Who will win the Flash Fiction Prize: John Chidi, Jacqueline Uche Agweh or Kuti Ojuolape Modupe?
Flash fiction works are without doubt enjoyable, especially when the writer gets it right. This style of writing usually starts in the middle and aims to surprise the reader with a shocking or unexpected end. In today’s fast paced world where communication is instant, thanks to smart devices, Internet and other innovative technologies, some readers enjoy consuming information in bite-sized chunks. This is why the flash fiction category is important to the prestigious Etisalat Prize for Literature. In this category, only 300 words are required. For 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature, John Chidi, Jacqueline Uche Agweh or Kuti Ojuolape Modupe have been shortlisted for the Flash Fiction Category. The winner of this category will receive a cash prize of £1,000, a high-end device and will have his or her published e-book promoted online and via SMS. The two runners up will receive £500 as cash prize (each) and high-end devices. See the entries of the shortlisted winners below: Kuti Ojuolape Modupe – Gone. Her beauty was unfair, un-fair, an ebony thing, but that wasn’t the reason I loved her. It was not the way she curled her finger around her hair when she was nervous or how she flicked my nose when she was upset with me. It was not her voracious appetite for trouble which seemed to always have a way of finding her, nor the way she always made me late for work with her morning shenanigans. It was not even the soft feel of her hands when we touched or the butterflies I felt when when kissed. No, it was that I had fallen for her at all. I wasn’t sure if I had fallen all at once or if I had like a thousand crystal shards of broken glass. It was the way she made me feel things I had never felt before. Love. A strangeness. An uncertainty. Yet, my love for her was a jumping thing, never stable, like her. And that was why when her cupboard was bereft save for a note, I already knew what it would say. She was gone. Jacqueline Uche-Agweh – Madness in Degrees ‘’What’s wrong? Dr Ogbe asks our patient, Naturi. ‘’Nothing!’’ Naturi snaps back. ‘’Something’s wrong, but I won’t force you to talk.’’ “Just leave me alone!’’ ‘’Fine,’’Dr Ogbe replies, and ignoring Naturi’s petulance, her fingers tap away at her keyboard. Both women subsequently lapse into silence and Naturi’s full lips curl into a hard line. Silently, I watch the drama. I am, after all, assistant psychiatric doctor, and I have come to understand the thinness between sanity and mental neurosis. Naturi is a beautiful 19 year old girl, a vivacious creature with a head filled with things you wouldn’t believe. Once, she claimed a voice had told her to dance; and did she dance? Really, I believe we are all mad in degrees, but only become patients when overly ambitious in our pursuits. Naturi’s face goes from indignation, to scorn, and finally to misery. And maybe hoping for solace in a man, our eyes lock, and with tears trickling down her face, she cries out, ‘’I am in love! But my heart is broken.” Dr Ogbe looks up at her now. ‘’I met him at Sophie’s,’’ she says softly, heart-broken. ‘’His name is Chizzy.’’ ‘’What is the problem?’’ Dr Ogbe asks, with practiced patience. “He keeps staring at another woman.” Puzzled, Dr Ogbe hands her a tissue and books her another appointment. After work later that afternoon, I see Naturi standing in front of Sophie’s boutique, eyes fixed on the lovely clothes displayed in the show glass. Curious, I linger and watch her gapping at the clothes, or so I thought at first until I drew closer. Two exquisite pale mannequins are displayed; one male, the other female, plastic arms touching, and both staring eternally into each other’s eyes. Embroidered on the male’s shirt is the name, Chizzy! John Chidi – Invincible I cheated death tonight. The third time in the 1, 390 weeks, 5 days and eleven hours I have spent on this planet. A sedan, headlamps off, was doing no less than 80kmph in my direction. I leaped. A screech, as rubber fought asphalt then a loud thud and a crash, followed. I was safe. The cretin! What on earth…? My body was shaking in wonderment–and alarm. Sweat broke out on my crown while my heart, pounded with tumbadora intensity. I was grateful to be invincible… The first time, I was seven months old. Mother told me I was prone to lurching. I did that one day in the maid’s arms. She was only seven, with no experience in those matters. I fell and hit my head on a slab. I suffered intracranial haemorrhage and was in a coma for 10 days. The second time was after final exams in the university. Stress and exhaustion had reconfigured almost everyone in our clique into images of kwashiorkor onset–protruding heads, sunken eyes and bony frames. A picnic was prescribed. The lagoon, our destination, was nearby. The idea was eat, chat and laze. At some point, we, mostly the guys, decided to swim. And swim we did. When the others came out of the water I didn’t. A fisherman rescued me; I’d gotten entangled in a net. Since then, my life’s been relatively without incident until tonight. I looked beyond the gathered crowd. The car had come to rest against a concrete pole, bonnet twisted in agony, engine emitting steam upwards and dripping water below. The driver’s seatbelt-less torso had borne the impact. My wife was pushing through the throng. My gaze followed where her attention was directed. There was something, no someone, lying unnaturally on the ground. It was me.