel. Kids squeal, a few toddlers burst into tears. They can sense the dark. She watches the back of her son’s neck for goosebumps. At six he’s almost fearless. She imagines the last fight they had, the one where she grabbed him, told him to listen. JUST LISTEN.

She scared him. She scared herself. She tried to apologize. She took him to the zoo.

The tunnel pushes in slowly, the light fading in a blast of shrill giggles and gasps. She and her son stay quiet in the black. Nothing but sounds. No polar bears. No slamming doors. No throwing ice cubes against the side of the house to try and break her anger apart.

The light creeps back in as a familiar pressure nestles into her palm. A small hand buried in the wrinkles and veins that puddle above her knuckles. The train sucks its last cars from the dark as the polar bears fight over an old buoy and the giraffe’s black tongue licks, and licks, and licks. She squeezes his hand and thinks about rising oceans. She squeezes his hand and promises not to melt.

About the Author

Autumn Bettinger is a full-time mother of two living in Portland, Oregon. When not folding laundry or slinging snacks, she can be found writing in the wee hours of the morning before her kids wake up. Her work has been audio adapted for The No Sleep Podcast and has won the Silver Scribes Prize. Her stories can be found in The Journal of Compressed Literary Arts, On the Run, Numnum, and others.
All of Autumn’s published works can be found at autumnbettinger.com.

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Barbara Diggs October 2023 Highly Commended

The Burial of Mrs. Charles D. Jackson

by Barbara Diggs

You sit alone on the sofa in the smart black suit and flared skirt you picked out months ago, when you saw the writing on the wall. Children and grandchildren surge and recede, leaving objects before you like sacred offerings: A sweating glass of iced tea. Crayon drawings of you and Granddaddy Charles. A plate of ham hock-seasoned collard greens, your presumed favorite. You like collards fine, but they were Charles’s favorite, never yours. Still, you’d made them every Sunday with three dashes of habanero sauce and a spoonful of brown sugar, right up until the day he clamped his lips and turned away.

Black-clad women gather like a plague of grackles near the kitchen doorway. A daughter, a daughter-in-law, two nieces. One glances over her shoulder at you as they whisper. They are waiting for you to fall apart. A biblical show of grief; a little hair-tearing, some breast-beating would befit sixty-one years of marriage. Yesterday, you overheard your son saying he wouldn’t be surprised if you went soon after, and you wondered if there was no end to the world’s expectations of a woman.

At the graveyard, you’d dabbed your eyes. A commitment fulfilled is as worthy as devotion. But now, you’re thinking of the ripe cantaloupe someone had placed on the kitchen counter. Charles couldn’t bear the smell; you hadn’t bought one in decades. You rise from the sofa with crepitating knees. A storm of concern erupts, but you decline offers of assistance. You prefer the gossamer swing of your skirt, the honeyed scent of melon to usher you forward.

About the Author

Barbara Diggs’s flash fiction has been published or is forthcoming in numerous publications including, FlashBack Fiction, (mac)ro(mic),100-Word Story, Ellipsis Zine, Five on Fifth, and multiple anthologies including the Bath Flash Fiction Anthology and The Bridport Prize Anthology, where she received a Highly Commended award. She is Pushcart Prize nominee and Best of the Net finalist. She lives in Paris, France with her husband, sons, and the cutest turtle ever. Twitter @bdiggswrites. Bluesky: @bdiggswrites.bsky.social

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William Davidson June 2023 First Prize

Remembered Yellow

by William Davidson

I’m early. I walk to the end of platform three. I like to see the name of the train I’m getting on. I know it’s daft. I like to see the name of the train and then get on at the front and walk through the carriages. I like to sit at the back of the rearmost carriage, facing forward. It’s weird and daft. I know.

I stand at the very end of platform three, at the top of the slope that leads down to the rocky ground by the tracks, the ballast I think it’s called, like in a ship, like the ballast that stops a ship from tilting and sinking. I gaze down the slope at the ballast and there it is, growing alongside a patch of rosebay willowherb. There it is – York groundsel. It went extinct decades ago but there it is.

I’m early so I’ve got time. It’s good I’m early. I walk down the slope and keep my eye on the York groundsel but it’s not going anywhere. I keep my eye on things that aren’t going anywhere in case they go somewhere. It’s daft. I know. It’s hard to walk on the ballast. It’s sharp-edged. I take off my jacket and roll it up so I’ve got something to kneel on. The York groundsel is yellow, like a remembered yellow, like a yellow that only exists in a photograph, but here it is, existing, in the ballast.

People are by me now. They must have seen the York groundsel too. They sound like they can’t believe it’s here.

‘It’s really here,’ I say. ‘York groundsel is really here.’

The people are tilting around me. A train’s coming. Its horn is blasting again and again, like an ocean liner launching, like something beginning.

About the Author

William Davidson won the inaugural Bath Flash Fiction Award in 2015. His short stories and flash fiction have been published in various anthologies, including Solstice Shorts (Arachne Press) and Rattle Tales (The Brighton Prize). He has an MA and MFA in Creative Writing from York St John University, and teaches at Converge, an education project at the university that provides courses for people who use mental health services. He also leads an ecotherapy book club at St Nicks, a thriving nature reserve in York.
Twitter: @WmDavidsonUK

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