by Gill James
It might be a very young blackbird, she thought. It was fluttering a lot. Alice didn’t like it when birds fluttered in confined spaces.
“The stories were of an extraordinarily high quality this year,” said the presenter. “We had to choose from over 4,000.”
The bird landed on the stage just in front of her. Tanya looked at the three young women seated there. The regional winners, she supposed. Were they as scared of birds in confined spaces as she was?
“I’m sure you’ll see what a difficult job we had deciding read the works of the runners-up on our web-site.”
Tanya cringed and stifled a whimper as the bird flew up from the stage and over her head.
“I’m delighted then to invite our finalists, Janice Andrews, Tony Martins and Alicia Perkins to read an extract form their entries.”
As Janice read, the bird kept batting the top of the marquee. Obviously desperate to get out. Other audience members looked up anxiously. So, maybe she wasn’t alone in being so irrationally scared of birds indoors.
By the time it was Tony’s turn the animal was frantic and was crashing into the wall of the tent.
“I think we’d better try and sort out this poor creature before we continue,” said the presenter.
Some of the marshals arrived and tried to get the bird to fly through the open doorway. The air just kept pushing it back. Finally it perched on a beam hear the ceiling.
“Maybe we can carry on now,” said the presenter.
Tanya held her breath Alicia stood up to read her extract. Her mouth went dry as the bird flew down to the stage again. She thought she would faint when it perched on the back of Alicia’s chair.
It just sat there, though, as though transfixed, as Alicia read her story.
There was not a sound from the audience either.
As she finished there was clapping and cheering.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” said the presenter, walking across the stage and beaming at Alicia “you will probably not be at all surprised to learn that Alicia Perkins is in fact our overall winner. Join me in congratulating Alicia.”
The clapping became louder and several people got on to their feet. The bird flew up from the stage, away from Tanya and out of the marquee, making one of the marshals duck.
The tension drained away. Now she could enjoy her partner’s success.
About the author
Gill James writes longer fiction for children and young adults, shorter fiction for adults, non-fiction, text books about writing and language learning and academic papers. She also conducts several writing experiments.
She is published by, amongst others, Tabby Cat Press, The Red Telephone, Butterfly, The Professional and Higher Partnership and Continuum. She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Salford University.
She has an MA in Writing for Children and PhD in Creative and Critical Writing
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