Flash Fiction Competition #4

brighton pierThis month’s flash fiction competition prompt (see photo) provoked some really interesting responses. Please take time to read through the entries below and vote for the one you like/enjoy the most. Voting closes 30th July 00:59 GMT Any comments or crit on any of the pieces is most welcome. Please use the comment box on the survey form.



Memories of The Sea

Ah, the sea. It wafts like the smell of fish and chips through the air, and I inhale deeply. How long have I been here?

I feel the warm sun beat down on me, and I relax. Oh, this is the life. So many holidays by the sea. The children building their sandcastles. Egg sandwiches and jam tarts. Sand in my mouth and my skin red raw from the salt. I felt alive.

I feel a hand on mine.

I open my eyes and the sun is sucked out of the sky. The clouds darken. It is dark and I am no longer by the sea. I feel as if I have been holding my breath under water.

A face looms at me from the darkness.

“Who are you?” I whisper, panic in my throat. I can still taste the salt.

“It’s me. Please remember.” Eyes look at me, longing.

But I cannot connect.


Mildred’s Desire

Mildred wished to see the ocean. It was a little thing; she had simple desires. She sat on the pier, watching the waves. People sat down, blocking her view. They would look out to sea for a short time, then read a book, or tilt their head back and close their eyes. She wondered why they did not just stay at home.

Mildred was a deckchair. She knew she had no right to expect much from life. When people were gone and she had an uninterrupted view of the sea, an attendant came, folded her up and stacked her with other deckchairs in a darkened room.

In the dark she yearned for the ocean. She imagined the pier splintering, breaking in two and herself suspended in mid-air, a breeze billowing her cloth like a sail. She longed for the gentle fall into the waves. She would let them hold her; carry her away.


Trip to the Pier

“You can’t wear socks with sandals. You look like a doofus,” Marge told John. He stripped off the sweaty cloths and placed them neatly inside the hamper. “Here, read this book, you’ll like it.” John obediently took the book from Marge’s hands.

“Our new folding chairs are down by the pier. We can relax down there until it’s time for dinner. Then remember, we’re doing “Love Will Keep Us Together” at Karaoke tonight,” Marge instructed.

“Comb your hair. And take off that old t-shirt. Put on this nice button-down shirt so you make a good impression with our new friends. I just ironed it.” As John pulled the t-shirt up and over his head, his stomach clenched and his eyes opened wide. John had traded in his old micro-managing boss for a new one.

And so went the first day of John’s retirement.


Karaoke This Way

He’d fallen asleep in his deck chair on the pier, novel slipping from his hand as he started to dream.  The karaoke sign on the pier railings behind him slipped unnoticed into his dreams.

He was back here again on his honeymoon, young and in love, impetuous and brave, willing to do anything for his new wife.  Even sing in the concert hall talent quest.  Although he didn’t win, his eyes shone with pleasure when he saw the pride on Doreen’s face.  He thought it had been worth making a fool of himself just for that.

He awoke with a start to see Doreen leaning over him and smiling as she gently took the book from his hands.  ‘Hello,’ she said.  He was filled with a deep joy as he looked into her loving face.

Then he smiled sadly.  ‘Gosh Faye, you look so like your mother.’


Tell Laura I Love Her

As his tired eyes slid shut, his hearing, which was still as sharp as razor-grass, tuned in to the sounds around him; squeals from the helter-skelter, rasping caws of hungry seagulls, the easy lapping of the sea against the pier and muffled voices from the karaoke competition further down the promenade.

From the boom, boom, boom of some modern song he didn’t care to know, David stirred at the familiar tune of the 1960 one-hit wonder ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’. He remembered every word and recalled how Ricky Valance had wowed the girls and made himself a household name; albeit briefly. Those were the days; those were his days. Fifty years ago, when he was Ricky, he would have been mobbed walking down Brighton Pier, now he sat, unnoticed, but, it seemed, not forgotten.

His foot begin to tap gently on the boardwalk and a smile embraced his face.

They were singing his song.


Swept Away

The world breathed in, a deep rumbling snore that drew the sea back from the fringes of the land and left the little  things there gasping for life.

On the beaches, eyes shielded against the glare of a merciless sun reflecting from the wall of water, the little things that thought themselves masters of creation felt their foundations shake.

Out on the furthest tip of the land, waking with a rumbling breath of his own, the old man struggled to rise from his dreams, from his deckchair, from the darkness in which he was bathed.

Raising his arms in a feeble, futile attempt at shelter, he noted with some disconnected surprise that he was still clutching his book, as if it might shield him, a talisman made of pulped wood, rendered bones and words.

Then the world breathed out, the water rolled in, and all of the words, unable to save him, were ripped from his grasp.


The Air is Still

It’s a hot day in July, and the air is still. From her table on the pavement outside the seafront café, Lisa watches the old man. He’s snoozing in a deckchair, cradling a book and wearing comfy sandals. Every now and then, his nose twitches.

Lisa’s phone pings.

Jim’s brought meeting forward. Now 2pm.

She takes a bite of her panini. It’s all right. She’s got time to finish her lunch.

Okay. Thanks, she replies.

Her phone pings again.

Jim says to remind you the Kennedy file needs updating before meeting. Soz.

The Kennedy file is at the office. If she leaves now, she’ll be back just in time to add the latest figures.

On my way.

Taking one last bite of her panini, she drops her phone into her handbag and looks again at the old man. He’s still snoozing in a deckchair, still cradling a book, still wearing comfy sandals, and every now and then, his nose twitches.


No Title

I didn’t mean to take off on that Friday.

What I mean is, I didn’t intend to run.

Doug’s always getting after me for accuracy and shit – for “being satisfied with edging by,” is what he calls it.  Or he says I’m “not precise enough” with my words.

Like he’s perfect.  Like he has any control over me after today anyway.

I didn’t really want to leave Doug’s dad alone, crashed in the sun, even though Doug told me to wait with his dad until he got back.  Even though I knew Doug was going to use the check he got from his dad to place bets somehow, I acted dumb.  May as well, based on how he looked at me when he smirked, “Wait here.  No soda.  We have that at home.”

I did kind of like his dad – Gus – he’d never been cross with me.

But none of that mattered.

I was outta there.



He reclined on the pier, eyes closed, sun warm on his face, drifting in and out of memories. He was
a child, muddy and beaming, collecting tadpoles with his brothers, then a teenager playing football
on the back streets with friends. Now he was a young man dancing with his beloved Jean, their
futures entwining with every step.

As he floated into dreams, images poured in: his friends from the pit, coal-dust faces over frothy
beers; the tiny, sleeping form of his newborn son; his daughter, proud at her graduation; his
grandchildren’s faces in flickering firelight and finally – wrenchingly – his wife’s casket descending
into the earth. A whole lifetime caught in memory’s flickering reel.

A final fog of sleep descended and the images fuzzed and faded. Then out of the haze a figure came
twirling towards him. It was Jean, rosy and radiant. Smiling, he took her outstretched hand. His last
breath danced with the breeze over the sunlit waves.


Karaoke Bar

“Go sing some kara-bloody-oke!” I wasn’t exactly sticking to the bar owners script. “Sit by the karaoke sign, mumbling “If I did it all again, I’d sing more.” And don’t forget to look regretful. And close to death” Type cast again. I once treaded the boards with the greats, now I tried tricking some cool kid named Carter into taking his hangers-on to a bar. Brilliant (!)

Carter shooed away his followers. “I’ll put you on the list” His stamp of approval was sought after, it was the only thing that guaranteed a booming trade on the pier “Assuming it’s cool of course, I can’t be seen there if it’s not, it’d ruin my rep. Without that what would I be?”

I saw myself in him. “A bitter old man”

“I’m only fifteen”

“So was I, once” I left the deckchair.

“Where are you going?” I left Carter.

“Are we doing this or not?!”

“Not” I left the biz.


The Voice

None of my colleagues have heard me sing. I like it that way. So I’m trying to veto the karaoke bar. Trouble is, cute new guy from design has generated so much excitement among them that nobody’s paying attention to me. Also, I don’t want to look like a spoil-sport in the eyes of cute design guy. I give up. Attempt a last ditch change of minds when we pass the sun loungers. Nobody’s listening. With one exception.

‘It’s going to be fun,’says cute design guy.

‘I don’t sing in public.’

I hardly sing at all these days.

‘Don’t worry. Everybody’s drunk, they won’t remember you singing.’

‘They will.’

‘You can’t be that bad.’

I shake my head.

‘I’m not.’

An understatement.

‘That’s the problem, see?’

He doesn’t. He couldn’t. He doesn’t know about my history. But people would ask why I went into accounting instead of music. I don’t want to have to answer the question.

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