We are very pleased to be able to share the winning story and shortlist from the 2017 Avid Reader Flash Fiction Prize for stories of 50 words or fewer. We received over 400 entries this year (from all corners of the globe!), and were impressed as always by the variety and imagination of our entrants. After plenty of robust discussion, we were unanimous in our decision picking the winner, Alanah Andrews' 22nd Century Jury, a very clever and thought-provoking piece of writing.
We announced the winner on Saturday August 12 as part of our Love Your Bookshop Day celebrations.
Alanah is a high school teacher at Traralgon College in Gippsland, Victoria. She was teaching the Reginald Rose play Twelve Angry Men to a year 11 English class and it prompted the discussion about the difference between juries and trials from 1950's to today. In her story, she applies this same thought to juries today and juries of the future. Her story can be read both forward and backwards, each eliciting a different meaning. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did, as well as the full list of shortlisted stories below.
22nd Century Jury (A reverse story) by Alanah Andrews
they are going to vote ‘guilty’ /
and she refuses to believe /
the new procedures are fair /
nervous as she ascends the podium /
unfolding her statement - she is not /
convinced that bias has been eliminated /
a dozen people deliberating in a room /
is better than /
a million poised behind smartphone screens /
FLASH FICTION PRIZE SHORTLIST
N’westerly by Alice Bishop
But it’s noon now and you lean up against the cluttered mantelpiece, sweat pearling across your skin. Honey whimpers. You try to remember if Till’ll take her Saturday night gin with tonic instead—her uncut hair sticking, just slightly, to the back of that moon-white neck.
Heart Sounds by Tara East
The trail spat us out onto a white powdered beach and you held out a conus shell telling me to press it to my ear. You told me that was the sound of your heart, but all I could hear was my own blood pretending to be something else.
State of Affairs by Gabriel Leslie
We thought our end would come from the sky; a meteor the size of the moon, or a silver nuke whistling through cold wind. We forgot to look bellow, at the water lapping at our toes. Our end didn’t come from the air. But we were too busy to care.
Brick by Claire Fuller
I was once dared to throw a brick from a footbridge on the way to school. In assembly we learned a driver had died, a boy had been seen. My eyes were closed when I was tapped on the shoulder and led outside to my red-eyed and white-faced mother.
The List by Shannon Lintott
To Do: - Birthday gift for mom - Call Carl - Order cake (!!!) - Buy bananas - Water plants - Laundry Feel better about myself - Book a flight to Europe - Never come back
I’m the editor that passed on Harry Potter by Mark Konik
I’m the editor that passed on Harry Potter. That’s how I get introduced at parties, “Meet Edith, she’s the editor that passed on Harry Potter”. There’s always some jibes. I’ve heard them all. I’ve edited six bestsellers, but people still know me as the editor that passed on Harry Potter.
DV by Trisha Gent
Boot. Face. Bruises. Hate. Blame. Shame. Doors slam. Tears drip. Kids cry. Search for why. Can’t remain. Can’t escape. Fear numbs. Stay. Sorry love, it’s all your fault. If only you didn’t make me angry. Come ‘ere. Hug. Kiss. Stop crying! Boot. Face. Bruises. Hate.
Fairies? by Harry Wallace
“What’s that sound daddy? Is it fairies?” Asked Chrissy. “I’m not sure sweetie” replied her father, tightening his grip on his old baseball bat. More likely home invaders, he thought grimly to himself. A soft glow spilled under the door. One of them was in for a big surprise.
No title by Bonnie Liston
Love at first sight is rarely a tragedy. Unfortunately, for the window cleaner and the falling woman, it did not end happily.
Maddie by Helen Meikle
The night the house burnt down, Maddie was away on a school trip. ‘The poor darling,’ they crooned. ‘Orphaned and homeless. So young!’ Maddie twirled her curls and hummed to herself. It had all gone perfectly. She might be young, but she wasn’t stupid.
The beginning by Ky Garvey
Her small hands opened the book - her first. She read as if possessed, spurred on by a voracious hunger for knowledge. The darkness of her world dissipated. Her mind filled with colour and light with each word. From that moment on she was and always would be an avid reader.
The Fall by Leith Reid
I find Mum in the herb garden, dressed for church but with rich earth under her fingernails. One shoe behind her on a steppingstone mossed green. Laden daisy bushes - unbothered by grandchildren today - are busy with heavy bees. I perfume my knees with oregano as I check her absent pulse.
Ascension by Lee Battersby
The fences were electrified. Designed to keep us from the world. Topped by razors. Patrolled by wolves. Governed by black eyes. Grass stopped at their edges. Water refused to flow. Inside, damnation. Outside, gun barrels. I closed my eyes. I gripped the wires. I burned. I climbed. I flew.
Congratulations to all our shortlisted authors, and thank you to all who entered.