Daniel was an incredible boy who brought joy and laughter into so many lives.
Although he passed away on 19th June 2017,
his memory and legacy will live on for many years.
A MESSAGE FROM DANIEL'S PARENTS
Daniel was a feisty, funny and beautiful 21 month old baby. Even though Daniel never had it easy from the start and faced two battles with cancer, he was always smiling and happy when he was able to. Daniel loved chocolate cake, animals, story books and watching telly, as it was mostly his only interaction with the outside world when he was unwell. Even though he was only here with us for 21 months, he made us all look around and enjoy the little things and pay it forward, so although he is gone, he lives on through you all. We would love it if you could take the time to enter and write a story for Daniel. Thank you all so much and to Gaynor for her hard work in organising such a beautiful dedication in Daniel’s name and to everyone who participates, we really appreciate it. Ali & Dan
This year we received over 100 entries, with a fairly even mix of stories aimed at children and stories aimed at adults. The judges were delighted with the effort and thought put into each story and are so grateful to everyone keeping Daniel’s memory alive. Thank you also to the readers, writers and publishers who donated the runner up prizes.
Before announcing the overall winners we would like to highly commend the following writers:
Sally Shaw, Nicola Ashbrook, Sarah Myers, Denise Telford, Louise Finnigan, Sue Lancaster, Pam Gough, Hazel Whitehead, Laura Besley, Katie Oliver, Sarah Keating.
And now the 2019 winner and runner up:
First prize winner 2019: Donna L Greenwood with Baby Pool.
Runner up 2019: Damhnait Monaghan with A Recipe to Remember
Donna L Greenwood lives in Lancashire, England. She writes flash fiction, short stories and poetry whilst attempting to teach teenagers about fronted adverbials. She has recently won several writing competitions including Molotov Cocktail’s ‘Flash Legends’ and the 2019 STORGY flash fiction competition. Website: http://www.thehorrorsblog.wordpress.com
Damhnait Monaghan's flash fiction is widely published and anthologised. Her stories have been selected for the Best British & Irish Flash Fiction (the Biffy 50) 2018-19 and nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions, and Best MicroFiction. Her novella in flash The Neverlands is out now with V Press. Find her at www.damhnaitmonaghan.com or on Twitter @Downith
A Story For Daniel 2019 winner
by Donna L Greenwood
She'd never taken her daughter to the baby pool before. For many months, Jessie had been too little, too fragile, but now she was out of hospital and Joolz could finally teach her how to swim. She rocked the pram back and forth, grateful that Jessie was quiet for a change. Joolz patted the top of her baby’s pram and smiled. She was proud of her daughter; Jessie was a real fighter.
When Joolz reached the counter, she asked the beaming attendant,
‘What time does the class start?’
‘Oh don't worry, we'll wait until you’re ready. You just take your time.’
Joolz frowned as she took her ticket and went to the changing room.
‘Have you seen the pool?’ asked a random mum whom she’d never seen before.
‘Oh it's beautiful. It's... well, you'll see.’
Joolz pulled the pram into a cubicle. She'd get dressed first and then deal with Jessie afterwards.
The changing rooms were strangely quiet but she could hear squeals and laughter coming from what must have been the pool. Joolz moved a little more quickly, not wanting to miss the start of the class. She turned to the pram.
It was empty.
Jess? Jessie? Panic trilled through her heart. She ran out of the cubicle and towards the pool screaming Jessie’s name.
As she ran she passed a mirror. She stopped and stared. Her hair was grey and her skin sagged and wrinkled around her swimsuit. She was an old woman. The truth sliced through her then; she was old, and sick, she remembered now. Another truth also blossomed in her mind; her little girl had never left the hospital all those years ago. Jessie had died.
It was the beaming attendant.
‘I don’t understand,’ said Joolz.
‘You will. Come with me to the pool area.’
Joolz let herself be led by the hand. The woman in the changing room had been right; the pool area was magnificent. The water was a twinkling azure; there were palm trees and exotic flowers bowing into beautiful shallow pools. Parents and their children were splashing in the crystal clear water. The walls echoed with joy and laughter.
‘She's over there. She's been waiting for a long time.’
Joolz looked where the attendant was pointing, and, directly ahead of her, in a small pool, was her Jessie, bobbing about in a swim ring. She was smiling and holding out her arms.
Joolz ran into the pool and waded towards her daughter. She grabbed her with both arms and held her tightly. A plug and socket, finally connected. She felt a space in her heart fill with warmth.
‘What about the others?’ she said, looking at all the other babies in swim rings floating around her.
‘Oh don’t worry,’ said the attendant, ‘They’ll be reunited. All mothers find their babies in the end.’
A Story For Daniel 2019 runner up
A Recipe to Remember
by Damhnait Monaghan
Olivia took the last batch out of the oven and placed it on the rack to cool. It felt wrong to be doing the cookie exchange this soon after Meg’s death. Bloody breast cancer.
It was Meg who had suggested the exchange all those years ago when four young mums connected in a toddler group. That first year, they’d simply passed around wrapped cookies a week before Christmas. But once their children started school, the exchange occurred over coffee in the home of whoever was hosting that year.
They always baked the same thing: Laura made sugar cookies; Alice gingerbread men; Olivia oatmeal raisin cookies; and Meg biscotti. Olivia had once remarked to Meg that Alice could be as sharp as her gingerbread. Meg had replied that Laura was sweet like her sugar cookies. “What about me and my biscotti though?” she’d continued.
“Biscotti is ….” Olivia’s voice trailed off.
Meg had laughed. “Hard? Crunchy?”
“Elegant and sophisticated.”
Meg hadn’t made the comparison between Olivia and her baked goods. Was she wholesome like oatmeal? Wrinkled, like a raisin? Now, she’d never know.
The three women sat in Olivia’s kitchen, sipping coffee and trying not to notice the biscotti absent from the tasting tray. Conversation was desultory and when the doorbell rang, they all startled.
When Olivia opened the front door, Meg’s nineteen-year-old daughter stood on the steps, hugging a Tupperware container. Her long curly hair was so like Meg’s before it fell out that Olivia had to stop herself from stroking it.
“I made biscotti,” Ellie said. “Mum asked me to.”
A lump rose in Olivia’s throat. She brought Ellie into the kitchen and while the other women fussed over her, Olivia poured more coffee and arranged biscotti on a plate.
“They look just like your mum’s,” Laura said.
Ellie smiled. “She made me make them like twenty times until they were just right.”
“You’ll have to show us how,” said Alice. “For next year.”
Ellie twisted one of her curls, her voice catching. “Actually, I was hoping I could come back again next year?”
“We’d love that Ellie,” said Olivia. “It’s a wonderful way to honour your mum.”
Ellie reached for one of Olivia’s cookies. “These are always the first to go at our house,” she said. “Mum used to say that your oatmeal raisin cookies were like a best friend: homely and good for you.”
by Joanna Campbell
Jamie has moved to a new house with his mum and dad.
Lots of other people used to live here. Not all at once. Only one family at a time.
Jamie and his family haven’t unpacked all their boxes and suitcases yet, because this is their brand-new house.
New things can feel different, even a little bit strange, at first.
When Jamie goes up to bed on his first night, the stairs make funny noises.
Stair number three squeaks.
Stair number seven growls.
“Mum, are there animals living under our new stairs?”
“Why do you think that, Jamie?” asks Mum.
“Because I heard a mouse and a lion.”
“It’s just the stairs. They want to be friendly.”
In Jamie’s bedroom, the branches of a big tree tap at the window.
“Is someone knocking, Mum?”
“No, the wind is stirring. And the tree wants to tell you all about it.”
Jamie rests his head on his pillow. It smells of his old house. This makes him happy and a little bit sad, both at the same time.
There are sailing boats on the wallpaper.
“Will the boy who lived here before me miss his sailing-boats?” asks Jamie.
“For a little while, yes.” says Mum. “But they’re your boats now. He’ll be pleased you’re here to enjoy them.”
“Did he say goodbye to all the boats, like I said goodbye to my rockets and planets?”
“I’m sure he did. And I expect he was a little bit sad to leave them, but happy about the new things waiting in his next house.”
“When does a house turn into a home, Mum?”
“As soon as you move in, Jamie. From the very first moment.”
“Even if it feels sad and happy all at once?”
“Especially because it feels sad and happy all at once.”
Mum gives Jamie a goodnight hug.
“Mum, is goodnight the same as goodbye?”
“No, because morning soon comes.”
“But it’s goodbye for a little while.”
“Well, it’s goodbye until morning. And it’s more than that. It’s a wish too.”
“Yes. When I say goodnight to you, I’m wishing you a good night’s sleep with happy dreams.”
After Mum says goodnight, Jamie listens to her going down the stairs. This time he has to count backwards.
Stair number seven growls.
Stair number three squeaks.
They make him smile.
“Goodnight stairs,” he says. “See you in the morning.”
The branches of the big tree tap on the window.
“Goodnight, tree,” Jamie says. “Sweet dreams.”
The moon shines through the curtains, lighting up the sailing-boats. Jamie wishes them a safe trip.“I hope the sea is calm for you,” he says.
An owl hoots from the tree. The whoo-whoo sound makes Jamie jump. But when he hears its quiet echo, Jamie knows exactly what the owl is saying.
The owl is saying, “Welcome home, Jamie. Welcome home.”
Joanna Campbell is a full-time writer from the Cotswolds. Her work has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Mslexia, The Salt Book of New Writing and twice in The Bristol Short Story Award . Her story, Upshots, won the 2015 London Short Story Prize. In 2017, her flash-fiction story, Confirmation Class, came second in the Bridport Prize, and the Bath Flash Fiction Award published her novella-in-flash, A Safer Way To Fall.
Her short story collection, When Planets Slip Their Tracks, published by Ink Tears, was shortlisted for the 2016 Rubery Book Award and longlisted for the 2017 Edge Hill Short Story Prize. In 2015, Brick Lane published her novel, Tying Down The Lion.
In 2018 her story, Nearly There, was chosen for publication in 24 Stories of Hope for Survivors of the Grenfell Fire. In the same year, her story, Brad’s Rooster Food, shortlisted in the Royal Academy Pin Drop Award, was chosen for A Short Affair, an anthology published by Simon and Schuster.
She is currently editing her second novel.
2018 RUNNER UP
A STORY FOR DANIEL
by Maddie White
“Again!” Daniel said and nudged the book towards his mother.
“Daniel, we’ve read it three times tonight.” She said knowing that she’d read it a fourth time.
He grinned wildly and pushed the book towards her. She shook her, smiled, and began to read the story again.
Once upon a time, there was a young boy named Daniel. He sat in his room and hurriedly ate a piece of triple chocolate cake that his mother had made for her business luncheon.
“Daniel! Did you get into the cake again?” His mother asked as she walked into his room.
“Nooo...” He said and smiled a chocolatey grin.
She patted his head and tried to be stern, but he planted a brown kiss on her cheek and left the room.
“Lucky!” Daniel called for his four-legged companion.
A golden retriever trounced through the kitchen and licked his hand.
“Come on, Lucky. Let’s go!” Daniel said and clicked a red leash on Lucky’s collar.
“Today, we’re going to go to the golden fields and pick blackberries for father.” He said as they began their journey through the woods.
Suddenly, a bear peered from behind an oak tree and sneered.
“You’re far from home, little boy. You must be so frightened.” His voice rumbled like thunder.
“I’m not afraid, I’m Daniel.” He said with a mighty laugh.
“But, you’re just a little boy!” The bear cried.
“I have the strength of many.” Daniel said and walked past the bear.
The bear ran back to his cave to tell the other bears of the daring Daniel. Daniel and Lucky continued walking through the green forest.
“What was that?” Daniel asked while looking around.
A large gray wolf jumped on a pile of rocks and howled.
“You must be Daniel.” He snickered. “I’ve heard you’re the bravest little boy around.”
Daniel smiled and patted Lucky on the head.
“Alright then, let’s see how brave you are.” The wolf said and let out a loud growl.
Daniel stood, completely unfazed by the wolf’s attempt to scare him. In fact, Daniel let out a growl of his own that sent the wolf scampering away.
Finally, Daniel and Lucky arrived to the golden fields and picked the juiciest blackberries for his father’s famous cobbler. The two rushed back to the house to show him the delicious berries they found.
Even though his journey was short, the legend of his strength and courage will live on forever. The End.
Daniel’s mother closed the book and was pleased to see that Daniel had finally closed his eyes.
“Sleep tight my little angel.” She said and wiped a chocolate stain from the corner of his mouth.
Maddie M. White is a writer and mental health advocate. Her words have been seen in Flash Fiction Magazine, Rhythm and Bones, Mojave Heart Review, Stigma Fighters, and many others. She has a bi-monthly column called Joined Journeys in NECROPOLIS, an online literary magazine, where she interviews people living with mental illness. Maddie married her best friend and high school sweetheart, Shawn. She inspires her readers by creating a safe space in her books where they can learn to better themselves and follow their dreams. Her debut book, :08 SECONDS, is coming soon to Amazon.
A MOMENT OF REST
by Laura Laakso
Two figures sat at the end of a pier, watching as the setting sun turned the water into molten gold.
“Is this it?”
“I just assumed. It’s so beautiful.”
“This is a place for you to rest before you continue on.”
“And you? Are you resting too?”
“I thought you might like some company.”
They sat in silence while a breeze marred the mirror surface of the lake.
“So, how was it?”
“It was brilliant! Every day, the world was different. I ate blackberries in the woods, stained my forehead with dandelions, built a snowman with my friends and planted daffodils in the garden. I was out a lot, while I still could.”
“Is that what you liked the best, the turn of the seasons?”
“Yes. Discovering what had changed made me happy.”
“And you were happy?”
“I was, mostly. When I was younger, I had plenty of tantrums. Towards the end, I felt sad. I didn’t get to build a treehouse with Alice. The pain made me snap at my brother. I wasn’t well enough for riding lessons. But I did other things.”
“Mum and I built a thousand-piece jigsaw of a coral reef. I read stories to my brother. Our dog is old and I took naps with him. Grandma and I ate peppermint creams before dinner. I folded paper cranes and wrote a happy thought on each of them.”
“What happened to the paper cranes?”
“I asked mum to take them to my school. If anyone there is ever feeling sad, they can unfold one and read what I’ve written.”
“It’s a nice idea.”
“I just wish I’d had a bit more warning. I would have told mum I loved her and warned her about the jar of tadpoles I hid on the windowsill, behind the curtains. Alice brought it to cheer me up. I don’t know what will happen to them now.”
“Your mother knows.”
“About the tadpoles?”
“Yes. She released them in the pond after you left. And she knows that you loved her.”
A bird called in the distance.
“What happens now?”
“The choice is yours. You can move on or begin anew.”
“Begin anew? Will I remember my old life?”
“No. It will be a fresh start; perhaps a better life, perhaps worse. All I can say for certain is that it will be different.”
“And if I move on, will I remember?”
“No. You know you were loved, are still loved, but everything else will fade.”
“What if I’m not ready to choose yet?”
“I’ll keep you company.”
The cooling of the evening caressed their arms with the velvet touch of moth wings.
“I think I’d like to live again. There’s so much I didn’t do.”
“Thank you for sitting with me.”
“My pleasure. It’s time. Live well, live long.”
A figure sat at the end of the pier while stars came out and another day began.
Laura Laakso is a Finn currently living in Hertfordshire. She writes short stories and flash fiction in between longer projects and two of her novels have been placed in novel opening competitions this year. When she is not writing or working as an accountant, she trains and competes with her dogs.
Her debut novel, Fallible Justice, will be published by Louise Walters Books in autumn 2018.
Twitter ID: LLaaksoWriter