The NZYWF Flash Fiction Competition is open to all writers aged 15-35 anywhere in NZ, and is free to enter.
The prompts are launched 24 hours before the submission deadline.
The NZYWF 2020 Flash Fiction prompts were:
Punga fern/s, Light reflecting, Something blue makes an appearance.
Below are the winning entries:
Hanging out with Marie Curieby Dadon Rowell
We sit in dry grass, backs propped against an old punga trunk. Marie’s just wearing a strappy summer dress. I tell her that her shoulders are going to burn, but she says the sun makes her skin flutter & she likes it.
Beta particles & whispered secrets twist in the humid air, Marie talks about a handsome lab student in her department. He gave her purple wildflowers after her husband died & dries her tears with cotton wool. I end up showing her the chip in my tooth I got from falling instead of running. We agree that picnics by the Waikato River are better than sitting in church or waiting for photographic plates to melt.
I recite as much as I can remember of Tom Lehrer’s ‘Elements’ song & sunlight reflects off white filaments in her hair as she giggles. We chew on strawberries & flick the hulls high into the ferns.
Her fingertips are blue, but she tucks them into the crooks of her elbows & tells me when it’s dark our breath will hang in the air like fireflies.
Co-winner, 2020 NZYWF Flash Fiction Competition
Native Bush Cottage by Sean McCabe
Situated a short distance from the ruins of Dunedin, this is the perfect getaway for the artist approaching a deadline, or hideaway from the Canterbury Waste bandits. With Ground Zero a comfortable 48 kilometers
away, the local mutations are at a minimum. Only some of the native fern species are carnivorous. Wake
up every morning to birdsong. Enjoy the blue skies from the lookout post, which provides a perfect vantage point of all approaches to the cottage, and is conveniently equipped with a rifle stand. For those with a (metaphorical) green thumb, the garden provides space to grow your own produce. With a rating of only 450 rads, it’s ideal for lettuce, potatoes, or sugar beet. Drink in the sight of the Taieri River sparkling in the sunlight. PLEASE NOTE THE WATER IS NOT SAFE TO DRINK FROM. This cottage comes furnished with lovely faux silk curtains, contemporary Roman faucets, an arms locker, and a 2030-era fallout bunker. Whether you’re looking for peace amongst nature, or a place to hide from the next American delivery, this is the place for you!
Selling by auction. Starting price at 12 water stamps and a generator.
-Harcourts listing, circa 2044
Co-winner, 2020 NZYWF Flash Fiction Competition
why i watch porn incognito by Emer Lyons
when i was a teenager, my father talked to me about cookies, he said
- you know, for blue movies
i had to look up what he meant. not that i hadn’t spent hours watching light reflecting on asses, dancing on breasts.
when i took my ex to newgrange, the tour guide showed him a fern pressed into the walls of the inner chamber, she said,
- look, new zealand
we had made movies of our own, high on crystal meth in the outback of australia. like a piece of flash fiction, they were short and to the point, with fragmented narrative.
i used to talk to anyone on messenger, tell them i had 32DD’s, that seemed to be what they wanted to hear. the animal of my own desire, incognito, deleted after, along with all the other shit i asked jeeves.
Runner-up, 2020 NZYWF Flash Fiction Competition
The Story Of Dunedin Manorby Sorcha Wilkinson
I saw him when I was walking past the plush old armchair in the corner. I say plush, because it usually is. When I went to sit down, I saw a dull crimson fabric peeling, stuffing and springs protruding. The upholstery sagging under a weight that could not be seen. A dappled spotlight shining, the chair surrounded by hollow darkness. A hand seemingly guiding me towards the light. I felt a cold emptiness filling me, sending shivers down my spine. This nook of the manor was overgrown, fern fronds poking out from cracks in the rotting floorboards, black ivy creeping up the walls. Daring to look back to the chair, a blue mist was floating with no apparent shape or form. I tried to back away, to leave this place, but something held me. Whether it was my own curiosity, or yet another unnatural force keeping me captive, I couldn't say. I turned back to the chair, and peering into my eyes, straight through my soul, were the eyes of another. The old man looked at me, dark eyes gleaming with a greed I had never seen before. A heavy weight set within me, tar filling my stomach.
Most Devastating Ending ,2020 NZYWF Flash Fiction Competition
Confession by Susan Wardell
It was thirty years ago, and began with a spade. Down at the bottom of the driveway, below the rhododendrons and beside a congress of whispering punga, there was a spot sufficiently bare.
The summer sun laughed as she sweated in the dirt, dreaming of a swimming pool. She dug in the morning, ate sandwiches, dug in the afternoon. Then finally it was deep enough to sit in, and she dragged over the blue plastic sheeting that her dad had given her, and pressed it in. The hose snaked all the way down the drive, just reaching.
It was a triumph forgotten the moment her feet had cooled.
The next week she was down there for some other reason, when the afternoon light caught her eye, hard and white on the shallow water remaining. But it wasn’t till she moved closer that she could see the small body lying there, in one slippery corner, with its tiny feet curled. Limp and dark and drowned.
The punga were the only witness when she ran, her gut twisting namelessly. When she told no-one. And the only witness a week later, when her father fished two poor dead hedgehogs out of the pool.
Best Animal, 2020 NZYWF Flash Fiction Competition
The Thief by Ella Robinson
I kick-off, pulling and rocking myself into the air. Opposite, the glinting river sidles out of the gardens and sneaks behind rumpled backs of tired flats. I swing. The watery susurrus swells and recedes.
Squeaking wheels alert me to an old man emerging from the trees. A blue trolley bag trundles behind him. He approaches stiffly. Arrayed like punga fronds, his hair sticks out from a bucket-hat, framing a desperate face. Just shy of my swinging arc, he stops to wet his lips. He utters, in a flash of fictitious politesse, “Nice day for it.”
I smile politely.
“Where did you get that?” He points a bulbous finger to the ground in front of me.
All I see is my shadow. “I... I’ve always had it?”
The swing creaks through awkward silence. He closes his eyes and begins to hum.
Unnerved, I try to stop my movement – feet skudd-judding along the ground.
My shadow fades.
I lurch to a stand, desperate to keep my shadow-self under me. The man’s eyes snap open.
Something slips. The bag shudders. He smiles as I feel my atoms di s s i p a t e
Shadowless, we watch and whisper.
Best Onomatopoeia, 2020 NZYWF Flash Fiction Competition