This August I won the Word Factory’s monthly flash fiction contest, which has the on-going theme of citizenship, identity and belonging, with my story ‘Other People’ A lot of people like the story. It’s been lovely to get that feedback on social media. I mentioned on Twitter, in response to a query, that it had been inspired by garden gnomes. Reviled so much for making peoples’ front gardens vulgar, they are now making a comeback. I saw a row of them in a posh Art Gallery near Bruton, Somerset last April. The exhibition, in a reference to Aldous Huxley, was called ‘Brave New World’ so it wasn’t actually a celebration of kitsch.
The characters in my story, who are all lonely, live in different places and gain comfort from different solitary activities. The narrator likes the presence of the garden gnomes, the ‘tiny cheerful men’ in her garden. Although they are alone, all these people are connected by their relationship with the moon. Which gives some hope.
The piece was also prompted by an invitation from a member of my ‘Flash Follies’ online flash fiction writers’ group, for everyone to write something in the second person, an article I read about a pod of stranded whales, and my hairdresser, who during the time of the meteor showers last year, told me she and her boyfriend parked up in a lay-by, climbed on the roof of their car and lay flat to watch the shooting stars. I thought that was a wonderful thing to do.
I would absolutely love to read ‘Other People’ at a Word Factory event, something which has been indicated as a possibility for winners. So I hope that comes off.