1. Flash Fiction Winners
First Prize Winner: Neha Sharma
I walked into the cage and I clipped my wings
I dimmed my voice and started to sing
When I raised the tone, I was shaken, like a pebble in the box
Then cajoled with confab, and put back in the cage with locks
Such is the melancholy of marriage
Second Prize Winner: Sadhvi Shraddha Om
He’s very stable. And, I can never sit still.
Look at him so big and strong and me so small and weak.
I never thought I’d live without him. I hear the ax.
They have chopped him and here I’m flying in the sky again.
Third Prize Winner: Radha Thakur
Be ‘Careful’ what you ask me,
I won’t lie …. this time, she added softly.
Congratulations to all the winners! Great writing!
2. Short Story Winner
The Night Shift by Shubhra Om
“Please lock the door,” I said. I was getting ready for work and rushing to reach on time.
“Why don’t you make it your habit to lock the door from outside? Sometimes I forget to lock it,” she replied in the usual lovingness of a mother’s voice.
My mother and I lived on the third floor. I quickly stepped down from the staircase and ran towards my car.
Along with the car, the train of thoughts started running too, “My night shift job is really a good idea — now my mother and I can share the same car; she comes at 4 in the evening and I leave at 4:30; I come back at 2:30 or at 3 in the morning and she leaves at 7.”
Wait a minute .
Did I lock the door?
It’s okay– I’ll call her and ask once I reach work.
But, I forgot.
“What are you doing here? In this cold!” Ma was sitting on the staircase when I reach back home that night. It was chilly and foggy. I panicked. “What happened?” I asked again.
My heart skipped a beat.
“Shhhhh, call 911,” she whispered.
“Why? But, what happened?”
“Someone is there… inside our apartment.”
Immediately I recalled that ‘Amber Alert’ that had flashed on my phone during my shift, “A man with a gun…”
It was hard for me to believe. “How?… How do you know that someone…” I was stammering.
“Where is your phone? Why didn’t you call the police?” I scolded her.
“Shh… my phone is inside, call 911 now!” She murmured in that eerie silence, softly like the winter gale moving through a deserted terrain.
Soon the sirens were blaring and within minutes, the cops were there. The heavy tapping of the boots from the entrance to the third floor rattled through the building as the cops clambered up the stairs as if on an enemy mission. I could hear them screaming instructions and kicking the door open.
I sat on the stairs. Mother stroked my hair with the same loving look she’d had on her face in the evening.
“I need you to come up, Ma’am,” the cop called down to me.
“Is she your mother?” Ma was lying on the floor, lifeless.
I turned back and looked over the railing. She wasn’t there.
“If you had opened the door, he would have killed you, too. He was hiding here thinking that only your mother lived here,” the cop said.
“But…” the cop said, “how did you know he was here?”
Congratulations Shubhra! Your prize is on its way. Your story was so good that we upped the prize to Rs. 10,000.