Brighton Festival, nabokov and exclusive short story writing competition based on the Brighton Festival 2017 theme of ‘Everyday Epic’. Competition entries extracts.

The Beginner’s Guide To Being Arrested

I worried about being ‘on the system’. I wasn’t online – I didn’t have broadband, Facebook or Twitter – they just it weren’t for me. I’d given up on the landline as it was too expensive and just use a pay-as-you-go mobile phone. When it rings it’s always a random cold caller and I can barely text. It takes me ages to send just a couple of words. I’d kind of lost contact with the world and now I was suddenly thrown into the 21st century by biometric data.

After the samples and prints had been taken it was back to the cell. I fell asleep to be woken up and asked if I would like dinner? I said “no” thinking it was still morning and this was some trick to confuse me. I developed a mindset that everyone was against me. I had gone out that morning, been attacked then gone home but my place-of-safety had been intruded upon by police arresting me.

The hatch in the cell door slammed open waking me. I’d fallen asleep sitting up again.

“Your Solicitor will be here in forty minutes”, someone shouted through the hatch then slammed it shut. It was no good knowing that. I didn’t have a watch on. I waited in the cell in which the temperature was now unbearably hot. I decided to go to the toilet ignoring the overhead camera. Immediately after I had finished, the cell door opened. “Your duty solicitor is here”, the custody assistant said.

(Matt, Shoreham By Sea)


On the Threshold

On the threshold, Emily told herself: you can become the version of you that’s needed, send another letter, take one more step forward. She took it, and closed her front door quietly behind her, for the sake of neighbours who’d never noticed her. Once again, the street smelled of last night but the sky was pink with possibility.

Passing across the square, she recognised, from identical mornings, another early riser. He didn’t see her smile, was too busy examining the inside of his frown. There is always tomorrow, she thought.

She was right on time for the park, and ready for the dog walker’s half-hearted salute, which might really be no more than a shaking of the leash. She threw her first ever greeting, but it fell short. The walker didn’t turn to pick it up, didn’t wait to see what might happen next. But a word had been spoken, and that was better than yesterday.

(Jenny, Lewes)

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