sandra’s swimming

I really enjoyed the short list for this award. The brief called for subtly and we got that, but I think we also got a lot of little windows into varied worlds of NITH authors. Writing is a shared experience, but every story is different and unique in it’s own way. There’s also a bit of magic in marine life. Here’s hoping we don’t destroy it all one day. Not an easy decision for our judges this time around. A close set of scores but a clear winner. Third place was shared between Bread and Tuna  and Where the Waves Meet the Shore. Second place was also shared, this time by Would You? and Fish in Aquariums. Luckily there was only one winner. Congrats to Daniel Norrish for his wonderful second …

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  By Manasvi Firing had stopped and thick smoke covered the sky. The sound of the planes, trucks and footfall of men in the desert around the well had died. Inside the well there were four soldiers. Two of them were dead and and the other two pointed weapons at each other. Since Karim had stumbled into the well and the standoff had begun, its insides had turned from that evening’s murky golden to pitch black. A few feet below Karim, on the opposite side of the well, Erich was perched on the edge of a stone stair, ready to jump if Karim started firing. Below them, the water was dark, and two dead men floated in it. “Hey asshole”, Erich cried. “Ever heard of a Mexican standoff?” He shifted …

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The fish swims around and around in its bowl, never changing pace, never changing direction. Around and around. If I didn’t know better I’d think it was on a track or was some sort of wind-up toy. The small weeds in the bowl tremble rhythmically in the water, the constant movement of the fish making them seem alive too. At the very bottom of the tank, nestled amongst the tiny grey pebbles is a single plastic castle. It has turrets and hard flags permanently frozen mid-flutter. The goldfish has seen it every day for its entire life in that bowl and never approached it. It just swims above it in that single, tired circle. Outside I hear the rattle and thump of my bus hitting the pothole outside my house. …

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  The Window I walked on the street and my heavy boots, a few sizes larger, flapped on the gravel. I borrowed them from a friend. I had to borrow the worn out jeans, the old jacket, the woolen sweater with leather elbow patches, and even the winter socks. When I was crossing the border of the country I couldn’t carry much. I took a bite from my sandwich toasted with a piece of bacon and cheese. I chew slowly. I had to make the most of it. This would be my only food until lunch. I chose narrow, back streets, away from crowded places, with less traffic lights and crossings. I counted the blocks as I walked on my way to the garage. From there, in the back of …

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  Written by Naomi Fogarty The panicked cry of a mobile phone alerting its owner it was reaching the last of its life echoed through the cold clinical hallways of the discarded building. A vibrant electric blue emanating from a solitary fish tank was the only light in the darkness. There was a time when it would greet people as they walked into the entrance. Lewis was drawn closer to the beauty of the blue illumination that the sleek modern piece of jellyfish art displayed. He bent down to rescue his phone off the floor and was struck momentarily by a sudden onset of dizziness. As he waited for it to pass he noticed a crumpled up ball of paper that had been carelessly tossed away. Leaning against the glass …

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2 beep..5 bip.. 5 bip.. 2 beep.. 4 barp..#blip. The bolt clunked open and was held there by whatever device it is that makes that buzzing sound. The subject, head down, hands in pockets, pushed the door open with his hip and walked into the foyer. He didn’t notice the lady watering the aspidistras, but she saw him. Later to be known as witness D, she was often fussing around in the foyer, and she didn’t miss a trick. “They always wore those hooded jackets and they always had these wispy beards.” She could single out this one though. “He always opened the door with his hip and he never ever looked at me. All the others looked and smiled. And yes he was definitely wearing a blue hoodie, black …

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  Waking takes a little longer this morning. Your eyes open slowly to the ribbon of light sneaking into your bed through that gap in the curtains. It’s early, but you smile. You roll around for a moment in the warmth of the bed. They’re beside you, breathing heavily. You think of last night and the day before. Then you think of the night before that and the years of companionship and love which brought you to this place. You try to forget the moments of anguish and anger. You want to wake them, but you don’t. The chill only teases you for a minute before you step into the warm shower. The heat sails around you in the steam and you can only just see the bottle of bubble …

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  Theo sat on the edge of the bed; shoulders slouched and head bowed. He rubbed tired eyes before replacing his glasses. His wife walked over and laid comforting fingers on his shoulder. “It’ll be okay.” “I’m not ready for this.” She opened her mouth but at that moment Elsie ran into the room squealing “Daddy! Daddy!” He looked up, eyes pained. “What is it Elsie?” “Is it time to go yet?” Her face was covered with a huge grin and her eyes were alight as she bounced up and down with excitement. His mouth twitched into a smile. “I don’t know. Have you packed your bag?” “Yes.” “Did you remember your hat?” “Yes.” “Sunscreen?” “Yes.” “Lunchbox?” “Yes, yes, yes!” “I guess so then.” Theo looked to his wife. “Unless …

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  “They’re getting closer.” Tabitha was standing on the end table to peer through the vertical blinds, a slice of late sunlight across her eyes, tension in her posture. Her cousin Jim lay in the bed, eyes closed, his injured arm pulled close, wrapped in some old shirts Tabitha had found in the last house. The pain made him sweat, even though it was cool inside. “That’s great news,” he mumbled. “Maybe they can bring us something to eat.” Tabitha looked down at him, eyebrow raised. “Something to eat?” “Yeah.” Jim coughed a little. “Does it look like they’ve got a cooler? Something wrapped in foil?” He sniffled. “Kebabs? Cupcakes?” He shifted. “Waffles and syrup?” Tabitha sighed and hopped down from the table. She pinched the bridge of her nose …

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I didn’t know why I was there. I guess that day, I was feeling moody. I walked in a daze and ended up going to the aquarium. And then I saw you. You stood in front of the gigantic display, admiring the jellyfish. Your fingers glided over the railing. You seemed like you were in your own world. Why did it have to be you? Even now, I still don’t know. Perhaps it was the summer cologne you were wearing, it reminded me of fresh linen. Or perhaps, it was your fluttering skirt that gave you an air of elegance. ‘Miss,’ I called you. If you hadn’t looked at me, I would have walked away. I would have walked back home, feeling down and dejected. And I would’ve forgotten all …

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“Bring in the accused.” I was pushed forward and stumbled into the room. Two strong hands grabbed me before I would have actually fallen, and escorted me to the stand. “Accused, state your full name.” “W-Wilson, Barry Wilson,” I stuttered. “Barry Wilson, you are brought to this courtroom today to be judged for your crimes. How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?” I couldn’t answer him right away as I was still trying to understand what was happening to me. Minutes before, I had been brutally awakened by the same two security guards that had tossed me into this courtroom. I had no recollection of how I had gotten into my prison, and the guards had refused answering my questions. “Your Honor, what is the crime laid against me?” …

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