Fish Flash Fiction Longlisted Entry

Thanks so much for all the messages in response to my longlist news yesterday. Here is the longlisted entry for you to read, as requested by Emma :-)

Gridlocked

Driving home. The sudden snowfall caught everybody out and now the city’s roads are gridlocked. Inside my car, hot air blows in my face and on my feet; outside the snow continues to fall and the whiteout gives the darkness a glittery edge. Up ahead, two cars collide, sliding gently, irrevocably, into each other. The drivers get out, stamping cold feet and hugging themselves; no aggression, just puffs of frozen air and resignation.

Stationary now, the cars alongside me like igloos with half-moon windscreens. Solitary drivers talk into phones, explaining, complaining. I have a phone, it’s right here in my briefcase. I don’t bother to get it out. Everybody else in this snowbound city has someone at home who cares that they’ll be late, the kids won’t get picked up, the dinner in the oven will be ruined. Not me.

Time on my hands, time to think: something I avoid if I can. I think about how I never intended this to happen. ‘Hold me,’ she said, and she laid down a path too slippery for a man like me. Like those cars up ahead, we moved towards each other slowly, in stages, unable to stop but painfully aware of the danger ahead. My counsellor tells me to take responsibility. I laugh. I have no idea what this means. I suffer, is what I do. I sit here in my car, and I watch life going on around me. Love and friendship, camaraderie and conversation. It’s a club I belonged to once.

I turn off my wipers and the snow drifts down and hides the world from me. So considerate. Inside my bubble, I play a game: All is as it was before. I reach for my phone. Maybe this time she’ll listen to me.

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20 Comments

Filed under Competitions, Writing

20 responses to “Fish Flash Fiction Longlisted Entry

  1. This story was inspired by a real – and very sudden – snowstorm in Milton Keynes nine years ago. (Although obviously I’m not a man who cheated on his wife!) It took me three hours to get home, and I remember sitting alone in my car, watching all the other drivers on their phones, and feeling very sorry for myself that I had no one to miss me. I wrote this for an assignment on the Open University course I recently completed.

  2. Very nice description there! And it’s easy to imagine and believe it because of our own weather recently. I love the thought of being in a bubble with the snow covering the car, I often do the same when I’m stationary and it’s raining. It’s kind of a sad story, but beautifully written. Well done :) x

  3. I did :). Oh, you can read that here if you really want to: http://www.emeraldwritingworkshops.co.uk/result-of-train-competition-which-closed-on-28th-february-2012 …but it’s not the greatest thing I’ve ever done. Very messy.

    • I think it’s brilliant! Way to go, getting such a gob-smacking twist in at the end. Made me come over all goosebumpy, and … Well, I won’t say anymore here because other people will read it and I don’t want to write any spoilers. Anyway, I loved it :-) (And I can see why it won.)

  4. Really?? Thanks for being so nice :), I was gobsmacked it got anywhere to be honest…

  5. Wow, both of them made me goosebumpy – and there are certain similarities in the basic premise, too. Very different in style, of course. Thank you, both Jo and Emma, for sharing!

  6. Anne Renshaw

    A wonderful piece of writing Joanne. Concise, descriptive and asmospheric. I felt I was there too, transported into one of the cars, looking on in my own snowbound igloo of worries.
    Well done.
    Anne R.

  7. I agree with the other comments, this is a brilliant piece of writing. You createsuch strong images and emotions with your words. I loved it!

  8. Dawn

    Hi Jo,

    Brilliant writing, I loved it. I also agree with the other positive comments made and wanted the story to go on. What happened in the end????
    I was in that actual snow storm and it took me 3 hours for a 2 mile journey!! For me that story sent me right back in time :-)

  9. Thanks for sharing–I really liked it. Beautiful economy. Also, I thought it stood on its own, almost like a prose poem. I didn’t feel a need to know more.

    • Thanks Audrey :-) It was the economy we were going for in this particular exercise – writing clearly and concisely – so I’m glad that comes through. How are you getting on?

      • Thanks for asking–crazily busy. It doesn’t help that I have what amounts to three different careers, plus some volunteer work and a family! But I am still managing to write every day. If I’m remembering correctly, today is your big day for Kindle uploading… good luck!

      • Hmm… Yes well, things haven’t gone quite to plan! I’ll be blogging about it tomorrow but suffice to say – ebook formatting is a nightmare!
        Well done for still writing every day. I’ve been in publisher and editor mode for so long now I think I’ve forgotten how to write! Arghh…
        X

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