Flash Fiction Winner and highly commended entries

FOLIO Flash Fiction Competition 2020 Winner

I Kissed Paul McCartney by Sally Jenkins

“I kissed Paul McCartney.”
Chantelle pauses, mid-pierce, over the plastic lasagne. For a moment she thinks I’ve said something interesting. Then she remembers her client is a seventy-one-year-old dementia victim and plunges the fork in again.
“They played Sutton Coldfield just once. February 1963, Maney Hall.” I talk quickly, Chantelle has only twenty minutes. “I was fourteen and he was …” The artificial food twirls in the microwave. Chantelle strokes her phone. The word is simultaneously on the tip of my tongue and in the unreachable basement of my mind. “… not ugly.” The words aren’t right but the meaning’s there.
Chantelle shoves her phone into her overall pocket.
“Their first song wasn’t great.” The song title floats where I can’t reach it. “My friend Sheila was happy to drink orange juice and wait to be asked to dance but I got a pass-out and ran to the Horse and Jockey for a vodka and lemon. Underage didn’t matter then.”
Chantelle’s expression says she’s not listening and even if she was, she wouldn’t believe me.
“When I got back the Beatles were loading their blue Commer. I held the back door of the hall for them. ‘Thanks, love,’ Paul said. He went to kiss my cheek but I turned my head and we kissed on the lips.”
It’s nearly time for Chantelle to leave.
“John Lennon told him to hurry up because they had to get to Tamworth.”
“And pigs might fly.” The front door bangs behind my carer.

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FOLIO Flash Fiction Competition Highly Commended entries

Scout Jamboree by Derek Lever

‘Be Prepared’
I’m standing by the Jamboree Stone in Sutton Park waiting for Robert. My mind raced back to August 1957 when we first met – he from Tennessee and me from Bolton, Lancashire.
Robert and I spent as much time together as possible, stealing away from our respective activities and just enjoying each other’s company. This was strange really as we came from different continents, backgrounds and upbringings. Was it fate? Apart from being scouts, we had much in common – what this was I never bottomed out and I don’t know now.
We swapped badges and addresses, his 1909 Grey Hills Drive, Nashville and we have corresponded for 62 years. We have never met again, but this will change in a few minutes. I am excited but nervous. He is bringing Tracey, his partner whom I guess is his wife though he never much mentioned her. I have never been married but three lovers have been and gone, Tristram being the last. I have never felt able to disclose my love life.
Suddenly, I see him. My God, he’s wheelchair bound, being pushed by Tracey, a sprightly, fair-skinned, handsome much younger man than either of us.
It’s a shock to my whole being. Unlike the scout motto, I was not prepared. Robert’s face shows he isn’t either. Life for him must have been even harder than mine – a black American with a white male partner.
“We made it,” exclaimed Robert, holding arms outstretched.
“That we did,” I reply, fighting back tears.

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Hunting Deer in Sutton Park by Margaret Lever

1546
“Keep your head down Highness.
In truth we are down-wind of the herd and hidden, but they are cautious creatures and fleet of hoof.”
The small band of hunters moved stealthily through the coppice and heath, circling the Driffold where the deer had corralled. Among the men was the young son of the monarch. This was to be Prince Edward’s first visit to the Deer Park and it was to be his initiation at the kill. It was inconceivable he should return to London without a blooding and he had much to live up to fulfil his father’s expectations.
The young prince could scarcely breathe. The beauty of the deer touched his soul and, as he watched, he felt a deep joy. He sensed their deep, natural peace and he was overwhelmed with compassion for these graceful animals. He prayed that the kill would be swift and painless. To fail was to deny His Liege the pride of knowing his son and successor was a man of skill and courage.
He drew his bow resolutely and waited for the moment……
2020:
“Keep your head down, sweetheart. These muntjac deer are so timid that if we frighten them they won’t return today. Then you won’t get your shot.”
Charlie held close to his grandma’s side and watched as the two beautiful deer grazed just metres from his hiding place. He was careful not to take his eyes from them as he steadily raised his phone and waited for the moment………..

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Sutton Coldfield vs Birmingham by Mohammed Rizwan

It took inter-county searching to find the right colour.
I watch in gustatory satisfaction as the rapid drying spray paint coats the “The Royal Town of”. When they awake tomorrow morning, the pretentious Sutton Coldfielders will know Birmingham is bigger and better in every way.
I leap over the flower beds and move away from the roundabout to my car but the shiny new paint blinds me. I squint at the reflection of the headlights. A door opens before a car screeches to a halt. She is uncaringly loud as she marches through the flower beds, holding a coruscating bottle, which she swings onto the sign and rubs furiously. Black letters begin to appear.

I pound to the roundabout and grab her arms and separate them, shouting,
“Birmingham!”
“Aargh!” She screams. “Never! We’ll never be part of Birmingham!”

We both freeze when powerful lights hit us in the face; I imagine our silhouettes have blocked out the sign totally. PC Mallet emerges slowly, holding cuffs in both hands.
“I’ve had enough of this, Mr and Mrs Wyndham. I’m arresting you both for vandalism and breaching the peace.”
She cuffs us to each other and says, looking at them,
“I hope this reminds you of the good times in your marriage.”
As we trudge towards the car, I know that there were no good times. They were all faked because the man she truly loved, loves, lives here, in Sutton Coldfield, and a mere Brummie was never her equal.

Celebrating our local authors

On March 14th we were due to host a Local Authors Book Festival. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 situation we have postponed the festival, but we’d encourage you to still find out about the authors who had been due to attend including:

Stephen Roberts

Associate Professor Stephen Roberts is the author of more than twenty books. He has written and edited books about the Chartists for an academic audience and has recently moved into the field of ‘public history’ with a series of books aimed at local people with a thirst for knowledge about the history of Birmingham. He and Carl Chinn are old friends.

You can find out more about Stephen’s local history books at www.birmingham-biographies.co.uk

Louise Malhi

Louise released her debut novel Forged Purity, a young adult dystopian novel last year, following ten years of writing. The book is set in a futuristic West Midlands, and was inspired by the advancements of technology and media spyware. You can find out more about her on her website: https://www.louiserachelmalhi.co.uk/

Madeleine Purslow

Madeleine Purslow is a Sutton Coldfield based author who will be joining us at our Local Authors Book Festival on the 14th of March. She writes Kit Lit – ‘Serious stories with cats at their very heart’.

Madeleine Purslow has also had stories and articles published in major magazine such as Yours.
https://www.facebook.com/maddiepurs/

Rachel McLean

Rachel McLean writes thrillers that make you think: books designed to get the heart racing and the brain ticking. As RE McLean, she also writes geeky mysteries, featuring the Multiverse Investigations Unit and Schrödinger the quantum cat.

She’s lived in Sutton Coldfield most of her life and has written books set in and around the area (as well as in other locations as diverse as Texas, Gretna Green and the Multiverse).

Thriller website: https://rachelmclean.com/
Mystery website: https://multiverse-investigations.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelmcleanwrites/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachelmcwrites
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelmcwrites/

Sally Jenkins
Sally is the author of two psychological thrillers set in north Birmingham: ‘The Promise’ and ‘Bedsit Three’. She loves to ponder how our secrets from the past can re-emerge with devastating consequences. When not thinking dark thoughts, she rings church bells in Boldmere and runs a book group in Sutton library.

Find out more on her website: https://sally-jenkins.com/

Jane O’Connor

Jane O’Connor is a writer and academic who lives in Sutton Coldfield. Her debut novel NEEDLEMOUSE was the runner up in the Tibor Jones Pageturner competition and was published by Ebury in 2019. She has had short stories published in national magazines including My Weekly. Jane has two young sons and works at Birmingham City University, and will be joining us at our Local Authors Book Festival on the 14th of March.
https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/111/1117363/needlemouse/9781529103281.html

You can follow Jane on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JaneOConnor100

Heide Goody

Heide Goody is part of a team with Iain Grant and together they have written more than fifteen comedy novels together. Their best-known work features Jeremy Clovenhoof who is Satan, made redundant from Hell and sent to live in Sutton Coldfield.

You can find out lots more on their website or social media pages:

http://www.pigeonparkpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Clovenhoof-Books-285544508177333/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2098850213744767/
https://twitter.com/IainMGrant
https://twitter.com/HeideGoody

Patrick Hayes

Patrick Hayes (https://phayessite.wordpress.com/) is an award winning playwright and living and working in Birmingham. A former lecturer at the local FE college Patrick has written extensively on supernatural happenings in the Royal Borough in his books ‘Ghost Stories of Sutton Coldfield’ and ‘One Morning in May’ which tells the strange story of the Mary Ashford mystery. His latest book is entitled, ‘Tales yet to be Told,’ narrated by Father Michael and Dr Florence, two psychic investigators.

Deryk Whitfield

Deryk Whitfield is a local historian who will be joining us at our Local Authors Book Festival later this month. He has written two books, one on Rubery and the other on Wylde Green. You can find out more on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/derykwhitfield/

Simon Fairbanks

Simon has self-published two fantasy novels in his Nephos series, two short story collections, and a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Simon is co-chair of the Birmingham Writers’ Group.

You can find out more on his website: http://www.simonfairbanks.com/ or by following him on Twitter https://twitter.com/simon_fairbanks
Simon offers writing advice on his blog, including how to self-publish and market a book. He is also a committee member for the Birmingham Writers’ Group.

Martin Tracey

Martin Tracey is an author who likes to push the boundaries of reality. Sutton Coldfield features in three of his four novels….including placing the world’s first vampire as being buried in Sutton Park! Before writing novels he wrote songs and music remains a constant feature in his work.

Martin will be joining us at our Local Authors Book Festival on March 14, where you will be able to talk with him about his books, buy his books, and listen to panel discussions with other authors and more.

We’re really looking forward to Martin joining us on the day but in the meantime you can find out more about him on his website http://www.martintracey.co.uk/, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Martin-Tracey-Author-162311767171904/, Twitter https://twitter.com/MartinTracey1 or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/martinofmolineux/.