April 2014

 CLOSED Winner: Sara Gates You can find the announcement and full Short List Here:   Write a piece of fiction around the theme of rural life and its relationship top metropolitan living. We are looking for a strong sense of place, interesting character dynamics, something a little out of the box. We’d also like you to include a Fabergé Egg in the story somewhere. Announced: 28 April 2014 Submission Date: 11 May 2014 Short List: 12 May – 25 May 2014 Winner Announced: 26 May 2014 Word Count: 600 – 1000 Prizes: $100 Winner, (AUD or equivalent) Eligibility: Open to everyone

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Grandma has a face like whipped cream. When she sleeps, reclined in Dad’s old couch, her thick snores jangle the winkles in her skin and the whipped cream dances. Grandma has lived with us ever since Dad was taken. She came to look after my sister and I. Grandma has three teeth missing from the left side of her mouth and uses the hole to smoke cigarettes. One sits there now, caught between gum and lip, smoldering, threatening to drop at any moment. Wrapped tightly around my waist are the cold arms that are attached to my mother’s warm spongy body. She rests her chin on my shoulder and slowly rocks me backward and forward. On the floor my sister is playing with blocks. She stacks them up, high as …

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Many things in life are to be considered fixed and forever. When presented with this statement, the realists think of death, the romantics think of love, and those who spend their evenings lying on the grass and staring up into the universe think of time and space. If you were to ask my mother about what lasts forever, she would think of something entirely different. Your question would remind her of a particular day, nineteen years ago, when a baby was handed to her. ‘A healthy baby boy,’ the doctor said as the screaming ball of warmth and wet was rested gently on her lap. That’s the sort of thing you hear and think it’s never going to change. You know that one day your son’s going to walk on …

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9 PM. – Hi! – Hi! Nice to meet you! Would you like to have a drink with me? – he asked. 5 hours later. – Good night! – Good night! I love you! – he whispered. 3rd week. – I want to hold you so tight so you would become part of me and thus I can carry you everywhere I go. – Let’s get married! – Oh, Amore, I love you so much! – he kissed her. – I’ll love you till the end! Days passed by. – Oh, you asshole! You small, tiny person! I can’t believe I wasted three months of my life loving you! You don’t deserve any part of me! – Yeah, right! Then go and scream at someone else, you hysterical bitch! – …

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‘It’s a fairly simple idea, and you’d be surprised how well it works. You see, there are three tickers on the wall. They’re fairly large things, they span the entire length of the wall, above the big LCD screen, right at the top. They work through LEDs, red ones of course, for the danger. Still it’s effective, big red numbers ticking upwards. Last time I checked they were something about the figure of, 165, 6,000,000 and 7490, or thereabouts. The first figure is the number of hours we’ve been working, it’s hard to keep track in this place. After all, we’re locked up in here, at least until it’s safe for us to go back out, usually when we finish working, which is always a nice incentive to get us …

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It was an itchy kind of night.  Archer lugged his washing into the Laundromat the same way he did every Thursday night; basket under one shoulder and his opposite hand reached over to support its weight.  He wore baggy jeans and a t-shirt with a very obvious hole in it from the time he caught it on Cindy’s wire fence, the last time he ever saw her. The Laundromat was empty, as it was on most nights those days.  On the left wall were rows and rows of old washing machines, two driers towards the back and a door with seventeen bolts.  There were only a few plastic chairs, the lack of a coin changing machine and a pile of outdated magazines that remained quiet. Archer loved listening to the …

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Lord Caniere watched with dead eyes as the City of Abraham burned. Smothering pillars of smoke and ash reaching a hundred feet wide eased from within houses, from within the workshops and taverns and even the golden Holy Sept, grey clouds of his fractured empire reaching for the sky before being caught in the vast hand of the wind and drifting southeast. The streets were cracked and the enormous outer walls of Abraham had been toppled and breached. Abraham had fallen. The Brass Sky Tower was the only structure left untouched. Caniere stood at the edge of the open summit, his hands resting lightly on the top of the waist-high battlements, between the north and east pillars. Above him, the famous dome of the Tower was dull, stained from the …

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My marriage was a wonderful prison. I was both the prisoner and the prison wardern. Being yoked with Mezie in holy matrimony was a terrible blessing. At the very moment I needed someone to call my family, he came along and adopted me as his wife from the Motherless Babies Home where I had lived all my life. Getting away from that place of abandonment was like liberation for me. But soon, I discovered my husband was an oxymoron. He was brutally loving. Brutality and love became my personal possessions. Though I wanted to lose one, I cherished the other with my whole being. But the two were never ending – for better for worse. Till death do us part! And he was full of life, 35, and I wasn’t …

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The traffic light turned green, and I quickly pressed the accelerator. I glanced at the speedometer, it was going over the speed limit. I tightened my grip on the steering wheel. Next to me, my wife was sobbing. “Calm down,” I said. “Everything is going to be fine.” But deep down, we both know it was a lie. # The day my wife found out she was pregnant, she burst into tears. “Congratulations.” Our gynecologist gave us the ultrasound picture. My wife tried to say something but she couldn’t. She was overwhelmed with emotion. # It hadn’t been an easy journey. We’ve been waiting for seven years. We’ve tried everything from traditional Chinese medicine to IVF treatments with no result. Last year, my wife quit her analyst job at her …

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Moma says a lot of beautiful things about the waves. When she’s in a good mood, which is not very often, she will tell me how, when I was born, I matched my breathing with the rhythm of the sea. She says she remembers it perfectly, even now, seven long years later. This is how she will always begin: “Kalai, the most violent thing about it was the silence. It hit us and hit us again. We thought we could hear our own hearts beating, but really it was just the silence pulsing inside our skin. It’s true, we could physically feel it, like a hammer in our chests – at least I did.” Moma reckons that in those few seconds, when air was desperately searching a way out of …

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Push and pull. Push and pull. Push and pull… Margot felt pretty dirty. Unfortunately, she’d rather just ‘pretty’ although she would have settled for ‘pretty and dirty’. After all, in a house where three children lived, how clean could the place be? And how long could it stay clean? Oh, and there was the tinnitus due to the constant 75.1dB of vacuum-cleaner-turbine goodness. Without ceasing to push the cleaning head, Margot picked up the TV remote from the glass coffee table with her free hand and pressed the red button. The Young & The Restless flashed onto the 60″ screen. Or it could have been The Bold & The Beautiful. She could never tell the difference; it always seemed to be a perfectly clean mahogany lounge room where some man …

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‘I’ll never forget. You’ll have to kill me first.’ I yell as I’m shoved into the operation room. We’d made a pact to go down fighting if the worst happened. Defiant until the end, we’d all agreed. But it’s a little harder now that I know nothing I say or do can make a difference, and it doesn’t seem half as heroic. Still. A pact’s a pact, even if I don’t believe a word that comes out of my mouth. I take a breath and try to remember what my father taught me. Deep breaths, full sentences, body squared, voice steadied. Speak like I’m the one in control of the situation, especially when that couldn’t be further from the truth. ‘You don’t have the technology or the resources to operate …

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“Good fences make good neighbours.” I bear this in mind as I high jump over the fence that separates Tony’s garden from mine.  It’s a fence made of gingerbread, like something out of Hansel and Gretel.  I knock on my neighbour’s front door.  He’s new to the ‘hood, only moved in a few weeks ago.  The doormat is made of interwoven strands of black licorice.  The ‘flowers’ that bloom in the garden have marshmallow centres and barley sugars for petals.  I break the stem of one and snack on it as I wait for Tony to open the door.  I hear the tap-tap-tap of his cane upon the hallway floor.  The door swings back on its hinge. Tony used to be some kind of Hollywood big shot.  Something in film.  …

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I watch, my face blank, as the white truck’s doors close and the vehicle departs. I’m frozen, staring, as my past drives away from me. I feel a hand on my shoulder. ‘It’ll be waiting for us in Sydney, Jess.’ I look down at the gravel beneath my feet. Of course it will, I reassure myself. Nothing has to change. I’m not afraid to admit that I fear change. I’m of English blood, and tradition flows through my veins. I hear the crunch of my mother’s soles trudging away from me and back inside. I don’t want to step back inside. Now that I’ve stepped out, I’m not sure I can step back in. The wind rushes towards my face, like a wave on the beach. I remember surfing in …

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  We only received a handful of submissions for our latest poetry award, but that shouldn’t take the shine off our winner.   Congratulations to Alice Griffith, who won with her submission, Belly Belly.   Thanks to everyone who participated in our poetry awards. This is the last poetry award we’ll be running now. Keep an eye out for some new award formats coming soon to the site.      

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      try to avoid standing in the light of the fridge, it’s blue, unflattering   when I think of food I think of feasting serious feasting long wooden tables laden with dishes dishes piled high with pastries, fruit, oysters, cheeses… a feast of love where passion is aroused in every diner between the courses we rub legs smoky nylon gliding over a poly-wool blend perhaps I’ll even let an expensive black heel slide to the ground.   when I think of passion I think of seduction hardcore seduction intoxicating perfume drenching my silk something-more-comfortables too much eyeliner and curling tendrils around fingers suggestive arguments in low tones hoping you’re not secretly texting a taxi to squirrel you away like in the radio advertisement.   when I think of …

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  Belly, belly Be my world, Sphere bigger Than the starved unheard. Grumble When food’s in sight, Bloat more By every day and night. The other day I noted, cheap. A Jetstar flight In but a week. The destination? India! A place Of spice And simmered yum… Curries, Naan, Samosas hot! Apparently cheaper By a lot. For one quarter-pounder meal Right here, I can buy a banquet Over there! An opportunity, A chance for you, My belly, belly, Sphere of food. So I took the flight, And rested well Through skies of blue, And clouds that swell. Much like the wine And beer, And food, I enjoyed upon the flight, Times two. After landing safely Secure and still, I keenly walked For my next meal. Bursting through the airport door, …

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    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this was an amazing short list. Eleven high quality entries that tackled the theme in a variety of poignant and often funny ways. From a washed up comedian to a dead cat to a hungry patron with a strange phobia the short list was as interesting as it was eclectic. And it wasn’t just me who thought so. The judges delivered our highest scores yet. With almost half the short list scoring above the winning score from our previous award. Our people’s choice winner this time round was Camilla by Kirstin Whalen. An excellent story that might have won the judges prize if it have stuck a little closer to the theme ;P.   As for our winner… For …

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