A series featuring writers whose work was published in early issues of Flash Frontier
First piece published here?
April 2013 | HIGH TIDE
The oranges kept rolling out, one by one by one, until they covered the whole floor.
It all began when I asked at the dairy where the storage facility was, and they directed me to this warehouse near the beach.
I knocked on the door and a hoarse voice called out, “Come in ya landlubber”.
Sitting on a rocking chair was a very old man with a bright orange scarf tied around his head and dressed in what looked like a pirate’s outfit, a hook for a left hand, an eye patch over his left eye, his right eye glaring at me.
“Ya want a locker? Well, got one over there,” and he pointed with his hook to a huge chest covered with barnacles. “Ya lucky, came up the beach on the spring tide this morning, once ya clean it out ya’ll have more room than you could possibly use.”
I opened the chest and that’s when the oranges came rolling out, thousands of them.
Amazed, I turned to the old man who was smoking a joint, he winked at me and said, “I’m getting high and sailing on the next tide.”
He was never seen again.
With the endless supply of oranges, I’ve turned the warehouse into a marmalade factory, selling Spring Tide Marmalade to the Dairy owner, and whenever I make a delivery he gives me a wink, and I’m reminded of someone that I knew, long long ago.
At the time you published your first story at Flash Frontier, what were you writing, and how did you come to flash fiction?
My writing has always had a poetry focus and honestly Michelle I can’t remember who it was that suggested I have a look at Flash Frontier. I was invited to sit on the Canterbury Poets Collective Committee early in 2013 so it may have been James Norcliffe who was the Chair. I remember my first submission. At the top of the page I wrote, and in fact still do.
Theme High Tide
Then I wrote
The oranges tumbled out until they had covered the whole floor.
I thought, I don’t know where that came from, but I’ll go with it.
That story was accepted and I thought, that was a buzz. I’ll do it again.
My next submission you got back to me and said, Teoti, it reads like a first draft. And you were right – it was. Your observation helped me to see the craft that is required in order to become a proficient writer, which I will keep practising to be for the rest of life.
I can’t find the right words to say that there is no end to attaining the goal of becoming a perfect writer. The unobtainable-ness of it is why it is so satisfyingly exciting to begin a piece chasing that goal that can never be reached.
What are you writing now, and where has your literary career taken you?
My longest short story was one that made the Long List in the Pacific category for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. That was quite an honour.
Flash Frontier has sharpened my editing skills which has flowed on to my poetry writing and been very beneficial. Most recently, I’ve seen a piece featured in the National Flash Fiction Day 2022 Phantom Billstickers series.
Could you share a newer piece?
Inanahi | Yesterday
From the 2022 NFFD Phantom Billstickers series, June 2022
I ngā rā e whai ake nei, te rūwhenua.
Kāore he aukati ake, te totoro tuwhera, Inanahi.
I te wā Inanahi, i tauawhi te mokemoketanga ki ahau.
I putu mai taku mihi, he mihi tawhito. I korowaitia ai i a mātou, i roto
i ngā roimata, kua ngaro i te whakamarie.
I hangaia ahau, he waka.
Hoea atu mātou, tēnēi waka i runga Ī te noho puku, ki te takutai o Āpōpō.
Yesterday stayed open stretching itself without inhibition into all the days that
followed the quake.
I hadn’t the strength to close it; neither, it seemed, had anyone else.
When yesterday embraced me with its loneliness I made my mihi, my ancient
greeting, and we wrapped ourselves around each other lost in a sea of consolation.
I built a boat, asked yesterday to accompany me.
We rowed in silence towards the shoreline where tomorrow waited.
Te Reo Māori translation by Joseph Wakefield, Ngāi Tahu
Teoti Jardine is Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe, Kai Tahu, Irish and Scottish. His poetry is published in London Grip, Ora Nui and Catalyst, and his short stories in Flash Frontier. He lives with his dog Amie in Riverton /Aparima on the South Island.
Photo credit Jane Sutherland; Ta Moko Artist Riki Manuel, Ngāti Porou