normal success

A strange situation this time around with 4 of the 5 stories sharing second place. Well done to Fingernails, Grading On A Curve, Mrs Williamson’s Rose Garden and The Box on running a tight race. Ultimately though our congratulations go to Lisa White for her story “Better Than Most.” A win on your first short list probably doesn’t qualify as a NORMAL SUCCESS, but it’s more than deserved (Insert ‘Better Than Most’ pun here). Don’t forget to check out all the new awards we have up for the first couple of months of 2015 on the awards and collaborations page. Also, the NORRISH GIFT Award short list is up right now. That’s all for the moment. We’ll have some interesting new elements coming up this week, including a public schedule …

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  The last time I cooked dolmades, you told me that for years, out of consideration for my feelings, you had avoided mentioning that dolmades were no longer your favourite dish. That you were so sick of them that it was hard to swallow even the first few mouthfuls. I realised that our meals had become dull and repetitive, so I stopped cooking dolmades, and found new recipes, using unusual and exotic ingredients. You read a book at the table, leaving the food to get cold, or sometimes eating distractedly. You offered no comment. You seemed tired. To re-awaken your interest, I wore a daring dress. You told me it was too tight, and that it was time to embrace the dignity of middle age. How right you were. It …

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  Mr Davis hummed to himself as he trimmed the hedges. The lovely rose bushes that his neighbours grew along their white picket fence weren’t looking as well kept as usual. His neighbours must have agreed, because a few minutes later an elderly woman came outside armed with gardening gloves, pruning shears, and fertiliser. Mrs Williamson. That was her name. She and her husband had introduced themselves when he moved in. Must’ve been five years ago now. It was normally her husband who did the gardening. She reminded Mr Davis of his own mother, always pottering around in the garden. His mother had loved flowers. Mrs Williamson, however, didn’t have his mother’s knack. She clipped the rose canes in the wrong places and put too much fertiliser on some plants …

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From behind the counter, Harry slides an empty cup towards Rob. “Morning. Scrambled eggs with bacon and toast?” Rob nods. “And hash browns please.” The waitress pours steaming black coffee into the cup. “You hardly ever have that.” “Need the energy to work on that new picket fence of yours, right?” says Harry as he grabs the bowl of egg and cream mixture from the fridge underneath the bench. Rob smiles and glances at the television in the corner. It’s showing the news as usual, something about some president reminding everyone that his country still got plenty of nukes. Harry shakes his head. “Crazy bastard.” He ladles the egg mixture into the pan. It hisses. “Hey, doesn’t your grandson have a test today or something? He doing well?” “Yeah, they …

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With a scowl on her face, Henri’s teacher told me what had happened. ‘Your son is only thirteen, Madam. This is serious.’ ‘I apologize on his behalf. I’ll have a talk with him.’ She sighed, seemingly dissatisfied. ‘A student’s education isn’t the sole responsibility of the school. The family also needs to take an active role.’ Is she trying to say I failed in educating my son? ‘Henri is still young. He needs plenty of guidance,’ she continued. I mustered a smile. ‘I understand.’ ‘Well then, thank you for coming.’ I bowed at her, and left. Henri was standing near the door, head hung low. ‘Let’s go,’ I said. He nodded. We left the school and walked to the main road. The entire time, Henri was quiet. ‘Are you going …

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  I wake up. At least I think I am awake. I can feel the faintest sense of sunlight on my skin, filtering through my eyelids, gently urging me to wake up. But I can’t move. My breathing feels laboured. My heart struggles with every beat. It can’t be morning, surely not already, I’m exhausted. Just lying here, feeling the sunshine, breathing in and out – it’s all so exhausting. That’s the only problem when you have a medical mind like mine. You know what your body has been up to all night – breathing, beating, digesting, repairing, regenerating. If only I could stop all of that activity, just for a minute, I might be able to summon the energy to get out of bed. But it doesn’t and I …

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