Congratulations to our Flash Fiction Prize winning and shortlisted entries, and thank you to everyone who entered.

 

First prize

“I haven’t seen flies that big since…” Mum’s voice startles me. I wait to hear the rest. Since? I will her to continue. My sister stills. “Since?” she asks, her voice too loud, too needy. But mum’s eyes wander to the window and the curtain that hangs limp and unmoving on this airless afternoon. We…

Second prize

My dad won the fishing competition. He caught the longest Murray cod and won $1,000. This gave me considerable prestige at school. The tuckshop gave me extra tomato sauce on my meat pie, Mr Taylor, the PE teacher acknowledged me with a slight nod, and Miss Jones didn’t give me detention when I forgot my…

Shortlisted entries

She should have done something with the cream. Beaten in a touch of sherry, swirled through mashed up blueberries. There were passionfruit and eggs. She could have whipped the whites, folded in the thick cream, made custard with the yolks and a generous knob of butter to make passionfruit flummery, the recipe from the Commonsense…

Pablo smiled as guests wished him a happy birthday. The whole town was here, except the one person he wanted to see. “Señor Pablo.” The voice, deeper and more melodic than it had been in youth, made him turn. “Luis. It’s just Pablo. It’s always been just Pablo to you.” His heart thumped under his…

The woman and the teenage girl made eye contact for longer than was polite between strangers. The woman, a tourist, longed to spend more time in this place – wanted to entrench her memories forever. The girl wanted to flee from this place – dreamed of being a bird on a wire. On the harbour…

The eyes of the soldier lay wooden on his brand-new shoes. Shoes for the Bravery Awards ceremony. Black thick shiny good quality leather shoes. Both into a fancy box. And each into two layers of silver tissue paper. The way he puts the right shoe on still retains his martial demeanour. He takes the left…

Transcript: Inaugural Educator’s Conference on Behaviour Management Presenter: Dr William Earneston Good morning. I’m happy to see many familiar faces – I recognise almost everyone! I’m looking forward to fostering a collaborative environment to facilitate a robust discussion, empowering all educators to minimise student attention variants. What’s that, Maryanne? Oh, it means getting them to…

We should know better, you and I, scarred as we are, battered by a life of loves and losses. By the freakish acts of harm visited upon us by a parent, a child, a partner, a lover, or that nasty little piece of history discovered that lodges stolidly in the gut, leaving you gasping for…

The pink and lime-green teacups whirled around the platform, dizzy with squealing children. There were still several groups in the line ahead of Tony and Joseph. Tony ruffled Joseph’s hair, and said: “Not long now.” The boy stared at the ride, all the while shifting from one leg to the other. “Joseph, do you need…

An anaemic, abstract painting. The words trailed through it, almost cutting it in half: If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. And the shark mobile above her head, dangling from the ceiling, its mouth crammed with huge, sharp teeth. When he’d cranked back the chair the last time, she was…

– after the song ‘Wonderful’ by Geoffrey Williams He’s in the open window, dangling one leg above the street that’s still searing from the heat of the day. His apartment block is going to bake all night. Downstairs an argument about a spilt G&T. He’s thinking about his girlfriend who just flew out, how they…

I live in a ghost tower. Ten floors up, Number 5, that’s me. When I first moved in I tiptoed the corridors, put my ear to doors listening for signs of life. Television, a conversation, another human being – but there was zilch. I moved in expecting to make new acquaintances. Marketing for these apartment…

His decline is gradual, but a mother knows. Giant teddy bear hugs become limp, and the child turns his head, leaving a parent’s kiss floundering fishlike in the air. Bedtimes lose the clingy desperation. He merely removes himself from your presence, slides under the covers and turns his head to the wall. He’s nearly seven,…

The TV quiz show audience waited. In the final round, the established champion, the homely Jessie (nurse and voluntary phone crisis counsellor) would surely beat the new challenger, the gorgeous Edwina (businessman’s wife and stunning fashion plate). For the deciding question, the studio audience was hushed. The quiz host built the tension with his annoyingly…

He sniffs the water, gulps at the air. No others make a move amid the red glow. A good sign, all things considered. He smooths his whiskers, saunters over to the wheel. It’s his turn. He’s feeling lucky. * ‘All righty!’ The man with the high voice and white coat flicks the fluoros to high…

Ever wanted to give a loved one a dose of reality or shall we say a “a reality hit”? Well, now you can. You see my parents decided to name me, their first and only child, ‘Reality,’ during a time of their life when they themselves were far from it. But, rather than letting it…

“I can absolutely cope with two humans against a Converted crew.” I watch the numbers stagnate on the ship’s monitor, after days of rapid falling (HUMAN LIFE-FORMS, 0002) and climbing (NON-HUMAN, 0148) since Seig and I sealed ourselves in the control room. “I just don’t want to be the last one.” Seig and I are…

You have to understand the structure of a house. Each one is different, has its idiosyncrasies. When you find a builder willing to take on such a house you sit through long discussions with him. He takes you to the front first and points out the trouble caused by the closed in verandah. He explains…

I force the protective glasses over Sunday’s eyes. She’s being ridiculous. It’s a given that Sunday doesn’t care about the solar eclipse, because the more people express interest in something, the more my friend makes a point of expressing her singular disinterest. We’re surrounded by interest: the crowd is thrumming and clicking with it. They…

“It rained that day.” “Rubbish.” “It did. I remember. I remember my-” “Driest August we’d had for years.” “I doubt your memory is too good anymore.” “Nothing wrong with my memory. Sharper than ever. I can remember things from my childhood.” “Yes, they say long distant events are sharper than recent events when -” “They?…

Sonja Albright had deliberately set fire to her practice, but she did not admit this to the police officer. They stood behind the cordon watching as fire fighters sifted through smouldering wreckage. ‘What happened? I was only gone for twenty minutes!’ she uttered with prescribed bewilderment instead. It had been a quick dash out, between…

I’d like to begin by expressing my deepest condolences for your recent death. I imagine this is quite unexpected, to find yourself here. They say that moving house, having children, and dealing with a loved one’s death are life’s three most stressful experiences, and given that the transition into the afterlife rolls two of those…

Stop. Stop. Stop. Today I have an attraction to every red traffic light. Can you believe that? Alice is now late for school and I’m late for work. Bumper to bumper the cars wait for green. Go. Go. Go. When the light finally changes the cars in front don’t move. Horns sound off. Then one…

High on a hill lived Vrondil the shepherd and his sheepdog Vox. Vox was an ordinary sheepdog and Vrondil was an ordinary shepherd, except that he had no sheep. Vox secretly believed that Vrondil really ought to have some sheep, being a shepherd and all and this was what Vrondil thought too. Of course he’d…

Tara woke, her body heavy and floppy. Did she have to get up? Everyone else slept on. This wasn’t the long-waking, when the whole family would arise. Her stomach grumbled. She just needed a quick snack, then she could go back to sleep, too. She forced open one eyelid, rubbing away the grit. She stretched…

Karl Engels pulled his concrete-coloured 1998 Honda Civic into the parking lot of Information Technology Solutions. He parked three cars down from his boss’s Audi and sat still as he thought of the day ahead: organise health and safety training for new staff, go over the leave roster for the next six months. Admin was…

Sweat dripped from my brow as I gasped for the jungle air. “You’re strong. You’re so strong,” he said as we heaved ourselves over the mountain. We were meant to go around it, a twenty minute stroll, but a wrong turn led to an eight hour trek through cascades and mire. My soggy socks rubbed…

She keeps them hidden under the flowery paper lining her underwear drawer. Letters. Precious letters from long ago. It comforts her to know they are there, but looking at them hurts. And she doesn’t really need to. She knows the contents by heart. She had been so young. Barely out of school. Just starting teacher…

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