Caroline Jenner is the winner of the Flash Fiction category in the 2022 Hysteria Writing Competition. Her story’s full title is At Peace With Myself in the Chaos of Half-Started Projects. You can find her story, along with the other winners and finalists from each category in the Hysteria 9 anthology.
Listen to the recording
Read by Steven Patchett during the Hysteria 9 launch party.
Read the story
The ironing board hovers alongside the overflowing clothes basket, half hidden by a parlour plant. Triffid like, as if planning their escape, waxy leaves spread across the growing piles of mending. An ancient, red jumper, which may or may not be going to a charity shop, sits alongside piles of notebooks, some filled, some half started, teetering precariously on the chest of drawers. Bead and button boxes sit expectantly, waiting to be opened. A lifetime’s supply of wool tumbles out from behind a full length mirror: brilliant colours; a rainbow of textures; my fingers itch to begin new projects.
At the end of the bed odd, unpaired socks ingratiate themselves with each. The distant hum of traffic interrupted occasionally by a magpie’s squawk, the click of a distant computer, the scratch of my pen; a patchwork of sounds wallpapering my room. Standing sentry, the fan is a reminder of hot sunny days as we slip quietly into Autumn.
A cross stitch of the Last Supper, barely started, encircled by its wooden hoop, prods a guilty thought of a promise made last year to make a fresh start, complete projects, tidy up. The pink satchel, full of sheet music, peers accusingly at me – a reminder of another interest pushed onto a back burner.
My pen scratches across the page – before me on the bed my hand touches fur, the peaceful breathing of a contented tabby. Everything can wait, this is my time to write.
Caroline Jenner, retired English teacher and would be short story writer, lives in South London. She particularly enjoys the challenge of micro fiction and exploring the concise nature of a complete story in a few words. Her work has been published by Free Flash Fiction, Sweetycat Press and Pure Slush. She has been longlisted for the Retreat West Monthly Micro Fiction Competition, and shortlisted for Globe Soup, Cranked Anvil, Writers Magazine, Secret Attic and in 2021 came second in the Hastings Writing Room Two Halves Flash Fiction Competition.
You can meet Caroline on Twitter @carolinejenner3