We had some wonderful entries for our recent Flash Fiction competition on the topic of ‘Nest’ and it was quite a challenge for Barbara and I to agree on the winners. Before we get on to them, we’d like to congratulate some Commended entries. In no particular order, we have:
- “Her Nest” by Lesley Moore, Wakefield
- “Nest” by Janey Harvey, Newark
- “Departures” by Linda Cooper, Newark
All of these were in the running for a top three place but we had to whittle things down and agree on the winners.
In third place was “Close Shave” by Linda Cooper (again).
He’d given up on finding love. At his age he’d resigned himself to living out his last years alone. He’d only looked at the website out of curiosity and boredom. Nothing on the box and the lodgers all out courting, he’d resorted to the computer and been drawn in by the photograph of a real beauty. Stunning green eyes, petite by perfectly proportioned, serious expression yet hinting at mischief, he was immediately smitten. He’d read her profile and already felt they belonged together.
He’d become a bit of a recluse over the years and was wary of mixing with others as he felt they’d judge him; conclude he was weird or just plain crazy. He had expected to remain a hermit with just his uninvited guests as company. But now, he realised they were the ones holding him back and much as he hadn’t strongly objected to them moving in originally, he now realised if he wanted to start afresh they’d have to go. He wasn’t a cruel man and would openly admit he’d grown fond of them all, but now he must think of himself for a change. Besides, they’d soon all be expecting again and he was getting too old to deal with babysitting and all the hassle of raising youngsters.
First he confirmed a date to visit his potential new companion, then carefully composed his own advertisement.
‘Free to a good home. Two owls, one hen, four larks and a wren. All preparing to roost. Nests supplied.’
Then he headed for the bathroom and spent a long time shaving off the beard he’d carried around with its bizarre contents for years. After all, he didn’t want his new kitten to get its little claws caught up in it.
In second place was “The Bowerbird’s Nest” by Liz Moran, Brigg.
The Bowerbird’s Nest
If you believe in former lives, then I’ve definitely been a male Australasian bowerbird. Not because of his spectacular seduction techniques, which are formidable, but for his building skills in weaving an elaborate haven around him. His intricate birdmanship, his dazzling eye catching displays have one aim, to get a female to succumb to his charms. My aims are different, but equally desirable!
His elaborate nest, woven around a tree, carpeted with moss, adorned with feathers and other prized possessions, takes him a few years to build, whereas mine is woven around a rickety old desk and chair in the corner of a brown carpeted room. This eyesore, I might add, spoils an otherwise orderly area and has taken me thirty-five years to create.
Overstuffed wooden drawers, boxes filled with craft projects, barricade one side of my lair; papers, books, plugs and wires obstruct the other side. Should anyone attempt entry through that route, there’s a hot wood burning stove to navigate past. To the front, there’s my desk with my computer and other clutter on it. As a final warning, there’s a large stand with a knitted human skeleton hanging menacingly, the ultimate sign to stay clear.
Just like the bowerbird, I dress in vivid colours, though not to attract a mate, but to frighten the living daylights out of anyone daring to think they can approach my sanctuary. I embellish my space in a chaotic fashion so that even when I’m not there, it’s too dangerous to even think of entering as I’ll know. The result is the perfect bower for me to sit and revel in.
Although, there IS one difference between me and the bowerbird. Try stepping into my nest and that will be another story!
I wonder if I was ever a black widow spider?
And finally, our winner was “Sitting by the Harbour“, by John Irving Clarke, Wakefield.
Sitting by the Harbour
Every hour, as regular as the muezzin calling the faithful, the ferry rumbles in a wide arc across the bay. The engines grumble and the propellers expel a wash which slops loudly against the quayside walls. The chatting and shouting of those packed on board fades as the boat gains distance on the shops, cafes and market stalls. There is little dusk. The heat of the day leaves a muggy blanket over the narrow streets where the smell of frying onions and spices escapes through beaded curtains hanging in doorways. Pace decreases; life slips into a slow gear. Now is the time for viscous coffee and pungent tobacco. The minute variations of an identical day are discussed. Beliefs are re-instated and nothing can shake the permanence of having seen it all before. This is where I have made my space and ordered my nest. But the strong dialect rings with unfamiliarity; the words are always spoken to fast and I will always be abinjay.
My daily ritual is like the call of muezzin, like an article of faith. I flip open the lid of my laptop: to live in this town, to haggle in the souk and to swap gossip in hijabbed huddles is to mix the colours and breathe the smells of a thousand years of history. Here I am blessed with understanding and acceptance.
Abinjay – foreigner. I gaze at the screen and search though Arabic for the words for sickness and home.
Thanks to all who entered, we really enjoyed reading through them. As well as local entries there were some from much further afield such as Pembrokeshire, Northumberland, Suffolk and the West Midlands – and Wakefield had a particularly strong showing! Topics were quite varied although the ‘nest as a home’ was quite common. There were also some more unusual representations, such as monstrous artworks, shape-shifters, the disturbed mind, Russian dolls and a humorous child’s-eye view of a Nest central heating controller. Never a dull moment!