Just as we expected, selecting one winning story from the whole of 2020, when Flash Fiction Magazine publishes 365 stories a year, was incredibly difficult.
We love each piece we publish—so even narrowing down our selection was tough. Over the last few months, we’ve held editor discussions and rounds of voting aplenty, and what we discovered was Flash Fiction Magazine published a whole host of kick-ass stories in the past year. We editors wished to praise them all, but we were tasked with choosing one overall winner.
We’re known for variety at Flash Fiction Magazine, and that is what you’ll find in the Editor’s Choice stories: variety. From literary to genre, we’ve got stories of love, lost love, and love gone bad. We’ve got a tale about climate change, and tiny grannies, and girls with giant-sized emotional issues. We’ve got a dog story, and one that will give you chills. We invite you to read them all, including our dazzling overall winner, “Hot Pink” by Susan Mockler.
Mockler unveils the story’s juxtaposition layer by layer: just as she shows us each character’s beauty, so too she reveals the ugliness that lies in wait. The piece is masterfully woven to elicit the highest emotional effect.
Editor’s Choice Award Winner
By Susan Mockler
“We step out of the hot, white sun and follow our mother through the revolving doors into Simpsons. A blast of frigid air welcomes us. She struts along the wide aisle. ‘Keep up, girls!’ she trills, her accent almost British, so different from the flat Canadian tone she uses at home.”
A story that caught my attention right from the off. It uses the compelling narrative voice of a child as they reflect upon their mother and family dynamic, evoking a sense of nostalgia through beautifully captured character and setting.Genevieve Allen, Editor
By Anne Howkins
“Granny loved the little Guatemalan dolls I gave her after my South American gap year. She seemed smaller than last time I saw her, but I guess that’s what happens with old ladies.
Grandpa seemed oblivious to her shrinkage. He kept himself occupied in the shed, garden, or pub; providing there was food on the table, a clean shirt on a hanger, and a fire in the hearth he was content. Granny said, ‘He’s always been that way, won’t ever change.’”
Exactly what we want to see in flash: compact, well paced, surprising. And Howkins manages magical realism perfectly; it stands on its own, but also serves as a metaphor for ageing, and how our loved ones carry their memory of us when we die.Sophia Huneycutt, Editor
By Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar
“The sun soothes my achy joints. It draws away the chill from my recesses and warms my skin, which, once healthy white, has gone ghostly gray.
A blue Honda CRV rolls in. I have visitors. Woman, who wears a yellow sweater dress and boots, alights. Man in faded jeans and sneakers, a baseball hat on his head, follows. I’m ashamed of my appearance. Dust and sticky bird shit cover my body. At places, the skin curls up and peels off like eucalyptus bark.”
I adore the poetic prose and how through the magic of anthropomorphism Chansarkar got me to wish for a happy-ever-after for a piece of discarded furniture.Susan Jessen, Editor
By Mayee Zhu
“Crawling on the freshly mowed lawn, xiao Jia stops her shimmying when she spots a blade of grass taller, greener, and prettier than the rest. Just like New Mom, so much prettier and nicer than Old Mom. Jia crawls closer, further drawn by a dewdrop glistening on the blade. She sticks out her tongue and laps up the dewdrop. Then she takes the proud grass blade and eats that, too.”
Zhu’s is the tale of a girl searching for what she wants most and finding what she needs least. Equal parts brilliant and shocking, but wholly unforgettable.Rhonda Schlumpberger, Editor
By H.C. Edwards
“The thunderstorms came. They shook the house with their booming voices, howled at the edges of the windows like banshees, and when the flashes of lightning came she imagined them striking her mommy and daddy, twisting them around and wringing them like sponges.
When she woke, it was to the residual traces of the dream, a scary dream, what her daddy would call a nightmare. She lay there in the dark and tried to recall more, but in doing so she was inevitably brought back to what happened before she fell asleep.”
The darkness in this piece grabbed me straightaway. The sense of atmosphere created is epic. “Little Witch” is just the right amount of unnerving and chilling with a pinch of pathetic fallacy blended in. Horror at its best.Keely Gardiner, Managing Editor
By Isaac Yuen
“It’s been a thousand days since the Sun died. Our star. My heart. It took the last light eight minutes to kiss the brow of the hill and the house where we once dwelled. Where little feet of twins pattered above our heads. Where the pampas grass in the yard grew tall and nodded in the summer breeze. It takes one morning to pack your belongings into the rental sedan. I’ll call you when I settle in. On that final sunbeam, you rode away. In the driveway, I stood and watched the light fade.”
The music of this story stayed with me throughout 2020. But Yuen doesn’t rely on his poetic prose to draw readers in; the heart of this story is the narrator’s attempts to come to terms with a brutal breakup.Sophia Huneycutt, Editor
By Dart Humeston
“‘Frank, the dog got raptured!’ Ginger screamed at the top of her lungs from the front porch.
‘He’s in here, drinking water,’ I lied. ‘And there is no canine rapture, anyway.’
Ginger, her robe wrapped about her arthritic frame, hurried into the kitchen, her slippers sliding across the floor. Floyd’s dry and empty water bowl sat in the corner where it had been for eighteen years.”
This piece has stayed with me since I first read it back in March 2020. The characterization and connection between Frank and Ginger feels heartbreakingly real. The story is tender, loving, fun, and raw all at once.Keely Gardiner, Managing Editor
By Suzanne C. Martinez
“Hace mucho tiempo, there was a young father who left his country for El Norte after his beloved wife died. Gio’s last promise to her was to find a better life in a green place for their only child, Nina. Their village had suffered from drought for ten years during which Gio slaughtered every goat and pig they owned before they both died of starvation. When he’d wrung the last chicken’s neck, it was time to leave.”
The themes of love and loss infuse the story as Gio transcends death to deliver on promises he made to his wife and daughter. “Promises” is an ode to the glorious gift of a second chance.Susan Jessen, Editor