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Flash of the Month: October 2017

Thanks to the writers who submitted their work to us last month. Yet again, we were spoilt for choice, receiving wonderful stories that touched, in various ways, on the themes of citizenship, identity and belonging. Some made us laugh, others moved us with poignant imagery or distinctive use of voice. Our winner is Robert Boucheron’s ‘Ballet of the Discalced Carmelites’, a beautiful piece about an unusual community. We loved the otherworldly feel to this story, and appreciated the quiet power of Robert’s prose, especially that wonderful lingering final line.

Send us your stories of up to 500 words for a chance to be our next ‘Flash of the Month’ to submissions@thewordfactory.tv, or come and see us in London at the Citizen: The New Story Festival, from 10-12 November. Divya Ghelani and Emily Devane will be showcasing the stories of our past winners, inspiring you to write flash fiction and giving you the opportunity to share your flash fiction with an appreciative audience. See here for details of how to book.

Ballet of the Discalced Carmelites

A band of barefoot nuns, we dance and chant this prayer. We pray to the Lord, to the peerless Virgin, to her sweet son Jesus, to the Saints, and to all the Angels. We dance on earth as they dance in heaven.

Our footwork is clumsy, a poor imitation of heavenly dance. Our coarse brown habits cannot be compared to their radiant white robes. Still, we are driven by inner joy to advance and retire, join hands and let go, whirl in place and glide in a circle.

Though we contemplate divine things in silence, we sing the psalms in their proper order and according to their tunes. We sit perfectly still to hear the scriptures read, but we march into church in straight lines and in step. There is time to stay and time to move.

We pray in the name of Saint Teresa of Avila, our founder, teacher and model. She shows us how to pray in her books. The soul, she explains, is never at rest but always in motion toward God in his perfection. Drawn to his glory as a planet to the sun, we orbit and revolve.

Would you care to see this ballet? Look up in the sky on a clear night. As for us, we dance without shoes on smooth stone, in the poverty of our cloister. We dance unseen by worldly eyes. Maybe the stars will look down on us and smile. Maybe the angels for pity will guide our feet.

Robert Boucheron grew up in Syracuse and Schenectady, New York. He worked as an architect in New York City and Charlottesville, Virginia. His short stories and essays appear in Coldnoon, Fiction International, Litro, New Haven Review, Porridge, Poydras Review, Short Fiction and other magazines.

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