Hello everyone. There were twenty-two entries this month, two of which were disqualified: one entrant had submitted for the October theme of ‘unlucky Halloween’ rather than ‘fireworks’ and I had to disqualify another story for being the wrong word count (102). It’s because there were two sets of ellipses (…) then the next word without a space in between. Put the space in between and it creates two words instead of one, i.e. “I’m not sure that… oh, OK.” is six words rather than five. ‘that…oh’ is not one word. Don’t rely on Word’s (or whichever software programme you use) word count. It’s only 100 words. Double-check yourself. It’s good practice. Oh, and remember that – as listed in the rules – a hyphenated word (e.g. well-known) counts as one, not two, and bullet points don’t count as words.
I know judges say this but it was a tough choice this month… quite a few authors narrowly missed out on being Highly Commended and some had only submitted one story. You can send up to three per month so it’s worth doing so. If you don’t succeed – or even if you do – you still have the piece to send elsewhere.
So without further ado… drum roll please… here are the results…
Winner: Alyson Faye with ‘A Guy for the Children’
Fear coats me, like a second skin. ‘Remember remember the 5th November….’ The kids shriek the old rhyme while they leg it round the playground, chucking old cans and used condoms at me. Huddled, shivering, inside my tatty raincoat, I rock myself for comfort. ‘Go away,’ I whisper. It’s dark. Late. I wish I had somewhere else to be. Their shadows flit in and out of the swings and climbing frame, looping, swirling. Their hands ablaze with sparklers, which they thrust at me. ‘Run!’ one shouts. ‘Jump!’ screams another. The newspapers around me burst into flame. I will be headlines.
(Alyson wins three of my six Creative writing courses)
Second placed: Eleanor Wrightson with ‘Our Guilty Embers’
There he was. The man who charred my soul. He was beside the river, a cigarette plucked between his teeth. The burning tobacco sparked reminders of my bubbling flesh. It scolded my senses. His lulling grin ebbing as the firework bolted through my chest. Now he’s calm, rooting in the algae, puffing away the sadness that I created. His stuttering body is trapped by an ankle tag, a crude reminder of the life we lost. He spits fire, “It’s all your fault”. This time, it’s my guilt that forms the flame, that shoots our firework to light up the night.
(Eleanor wins two of my six Creative writing courses)
Third placed: Aileen with ‘Things Better Left Unseen’
The darkness smothered her. Fireworks, Irina sighed happily, were best enjoyed alone — but as pinpricks of light danced above, Irina’s solitude was rudely interrupted by a drunkard clutching a bottle and picnic rug. She frowned, but resignedly ignored him. Rat-tat-tat. The clearing lit up, the man’s face awash in red, before going dark. Too red, Irina realized with sudden clarity. Rat-tat-tat. Irina squinted before plunging back into blindness — Rat-tat-tat. — at the wild splotches of crimson, the bottle that was actually — Rat-tat-tat. — a severed hand, the rug that was a human body. Rat-tat-tat. His head swiveled around. The darkness smothered her.
(Aileen wins one of my six Creative writing courses)
Highly commended (in alphabetical order):
- Julia Thorley with Kamuro
- Nick Robley with ‘The Firework Ghost’ and ‘Explosions’
- Obinna Omotayoith ‘Firework’
- Paul Isaac with ‘Into Orbit’ and ‘End of the World’
- Rohini with ‘Adamantine Anger’ and ‘Dinnertime’
- Wendy Steele with ‘Bonfire Night’
All the Highly Commended win my Entering Writing Competitions course (which if they have won previously can be given to a writing friend). Well done, everyone. I have already received entries for this month’s theme which is Christmas so regardless of whether you’ve entered before, do have a go. You could win one or more of my courses for free! 🙂