• Mary Decker

ATA Flash Fiction Results 2019-03

It's not always easy to look at a picture and come up with a story, that's part of the challenge of prompts - not only in choosing them, but in using them. You have to look beyond the obvious and find a story that can stand alone without the image.

Another big challenge for this entry was the word limit. Telling a story can be hard enough, but this challenge included an exact word count of 300. An exact word count involves tweaking the story and the challenge of finding the right words to convey the thoughts.

This week's winner, Mark Morris' story hit the mark in more than one way - he told a poetic story of relationships and how they change over the years... the spice of life.

Well done, Mark!


by Mark A Morris

I never realised spices had a shelf-life until I began cooking. Not even desiccated husks last forever. For some, the presence of death intensifies them, adding a potency to the life they once had, but others fade quickly, becoming pale and grey. Even the ones which become brighter eventually turn, corruption taking away the qualities we seek. All of life is there in a cook’s spice-box. Subtlety and passion, pungency and the slow burn which takes time to manifest.

When we first met, you were like cardamom. I sensed you from a distance and saw the fire behind your eyes. You were sweet, that was what attracted me, but your flame was what kept my attention. I was infused – I thought I could never have enough of you. I desired the flavours you brought to my life.

After a while you became like salt. A basic, staple addition to everything I did. When I woke in the morning, I’d look for you, sensing you more by your omission than by my knowing it when you were there. Everything seemed better when we were together; there was nothing that couldn’t be enhanced by the barest hint of you. I became greedy for you; demanding you spend more of your time with me. I took and I took, and I took from you, mining you deeply for the life you added to mine, knowing it would be colourless and bland without yours.

And now the box might as well be empty. Even the canisters we’d thought to be air-tight and proofed against change have failed. The flavours which we thought would be our staples have died, twisted and mutated away from what we remembered, the light and colours of our past much brighter than the flavourless mulch we’re both gagging upon now

Congratulations, Mark! Well done. Tune in tomorrow for the next installment of: The ATA Flash Fiction contest with special Judge C. Stuart Marshall

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