Flash Frontier

Micro Madness 2023 – The Long List

Interviews and Features

From hundreds of submissions, the long list of 37 stories was selected by judges Kathy Fish and Mikaela Nyman. We hope you enjoy the startling nature of the micro with these stories! And for the 22 short-listed works, please go here.

As the hearse pulls away,

Rebecca Ball


I want to run after it. To grab that silver handle, the casket, pull it
all to the road, asphalt and stone.

I look to the harbour: the green, the grey, the pulsing blue. Imagine running, kicking shoes to the grass, leaping twisted driftwood pews, dried sprays of rope, kelp, curling karengo. Scattering crowds of flickering crabs. Casting white-faced herons like kites to the sun.  Warm mud wraps my feet. This jetty my ribs. Te Ahu Pātiki my spine. Spray of cloudy waves on my cheeks. Cry of oystercatchers on my tongue.

Rebecca Ball is a poetry and fiction writer from Ōtautahi Christchurch. She has contributed to a range of journals including Landfall, London Grip, Poetry Aotearoa Yearbook, Turbine | Kapohau, Mayhem, Flash Frontier and takahē, as well as special anthologies like No Other Place to Stand: An Anthology of Climate Change Poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand and More than a roof: Housing, in poems and prose.

Driving to Dunedin

Lynda Scott Araya


“Was that a dead body?” she asked. “A foot. Black shoe. Wrapped in a duvet?” He had barely turned his head. She knew that he did not love her. Would dismiss her, even when she had seen what looked like a corpse, one bare leg straight out getting rained on. He told her no. Explained at length why nobody would dispose of a corpse there, as though he had thought about it, drawn up a list of possible places, their pros and cons.

But in the rear-view mirror she saw a car stopped, a woman screaming down a phone.

Lynda Scott Araya is a short fiction writer and teacher from rural New Zealand. She has recently completed a poetic memoir, “The Air Between Us” which is yet to be published. She has recently been published by Tangled Locks (Moonbites) and has work forthcoming with Colossus Press.

From dreams to bits of me

Tracie Lark


Every morning, I murder a million little things. (From dreams to) mosquitoes and flies, things the rain brings. Except this morning – I allow them to bite, blow, and suck blood. I watch a spider spin (bits of me), leaving little corpse hammocks in pockets of my ceiling. The fresh kill attracts a second spider, poised for the pounce; they fight.

Dreamsnatchers, preserving moments of still life through the conflict they induce.

Another rainy day (and still no pennies), surviving (spent on rationed thoughts and ideas of future imaginings – ).

Every morning, a million little things (murder me).

Tracie Lark grew up on Worimi country NSW, and now lives near Whangārei. She teaches high school English, as well as the odd microfiction workshop. Her poetry and fiction can be found in various online and print anthologies including Curiouser Magazine, Fast Fibres, Earthwords & Artlings (AELA) and Live Encounters.


It skipped like a stone casually flung

Charlotte Hamrick


Crows were screeching murder in a live oak. We laughed at the ruckus. That night a haunting of foghorns echoed from the restless river. I dreamed of secrets she held captive in silt, of chained chattel, of ghosts clawing clawing clawing at her banks. In the hour that claimed your life I was walking down the aisles at Rouse’s gathering ingredients for etouffee – onion, bell pepper, celery – a trinity, they call it. You left me at ten o’clock on a Saturday morning while planting petunias. Bad luck needs no cracked mirrors or waiting ladders when an errant bullet will do.

Charlotte Hamrick’s creative writing has been published in a number of online and print journals, recently including Still: The Journal, Louisiana Literature, Trampset and in the Best Small Fictions 2022 anthology. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and a menagerie of rescued pets.

Only time will tell

Caroline Greene


When the tremendous storm washed away the sands where they’d first kissed and Maia learnt they’d been standing over petrified footprints of a Stegosaurus, she remembered the shudder she’d felt as she met Kai’s lips and when she looked at where they’d lain in the wet sand and saw they’d been fumbling above fallen branches from a prehistoric forest, she wondered if they’d sensed the soggy wood below or whether the discomfort was just an inkling of everything to come that was now firmly buried in their past, hidden from everyone they knew, beyond the reach of any unexpected weather.

Caroline Greene @cgreene100 is the winner of the 2022 Bath Novella-in-Flash Award for Lessons at the Water’s Edge, published by Ad Hoc Fiction. Her short stories and flash fiction have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including the forthcoming NFFD anthology in the UK. Caroline lives in London, UK.

Saturday at the reclamation yard

Jude Higgins


Not knowing what we want, we walk past stone lions and frogs. Another couple piles several cement cherubs into the boot of their Jag.The woman is designer-thin, the man has pouty lips, like a seedy Cupid.

‘We’re all trying to reclaim something,’ I say, picking up a pipe- smoking gnome. ‘This reminds me of Dad.’

Smoking and bad temper killed him but I find a female gnome, faded like Mum, carrying a tray of tea and biscuits. I buy them both. At home, we paint them in bright colours.

By the pond, restored, they look almost happy, like us.

Jude Higgins organises is widely published in magazine and has been placed and won prizes in contests for her flash fiction. Her chapbook, The Chemist’s House, was published in 2017 by V.Press. She runs Bath Flash Fiction Award and directs Ad Hoc Fiction and Flash Fiction Festivals UK.


Martin Porter


The first time he saw her she was hand in hand with her younger sister. Now he lay beside her.

“You are such a delicate girl” he said.

“…delicate woman” she murmured.

“Not like the others” he added.

They ate supper, listened to the newscast. Roads were blocked, snow drifting with a risk of avalanches. He was trapped with her.

“A delicate girl” she murmured, settling in for the night, “not like the others”.

By morning she had gone.

On the journey home he could no longer visualise her, just her sister’s shape lightly impressed into the melting white blanket.

Jersey born Martin Porter moved to Wells, UK, from Whangarei, New Zealand. He has been active in the micro-prose and poetry community over the last decade, with a particular interest in non- and semi-narrative fiction. His work has been published in journals in Britain, USA and New Zealand.


Splitting birch logs for the woodstove

Tom Gadd


Why bring her to the cabin? She’s gone already. Wandered off and the lake right there, though without ripples. Out the front door, then, to yell her name in the forest. To warn off bears that may find her first. But she’s right outside at the woodshed. Swinging the axe that now seems as big as her. Splitting birch logs. Letting the axe do the work the way her father taught her eighty years ago. All that split wood piling up over the years like her memories once did. Only to be burned. To keep us all warm.

Tom Gadd lives in Kanata, Canada (which sounds more like the beginning of a drumroll than a place name), where he writes fiction mainly for the “Draft Folder” market that resides on his computer’s desktop and in several USB sticks.

Still time

Janean Cherkun


Helen swam the pool in widths. Her flatmate Candice traversed lengths, allowing for the grittiness of tendons to ease after a kilometre, gliding thereafter. Molly in town, waiting at the shallow end, updated Candice on her brother whom Candice had loved. Nearly enough to hook up with in school; not quite, by milliseconds. He’d gone city-side. Dead some years now. Candice shook, close to the twenty-length muscle memory tipping point.

Others were there, harnessing exercise and gossip. Helen had known the same boy/man from church and caught the news much later. Candice swam until closing time, then slept for days.     

Janean Cherkun lives in Otago, works a lot and writes when she can. One day though, the kids will leave home. Janean hopes then the cat will also shriek and disappear when she asks, “Can I read you a wee story I wrote?” or she won’t know which way is up.


Deb Jowitt


The sea has taken our beach. People say it will come back, lazy days under the spreading pōhutukawa will return. Tides will flow in and out over sand, rather than reefs of black rock. Darting kids, quick-bodied, flighty, will reappear like summer swallows, always moving, never still.

Our sense of belonging. Of place.

Thick strands of salt-burnt kikuyu cling to the serrated coastline. Sandstone cliffs rise sharply behind. Narrow paths teeter over slippery banks. Storm-scoured clay lies exposed in old stream beds.

The earth spins on, rearranging the scenery. What we think of as ours is just biding its time.

Deb Jowitt lives in Parua Bay, Tai Tokerau/Northland. Birds, wind, and weather are constants of the local seascape and often find their way into her writing. Flash and micro are her favourite mediums for exploring the world and the ways we respond to it.

Taking heed

Diane Simmons


“I fancy Alan. But he fancies Trish,” I tell Granny.

People say my granny’s wise. Neighbours queue up to have tea at her house, to listen.

“Come away in,” she says to them, her eyes twinkling as she pockets the coins they press into her palm. When I ask her why she takes money from friends, she says bread doesn’t butter itself.

I beg her to read my tea leaves, to give me some advice, to tell me if Alan will ever fancy me back.

She pours me a coffee. “He likes Trish. That’s just how it goes.”

Diane Simmons from the UK, is the author of Finding A Way (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2019), a flash collection on the theme of grief, and a historical novella-in-flash An Inheritance (V. Press, 2020). Widely published and placed in numerous competitions, she is Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day (UK).

The bee and the sun

Bronwen Griffiths


The bee makes herringbone patterns in the blue water. Like a small boat, lost at sea, with a cargo of refugees.

I scoop it up in the palm of my hand and deposit it at the pool’s edge. It shivers and flutters its wings in the warm sunlight.

They say the bottom of the sea is cold and dark and only those who believe in the life ever after find eternal sunlight there.

The number of refugees who have drowned seeking safety is unknown.

The bee, feeling freedom, flies up towards the sun.

Bronwen Griffiths is the author of two published collections of flash fiction and two novels. Her flash fiction has been published online and in a number of print anthologies. She has also written two novellas-in-flash, one of which was shortlisted for the Bath Award. She lives in East Sussex, UK.

The long way home

Judy Darley


The river’s as swollen as a well-fed grub. Motorbike parts silt in the rushes. Below the surface, glass eels darken. Walking alone I feel far from you, though you’re wait at our new one-level home for me to tend you.

With strides worth half a mile, I pass three bridges, my eyes ablaze with graffiti, ears full of robins’ territorial ticks and the Dogs’ Home chorus. Ahead, a young spaniel unspools around our old neighbour. When they ask about your recovery from the crash, I say good, good, but I must hurry back before the sky opens.

Judy Darley is a British fiction writer, poet and journalist who can’t stop writing about the fallibilities of the human mind. She’s the author of collections Sky Light Rain (Valley Press) and Remember Me to the Bees (Tangent Books). The Stairs are a Snowcapped Mountain will be published by Reflex Press in March 2022. Find Judy at http://www.skylightrain.com and https://twitter.com/JudyDarley.

The park

Sheree Shatsky


A bow tie and a purse cross a walking bridge. The two stroll and smile past dolls weaving masks with broken sunglasses. She clenches her new dress gloves. His shirt buttons pinch his chest. He is an elevator of a man with a clear face. She, a constellation of anxious dance steps. He floats to his knees and frees a dragonfly trapped in hidden curtains. Chain smokers macramé the couple’s luxurious kiss. A duchess wearing a plaid cap offers celebatory flutes of champagne from a marble side table. No one notices a toddler stumble over a set of funny faces.

Sheree Shatsky writes wild words. Her novella-in-flash Summer 1969 is forthcoming at Ad Hoc Fiction. Sheree calls Florida home and is a Tom Petty fan. Read more of her writing at shereeshatsky.com and find her on Twitter @talktomememe.


Jo Cocker


Dirty ochre clouds swallow the sky casting an amber hue. The air is thick, syrupy, cloying at my skin. I can hear the sharp snap and crackle of flames. Catch glimpses of them as they flit in and out of the trees on the ridgeline, like tigers stalking their prey downhill.

Dry grasses rustle with urgency, shimmering xanthous waves. I hurry to the car, my bag stuffed full with things of little worth but rich in sentimental value.

Driving away. The house recedes in the rearview mirror. Its white walls tinged with sepia, as though already lost to the past.

Jo Cocker lives and writes in Auckland.

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