Dublin Flash Fiction from the cream of Irish literary talent.

The I Am Dublin flash fiction competition, run by the Dublin Writers Centre in association with the Five Lamps Arts Festival encouraged entrants to channel their inner Anna Livia Plurabelle and to seek inspiration in the charm of our fair city – cracks and all.

Here, we present our final selection of work by the winners, as selected by judges Dermot Bolger and Doireann Ní Ghríofa. We’re talking about short, sharp writing that captures something of Dublin’s unique essence – while allowing tiny moments to speak for themselves.

I Am Dublin

Paula McGrath

From up here, says the bird, it is a city like any other, concrete brick machines glass, a river, a port. And look, over there, on the crest of the bridge, a boy.

From up here, says the boy, it is a port like any other, filled with ships containers warehouses cranes. But it is not any other, it is Dublin. This bridge is Samuel Beckett, and the grey green river is called the Liffey. I asked when I first came.

My English is better now. I make it a game to pass the time. Too much time. I watched the others, closing in, closing down. Down time, free time, free run.

Missing my playground – obstacle course of rubble and scree, a scramble through buildings unfinished or bombed, king of the castle atop roofs of burned out cars – I cracked open the hostel window, crept out along the ledge, dropped to the balcony then the roof below, across the abyss with a leap.

Leap of foot, fleet of foot, leap of faith, this is the game I play. From scaffold, to ancient city wall, to excavation where Luas will run, I run. Parkour, in an other language. Government building iron rail is my tightrope; I balance; I am outside, I am in. Tonight, the boardwalk, Liffey wall, swing on string of Samuel Beckett’s harp, to my lookout, my crow’s nest. This is where I have come to think about another city, ruined and racked and full of broken things. Tomorrow, in government buildings, I learn which city is mine.

But it grows light. Tomorrow is already here. I grip the rods, manoeuvre to the curve, then slide, and drop to the metal path below, to bollard, to bench, to grey canal bridge, then I leap. In that space, between take – off and landing, I unmake and remake myself; I live, and breathe, and sigh.

From up here, says the bird, it is a boy, not like any other, from up here, he looks like he can fly.

Paula McGrath

Paula McGrath’s first novel, Generation was published in 2015. She has an MFA from UCD and commences a PhD in Queens University Belfast in September

Flash Fiction #1: Joy

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be presenting pieces by winners of the I Am Dublin flash fiction competition, as selected by judges Dermot Bolger and Doireann Ní Ghríofa. We’re talking about short, sharp writing that captures something of Dublin’s unique essence – while allowing tiny moments to speak for themselves. First up, Joy by Sinead Flynn.

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Flash Fiction #2: Killing JB

On an afternoon in spring, I saw John Banville coming out of the Mark’s and Spenser’s on Liffey Street. I am a great admirer of his work. I followed him down the street. I didn’t do this with the intention of killing him. Not straight away, in any case. I planned to work up to that, having first allayed his suspicions by means of some literary conversation. He wasn’t carrying a bag. But he was carrying something. He walked quickly in the direction of the river. He wasn’t smaller in real life. This was real life; he was the same height as Bono. When I’d got closer to him ¬ outside the adventure sports shop – I saw that he was carrying a wedge of parmesan cheese. I have a great enthusiasm for this cheese. Banville had gone into M&S for parmesan, and that’s what he had come out with. He’d been single ¬minded in his errand, undistracted by marinated artichokes, say, or even prosciutto. He held the cheese now in his hand, the palm facing downwards, the way an american footballer might hold the ball.

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Flash Fiction #3: Liffey. If He. Dares.

I make him tremble. The thought of me: I have causality. He is drawn to me. Torn. More than a tremor. A convulsive shudder and shake. Rock and roll. Slips and slides. Wants to hide. Looks up into the emptiness above, and then down, into my soul, the inviting deepness of me. Vulnerability bows those broad shoulders, venerable boulders. Hairy, leery atop the worn elbows of a charity shop find three winters ago. Now, he quakes. Shivers. Shows respect for the force that I am.

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