Here are our six finalists for the 2012 Costa Short Story Award for you to enjoy and decide whether you agree with how the public voted. Please note that you can either download all six stories at once or each one individually - just select the appropriate buttons below.
The 2012 winner was Millie and Bird by Avril Joy. In second place was Chioma Okereke for Trompette de la Mort and Guy Le Jeune for Small Town Removal.
Audio recordings produced and recorded by Spoken Ink.
"There's something about the Le Brocquy. Those three naked bodies. That malevolent-eyed cat. Picasso-like figures: greyish, angular, precisely placed. The woman lying on a bed, the man sitting at the end of it, the small boy standing halfway between them at the side, holding up a spray of flowers. And the cat, staring out from under the sheet covering the woman's thighs...
"I cut my boyfriend in half; it was what we both wanted. I said we could double our time together. He said he could be twice as productive. I don’t think it would have worked with just anyone at any time. It had to be now. Daniel got a spade off his mother that had belonged to his father, and his father - both men who were never really all there. He lay on the bench in our microscopic back yard, knees bent to squeeze in. The yard was carpeted with silver slug trails. I suppose we could have used the kitchen floor, but I didn’t want to scratch the tiles... "
"It was the kind of summer when the grass grew too long to cut and your toes stubbed at the damp end of your trainers, the summer I was sixteen. It rained all through May and June. It rained on my birthday. It never let up and the weeds in the yard grew taller than the gate post. Jonty Angel, our next-door neighbour, gave Millie the bird that summer, a white zebra finch, and she spent all her time coaxing it onto her shoulder, whispering to it and feeding it titbits. He gave her a cage too and she put it in her bedroom out of harm’s way. It was the summer of Bird, it was the summer I fell in love..."
"‘But,’ said Kathleen Stanbridge, ‘there remains the question of Robinson.’ She was with her two daughters, in the well-shelved library of the family country home that, after long wranglings, she had decided - though God knew it would probably kill her - had to be sold. They had agonised over the sale, she and her daughters, Tessa and Ginny, but in the end, it really seemed the only option..."
"There is heat, here in this small town. A dead heat. It sulks in the valley, as blue storms build, up beyond the grey ridge. It is the kind that clings to you and smothers your breath. Down here by the canal there is no wind. Along the lane, the thick water slides past cows stretched out on tufts of sun-shorn rushes and wet meadow. The banks are crumbling, spilling earth into the cut. The water is sluggish out among the fields, but closer to the town it has the pace of tides...
"Most of the women were enraptured by the thick, black-haired Charles, who was the supremo baritone of the distillery men’s choir, shuffling their chairs forward to be close enough for when he reached for that inevitable high note. But Bernard with his crooked smile and his pink tongue peeking out underneath his bushy moustache…my palms would sweat at the thought of that bristles creeping along my skin, the swift flick of his tongue against a nipple..."
Vote here for your favourite short story. We allow just 1 vote per person so use your vote wisely! The winner will be announced soon so watch this space.
© 2011 COSTA COFFEE.