WOW! Women On Writing Flash Fiction Contest Winners!

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WOW! Fall 2021 Flash Fiction Contest Winners


We had an open prompt this season. Our only guidelines were that the entries be fiction with a minimum of 250 words, and a maximum of 750 words. So, enjoy the creativity and diversity!


Thanks to our Guest Judge:

Literary Agent Erin Clyburn

Literary Agent Erin Clyburn

WOW was honored to have guest judge literary agent Erin Clyburn choose this season’s top winners. Thank you, Erin, for sharing your time and efforts to make these contestants’ dreams come true!

Erin’s bio:

Erin joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as Associate Literary Agent in 2019 after an internship and apprenticeship with a boutique literary agency. She has worked as a copy editor and recipe editor in the magazine industry and was general manager and director of the collection development for Turtleback Books. She received her BA in English Literature from Mississippi State University and her MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. When not working, Erin loves hiking, cooking, traveling, painting, and trying to keep her three rabbits, Felix, Agnes, and Valentino, from chewing up every baseboard in the house.

Erin’s page at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency:

Follow her on Twitter: @erin_clyburn



Note to Contestants:

We want to thank each and every one of you for sharing your wonderful stories with our guest judges this season. We know it takes a lot to hit the send button! While we’d love to give every contestant a prize, just for your writing efforts, that wouldn’t be much of a competition. One of the hardest things we do after a contest ends is to confirm that someone didn’t place in the winners’ circle. But, believe it when we say that every one of you is a true winner.

Every writer has been a gracious participant through the whole process, from the beginning of one season to the next. We’ve written emails to authors, agents, and publicists who have donated books to our contest, and we’ve shared our delight regarding the true sportsmanship among our contestants. It doesn’t matter if it’s one writer who placed or another who tried but didn’t; all writers are courteous, professional, and wonderful extensions of WOW! Women On Writing’s team. Writers’ stories and e-mails fill us with enthusiasm.

Kudos to all writers who entered, whether you won or not, you’re still a winner for participating.


To recap our current process, we have a roundtable of 12+ judges who blindly score equally formatted submissions based on: Subject, Content, Technical, and Overall Impression (Style). That’s the first step of the process. If a contestant scores well on the first round, they receive an e-mail notification that she passed the initial judging phase. The second round judging averages out scores and narrows down the top 20 entries. From this point, our guest judge helps to determine the First, Second, and Third Place Winners, followed by the Runners Up.

As with any contest, judging so many talented writers is not a simple process. With blind judging, all contestants start from the same point, no matter the skill level, experience, or writing credentials. It’s the writer’s story and voice that shines through, along with the originality, powerful and clear writing, and the writer’s heart.


We’ve enjoyed reading your stories, each and every one of them. The WOW! Women On Writing judges take time to read them all. We recognize names of previous contestants, writers familiar with our style. We enjoy getting to know you through your writing and e-mailing. Remember that each one of you is a champion in our book. We hope that you continue to enter so we can watch you grow as writers and storytellers, because each season is a rebirth of opportunity.

Now on to the winners!

Drum roll please....

1st Place Winner
1st Place:  Rachel Singh
Atlanta, Georgia
Congratulations, Rachel!
Rachel Singh

Rachel’s Bio:

Rachel Singh is a writer and artist who loves assembling, whether she is working with strings of words, moving images, or yards of fabric. She is drawn to an array of art forms including literature, fashion, film, and dance, but not singing, which, despite her last name, she avoids at all costs. She has written blog posts for The Atlanta History Center and news articles for Paste Magazine. Fiction writing has always been her first love, and she’s slowly beginning to share her work in that realm. More of her creative projects, including short films, can be found on her website,, and you can also connect with her on Instagram at @rachelsinghsong. In the real world, you’re likely to spot her in coffee shops or bookstores across her home base of Atlanta, GA.


Printable View





The day had passed by in bed; she couldn’t bring herself to get ready till she was supposed to be on the road. Her co-worker handed her a bottle of wine and a wine key, knowing she always forgot hers, and sent her off to table 44. Across the room, her manager tapped a non-existent watch on his wrist and glared pointedly. She mouthed, “Sorry,” and walked to the patio with her head down.

The women at 44 were chatty, fresh off a tennis court at the nice apartments down the block. The key went into the cork at a crooked angle. The players debated about topspin while she struggled with the bottle, a drop of red blotching the table like a crime scene.

She wiped it up, apologized, then greeted a man sitting alone. His eyes were unreadable, the afternoon sun coating his glasses in an opaque glare. He answered her inquiries as to how he was doing with a not impolite but certainly short answer. She poured him more wine and went inside, where the bartenders poured drinks in delicate glasses that sent light refracting around the room, momentary flirts, gracing each table with rainbow speckled luminescence. Out the street, tires squealed as a car evaded a collision. A couple looked up in shock, one of them dropping their fork. She caught it without hesitation. Accidents happened outside the building all the time. She put the fork in the dish pit and brought out a clean one.

A regular sat down at the bar. They typed at pristine desks as light loomed high, plummeted down the elevator as the sun set, destined for the third seat from the door. They ordered voraciously, sending the bartenders in an infinite route back and forth with sazeracs in their hands, and always tipped well. She imagined that type of life for herself, for a moment, then remembered her prospects probably wouldn’t lend itself to affording a place such as this.

A man, lost, walked in asking for directions to a pharmacy. She sent him back the way he came, explaining he needed to cross the street. He shuffled with a hunchback like a snail’s shell throwing odd shadows onto the sidewalk, and she hoped he’d find his way.

“Hands,” someone called out.

The couple had ordered clams, her most dreaded order. The plate was too hot, so she held her breath and thought about snowmen, thought about how most of the dollars she grovelled and smiled with tired eyes for were going to her landlord anyway. The couple, fresh forks in hand, gazed lovingly at each other. She pictured herself in one of those seats but it was too much of a myth to even imagine.

Folding roll ups made the time pass. Fold, place silver, roll. The motion was hypnotic, and she realized she had let her tables marinate too long in the summer sun. She rushed out, hoping the tips wouldn’t reflect how bad she was at her job.

Almost everyone was gone, checked out by her more reliable co-worker. Receipts flapped in a light wind. The man was still there, a strange expression on his face, as if he had just witnessed something harmonic.

“The sun just passed right behind that building,” he said, pointing across the street. The sun, wine, or both had melted his disposition a bit. “It happened in a minute.”

She was silent, stunned he was speaking to her in this manner. He laughed faintly. “It’s moments like these when you realize, we really are rotating,” he said. The intersection was quiet, headlights clicking on yellow against a burnt orange sky. She had never thought of the slip of the sun that way.

“I’ll take the check.”

She brought him his bill and swiped his credit card, wondering if he knew that his remark, for a moment, was solace, a spare shoulder for Atlas to rest his weight on. His pen swooped across the receipt, and he bid her adieu. Outside, the streetlights took on the bill, illumination engineered. The rest of the night passed in a haze, with steps lighter than before, as if gravity had been reset. She thought if she moved in sequence with the earth, then maybe she’d get to where she was going, where she was supposed to be.



What Rachel Won:

  • $400.00 Cash Prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on website
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
2nd Place Winner
2nd Place:  Rachel O'Cleary
Congratulations, Rachel!
Rachel O'Cleary

Rachel’s Bio:

Rachel O'Cleary first came to writing as a six-year-old chronicler of family vacations, and has been writing in some form ever since. She studied English with a creative writing emphasis at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and now lives with her family in Ireland, squeezing her obsession for flash fiction into the spaces between school runs. She is currently planning her first novella-in-flash. You can find a list of her published work at, and she occasionally tweets @RachelOCleary1.

Printable View



Eleanor Undomesticated


Eleanor spots it, nestled in the tall grass by the side of the road when she pauses her morning power-walk to tie her shoe. A scattering of vertebrae, a slender skull with hungrily gaping eye sockets, the slashing downward curve of its sharp canines jutting from its maxilla. A fox.

For a fraction of a second, Eleanor allows her chest to constrict, wondering how long it has lain here in plain view, its vibrant red coat and astute face melting away in a rubbish-strewn ditch. But a warning bleep from the fitness tracker on her wrist forces Eleanor back to her feet. She clears her head with a sharp motion and marches on. Meanwhile, the fox that once lived in those bones uncoils her lanky legs and bounds silently behind.


The shower is scalding hot. Eleanor scrubs her already stinging skin, urging the chemical vanilla of her body wash into hard-to-reach crevices.

A wild, musky odour slides under the shower door and mingles with the steam, clinging to Eleanor’s hair, making her eyes water. She rubs away the fog on the glass and sees the vixen lying splayed on the bathmat, licking her raised rear leg with leisurely strokes.

Eleanor blinks and the animal is gone, but her scent lingers for days.


Eleanor is picking at her lunch. Staring at her phone, twisting curls of courgette “pasta” around her fork and allowing them to slide back to her plate. A movement in the corner of the kitchen catches her eye. The fox lies amidst cereal crumbs and muddy footprints, teeth glinting white and red as she devours a pile of dead voles. One after another, the tiny creatures disappear into her hungry maw, bones and all. Spots of blood bead up on the glossy kitchen tiles. Eleanor’s stomach rumbles.


The children are finally sleeping. Their soft snores drift through the bedroom walls. Eleanor’s husband moves his hand tentatively up her leg. She keeps her eyes shut tightly for a moment, counting the number of days since the last time in her head. When she finally opens them and turns to him, she sees a flash of red pelt, glowing like embers in the dark.

As Eleanor and her husband move silently together, the vixen begins to scream. She yowls and yowls as Eleanor rakes her fingernails down her husband’s arms and he shudders inside her.


Eleanor’s family rubs the sleep from their eyes and gradually notices the silence. No clattering of cutlery in the kitchen. No cinnamon-and-coffee scent climbing the stairs on tiptoes. Her husband turns back the covers to find her nightgown lying flat on the mattress beside him.

Nothing else is missing. Not a single, solitary sock. The only signs of anything amiss are the musky scent lingering on her pillow, and the pile of bones next to the wide open window.



What Rachel Won:

  • $300.00 Cash Prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on website
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
3rd Place Winner
3rd Place: Kiara Almanzar
Orlando, Florida
Congratulations, Kiara!
Kiara Almanzar

Kiara’s Bio:

Part-time pop music enthusiast and full-time bookworm, Kiara is a junior at the University of Central Florida. Aside from writing short stories and working on her first novel, Solace At Your Door, Kiara writes nonfiction articles for Her Campus UCF. She hopes to one day publish several novels and work in public relations in the entertainment industry. You can follow her on Instagram (@almondzar) or Twitter (@gotosleepkiara) to keep up with her writing journey.

Printable View




It was all she had left of her.

A grocery list on the fridge. A list of items checked off in the delicate thin blue pen her mother would always carry around. The list had mundane things: Rice, plantains, milk, flour. But at the very bottom in a scrawled up last-minute decision was: oranges – for Karina.

Karina didn’t know how to feel about the grocery list, but her mother didn’t leave much else. Her mother left her a smaller list, one with items including several unpaid therapy sessions and a house that was too big, too empty. She left the dishwasher full and the unmade bed. She left the plants unwatered and an old wedding ring on the bedside table. She left the inkling memories of a relationship that had left Karina’s mouth with a bittersweet aftertaste at the funeral. She left a ghost in her presence, the faint reminder that someone lived here once too.

She also left the grocery list on the fridge. The oranges, stacked right at the bottom, reminded Karina of that same bittersweet feeling.

Karina remembered the warm winter air, the sun shining down her skin in cascades of color. Florida winters were always beautiful like this: cold without feeling, warmth without commitment. Her mother was a bit the same.

On the off-weekend when Karina was visiting her mother while her doting father worked, her mother had taken her to one of the large Florida orange groves. She had only been six then, and every tree looked like a skyscraper from her short legs.

Her mother had smiled that day, even laughed. Together, they picked oranges in a rare alliance that left Karina bleeding for more moments of this woman who didn’t seem to be her mother.

They were happy at that time; but when they got home, her mother went back to her rancid rage, the oranges becoming a mess of pulp in the garbage disposal. She didn’t know what triggered it—whether it was the bag of oranges slipping from her fingers, the lingering smell of cigarette smoke, or the vast emptiness of the home she lived in; but a switch was flipped, and her mother was back to remembering who she was. Karina thought she could save her, this quiet admission she never spoke, but the truth was that it never mattered. Her mother was as unchangeable as the Florida heat.

And she had cried, as children do when their parents are angry, but she remembers that moment as the day her resentment grew, the day she began to dread weekends with her mother. It was the day she stopped eating oranges altogether, feigning an allergy to her favorite fruit.

Karina thinks her mother’s rage followed her, even after all these years. Even as she drives to the grocery store with the list in hand.

Karina skips the rice, the plantains, the milk, and the flour. She goes straight to the produce section, bagging four oranges before pausing at her fifth. Right there in the middle of the aisle, she splits an orange with the careful tenderness of someone with practiced intent. Her mother had taught her the trick, gentle arms placed over hers as she peeled the thick surface. It was a delicate way of splitting the citrus in two by removing the stringy white layer she hated. Even with fruit, her mother found a way to break down the layers.

It was all she had left of her.



What Kiara Won:

  • $200.00 Cash Prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on website
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin

RUNNERS UP (In no particular order):

Congratulations to the runners-up! It was very close, and these stories are excellent in every way.

Click on their entries to read:

The Dreamkeeper by Alexandra Otto, Kodiak, Alaska

Hay Fires by Liz Blewett, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Parasite by Kathleen Dunn, Knutsford, England

Gifts Bestowed (Ekphrasis of The Schuffeneckers) by Lori Lyn Greenstone, Camas, Washington

Castings by Michelle Jayne, Minneapolis, Minnesota

You’re Packing a Suitcase by Mandy Wheeler, London, UK

Bare Walls by Andra Loy, Czech Republic

What the Runners Up Won:

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on website
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin

HONORABLE MENTIONS (In no particular order):

Congratulations to our Fall 2021 Contest Honorable Mentions! Your stories stood out and are excellent in every way.

The Hungry Sea by Emily Drabek, Plano, Texas

Devil’s Inkwell by Jennifer Braunfels, Litchfield, Maine

New Discoveries by Jessica Laster, Live Oak, Florida

Survival by Pamela Mahajan, Kansas City, Missouri

The Other Side of the Wall by Genalea Barker, Jerome, Idaho

Abby Noname by Shelley Jewell, Monroe, New Hampshire

She, Being Born in the Body of a Maid by Taria Karillion, UK

The Savior by Kathryn A. Brackett, Spartanburg, South Carolina

Memories by Amrita Khadilkar, Singapore

The Bargain by Kayla Green, Greenville, North Carolina


What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card


This brings the Fall 2021 Flash Fiction Contest officially to a close. Although we’re not able to provide a prize to every contestant, we will always give our heartfelt thanks for your participation and contribution, and for your part in making WOW! all that it can be. We hope to read more of your work. Write on!

Check out the latest Contest:


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