The Writers Bureau Short Story Competition 2019
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The Winner of 2017 Flash Fiction Competition

Sherry Morris Winner Flash Fiction Competition

1st Prize

Sherry Morris

Sherry Morris is from a small Missouri town, but came to London in 2000, where she worked as a university administrator and eventually began writing. A short story about her Peace Corps experience in Ukraine was her first publication. Sherry writes monologues, short stories and flash fiction which have won prizes, placed on shortlists and been performed in London and Scotland.

She is a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society and in Feb 2017 moved to a farm in the Scottish Highlands where the clouds are really fabulous. When not writing, she spends her time walking in the stunning Scottish countryside, watching clouds and dreaming up stories.

 

Balloons

There was no Why? as Isabella began releasing red balloons from her ninth-floor balcony. There was only feeling lighter and freer as she watched them float through the air and sail over the park. She wondered how far they’d go. Then she wondered how far she’d go. She knew Michael wouldn’t understand. Maybe later, in time.

The balloons were a gift from him. He first used them last year when he proposed, saying, ‘Balloons expand and grow. Just like our lives together.’
She liked them because they moved weightlessly, effortlessly. They whispered of far off places and adventures. That’s what she had said yes to. She hadn’t been listening to his words, she’d been listening to the balloons.

But instead of floating off, she’d found herself carried along a current of expectation. There were decisions to make on venues and menus, gift and guest lists, invitations. The gravity of her yes dragged her down. In the fitting room, she burst into hysterics until they took the dress away.

‘Nerves,’ everyone said. ‘She’s always been so delicate.’

Then, with a week to go, he’d presented her with more balloons, filled the flat with them, throwing out his arms and shouting, ‘Here’s to our future!’

She blinked. Balloons covered nearly every surface. She’d be sealed inside one soon, with him, and a mortgage, and children, and pets. Too many obligations for a delicate balloon to float. She watched as they rocked back and forth, shaking their heads in sadness.

He looked at her, waiting. She put on her best smile, nearly looked him in the eye and kissed his cheek.

The balloons soon got on her nerves. They jumped and bounced accusingly at her when she crossed the room or opened doors, hovering uncomfortably close. They didn’t want to be confined.

When Michael went out for milk and a newspaper, she went to the balcony. A balloon darted out. Without thinking, she squeezed it between her palms. Nothing happened. She squeezed again, wincing, waiting for the pop. Then she stopped and opened her hands. The balloon caught the breeze, lifted, then glided over the road, descending into the park. It touched the ground once, twice. A granny walking past snatched it in her long fingers and tucked it under her coat. Isabella smiled.

She corralled the balloons onto the balcony and let the second one go. It flew into the park, dropping near a mother and child. Isabella heard his shrieks of joy as he captured it. She nodded.

At first, she released the balloons one at a time, but soon began throwing them with abandon, no longer waiting to see what happened to each one. A trail of twenty, thirty, forty balloons danced through the air. People noticed, gathered and pointed. Some ran after the balloons, wanting their own. Michael could take solace in that. Then she spotted him in the crowd, looking up at her.

‘I’m sorry,’ she whispered, hurling the last balloon. ‘I’m just not ready to land.’

 


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