#SelectedFlashFiction – June


Eds. Elizabeth Kemball and Lucy Aur

Welcome, literary enthusiasts! Today, we are thrilled to present a group of exceptionally talented writers whose craft will undoubtedly leave you captivated and hungry for more. These brilliant wordsmiths have crafted thought-provoking and engaging pieces of flash fiction, showcasing their creativity and storytelling prowess in just a few short paragraphs.

Ronnie Smith

Ronnie Smith was born long, long ago in Glasgow and has travelled a great deal since then. He has published articles on culture, business and politics in the UK, Romania and France. His poetry has been published in the UK, North America and Germany and he is Pushcart nominated.

closeup photo of printer paper with musical notes


Schiphol, tranquil cauldron of coming and going people. Stepping on and off the same planes. Lining up to board while the decades-old woman’s voice makes pleasant announcements in operatic Dutch. Nothing ever goes wrong at Schiphol and even when it does, it just seems part of the show, planned and resolved in the quiet Dutch way.

I watch a man near the queue for Genoa. I don’t recognise him but guess that he is a star conductor, a famous musical director. He is wearing a sumptuous woollen overcoat and his oiled greying curls cascade over its collar in the Italian maestro style. 

He presses his large black phone tightly to his right ear and his tense body language suggests that he is conducting crucial and deeply confidential contract negotiations, loudly, in front of hundreds of strangers. He walks in continuous circles in front of the travelator, forcing passengers to seek evasive action with their trolleys. There have been a few close shaves.

His left arm describes circles of large emotion while its hand clenches, opens, lifts and points at the orchestra ranged before him, controlling the score in his head from the podium. The violins, to his left, are smooth and on point. However the woodwind are a little behind and the brass are turning into the band of the Royal Marines while, up at the back, the Timpani guy has completely lost focus and can no longer be trusted.

Maestro stops circling, haunched with the effort, drops his left arm and takes his phone away from his ear to look at the screen. He shakes his head and looks up at the ceiling in a vaguely religious way.

The Genoa gate has become an hour glass through which travellers drop in ones and twos, somewhere between sullen and ecstatic. My guy, Maestro, makes his way to the end, deep in thought. The last grain to fall.

JP Relph

Cumbrian writer JP Relph is mostly hindered by four cats, aided by tea. She volunteers in a charity shop where she hunts out haunted objects. A forensic science degree and passion for microbes, insects and botany often motivate her words. Recently found in Reflex Fiction and Coffin Bell Magazine.

assorted-color balloons on air


There’s a movie where a house is lifted by hundreds of balloons. Carried across the world to somewhere perfect. I just want somewhere quiet. Somewhere…else. 

I pump until the balloons bloom, squeak. Tighten string around wizened necks. I spread my arms wide, breeze brushing my palms. Don’t rise a millimetre. The balloons are apathetic, scuffing grass at my feet like bored toddlers. I burst them with a fingernail: pop, pop, pop, until they wheeze like broken birds.


I dream of flight. Huge black balloons hauling me. Trying to steer, strings slicing my hands. Ragged clouds’ reveal the farmhouse. Cheery-yellow paint telling lies. A grandmother done with parenting beats eggs in a copper bowl. Always beating. Eggs, cake-batter, the arthritic collie. The sombre child finding sanctuary in the sheep pen. Curled into velvet bellies, lanolin slippery, imagining she’s a lamb safe inside. Warm and wet and wanted. Before the birthing, the blood. 

The balloons crack like eggshells; I fall fast. The woman with wooden spoon slamming, looks up. Her face is black latex.


Helium gives balloons energy, purpose; they rear up, strain the ribbons attached to my raincoat. Sleeves jerk, like an exasperated mother is pulling the cuffs, promising a rain-drenched child cocoa. Then it’s free, careening away. Snagged by a monkey puzzle branch, balloons skipping valiantly above, mocking. 


I must be raincoat light to fly, so I stop eating. My skeleton makes itself known: jutting from my chest, cobbling my spine. Emerging from clotted-milk cheeks, grinning with resolve. I lie on grass, balloons tied to thin pyjamas. Only my bony wrists and ankles rise, marionette-like. My bony jaw screams. 


I buy wedding balloons – plump champagne-gloss hearts. Strip down to underwear sagging from stick-doll hips. Then further. 

Grasping bunched skin behind my handlebar clavicle, I pull with everything I have left. It stretches, tears like dough. The wind yowls through my exposed bones. I step over the discarded skin-suit like a child ready for a bath full of balloon-like bubbles.

Below the cliff, dark sea leers, reaches with clawed fingers. Above, the sky is quiet blue, endless. Ribbons wrench my flayed hands – the delicate bones glossy as the entangling hearts overhead. 

As I step into the void that isn’t land, sea or sky, I wonder if you can leave bad places. Or just carry them – in more than your beaten skin. An updraught hugs me, I fly.

Rachel Dench

Rachel is a writer, personal trainer and co-founder of UK charity Black Trail Runners. She recently won The Space To Write Project and also competes in ultramarathon races.

white daisy on clear glass cup

No Goodbyes

The coughing was the worst part. The grossest part. 

Sometimes she thought he might expire from the pure force of his hacking. Oftentimes she wished he would. It would have made things much easier for all concerned.  

As his body convulsed, he motioned for her help to reach his perennial glass of water. She was sure he could stretch for it himself, but she was supposed to be caring for him – despite not caring about him. Besides, it was in her interest for the persistent coughing to cease as soon as possible. 

The glass tumbler was covered in white streaks from the geriatric dishwasher. It made the water look dusty. 

“Small sips.” She held the pouring dust to his peeling lips. 

He looked more like a man who had traversed the Sahara than one who hadn’t felt the sun on his sickly face for several months. If he weren’t who he was, she may have felt sorry for him. If she weren’t who she was, she may have had second thoughts.  

He took one long slurp and promptly choked – as she predicted he would. This was a dance they repeated every day. She knew the steps by heart. 

She winced as a glob of phlegm sailed out of his prune of a mouth and landed on his corduroy-clad thigh. Why he still insisted on being ‘properly dressed’ when he didn’t leave the house or receive any visitors was one of many inconsistencies. Like the family he referenced when he was feeling loquacious, alongside the lack of evidence in the house of their existence.  

Small sips,” she repeated and cringed as his papery skin ghosted against her, as if his unsteady hands bracketing hers could do anything other than hinder. 

As if he could do anything other than hinder. 

“Tastes stale,” he grimaced, pushing the still half-full glass away.

She was unsurprised when he failed to say please or thank you. 

“I’ll get you a fresh one.”

Any excuse to get out of that room and away from the smell of decay that hung around him; a fog that never lifted. 

The phone buzzed in her pocket and she checked the oven’s digital clock. She hadn’t realised it had got so late. Time flew when you were waiting for someone to die. 

“Is it done?”

The urgency in her mother’s tone pissed her off, especially when she should have been the one to do it. But Mother was squeamish that way, fragile. Always had been. Her weakness was the reason things had to end like this. There had been no acceptable alternative.   

The hacking from the next room started up again as she checked the tumbler, estimating.

“Half an hour.” She didn’t say goodbye. 

When she walked out of the kitchen she carried the same ‘stale’ water. A few more swallows would speed things along. She didn’t want to be in that fetid place for any longer than necessary. 

She counted the breaths until they stopped.

Related Blog Posts