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Flash of the Month: December 2017

It’s hard to be believe that this is our final Citizen-themed Flash of the Month. We have received so many wonderful stories, ranging in theme from small moments in an individual’s life to epic tales of human experience on a wider scale. Thanks to everyone who sent us their words – reading them was such a privilege. It took us a little longer to decide this time but we loved Farhana Khalique’s ‘After The Crash’. This piece moved us with its vivid use of imagery, breathless prose and the wistful – yet ultimately defiant – tone that echoes long after reading.

It’s particularly special to discover that Farhana began this piece during our Citizen Flash workshop in November. We’re busy behind the scenes, planning new flash events. Watch this space for news of what’s to come. And if you haven’t read them, take a look at our previous winning entries.

After the Crash

She’s holding on, head down, bobbing between air and water. It’s so dark, she can’t tell where the sea and sky meet. There is no shore. Only an inky beast that cradles her story one moment and shakes it the next, roars and whispers with equal poison.

She doesn’t know how long has passed like this, with her arms outstretched over the board, fingers hooked around one edge, while the other digs into her armpits. The hours bleed into each other, draining her. Even her long black hair and red jumper are enemies, one a seaweedy wreath, the other woven from lead. Soaked, exhausted, a scarlet sponge twisted out of shape and thought, she can no longer feel her fingers. But she knows that they’re loosening. She can’t call out any more, and who will answer? She turns her face and lays her cheek on the rectangle, the only thing she has left. She closes her eyes.

The board she clings to doesn’t bend, or break, or sink. Its spine is strong. Its contents won’t fade. But there are no words printed within. They’re inside her, they always have been. She opens her eyes and lifts her head. And lets go.

Farhana Khalique is a teacher, voiceover and writer from South-West London. She has been teaching English for over ten years, is often heard on TV as a continuity announcer for Channel 4, and is mentored by Tania Hershman through the WoMentoring Project. Farhana’s stories have been published in Carillon and The Asian Writer magazines, and in Happy Birthday To Me: A Collection of Contemporary Asian Writing (2010), Dividing Lines: The Asian Writer Short Story Prize (2017) and City of Stories (2017) anthologies.

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