Through the Looking Glass

Intrigued, I looked over. A pitiful feeling overwhelmed me as I looked into the eyes of a broken soul. You couldn’t see me even though you looked my way. I stared at you closely, as if I was right in front of you. You sat there, in the middle of the room on your chair, with just a desk in front of you. You looked around, eyes wandering over every visual detail as if you were a painter, taking in your surroundings before you picked up your brush.

I stood still, just staring at you through the mirror.

Unexpectedly, you got up from your seat and walked around, even though you didn’t have anywhere to go. Nor was there much space to move. As you moved around, you traced your hands against the edge of the table and made invisible footprints across the cold, grey floor.

You walked over and there you was standing in front of the mirror. My body stiffened, my chest tightened and my heart skipped a few beats. You looked at me, straight into my eyes – except you couldn’t see me.

You looked up, your eyes were soft and blue. As if you spoke to me, I could feel all your pain, your sorrow, your joy, your loneliness and your fire. I touched the mirror that separated us, pressing my fingertips against it. The coldness evaporated, filling each line of my personal ID; my finger print; all four of my fingers and my thumb.

As if you could see right through, or you could sense someone or something behind what wasn’t visible to your human eye, your hand stretched out, rubbing against the glass, creating a trail of smudged strokes. Until you got to me, until maybe you felt the heat. Your hand pressed against the glass, opposite mine. We stood there in a trance; time felt like it had stopped just for that moment.

Then you moved back, leaving my hand exposed and alone. You sat back down on the chair in the middle of the room, with only a table in front of you. I stood there, watching you from behind the mirror, until they came in. They placed you in hand cuffs and took you away.

Leaving me with only your evaporating finger painting on the mirrored canvas.

A flash fiction by 3rd Year Creative Writing student Sharmarni Danials.

Flash fiction competition – and inspiration

Following on from Sophie’s flash fiction pieces earlier this week, here are details of a Flash Fiction competition, from Fish Publishing. This is one of the biggest prize catches for this short brand of fiction – but there is an entry fee.

The word limit is a cute little 300 words, and the closing date is the end of the month: 28 February. Enter here.

And if you’re looking for inspiration, how about Lydia Davis? The Man Booker Prize-winning author was writing long before the ‘flash fiction’ tag became common currency, but it fits anyway. Read some of her stories online here and here and read a Paris Review interview with her here.

Competition call for essays on the theme of feminism

Details of an essay competition open to female undergraduate students, run by the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association (UK & Ireland).

The annual competition is intended to encourage and promote a new generation of feminist scholarship, with the six short-listed and winning entries published in the Journal of International Women’s Studies. Long-listed essays go through a peer-review process with external judges, and the short-listed entries are revised following feedback prior to submission, so it is an excellent experience for those students wishing to continue in academia after their studies. The winner will receive a year’s free FWSA membership. The deadline is Friday 5th May 2017.

Find out full details, and read past years’ shortlisted and winning entries here: http://fwsablog.org.uk/prizes-and-grants/student-essay-competition/

Anatomy / A Scene / Limbo

‘Anatomy’

The anatomy of the boy. His skin is soft and off-white like almond milk, the tips of his fingers blistered and the nail bludgeoned, plump and fluid-filled because he punched his bedroom wall too hard. His legs are thin and gangly like his arms, too long for the torso, still, he is growing, and he stares without attachment, the eyes muddy like his father’s and doe-like his mother’s – speckled browns of emotional poverty, a lack of nurturing, stunted. He has her lips, the family’s brow. The snarl of a beast in the throat of a child.

‘A scene’

A biker jacket swung over an armchair.
A birthday cake with a slice cut out.
An ashtray filled with cigarette butts.
A sheet of wrapping paper peeking out from under the sofa.
A fuzzy television screen.
An empty wine glass with a stained red rim.

‘Limbo’

Limbo is standing at a bus stop for more than fifteen minutes and feeling a certain dread that your bus is never going to come.

Three pieces of flash fiction/poetry/you decide by 1st Year Creative Writing student Sophie RA Duggan.

Jess Kidd wins Costa Short Story Award

kidd-jess-c-travis-mcbrideLast night St Mary’s Creative Writing alumna Jess Kidd won the Costa Short Story Award for her story ‘Dirty Little Fishes’. This is a fantastic win for Jess, who has completed both an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing at St Mary’s – not least because the award is voted on by the public, from a shortlist. The award comes with a prize of £3,500.

Jess will be coming to the University to read from and talk about her debut novel, Himself (published by Canongate) on Tuesday 14th February, at a free literary event to be held in the Waldegrave Drawing Room, from 6.30-8pm. This will be a great opportunity to hear from this exciting new voice in Irish fiction, albeit nurtured here in south-west London. Details of the event here.

Here is the opening to ‘Dirty Little Fishes’:

She must be a good friend because on Mammy’s day off we catch two buses and walk up a billion stairs to visit her. It’s an estate like ours, only with less swears written on it. We are waiting outside Mammy’s good friend’s door in a corridor the colour of evil. Mammy pulls down her sleeve and holds it over her face.
‘God protect us from the reek of cat piss,’ she says, and knocks on the door.
‘Be quiet in here now, the woman’s dying.’
‘Will she die today? While I’m here?’ I ask hopefully.
Mammy gives me a look and knocks again.

You can download a copy of the story to read here. There is also an audio version to listen to and download on the Costa website.

The Costa Short Story Award is open to published and unpublished writers over the age of 18 living in the UK or Ireland. Entries for this year’s award will open in the summer.