As part of this year's Maria Edgeworth Literary Festival there was a Flash Fiction Competition held, short stories of 300 words or less. Below are the two best stories.
The Beautiful Girls
My daughter is being bullied at school, by ‘the beautiful girls,’ can you believe it, that’s the only way she could describe them, ‘the beautiful girls.’ I did go to the school; don’t get me wrong I have tried everything. She didn’t want me to go.
It’ll only make things worse,” she said.
I’ve left her, as pale as the cloth that binds her wrists, her face barely visible above the duvet. Her hair draped across one side.
We went to have it cut last summer, to a friend of a friend, someone else recommended us to. They said she’d listen to us and do what we wanted. They were right. She did listen, carefully and she took time to do what we asked.
“If you could just shape it here, and here and layer it, so it will fall over this one side of her face and almost cover her eye, just where the scars are worst.”
And she did, and she took her time and was so gentle, sweeping the long dark curtain of hair between expert fingers, her scissors a rhythmic sound in the otherwise silent room.
I was afraid to look and I was afraid not to, so I stared, tried to melt my warmth and love into my daughter, held her worried gaze in that brown eye, mirrored it.
When she was finished, the hairdresser, we were satisfied. We both wanted her to leave though so we could properly look ourselves. Weigh up the result, see would it cover the worst of the damaged face, enough that she could go to the new secondary school, try to blend in.
God’s favoured child. That’s what they say about this place and right they are, Willy thinks, as he leans over his gate on an early summer day and looks at the spread of green rolling over the hill. The sun has settled like a crust on the day.
A cow breaks the reverie with her questioning.
‘Right so,’ he says to himself as he straightens his old bones. There’s work to be done. He has to show those fuckers what’s what.
‘Keep an eye on ‘em,’ that’s what his wife said, after they put a dent in his car that time.
She was only two months in the grave. And here. They were around again.
When he gets to their house, McCarthy is at the window filling the kettle at the sink.
They both come out to the doorstep to look at him.
‘Why’s he wearing his best suit?’ McCarthy asks his wife.
‘Leave him be,’ she nudges her husband. ‘He’ll get fed up soon enough.’
A couple of hours pass. Willy salutes the traffic going up and down.
McCarthy comes out again and shouts in his general direction;
‘You need to smarten yourself up now. Get off home out of that,’ he says, taking his mobile phone from his pocket.
‘He’s the one age with Ian Paisley,’ McCarthy talks to someone on the other end of the phone. ‘And he’s sitting on a kitchen chair at the side of the road, looking in at us, since twenty to eight this morning. We’ve a siege going on here. It’s stopping traffic.’
The wife crosses the road.
‘How are you doing, Willy?’
‘Ah. Nicely now,’ he answers. ‘Thanks for askin.’
‘Would you like a cup of tea?’
‘No thanks. I’ve plenty tae in me own house. How are the boys?’