We’ve wrapped up the judging of the Third Annual QSF Flash Fiction Contest, so we’ll be sharing the top stories – first the top three, then the individual Judge’s Choice stories – something new we are doing this year. We had some fantastic submissions this year – congrats to everyone! All stories were limited to 300 words max, with the theme “flight”.
These stories will all appear in the forthcoming “Flight” anthology – more details soon.
Our fifth Judge’s Choice story is Jenn Burke’s pick: John Allenson’s sweet metaphorical flight story – congrats, John! Here’s the story – enjoy it, and see Jenn’s comment at the end.
Walking on Air
by John Allenson
The first time he smiled at me my feet stopped hurting for a moment. I barely noticed. I was mesmerised by the little gap between his top two teeth which just stopped him from being way too perfect.
The first time we went out on a date it was raining. He leaned close into me so we could share the same way-too-small umbrella which meant we both got wet from the knees down. We kissed goodnight in the lobby of my apartment building. When I reached my charmless rat-hole of an apartment I noticed that only the tops of my sneakers were soaked, the soles were bone dry.
Stairs stopped creaking when I climbed on them.
There were times when I turned back into my old heavy leaden self.
One day we went for a hike in the park. I looked back and saw only his footprints. I took his hand and trudged along, the both of us leaving a trail behind.
He told me that he wasn’t out to his parents so he would introduce me as just his ‘friend’. The gravity of the situation dragged down my bones so hard that all of me slumped. The sidewalk would crack under my feet. Then when we met his family, he stammered for a moment after telling them my name, before saying ‘he’s my boyfriend’. I stood up taller as the weight left my shoulders.
After that Sunday dinner, he changed as well. The next time we went for a walk in the park, I looked back and saw no footprints behind us. I knew then that he felt the same for me that I felt for him. I grabbed his hand so if we both floated off we’d stay together.
Jenn says: I loved the magical realism feel of this story. Everyone’s felt the metaphorical lift of high spirits and the gravity of disappointment, and this story captures that feeling perfectly. It’s a wonderful illustration of the idea that you can lighten your load by being honest and true to yourself. Thanks, John!