And the winner of the July Writing Challenge is…
Last month we dedicated our writing challenge to the creation of a creative community without borders, by sharing an international flash fiction contest, organised by the César Egido Serrano Foundation.
If you are one of our winners, please remember that you may not enter the international competition with a story which has been published or won an award elsewhere. But be encouraged to submit a new entry. If you weren’t chosen by us, you’re welcome to enter it. (We’re always very happy to be wrong in instances like this.)
This was the basis of the competition:
“Keeping in mind the Foundation´s ethos, which is that the word is the tool of coexistence between different cultures, religions and ideologies, the competition is open, under the motto: ‘The word, bridging the gap between different cultures and religions.’”
Our winner is Colleen Saunders for her light-hearted and rather cheeky take on the clash between adults and children. Revo Ti Llor gets a very honorable mention for his quite moving scene set on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. He’s also the author of a much more cynical take on loyalty and compromise which we liked: the punch comes in the last line. Janet Lopes gets an approving nod for her story of a life-long relationship, while Pamela Williams’s idealism is to commended in her story set in a warzone.
Congrats to all of you. Colleen, you get a book voucher from an independent bookstore of your choice to the value of R300. The rest of you will have to make do with a hearty cheer. And all of you who didn’t make a mention this month, know that with perseverance your time will come.
The Ice-cream Vendor
She cruised past the ice-cream vendor on her way to the pool as he battled his cart up the slight incline. As she stepped from her car, her heart sank. The tidal pool was a whirl of splashing, screaming children, big and small, tots and teens, royals, rabble and riff-raff. So much for a peaceful morning swim. Then suddenly there he was, the ice-cream vendor. Parking his cart, he straightened up and shouted one word – Ola! With a happy roar the mass of children left the pool and surrounded the cart.
She slid into the water – silent, cool. Blissful solitude.
Revo Ti Llor
My right crutch skids on tree moss. It falls. The left slams into my armpit. My upper arm stiffens, numbness setting in. I reach too late for this crutch. It tumbles into the emptiness of the Great Rift Valley. I sway on one leg, at the edge of nothing, out of control.
Mountain trails are made for people able to step.
The guide grabs me. “Polepole, Sir” he says, picking-up a discarded crutch. “One stride at a time’s a rule of Kili. It’s fatal to think about the summit, but forget about who you are, every step of the way.”
Mbanda’s the dangerous one heading straight for the beast’s neck with his machete. The hunters tracking us know this. A rifle round blows away half his head. We’re there with nets to distract the beast. Three comrades turn to fight and are taken out. I raise my hands high-high.
Mean bastards approach, the first knocking my legs from under me. Then they start booting me. Not in the face, only the body. Good. It means I’ll live. When I come round they’ll make me an offer. I’ll walk point, to take out the next Mbanda.
They say the pay’s okay.
‘I’ll teach you my language,’ he said. ‘So you can see the world through my eyes.’
Flushed with teenage uncertainty, she said ‘Really? We’ll still be together? ‘
‘Of course. Nothing will part us.’
Day after day, he taught her with patient affection. The world was reshaped as she learnt the Portuguese words and customs – the warm diminutives, the importance of shared meals, the powerful bonds of family, the expressions of love.
Decades later, at the end of winter, he slipped away from her. Bereft, her only comfort the language he’d taught her that had transformed her world forever.
The first shell exploded without warning in a ruined building beyond the boundary, the initial shock paralysing all movement, splintering all thought, numbing all feeling. Then out of the silence the sharp terrified cry of a child sliced through the desert night, followed by the agitated hubbub of refugees occupying this camp in disputed territory.
The three young volunteers groped, searching, through the smoke, the dust. Found one another, fingers touching fingers. Then, relieved, they huddled together, curved bodies forming a carapace to shield them from the falling rubble.
Teresa, Isaac and Abdul, keeping one another safe. For the moment . . .