Short Fiction ~ Anne Howkins
Honourable Mention, Strands International Flash Fiction Competition - 8
Now my lovelies, don’t be shy, come, come, gather round.
See this glorious wool, plucked from the underbellies of rare breed sheep only found on the southern slopes of Welsh mountains. Nothing lasting is made from poor quality materials. What’s that Bella? No, the sheep are perfectly safe from dragons, even those hidden deep within their shepherd’s secret musings.
Watch how my hands move as I start to work the wool - rolling, pinching, kneading, stabbing, forming into a ball or a sausage, or any other shape your body needs. Don’t be intimidated by the wool, it’s not the flesh of your firstborn, mewling as you push tiny limbs into scraps of pure white. Yes, Deirdre, it looks cruel, but you know that the best is formed when cruelty and the creative urge combine.
Now, take your own handful of beautiful wool, inhale the redolence of feral childhood, coconut-scented gorse, tart mountain bilberries, roll it between your palms. Close your eyes and allow the wool to soak up any feelings you need to relinquish - the fleece is your friend. Feel free to use it to mop the tears I see coursing down the cheeks of some of you, my dears. Grief, rage, let it out, let the wool soak it all away. Your creation will be all the better for it.
Now, take your needle. Stab away, stab, stab, stab. Don’t be shy, allow the needle to take you to another place. Stab, pinch, pull, stab. Mind your fingers. No Isobel, thimbles are a barrier, armour between you and the wool. Let yourselves feel your invention. Allow your blood to seep into the body you are moulding, every creation must contain some of us. Those of you who believe, think body of Christ.
Good, you all have your bodies. Imperfect as they may be, they are yours.
Gather around while I form a hind leg for a hare - I know some of you want to make hares. Such mystical creatures, gazing, the way they do. Running, the way they do. Who wouldn’t want to be a hare? See how I roll, pinch and stab. Did you know that all limbs begin in the womb as pentadactyl appendages? If your hare becomes an owl, don’t worry - wings are just decorated legs. And if your owl becomes a unicorn, or your unicorn becomes a baby, a lover, who are any of us to judge?
Now, start shaping your limbs, legs, wings, arms… go with your flow, whatever your body desires. Yes Diana, tentacles are good, although perhaps not to worry about the fine detail, we’ll look at how to add delicacy and nuance in the coming weeks.
Oh well done, my lovelies, just look what you’ve made, how much of yourself you’ve put into your craft.
Cherish asymmetry in creation - what matter that your legs are of unequal length? Or a wing hangs broken and trailing?
There is no wrong way to felt, my lovelies, or to feel.
Anne Howkins started writing flash fiction in 2019, and relishes the challenge of writing very short stories. She won the 11 Sentences Rock and Retreat West Water themed competitions in 2019. She has also been second in Retreat West’s monthly micro fiction competition, and third in a quarterly Flash 500 competition. Her stories have appeared in print and online most recently in Reflex Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, National Flash Fiction Day, Lunate, Bath Flash Fiction Anthology 2020 and Gobstoppers, Shrimps & Sour Monkeys. She is a member of the awesome Fosseway Writers Group, who have been incredibly supportive. When not writing, Anne looks after the finances of a charity, and looks after, trains and competes her diva pony. Tweets @anne_howkins