Mairead Breen from Warrenpoint is the winner of the inaugural flash fiction competition run by Down News. The theme was “Lockdown.”
Her domestic family scene is one so familiar in everyday life in lockdown in many homes experiencing the sudden impact of having to live cheek and jowl together 24/7. A woman may have to day’s work to do then is expected to do another day’s work doing the household chores writes Jim Masson, Down News editor.
Well, Mairead’s main character is having none of that. Her piece touches on the disorientation that the lockdown has brought, and the increased pressure on some family members (mum), who has a teenage son with a sleep problem (too much!) and a husband who is verging on misogeny.
The husbands expectation for all to be done for him is shattered when she bosses him up to sleep with his son upstairs for a two week forced lockdown of her own.
It’s not about domestic bliss, but a humourous glimpse at ordinary people living together in confined spaces, under many hidden and not so hidden pressures.
The narrative flows well, the style is colloquial Belfast, and the diction is in the present. This piece ticks the boxes well from a judging point-of-view, and has a good ending.
So a very well done to Mai Breen for her polished and entertaining effort. Excellent! She will receive a £50 book token sponsored by Down News for Waterstones, Belfast. (Purchases can be made online if necessary during the lockdown.)
In second place was Sam Blair from Killyleagh. She will receive a £25 book token.
In third place was Csilla Toldy from Rostrevor. She will receive a £25 book token.
And a special prize goes to Esme Morrow (9) from Killyleagh, a book token for Waterstones.
Jim Masson, Down News editor, said: “Thank you to all the contributors. I hope you enjoyed and learned from the writing experience, and I hope to hear from you all about this time next year and once again enjoy your contributions in this free competition sponsored by Down News.
“Good luck and I hope you write many more enjoyable stories in the months ahead!“
Keep well and keep safe!
‘A Trying Time’ by Mairead Breen.
‘Is that fella still in bed?’
‘Sure, he might as well catch up on his sleep. Isn’t the lad bored stiff these days, with this auld virus?’
‘I’ve plenty for him to do!’
‘Ach, chill out, why don’t ye!’
‘You two can just loll about these days. Well for yez! I’m run off my feet, cookin’, and cleanin’ up yer messes. It’s shockin’ yez never learned to clean up after yerselves.’
‘Why would we? Haven’t we got you fussin’ about after us the day long? Look, ye missed that crumb there under the coffee table!’
‘Give over! That fence needs a lick o’ paint now that ye’ve time on yer hands. The paint’s still in the shed since last year, when ye said ye hadn’t time. Ye’ve plenty now.’
‘Aye. I might make a start after I get me lunch. What’s for lunch anyway?’
‘Let’s see … how about a bowl of Make-Your-Own Soup? Or a couple of Eggs a la DIY?’
‘You expect me to make me own lunch!’
‘Why not? Ye wanta eat, ye gotta work! New rule for you and Sleeping Beauty above!’
‘Aw, come on! D’you know what I was just thinkin’ ? If I’m out painting that fence, auld Robbie next door will be over for the craic. I’d never be able to keep me social distance. Maybe I should leave it.’
‘Here’s what I’m thinkin’ … you need to practice yer social distancin’. So, go sleep in the spare room for a couple of weeks!’
The prize winners’ flash fiction articles will be posted individually in the afternoon following this announcement.
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