Flash Fiction Short Listing – Cranked Anvil

Well, it seems I’ve got my writing mojo back!

I was thrilled (probably too thrilled) to see that my recent Flash Fiction entry to the Cranked Anvil competition in June was Shortlisted.

I made the difficult decision to reduce the amount of entries I was making to writing competitions. Although I was enjoying myself, the quality of my writing was suffering because of the volume of stories I had to find in my already tired brain.

With fewer competitions to enter, I’d decided I would be able to create better fiction. So far, the test has worked and I’ve found myself able to look out for inspiration rather than search my head in a hurry.

Why did I choose Cranked Anvil? There are a couple of reasons.

As most of you will know, entering writing competitions is often expensive, ebbing away both your cash and time. Finding quality competitions to enter that are free is pretty much impossible these days. But Cranked Anvil have a better attitude towards their charges, offering a sliding scale. The more you enter, the cheaper it becomes. Recently they’ve also been offering a ‘4 for 3’ deal, meaning you don’t pay extra for a 4th entry, which is a bargain. In fact, I’d used this offer to enter this competition.

My second reason is all about quality. The quality of their website, the quality (and volume) of entrants and the quality of recommendations and awards they have. Their homepage tells you much more, but in 2021 and 2022 they were recommended by Reedsy as one of the best writing contests. Their website is clear and their submission process is the same.

All these things put together make Cranked Anvil a great choice for any writer looking to have a go at Short Story or Flash Fiction Competitions. There is ALWAYS something to enter and it’s always good value.

The quality of other entrants is excellent too. The winners for this Flash Fiction competition were fully deserving, with stories that I thoroughly enjoyed. You can read the winning stories here, if you’d like to take a look.

Cranked Anvil also offer writing advice, resources and exercises on their website, as well as a print copy of their anthology that showcases the winners.

There’s loads available!

You can see confirmation of my shortlisting for this competition on the Cranked Anvil website. A copy of my shortlisted story ‘Click’ is below for you to have a read.

I hope you enjoy it 🤞🏻🤞🏻

**********

Click

Click, click, click.

Eyes closed, laying on the bed, Sophie listens to the clock ticking the day away.

She counts the clicks to 3.17pm, and when it’s passed a new countdown starts, preparing for 3.17pm tomorrow.

The bedroom is as messy as her head, brimming with crumpled clothes, tissues, and regret. Even the family photos face the wall, so she avoids facing them herself.

A year ago, the only thing ‘brimming’ in this home was love. Love from Raj, her partner of 9 years, and 2 children who fulfilled her in ways she couldn’t articulate – Simon and Raheem. Unmarred by bad luck, poor choices, and difficult decisions, their life was stereotypical suburban bliss.

“Sophie, honey. Why have you turned the pictures again? Don’t you want to see the boys?”

Raj appears to check on her – as her carer this is something he does multiple times a day for safety.

His face is more creased, burdened, and concerned every time Sophie opens her eyes to look. He doesn’t have time to clean, tidy and maintain their home anymore, so they’ve both given up, resigned to living in a miserable mess with miserable minds to match.

Click, click, click.

Raj pops Sophie’s pills into a pot with painstaking precision and then watches closely to ensure she swallows. She’s ashamed that taking medication requires such mollycoddling.

“Shall I put the television on? Or do you want some sleep? You look tired, love.”

Sophie remains silent with her eyes closed. She listens carefully as Raj leaves and walks downstairs, then she turns the photos back around.

Click, click, click.

When the news came a year ago Sophie and Raj understandably hit a deep, dark, horrifying low that no parent should ever contemplate. Raj didn’t ‘bounce’ back, but he climbed the ladder to sanity slowly and methodically.

Sophie’s ladder still hasn’t materialised.

Convinced time is her enemy, rather than the drunk driver who hit the school bus at 3.17pm that day, Sophie’s grief became instability.

She listens carefully, waiting for Raj to leave for groceries followed by the ‘click’ of the door latch designed to keep her safe inside, then ambles downstairs.

In the kitchen, the only clock is digital – above the gas oven. Sophie carefully turns all 4 hobs beside it to maximum and lays on the floor with her eyes closed.

Next week will mark a year since Simon and Raheem were instantly killed by the collision, but today marks a year since Simon’s braces were removed. A year last week their family holiday ended. A few days before they enjoyed a trip to Paignton Zoo. Anniversaries occurred constantly, remembered by Sophie but seemingly forgotten by everyone else. She’d struggled with the flashbacks for nearly 12 months. She couldn’t face another year of repeats.

Sophie silently and methodically acknowledges each memory one last time.

Once the happy memories are depleted and the air around her is stuffed with gas, there’s only one thing she needs to hear.

Click.

**********

I enjoyed writing this one and I’m glad it was well received. I’ve also entered the July Short Story competition, so I’ve got my fingers crossed this month too.

The picture

I’ve been using my Instagram DTIYS entries for many of my blog posts lately, and this is another one.

I chose this picture because I think the cat in the bottle is a good representation of how trapped the protagonist in this story feels…until the click.

Thanks for reading!

Published by stephc2021

Hi! I'm Steph, an amateur writer and illustrator specialising in Mental Health and being a self-confessed Spoonie. My website is home to any successful fiction I create, with stories that have won so far covering difficult subjects such as baby loss and mental health in grief as well as some funny and heart-warming tales when I get the inspiration. Every drawing and picture on my website was created by me. I spend a lot of time coming up with illustrations to accompany all of my posts and pages. I try to create original content across all of my channels, whether I'm writing about my own fiction or just generally musing on mental health or my own issues. I want to be part of the change because I believe the understanding of MH in the UK is getting better, but has a very long way to go. By being honest about my own struggles and symptoms I think others will relate and hopefully it will encourage them to talk to someone and get the help and support they need. Long term my goal is to help children too, help them understand their own mental health and how to help with the mental health of those around them. I live in the UK with my partner, daughter and dog, I swear frequently and I adore a well made, traditional, gooey, chocolatey, delicious brownie.

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