Cambridge Short Story Prize 2020, deadline 15th June - £2,350 prize fund

Second Place in the Cambridge Flash Fiction Prize 2020

 

A row of text like the Star Wars opening crawl scrolled on a big screen right behind my eyes, on repeat, in yellow, in white, in gold, bold. The words crawled for a very long time, scratching the walls of my skull like a knife-point being dragged across glass.

The instructions were clear: Remove sleeve. Pierce several times. And those same instructions scrolled on and on and on and on and over and over and over again and so I did: I removed my sleeve and pierced several times with a paring knife. Stab stab stab stab. The blade bypassed bone, drove straight through to the other side of my skinny arm. Stab stab stab. How many times is “several” anyway?

I didn’t stir (the instructions didn’t mention anything about stirring halfway through), I just sat perfectly still and let myself marinate in a bloodbath, pretty in my party dress, with sawdust in my hair and the dead spider on the wall, and watched the Star Wars-esque crawl gradually fade into nothingness. You found me eventually.

What the hell are you doing in the attic?

I can’t remem—

JESUS CHRIST, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!

Well, it said, “remove sleeve” and “pierce several times” so I did.

NOT ON YOUR ARM, YOU SILLY COW!

I was just following the instruc—

YOU ARE NOT A MICROWAVE MEAL!

I’m sorry, but th—

YOU ARE NOT A FUCKING LASAGNE!

Every now and then you email me to remind me that I am not a lasagne. I am not a lasagne. I am not a microwaveable meal. I am not your problem anymore. I am not a lasagne. I am no longer yours. I am not a lasagne. I am not well, but I am also not a lasagne. I am not a lasagne. I am not a fucking lasagne.

***

HLR writes poetry and short prose based on her own experiences living with mental illness, grief, trauma, and addiction. Her work has featured in In Parentheses, Constellate Literary Journal, Dear Damsels, Anti-Heroin Chic, and many others. Her experimental piece ‘On The Cusp’ was shortlisted in Lunate’s Flash 500 competition. HLR was born and raised in north London and is yet to escape. Read more at www.treacleheart.com or on Twitter @treacleheartx 


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