Saturday, 15 October 2016

SHORT STORY COMPETITION: The Bridport Prize (Flash Fiction)

Dear all,

One more competition entry I can now blog as the time period for selection has passed. This time it was flash fiction with a maximum word count of 250.

The Bridport Prize (Flash Fiction)

Self Portrait

Damn this chair! I’m catching a layer of dirty air that overlays a prismatic array of coloured mist across my face. That will not do! The angle of my neck is impossible, I will not lie, but the bulging veins and lizard skin are forcing my hand. That will not do! Holding my shoulders back, high and wide with chin up and jutting jaw stating my place in the world corrupts the mirror. The thinning blue tint of the morning strangles me but the afternoon grey is too dark and ages unfairly. The person I am is not being seen! This amalgam of oils cannot distill the tricks this room is playing. That will not do! I want to be remembered for all the dreams I had, to hell with life’s limitations and barricades. Shame on them! That will not do! My eyes tell of other people’s failures and I am more than their disappointments, more than the crooked eyebrows and sunken cheeks that rob me of my influence… my passion must live on in black gold grandeur… but this room… It will not do! 

Have a great weekend,

R.G Rankine

Sunday, 25 September 2016


Dear all,

Here's a short story competition entry I can now blog as the time period for selection has passed. Check out the competition on the link below. The maximum word count was 800 and the theme was 'nostalgia'.

Creative Competitor 

Raise the Drawbridge

I would like to go back five years, not six hundred. What did you do Henry? Once discarded, why not destroy it all so I would have no reminder?
Over the waving white blossom I see three white towers and behind those, one mile or perhaps a million, the rocket ship of St George’s Wharf Tower. My dislocation has found some comfort.
I had a misfortune today, or rather three. Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! My triptych trauma! How did Henry deal with a repetition in name and in pain? His crāwe-in-the-throat of Catherines? Good Henry, bad Henry! I command thee arise and help me! Well… maybe it is best not to ask. 
From 1935 I entered 1479 and smiled at the steel within the trusses, the beauty of the old and the new, the will to survive, of how to grow old gracefully. There is always a way! A thigh high wooden table, its two carved legs as stout to my own as a lumberjack’s neck is to a baby’s finger, made me want to smash down a goblet of mead on its aged but polished surface. A Visitors Book lay on top, open with pen askew. It is four o’clock in the afternoon now, so it would have been nearly three then, on a Thursday so the pages were full of names from the week’s activity. There, in time and in place, both the here and now, and my every waking moment, is her name repeated: once, twice and thrice! How can it be that three guests with the same name appear in sequence? What cruel mockery did the universe employ for its pleasure, hurting me with its Royal Flush of coincidence? Light from the blue sky fell over the gallery-come-lately, the ancient seeming crisscrossed stained glass, the Sun and the Rose, posing my shock cinematic. Was it a sunny day when she was here too? I cannot remember. I feel her looking at me, smiling in the Wild Flower Meadow; I feel her press against me as we navigate through the crowds in the narrow opening of the Sunken Rose Garden and I feel the heat of her legs as they lay over my lap on the South Lawn, but… I cannot remember. There is no joy imagining feasts instead of silent-headphoned-tourists as I peer over the edge, the creaking floorboards urging me to shuffle forth. I wish I could be back there, centuries before she was born so I would never know. I could be the fool or the King, and be released. I look up and wonder if the eavesdroppers remember us and I picture her face, but… I cannot remember. We had walked amongst the present and the history, wrapped up in no one’s procession but ours; that day was the trumpet call of our future. Half a decade later, a blink for the Great Hall, a lifetime for me, and I have managed a day-to-day acceptance. I do not remember what I do not allow to be thought, and I do not miss what I deny had existed. Then I see her name, threefold, and I remember I loved her and I love her still. The empty palace holds its own memories and now it holds mine. 
I cross the North Stone Bridge and leave the past behind for today, yet she walks by my side, her hand in mine, while I plead for a future as the willow weeps.

Have a great week all,

R.G Rankine

Sunday, 18 September 2016


Dear all,

Here's a short story competition entry I can now blog as the time period for selection has passed. Check out the competition on the link below. The maximum word count was 1500 and the theme was of our own choosing. I'm afraid I don't think a whole lot of this one as reading it back it's obvious I rushed it but never mind, I'm glad I entered it anyway as you learn from every attempt, even the rubbish ones.

Writers Reign 


The apartment block was fearful but I mustered a smile. I saw myself through her eyes and could tell I looked like a child who had received a gift they didn’t care for. Cara rarely swore, in my day at least, but this wasn’t the Cara I knew. She cussed several times as she walked around the flat, flinging a finger through doorways, showing me the rooms. It didn’t take long: bedroom, bathroom and all in one kitchen-dining-front room.
‘Amy’s still outside?’ I said, wondering if Cara wanted her to join us. Amy was the one who called me.
Cara walked past me, her skinny frame reminiscent of a Halloween toy, one of those jangling skeletons you hang from doorframes. She opened the front door and shot Amy a thumbs-up. Cara knew she had been too much for any best friend to cope with and had gifted Amy her battered old car (that still actually belonged to her father) as a kind of don’t give up on me apology. If it wasn’t for Cara being banned I may have felt differently about it but I’ve learnt to ignore the things that don’t really matter and Amy’s not a mercenary. Why let it rust I guess. After picking me up Amy told me she had listened to Cara’s the-next-one-will-be-better fantasy while pulling her half dead from hostel or bedsit or squat or shop doorway for the best part of a year and this was the last time. Not the last time she had already threated Cara with so many times but really: the last time. I told her I believed her.
‘It’s a shithole isn’t it?’ Cara said, turning as she closed the door. Her right eye seemed to be constantly screwed closed, and the angle of her head tilted to her right shoulder. I couldn’t help but think she was still beautiful. Not that I was going to say it.
‘No, it’s not.’ I said, truthfully. The area was a shithole yes, but inside the flat had surprised me, freshly painted, double-glazed, all brand new necessities: bath, cooker, and central heating. There was a knock on the door and as Cara cautiously opened it, Amy rushed in and gave her a tight hug. I could hear the air from Cara’s lungs being squeezed out. Amy was crying and as she let Cara go and dashed back out I could see a thick red line around Cara’s neck where Amy had held her. As the door slammed Cara started to cry too.
‘She hates me,’ Cara said, tears flowing but her body remarkably still and composed.
‘She loves you,’ I said.
Cara shrugged and sat down in the front room.
‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ I asked. I was acting like I was visiting a grandparent at death’s door. I’d be asking about hot water bottles and soup next but that’s what being in her presence made you like. The Cara I knew was from another era.
‘Everything’s in the cupboards, don’t know which ones. Amy put it all away,’ Cara replied, staring at an empty corner of the room where I suppose a television would have been in normal circumstances. She didn’t actually say yes or no. Don’t ask her a lot of questions, Amy had said, she withdraws. She wasn’t joking. As Cara tucked into herself, her spine protruding like a stepping stone pathway, I felt overcome with shame. I hated her guts, she had hurt me so badly, but what sort of man was I to leave a young vulnerable woman on her own? Shouldn’t I have done something sooner?
‘Do you still take sugar?’ I said from the other side of the room, wondering as I said it if that was the only way she got any energy. I saw her shrug again and as I turned back to search a cupboard at random, it was my cue to burst into tears. This could have been five years ago. Making tea before we settle down for a film. Where could we have ended up? I didn’t dare let her see my face but I knew she was bound to hear me crying. My head was nearly inside the damn cupboard trying to hide when I felt her arms slip around my chest. I hadn’t heard her move. My tears escalated to a wail and I grabbed her arms with one hand and without turning around reached the back of her head with my other; carefully, I knew how fragile she was. Her face pressed into the back of my neck and her tears slid down my back. It was the first time I had felt her skin against mine since we were together and I knew it like it was my own. She was so soft, so delicate. The newness of the flat suddenly stank. I couldn’t stop tasting it. We shouldn’t be here I thought. It was like a controlled death. A cage painted like a suburban idyll where no families would grow up, no congratulations cards would come through the letterbox and no ambitions realised. I knew I would take her with me when the time was right.
‘Your hair smells the same,’ I said. I was choking from crying and the words stuttered but she heard me. I turned around and she was still looking down, her closed eyes fell against my chest and the scars that ran down her arms glowed lilac against the sickly transparency of her complexion.’
‘I’m sorry,’ she said. I wanted to tell her she had nothing to be sorry for, but I didn’t.
‘We have a lot to thank Amy for,’ I said. I felt my hands running through her hair, stroking the base of her neck and the back of her skull. She looked terrible but to me it felt like one quick shower and she would be back to new, ‘I miss you so much,’ I hadn’t planned to say it but the words fell out.
‘I’m sorry,’ she said again. This time I felt like saying I was sorry too, but I didn’t.
‘I’m glad Amy called,’ I said as I held her; the shape of her body fitting inside me as it always used to, despite her frailty, and as I felt her body become mine, and mine hers, I understood that this was the Cara I knew, I had been stupid to pretend otherwise.  

Have a great weekend all,

R.G Rankine