Furious Fiction is a monthly short story competition run by the Australian Writers’ Centre, with different story prompts each month. 55 hours, 500 words. This month’s challenge was launched on May the Fourth, and therefore had this criteria:
• The story had to begin with the words “A long time ago”
• The story had to include the words “star”, “war” and “force” (or a plural).
• The story had to feature something that flies.
I am delighted that my story was shortlisted and published on the AWC website!!!
A long time ago her life had not been controlled by beeps. There were languid hours dedicated to doing absolutely nothing. There were long walks on beaches with powder-white sand and no time limit. There was the delight of getting lost in a book with no interruptions. There were nights of staring up at a sky so crowded with stars that it seemed as though a few might have to fall down to earth to make room for the brightest ones. Life was about enjoying the pauses between the moments.
Then slowly, without warning, something changed.
Her life became punctuated by noises that signified the ceasing of fun by an external force. The pauses were no longer an invitation to breathe, but an opportunity to maximise productivity.
Beep. The alarm clock set for 6am kept its promise and ruined her slumber party of one.
Beep…Beep. The phone called out to be scanned for notifications, messages and other people’s highlight reels, all of which cut into her own dressing room preparation.
She stirred her steaming coffee and inhaled its heady aroma.
Beep. The clothes in the washing machine cried out for attention or they would punish her with creases that would need to be ironed out.
Beep. Now the doorbell. She put down her coffee and signed for a parcel she couldn’t remember ordering.
Beep…Beep. Her laptop was running out of power after her late-night session browsing for paperbacks that she wanted to read but would never get around to reading. Better plug in the charger.
On her way to work, she waited for the Green Man at the traffic crossing whose sole purpose was to give permission for people to cross the road: Beep. She was envious of him for finding his calling.
She thought about how it seemed she was not enjoying her life but merely enduring it.
Then suddenly, without warning, something changed.
A doctor’s appointment that produced a new way of living. Her life became only about the beeps.
She stared out of the window. She felt like a bird that was always too afraid to soar above the clouds and now had its wings clipped.
Beep…beep…beep…she looked over at the contraption that was keeping her body functioning, with its flashing lights and synthetic noises.
The nurse strode purposefully into the room. “Are you alright, love? It’s time for your walk. We’ll bring the machine with us.”
The war would continue. She closed her eyes and decided that finally, it was time to unplug.
©2018 Seetha Dodd
The judges said….
What we liked:
A new twist on the benefits of unplugging, this story opens with a long paragraph – itself representing the freedom of being uninterrupted – before the short sharp paragraphs kick in. We loved the purposeful repetition as the story took its first, and then second turn – all tied together by the same element. A (beep)ing good story. Perhaps having no title is also significant…