‘I’m selling my virginity,’ his daughter said, her fists clenching either side of her untouched bowl of salad.
Raymond’s spoon, on its way from gazpacho to mouth, froze.
‘Before you say anything, let me explain.’ She scanned the restaurant, before leaning forward in her chair. ‘I’ve tried to tell you before. At least here you can’t shout or cause a scene.’
Raymond placed the spoon beside his bowl and dabbed the corner of his mouth with a napkin. His eyes were drawn to a window looking out onto the street where a black horse was being led by a man wearing a suit and tie.
‘I know what you’re going to say,’ she said, arranging the shoulders of her dress. ‘But really, I know what I’m doing. The auction has already reached one hundred and eighty thousand pounds. And there’s more than a week left.’ She shook her blonde hair from her shoulders, used a finger to stroke her eyebrows one at a time. ‘I’ve worked out how much I’ll need to travel, for Uni fees, an apartment. I have it all worked out Daddy. And the escort agency makes sure—’ She sat back in her chair. ‘Please don’t look like that.’ She crossed her arms. ‘Please Daddy, look at me.’
Raymond watched, on the street, a woman in a long black dress talking to the man with the horse. They were arguing. The man in the suit pointed to the horse, then to the woman. Raymond glanced about the restaurant in hope someone else was seeing the same thing. But the restaurant continued to tinkle with the sound of cutlery, with gentle talk and polite laughter. When he looked outside again, the horse bowed its satin-black head. Raymond recalled his marble chess set at home, on the coffee table. For years, until not so long ago, every Sunday he’d played chess with his daughter. The knight had always been her favourite piece. Once she’d got the hang of its unusual movement, its hop and skip, its feint then shuffle, these pieces had always led her attack.
His daughter moved into view, her eyes large, round and glassy, like one of the halved baby plum tomatoes bobbing in his gazpacho. ‘You have to trust me,’ she said, her voice soft.
Raymond moved to look past her. The woman outside pushed her head up against the side of the horse’s head, her arms embracing its neck. Then the man snatched at the horse’s reins and led it away from the restaurant. Raymond imagined the sound of its hooves clip-clopping along the street.
He looked at his daughter’s hands resting on the table. He imagined her fingers manipulating her black knight, manoeuvring to finish him with a knight fork. When she was younger, he’d always let her win at least one game out of three. What did she call the horsey’s move? An L — that was it. Why did it move like that — so extraordinarily, so unexpectedly?
CONGRATULATIONS to ADAM LOCK for winning the STORGY Flash Fiction Competition and well done to all the selected finalists of our first ever flash fiction competition.
The confirmed list of finalists for the STORGY Flash Fiction Competition is:
Adam Lock (Knight Fork)
Harriet Reilly (Racing Crabs)
Elaine Dillon (Tipping Point)
PJ Stephenson (Writer’s Block)
Anna Tizard (The Religion of Biscuits)
Eric Machan Howd (Shining)
John Bowie (Milburn’s Last Class)
Veronica Bright (KIRIANNA)
Edward Field (His Art)
Kerrin Leeb (Frida Kahlo’s Monkey)
You can read all the finalist stories of the STORGY Flash Fiction Competition here.
Thank you to everyone who entered the competition and made the judging process such an incredibly inspiring and rewarding experience. We are immensely grateful to all of you for submitting and continuing to support STORGY and all the authors we publish.
Stay tuned for an exciting STORGY Short Story Competition announcement
Twenty-four short stories, exclusive afterwords, interviews, artwork, and more.
From Trumpocalypse to Brexit Britain, brick by brick the walls are closing in. But don’t despair. Bulldoze the borders. Conquer freedom, not fear. EXIT EARTH explores all life – past, present, or future – on, or off – this beautiful, yet fragile, world of ours. Final embraces beneath a sky of flames. Tears of joy aboard a sinking ship. Laughter in a lonely land. Dystopian or utopian, realist or fantasy, horror or sci-fi, EXIT EARTH is yours to conquer.
EXIT EARTH includes the short stories of all fourteen finalists of the STORGY EXIT EARTH Short Story Competition, as judged by critically acclaimed author Diane Cook (Man vs. Nature) and additional stories by award winning authors M R Cary (The Girl With All The Gifts), Toby Litt (Corpsing), James Miller (Lost Boys), Courttia Newland (A Book of Blues), and David James Poissant (The Heaven of Animals), and exclusive artwork by Amie Dearlove, HarlotVonCharlotte, CrapPanther, and cover design by Rob Pearce.
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