Creative Writing Competition 2022 Winners

Picture of Creative Writing Competition banner with Whangarei Library 3.30 Flash Writers' group logo.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 flash and micro fiction competition.

The competition was organised by Whangārei Library 3.30 Flash Writers' Group in association with Whangarei District Libraries.

There are 2 age groups: youth, under 18 years and adult, 18 years and over.

The entries were judged by Zana Bell and the winners announced at an awards ceremony at Whangārei Central Library on 15 June 2022.

The prizes of $150 for the adult winner and $50 for the youth winner, were donated by Whangārei Library 3.30 Flash Writers’ Group.


The winners and their stories

Micro fiction

Limited to 100 words excluding the title.

Youth micro fiction

1st: Emma Phillips

She Wanted to be an Author

I have been told you can only write what you know. Wanting to write a romance, I decided to fall in love. Once I had located a suitable candidate, it wasn’t all that hard to do. He was tall with an ugly haircut and watery eyes. The perfect muse for the first thirty thousand words of my novel. However, the story was starting to feel cliché. There were millions of paperbacks just like it. He began to encroach on my writing time. I needed a twist. Wanting to write a murder, blood spilled like ink from his throat.


Highly commended: Emma Phillips

He Didn’t Really Care for Her

She luxuriated on white silk with all her friends around her. Flowers and cards were brought to her. Ignoring them, she stared off into the distance. A man, who claimed to love her, spoke movingly about her. Everyone laughed. Cake and tea were handed out. Still laughing, her friends thanked her for paying. She stared at them blankly. Crumbs fell on the white silk. An aunt chewed with her mouth open. Everyone said goodbye to her or good riddance as they left. The casket crept into the incinerator. Her ashes still sit in a box on the fridge.

Adult micro fiction

1st: Lauren Roche

Arise

He relishes the cool dark.
No more rushing desert wind, no shimmer of heat.
He’d lived beyond the stone wall, outside this oasis of peace, dreamed of a future: alone in a gently rocking boat, nets flap-full of fish.

The past week has been febrile with activity.
He’s been adrift in the darkness, muscles relaxed.
Four days.

A disturbance at the door shatters the calm.
Burning light stabs his dry eyes.
He clings to the sheet, pulls it tighter, a death grip.

‘Arise,’ commands his old friend.
‘No. Don’t make me,’ Lazarus’s tears are bitter.

A resurrection refused?
Jesus wept.


Highly commended: Tracie Lark

Spin Cycle

The washing machine vomits a soapy avalanche from the detergent tray and June wishes she was capable of a similar outburst. Frank had her pegged to the wall the night before, and now as she strangles the wet towel into the laundry sink with her bruised wrists, she ponders his cowardice at not being able to finish what he had started. You’d have to clean up your own mess, June whispers, turning the faucet and laundering her words down the drain. When Frank comes home, she sits stiff and folded, awaiting his dinner request.


Highly commended: David West

The 80s

Doug (bad hips, cataracts) limping downhill to the shops, meets Fred (81, deaf, no hearing aids) shuffling home. Fred says Graeme (83) hasn’t been seen since he had a heart check yesterday. He’s not in hospital, not at home, didn’t visit Rob (84) last night as arranged. Doug checks Graeme’s place; no car, doors locked, no-one home. Suzy (60s, neighbour, in sheltered housing) says Graeme is at Ben’s. Who’s Ben? asks Doug. Suzy shrugs. I’ll ask Fred, says Doug. Fred’s car is there, but Fred isn’t. Gone to see Rob, says his neighbour (90). Have you seen Graeme today

Flash fiction

Limited to 300 words excluding the title.

Youth flash fiction

1st: Emma Phillips

A Starry Night in the Life of a Museum Guard

8:40, my lip is still bleeding. There is an unfaded patch of wall in front of me. Shaking her head, the other night guard goes to greet the police.

Illuminated by my wandering torch, the works of Monet, Kahlo and Dali tremble. No longer artworks, they are traumatized bystanders to a heinous crime. Sirens resound across the city. Through the window, the sky is nothing but a cheap replica of the stolen painting.

The lights come up; the room is flooded with police. Now the investigation begins.

“7:00, I arrived for work, collected my gear. 7:30, I began my rounds, arriving on the fifth floor around 8:05.”

“And the painting was still on the wall?”

“Van Gogh’s Starry Night,” I correct the officer, “was right there.” I point at the impossibly empty wall.

“At 8:30 I was on floor 8. I received a message over the radio and arrived here ten minutes later.”

The officer nods and scribbles in his notebook. Another officer, buzzing around the blank wall, hollers.

Rusty blood is crusted on the floor. The officers turn from forlorn to cheery, gathering scalpels to scrape and sample. I almost don’t have the heart to tell them.

“That’s probably my blood.”

Heads swivel. I am being watched by a pack of owls with tasers at their hips, “I got nervous, chewed through my lip waiting for you to arrive.”

Shoulders droop. I point at the still raw scab, “did it at around 8:45 to 9:00.”

The officer shakes his head, the time doesn’t matter to him. In the morning I’ll be cross examined.

Walking home, I laugh and listen to the echoes rebound across the city.

Later, I stare lovingly at the Starry Night.


Highly commended: Mia Doull

Silence

Everything was silent. The old man got up from his bed, confused, putting his feet down on the familiar creaky wooden plank beside his bed. Nothing. The usual squeak of the plank couldn’t be heard at all. He stamped his foot down on it again, he couldn’t even hear the noise of his foot hitting the floor. Was he dreaming? Why couldn’t he hear anything? He ran towards his telephone. He hadn’t had many calls, not since the passing of his wife. Picking it up, he tapped in a familiar number and pressed the phone to his ear. Nothing. He sighed deeply, slumping over in his chair. He shouldn't have been so surprised, he knew this moment would come. Looking up he noticed the brilliant blue sky peeking through the curtains. Sun rays danced on the wooden floor as he pulled the dark curtains open. The curtains revealed a cloudless sky, he felt as if it was brighter than before. A fantail flew past, he couldn’t hear the familiar twittering and flutter of wings, but he could see the flashes of white, and the way it swooped down towards the blooming pink trees. He sat down, watching for a moment as he took in the small creature that now sat on his window sill before him, silently watching him. His wife’s favourite bird.

Adult flash fiction

Ist: Michael Botur

Dad, Here's Us

Dad, here’s us when Vanya was a day old.

Vanya’s my daughter, in case you don’t… Y’know.

Dad, here’s us spearfishing before you got, um, diagnosed.

Language doesn’t work on you, I’m told, but they reckon showing photos wakes up your dormant bits - if waking up is what you want? Maybe there’s memories you don’t wanna wake. Maybe Huntington’s disease was a blessing.

Dad, here’s me dressed up for court before the careless driving sentence came through and even though I only had to do community service, you said you’d never speak to me again. How we owed the dead chick’s family everything? And the only honourable option was to hang myself? Dunno if you remember them words. Certainly seared into my mind.

Anyway, this here’s my thesis. Printed a copy especially to show you. Not that I even completed it, cause of, y’know, court and that. Just thought, half-a-Masters might make youhalf-proud.

Don’t flinch. Just guiding your fingers, turning pages. So my thesis looks at minimising mutations of the HTT gene, the one that’s supposed to make huntingtin protein and form neurons. Your nerve cells decay, Dad, so if you’re born with Huntington’s mutation, it’s like you start walking around drunk till you’re paralytic by 60ish. My thesis, like, it evaluates research around carbohydrate-restrictive diets’ effectiveness in minimising hereditary huntingtin mutations. No alcoholised sugars recommended in diet, for one. Definitely no driving after ten beers at quiz night.

Anyway, this diagram. It’s deoxyribonucleic acid, two tight coils, maternal, paternal. You’ve already passed most genes directly through me into your granddaughter. Doesn’t matter now whether you remember telling me I’m out of the family.

Covalent bonds, Dad. They’re a chemical attraction that holds atoms together even if they’d rather go in separate directions. They can’t come apart.


Highly commended: Tracie Lark

Don't Go Up, Go Along

The soles of my feet stick to pink and black mould stains on the bath floor. I don’t try to avoid them and neither does the spider. Water batters down in galaxy-sized drops onto a daddy long-legs and its eight legs slip on the glistening surface. I wonder why it doesn’t get crushed.

Don’t go up, go along, I tell the spider. Come on, crawl if you have to. It’s not hearing me. Why won’t you save yourself? I turn the shower head away, lessening the blow. Do you not know how?  Still, the daddy long-legs slips on all eight legs.

I’m paralysed - as though fear itself were true - by a small spider, by my own mind.

I grab my razor and push the smooth side underneath the spider, collecting it, then I drop it upon the soap bench. Get along, spider, I tell him. His legs contort, flail.

Why didn’t I save him earlier? It’s as though fear itself bit me, not the spider. Why couldn’t I just have saved the spider, had my shower, and then driven to my friend’s funeral?

The foot of my soul sticks to black and pink stained thoughts on the bottom of my conscience. Then, galaxy-sized water droplets batter down my cheeks, my breasts, my thighs, my legs. Don’t go up, go along, I tell myself.  Get along. I grab a razor-sharp thought and lift my chin. My legs slip on the acrylic bath surface but I am able to step over the edge and on to the bathroom floor mat. Come on, crawl if you have to. I take a towel from the rack. You couldn’t save your friend, but you can save yourself. In the mirror, I rub the fog. It’s okay if you do not know how.


Highly commended: K V Martins

A Voyage on a Portuguese Caravel

He longed for

His wife, the longitude and latitude of her body curved into a sail laid bare, before him a distant ocean where no anchor tethered her, and he, unbound, realised his lungs were better suited to warm, salty air. She waited. A mermaid in green waters deep, peeping at a phosphorescent sky of unfamiliar stars. Night after moonlit night he watched, becalmed with sextant in hand, until she unravelled her tongue, and they sailed once more, timbers creaking, following a star path east.

Landfall

He stepped ashore, her spiced skin the scent of strange flora, his foot sinking into smooth sand. He traced her contours, sounded her depths, skirted shoreline’s hem. He gave shape to the shapeless, an oven-hot turquoise land where his ancestors did not dwell, and where his words were not understood. He hesitated to plant the flag, wondered if it would water itself once he had gone. It was quiet but for the jewelled birds who looked to the horizon and asked where he had come from. He did not know what to tell them, for one, two, three hundred years from now, he would not be there to say he was sorry.

Homeward bound

He arrived on an ice-bitten morning two years later, the docks unchanged, plump rats still scurrying this way and that. His name faded the moment he’d spilt over map’s edge, on a navigator’s foolish quest. Soon, though, they would rub their hands together, count their reais in Lisbon’s counting houses, tell their wives in hushed tones they would buy them pearls the size of sweet peaches, boast they would stuff the new world in their pockets. She was there to meet him. She had not forgotten his name. And he understood then; she had never been far from his ocean.