We are delighted to publish the winners of the Great Xpectations short story competition hosted by Xpress.
50-word category winner – Eve Davies
Nan and The Orange
Tommy sat upon the grass in his uniform daubed with milk, splats of paint and mud, munching on a tangerine. Its mist glistened in the afternoon sun. He chatted to air, dropping scraps of pith next to him.
When Mum came to sit beside him, he shouted, ‘Mum! You’re squishing Nan.’
Listen to the story here.
500-word category winner – Alice Clifford
The purple sphere was nestled in a crease of Erin’s hand and left specks of purple residue as her palm began to sweat. This was the fourth time she had tried to take the pill that day and she was determined this time she would do it. As she finally swallowed it, she grappled with the consequences of her actions. Could she ever be the same after?
There was then a painful moment of nothingness. Erin looked around at the yellow walls of her and her husband’s bedroom. While when first painted the colour seemed warm, it now looked, in want of another word, off. If queasiness was a colour it was the colour of that wall. As she squinted at the yellow monstrosity, she noticed her vision blurring. The doctor at the trial centre advised that participants had someone with them when taking the pill, but the thought of telling her husband about what the pill did left her dizzy and breathless. So, she sat there alone.
Suddenly the room fell away, and her eyes fluttered closed. When she opened them, the room was gone, and a chaotic street filled her vision. Her eyes fell on a man playing the saxophone. The man then grew closer as Erin seemed to move towards him. She then saw her hand, which wasn’t her hand, and instead a man’s hand, throw a £5 note in a tattered hat. While she could see the performer, she couldn’t hear him. Neither could she hear the revving of cars and the unharmonious chatter around her. Momentarily she was startled, then she recalled the doctor telling her, and the twenty other volunteers, that while she could see through their eyes, she wouldn’t feel or hear anything.
Her vision changed again, as the man continued down the street. As he checked his watch, Erin checked his watch, a watch that resembled the watch of her husband. In fact, the exact same watch as her husband’s. The watch that told her she only had 6 minutes until the pill, that allowed her to see through her soulmate’s eyes, wore off. She continued to follow his gaze and began to recognise her surroundings. She was right by her house. Her soulmate was right by her house. Her soulmate was wearing her husband’s watch.
Suddenly, she was facing her front door. Her stomach somersaulted. A piercing shriek of the doorbell then echoed around the house. Forgetfulness was one of her husband’s biggest flaws. She panicked at her inability to move. Surely, she didn’t have much time left, so she shouted out ‘I will just be a minute’. Suddenly the door faded and a tie-dye swirl of blue and red emerged from the darkness, until she was looking at the mouldy yellow of her bedroom wall.
Erin ran downstairs, grabbing hold of the banisters tightly and opened the door. But as she looked at the face in front of her, she didn’t see her husband, she saw his brother.
Listen to the story here.
Information about the judges:
- Juliette Nicholls: ex Heart producer and now owner of Pineapple Productions.
- Luke Franks and Sean Thorne: Luke is a presenter on CITV Scrambled and is a Sony Rising Star award winner. Sean presents the Fun Kids breakfast show, hosted a 120k subscriber YouTube channel and is a Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award nominee. Their debut kids novel Jamie McFlair & The Boyband Generator releases on March 4th 2021!
- Jude Garner: English teacher (working with asylum seekers), writer and playwright.