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Flash Fiction Judge’s Report Q4 2020
This quarter’s report is by Kevlin Henney
Here, in the heart of a winter that is as much a state of mind as it is a season, we find ourselves locked in and locked down. The need for stories has never been greater — stories that understand our mood, stories that lighten our load, stories that remind of us a bigger world.
The stories this quarter explored familiar themes of relationships gone right, relationships gone wrong, family, friends, birth and death, some through the lens of humour, others much darker. But even in the darker and sadder ones, there was more reality and release to be found than in doomscrolling.
To all who submitted, to all who made the shortlist and to the winners, congratulations. Kindling that creative fire in these times is no easy feat. Taking words from within ourselves to create something new, to write a story and make that commitment to submit to a competition, swims against a strong tide. Keep doing it. And for anyone standing in the shallows wondering about wading further out, come on in.
First: Last, Best Hope in a Shade of Orange
A story with humour and a heart and careful attention to detail. The structure keeps the story short, while telling us everything we need to know about the characters and their workplace and beyond.
Second: Waiting Up
Some stories withhold information, hoping to surprise the reader at the end. Other stories reveal everything to the careful reader from the start. This story is so rich in the small world it paints, and the emotions in play, that I couldn’t believe the low word count when I finished reading it.
Third: Cracks Are Proof Enough
The title introduces a metaphor that is woven into every level of the story. The first-person point of view at first seems to only acknowledge the literal meaning and not the metaphor, but that veil is pulled back by the end.
Highly commended: A Girl Who Knows Her Rubies
I have a deep and abiding fondness for stories that draw on fairy tales, twisting and playing with their themes. This story is no exception, magical realism with a strong voice and lyrical prose.