A while ago I entered a flash fiction writing competition. I didn’t win but it was a fun exercise in being precise and getting to the point, and it was my first attempt at very short fiction. A lovely bookish blog post by a friend, Laura Brewis, reminded me of the (very) short story I came up with.
The brief for the competition, run by New Writing North and Metro, was for “passengers to write a short story (in 250 words or less) that would take us on a journey.”
Here’s mine, and here are the stories that won — they’re very good!
“To the woman in the red shoes on the Coast metro every morning, always engrossed in a book. Coffee in a real cup by the sea one day?”
I see you every day, oblivious, lost in another world. I wonder what story is running through your head, how it’s all playing out.
I get on at Byker, you Wallsend. The beginnings and endings of your day unknown, a thousand different scenarios. You sit by the window and I’m on the other side, and I watch your reflection in the glass. You don’t see me.
You get off at Tynemouth, me Whitley Bay, then I walk along the beach. If it’s raining, I stay on and go all the way around the loop again, waiting for my shift to start. I arrive an hour and a half early, just to see you.
We’re about to set off and you wipe a space in the condensation on the window. You’re looking for her – the message in the paper made my guts twist. But she isn’t coming. I heard her on the phone. “An interview down London.”
I move over to your side and you look up when you see the red shoes. I knew they would do it. I got them in the market at the weekend. They’re just the same. In the space between confusion and the disappointment setting in, I take my chance. “Hi,” I say and you point to my book. “What’s this one about then?”