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

Sue Kittles

1st Prize

Susan Kittles

Sue Kittles signed up for a Creative Writing course with Bucks Adult Learning eight years ago. She thoroughly enjoyed the course, meeting new writing friends and developing her skills.

With encouragement from these friends she joined Chiltern Writers and soon found herself on the committee. Sue also attends a variety of one day writing workshops. The inspiration for the children's story she is working on came from one of these sessions.

Sue particularly enjoys writing flash fiction and short stories and frequently enters local competitions as they motivate her to write regularly. She is currently working on a longer story which has been brewing in her brain for over a year.

Moving Day

I was laid to rest three years ago. Now, my spirit, my soul, takes up no space at all. If you blew me into a plastic bag it would not expand or even flutter. My name is Wang Xiu Ying and today they are moving my bones. There’s no beauty to a corpse. In my spine you can quite clearly see the spondylitis that marred my fourteen years. That is before the lorry hit me, the accident that brought an abrupt cessation to my pain. Black hollows stare, whilst my jaw gapes open, a toothy grin, stuck in the shape of the last word I uttered.

Gently, respectfully, they wrap me in a white sheet, my father and the Feng Shui master who has arranged this match. Carrying me to my new resting place, they are furtive, hurried. It’s illegal to have these ceremonies, they risk prosecution, incarceration, but superstition is a powerful motivator.

Grief has settled quietly upon my parents. Mother’s eyes are dry, pensive, whilst the petite frame of the young man’s mother, trembles with raw sobs. His body, new to death, is dressed appropriately for such an important ceremony. Nineteen, still handsome, his jet-black hair shines, slick with oil. His clothes conceal the injuries that wrenched him so early from his family, unmarried, unfulfilled. Another young miner lost to the village. His name is Li Wei.

Words are spoken, gifts of colourful paper models are passed between our families. These symbolise the possessions we may have desired in life, far more elaborate than either of our families could ever afford. The night sky over Shaanxi Province is ink black, punctuated by sparkling stars. A full moon illuminates the cemetery, casting a gentle glow upon the wedding guests.

My bones are placed into his grave, where they nestle against their new husband. His spirit remains angry, agitated, not yet accepting his premature death. Prayers are offered for his soul. His family hope this ghost wedding, the union with a young bride, will placate him. Without this offering, they fear his troubled spirit will bring disruption and ill fortune to their already difficult lives. They have younger children, they must endure, continue, without their eldest son. This, despite the grief that burns within their family and each beat of their tattered hearts.

The ceremony over, the lid is placed upon the coffin. My new home gently hits the sides as it’s lowered into the freshly dug rectangle of sacred ground. It settles and stills, as the sounds of the mourners fade. The dull thud of earth hits the top.

I accept my new resting place against this angry young man. Knowing my family will have received some small recompense to ease their poverty. He’s still fighting, wrestling his demons but he’ll settle in death, in time, as I have done.


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