My sister has just won the flash fiction competition for this year’s Manchester Literature Festival. Many hats and flowers in the air.
My impression of flash fiction has always been similar to the idea I had about short stories as a teenager: that they were just a build up to a punchline (‘It turned out I was a cat…’, ‘It turned out I was a snail…’). But Frances’ stories are more like dark poetry. With permission, the story is reproduced below. I also recommend you visit her website at francesgapper.co.uk, where you can read another great one called Strange Wedding. In the meantime, here is Bluebeard’s Daughter by my sister:
After Dad forbade me to enter a certain room, I simply waited until he’d gone out. Then I unlocked the door and found my dismembered mother and sisters. Luckily I’ve always been good at jigsaws, so I began putting them in order. Anna wore a blue-stoned ring, I recalled, while Jane had a long second toe. Some bits were missing – I made do with objects fetched from nearby bedrooms, e.g. substituting a lampshade for Nora’s lost head. Then having pricked my finger I scattered blood, restoring them to life. Assembled, they made a fearsome army. Together we awaited Dad’s return.