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Flash of the Month: August 2017

Yet again, the standard of entries to our Flash of the Month competition was very high. This month, 2017 apprentice Melissa Fu joined Emily Devane and Divya Ghelani to select our winning story. We had a hard time choosing from all those wonderful takes on the theme of citizenship, identity and belonging. This time, we chose Jude Higgins’ lyrical, beautifully-crafted tale of people connected by their loneliness, ‘Other People’. It’s all in the details with this piece, which resonates well beyond the last line. We chose ‘Japan’, by Jason Jackson, an emotional story about a father and son coping with their physical separation, as this month’s ‘Highly Commended’ piece.

Next month, 2017 apprentices Melissa Fu, Avani Shah, J. Fergus Evans and Durre Shahwar will be guest judging the competition, so send them your best stories up to 500 words for a chance to be considered for our next ‘Flash of the Month’. Details of how to enter are here.

Other People

Since she’s been alone, your friend in Australia helps rescue pilot whales stranded in shallow water. The woman down the road drives for a living with the radio on for company. That neighbour of yours, whose wife left last year, is excited by string theory and writes perfect algorithms.

You’ve just binned the old clothes from your previous life, mixed and matched a capsule wardrobe and begun collecting garden gnomes.You like those concrete mouldings of tiny, cheerful men. One’s perched with a fishing rod at the edge of the goldfish pond and your favourite gnome is calmly smoking a pipe in a bed of primulas.

Sometimes, on a lonely night when the moon is full, you imagine those other people outside too. That woman you scarcely know has driven for miles hardly needing the headlights because the sky’s so bright. In a quiet lane, she’ll climb on to the roof of her van, lay flat and gaze at the Milky Way. Your neighbour, with his telescope focussed, will decide that no equation can ever fathom the mysteries of the universe. On the other side of the world, your friend will be out in a boat watching rescued whales breach a moonlit ocean.

In the garden, you sit on a stone, motionless like the gnomes, not minding that your classic trench coat is creased, or your designer jeans are muddied. You tilt your face towards the sky while the man in the moon looks down. And you don’t feel sad.

Jude HigginsJude Higgins is a flash fiction addict. Her flash fictions have been published in Great Jones Street, The New Flash Fiction Review, The Blue Fifth Review, Flash Frontier, The Nottingham Review and National Flash Fiction Anthologies among other places. Her debut flash fiction pamphlet, ‘The Chemist’s House’ was published in June 2017 by V.Press. Jude runs Bath Flash Fiction Award and directed the inaugural Flash Fiction Festival in Bath this year. judehiggins.com @judehwriter.