Winning Story ‘EXIT STAGE RIGHT’ by Kira Nelson

The Winning Story from Our Flash Fiction Competition

We invited all new first year undergraduate Creative Writing students to submit their best teeny tiny stories to our Flash Fiction Competition for stories under 500 words, and would like to thank everyone who entered for taking part.

We are delighted to announce Kira Nelson as the winner with her story ‘EXIT STAGE RIGHT’. The judges enjoyed the way Kira borrowed elements of the script format for her flash fiction piece, artfully bringing together form with theme in this emotive piece.

You can read Kira’s winning story below.

EXIT STAGE RIGHT

I can’t breathe.

I left home at 10 last night, to buy razors. The little pink disposables from Tesco, so brittle yet so deadly.

I can hear them, in the distance, my name on their lips like a song that never ends. But I still can’t breathe. As I drag the first razor down my arm, the cheers grow louder. Or are they jeers? Is it my name they sing or that of the devil?

I have to feel, something. Relief, control, direction, passion. Guilt. That which the crowds can’t give me. Marco comes in, it’s my cue but I still can’t breathe. Dry tears flow freely, the blood fresh, my throat raw but I’m awake. I’m ready. I know Marco sees the razors, I feel his eyes on me but I can’t stop. The show must go on, after all.

Anna, they scream, Anna! The people’s darling, mother says. She must be so proud. I break into a smile as I twirl and fly and flutter across the boards, my silk dress billowing behind me. I speak lines I would never say to people whose names I half remember and the people revel in it! Whooping, hollering, cheering. I feel the red ink dripping onto my shoes and suddenly the noise goes quiet. The smiles of the crowds dissipate and now I breathe.

In, out, in, out.

Are you alright, he says, as I come to. The stagehand, who bought me coffee a few weeks ago. Did I take him home, or did he? I can’t answer, I’m still dancing, here in my living room in my empty apartment. Are you alright, he repeats, and I nod.

“I worry about you, Anna,” he says. “You shouldn’t be alone tonight. Are you sure you don’t want me to stay over?”

I’ll be fine. I twirl and spin in my head as he picks up his keys and his phone and makes for the door. Exit stage right, I call out loudly from behind the scenes. The crowd applauds, begging for an encore.

One last song and the roar erupts from the bathroom taps as I turn on the light. Tesco light pink razors wait patiently, the glint of the blade catching my eye much as I try to turn away. The light dims and the crowds head home, to beat the traffic most likely. I run the bath and browse my phone, no calls, texts from Marco and Julia. Another performance next week.

The bath turns red. The crowd long since gone, I revel in the silence. One more song? Alright, but only a short one.

EXIT STAGE RIGHT.

Kira Nelson was born in Sidcup, UK and raised in Orpington until the age of nine, when she moved to the Middle East. She generally writes either poetry based on her own life experiences or protest poems covering important world events and injustice. She is also in the process of writing several novels alongside pursuing a BA Creative Writing degree at Brunel University London. You can follow her on Instagram @babyfacekiki_

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