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A Little Feminist Flash Fiction

Procedures for the Cop after Thelma & Louise

 

 

You can’t stand on the brink of that canyon forever. The freeze frame slushes. You want to hold those girls, women, in sunglasses flying forever. You want to see only sky, sky, sky, sky like four TV’s in their eyes. You can’t. Don’t look down.

 

Listen to colleagues at the station. Every time some bitch dies, there’s paperwork, overtime. Damn waste of a Thunderbird. The cowboy’s bailed rocking, fucking an invisible girl.

 

You’ll buy flowers coming home, can’t say why. Your wife sniffs suspicion or gratitude, you’re unsure. Think of a man scraping pizza off his shoe; attend the sink after supper, soap the plates. You can do more.

 

Drive by the house again. Look through your window – the room’s as she left it. Embroidered roses dangle on the dishcloth. Lace curtains breathe butterflies onto another scorcher. Slot your Visa in the door, sit inside.

 

Look at the photo of that girl with the baton. That twirler, all skinny hopes. The back says Louise. Thirteen. Trials. Wonder what she tried for, why it mattered. Wonder more.

 

Kiss your wife’s neck tonight at the stove. Touch that photograph, twirl it in your pocket. Keep twirling, twirl for your life.

 This is an entry for the FEMFLASH 2013 writing competition from Mookychick Online. Enter now.

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Once Upon a Time I Wrote a Little Gift

Last year, I was lucky enough to be in a lovely anthology of fairy tale flash fiction, Once Upon a Time (edited by SJ Holliday and Anna Meade.) They ran a competition which I couldn’t resist- write a flash that’s a fairytale! Yes! I finally had an excuse! It was lovely to be one of the winners and have such lovely encouragement given to my work. Now, Anna (aka, the dark fairy)  is getting married and her friends are putting together a little gift of short wedding stories for her. Isn’t that lovely? It makes me feel all happy and awwww, and all those other things writers read about. So, for Anna and her beloved, I wrote a little story. Here it is. I hope she likes it.

Fuzzy Love Wishes to all

Angela

Title: Crane

Author: Angela Readman

Ebook: Yes

 Crane

I did not know if I could marry him. Him being one of that kind, and me being me. It made my mother afraid.

“They are not like us,’ she said, ‘if they do not love you enough you, you die.”

She tilted her head towards the ocean, that thin blue strip. The sleeve of her kimono dipped in the water, rippled wrinkles to her brow. She carried away the sad laundry. I sat kicking mud off my shoes by the house. I looked up at the sky the way lonely people look at the moon and think of someone far away keeping them company.

He went on one knee by the river, bent on legs so long it didn’t look easy. The ring fit. On my finger, silver, I twisted it like a pigeon with a homing band. I ran home, a dam of happiness bursting. My mother wept for us both.

“You could marry a boy from the village, you could live in that house never floods.”

She looked up imagining me so high up, falling like a woman on a ledge.

“I know he loves me,” I said.

“Enough?”

I nodded. I would not picture broken wings, rumours of girls, crumpled paper dolls dropping out of the sky. My mother bit her lips. She was that kind. I was mine.

The women whooped around me on the night of the wedding, his sisters, cousins and aunts. Their red hair set a dozen little fires on their heads.

“You will look beautiful. You will be beautiful,” his mother said.

I think that’s what she said, I was still trying to understand. I watched her cheeks darken and lighten to match her daughters, all laughing, bubbling, clapping their hands. Every shade of red lit their skin. Their skins were a series of sunsets migrating from pink, vermilon to maroon. I did not have words for so many shades of red. I was still learning the language of their faces. I replied to everything with a small smile.

“I don’t know what they think about me,” I’d said, “if they’ll like me.”

He lowered his head, neck crooked into mine. “I like you,” he said, “you’ll get used to them.”

So I sat, as they all flapped around me, wove flowers in my hair and snatched them out.

“No! Not like that! You’re not building a nest!”

His mother was scarlet, fading to the silky shade inside a pomegranate.

“You’re ready,’ she said, ‘doesn’t she look ready?”

I saw a nod, nod, nod, nod. His sisters stood around like agreeable ballerinas, a foot crooked up resting on a thigh, a knee bent to one side. One of them carried the dress, a silvery white. It lay across both of her arms like a pale woman being carried out of a house.

“You try it now! We won’t look!”

They giggled, holding fingers across their eyes, peeking out of gaps. Hook by hook, I opened up the dress and stepped inside, feathers wafted on gasps of breath. Feathers settled, silking themselves to my skin. I looked down and could not see my arms. I did not need a mirror, I could see myself in their bird eyes.

“Lift, lift up your petticoat, higher, higher!”

My arms rose, lifting the skirt off the floor. They stood back and watched me. Go, up, up, up, fly to where he was waiting by the ocean. I looked down at my mother, hand on her chest to stop her heart flapping out. I saw her get small, crying and laughing as she watched me fly. I did not fall.

The National Flash Fiction Day Micro Competition

I was recently one of the judges on The National Flash Fiction Day Competition, it was lovely to be asked. Today the results were announced. Congratulations everyone! I loved reading your work! It was really interesting to be involved, as last year’s winner I was on the other side. It was lovely to win, but I wasn’t sure how I did it or what goes on behind the scenes. And it occurred to me, so often when we enter competitions we go in blind. We aren’t always told what the judging process is, and perhaps we would like to know. Perhaps, if nothing else, it gives us confidence the work we are tying up will be treated fairly. (Personally, I always want to know the process. There are so many competitions around these days, and there aren’t enough hours in the day to enter them all! If I know a little about what will happen to my work on the other side I’m much more likely to enter, it gives me faith.)

I very much liked how The National Flash Fiction Day Competition was administered. There were several judges. Over 400 stories were sent to all of us without any names on. In addition to this, they all looked the same. Every story was presented in the same font and size, which surprised me. I know not all competitions can do this and work lands on desks in different fonts, different sizes, (sometimes with pictures on or on different coloured paper!). On the judging side of things, I was grateful they all looked the same. I couldn’t be swayed by a font size being too small, or in that font i don’t like, I couldn’t imagine I may know who had written the work by such things. It was stories. Here they were- words, all with an equal chance of getting my attention.  

The process was, I printed out all the stories first (I know, I know we are kindle people now, there is nothing wrong with reading on a screen, but I personally like a page and felt I’d give each entry more attention this way.) I wanted to sit with a cup a tea and read them at leisure, like I would anything else. I read all the stories over some time and made piles- no, maybe, yes. Then I read everything again, then again. The judges had to submit a list of their top 25. 

Some of the stories were so close to making it through I had to read them again to wittle my top 50 down. If you weren’t in the top 10, I want to tell you- don’t despair. There were some brilliant stories that didn’t make the final top 10, you may well have made it to the top 25, you may have been in some of the judges top 10- it doesn’t mean your work isn’t good. Another competition, another publication, another day- please. I’d hate to think some of those stories I loved won’t get to delight someone else.

Once each of the judges had submitted their top 25 a list of 25 was compiled for the second round. This was a heartbreaking moment, for many of us I’m sure, when some of the stories we personally loved didn’t make it further. It was also a joyous moment to see many of the stories I thought Yes! to on the first read make it. From this 25 the judges chose their top ten, and from these lists the overall winners were decided. Again, it was a joyous and heartbreaking moment- yay! That story I loved made it! Arggg, that story I loved didn’t! Nooo! 

The heartache of judging isn’t something I ever considered before. So many, so close…I wished more could have won. What I loved about it though, was how it was done. No names, identical looking work, multiple judges and a score system- the stories that were rated highest on the most judges lists won in the end. Congratulations to the winners, once again. And if you didn’t win, try again.

The Coffee Cat’s Out of the Bag

Yesterday they announced the short list of the Costa Short Story Award. Hurrah! When I found out I had a story on it I was gob smacked. I sat still. I looked away from my computer, then checked again to see if I’d read it wrong. It just didn’t seem possible. It brought a tear to my eye, then I laughed. It was just such a joy, a shock, a boost. It was one of those moments writers need, one that keeps you writing, makes the work worth it, reassures.

Then came the waiting, holding it in. I had to keep away from blogs and twitter (in case I saw anyone discussing the stories and burst.) Now the cat’s out of the bag. Phew! I’m honoured, stunned and amazed to have made it to the short list with so many wonderful writers. Congratulations to everyone short listed and to the winners on Tuesday. I hope you experienced as much encouragement from it as I did. It’s great that Costa supports the short story (thank you.). It’s particularly wonderful to see a mixture of both published and unpublished writers on this list. I hope this inspires writers quietly typing at home. You’re not wasting your time. Try. You may be surprised. The story is alive and well.