UPDATED WITH WINNERS - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: April Edition

Flash fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity

Welcome to LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown, a monthly bout of writing prowess.

How It Works

We give you inspiration in the form of a picture, poem, video, or prompt. You write a flash fiction piece using the inspiration we gave you. Put your entry in the comments section. One winner will be picked and awarded a prize.

The Rules

  • 15 words. It can be less, but not more. 
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title. Please keep it to 10 words.
  • We're not exactly shy, but let's stay away from senseless racism or violence.
  • One entry per person.
  • Editing your entry after you submit it is permitted.
  • LitReactor staffers can't win, but are encouraged to participate.
  • All stories submitted on or before April 28th will be considered. We'll run the winner on April 29th.

This Month's Prize

Wondering how to avoid the onslaught of flowery spring and greenery and baby bunnies?? This creepy book—dubbed "Hamptons Noir"—just might be to the cure for all that pastel. Ew. 

We have 2 copies to give away, so best 2 entries will win a copy of The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich.

A scathing and exhilarating thriller that begins with a husband's obsession with the seemingly vacant house next door.

     It's wintertime in the Hamptons, where Scott and his wife, Elise, have come to be with her terminally ill father, Victor, to await the inevitable. As weeks turn to months, their daily routine—Elise at the hospital with her father, Scott pretending to work and drinking Victor's booze—only highlights their growing resentment and dissatisfaction with the usual litany of unhappy marriages: work, love, passion, each other. But then Scott notices something simple, even innocuous. Every night at precisely eleven, the lights in the neighbor's bedroom turn off. It's clearly a timer . . .but in the dead of winter with no one else around, there's something about that light he can't let go of. So one day while Elise is at the hospital, he breaks in. And he feels a jolt of excitement he hasn't felt in a long time. Soon, it's not hard to enlist his wife as a partner in crime and see if they can't restart the passion.

     Their one simple transgression quickly sends husband and wife down a deliriously wicked spiral of bad decisions, infidelities, escalating violence, and absolutely shocking revelations.

     Matt Marinovich makes a strong statement with this novel. The Winter Girl is the psychological thriller done to absolute perfection.

Your Inspiration

There's something extra-literary about April: It's Shakespeare's birth and death month. Cervantes died in April, too—the same day as Shakespeare. It's National Poetry Month. World Book Day is the 23rd. This year AWP is in April (partially...we are there RIGHT NOW, so if you are in LA, come see us at the LitReactor Booth.)

So yeah, pretty special time for writing. Also, T.S. Eliot wrote his famous poem, The Waste Land, in 1922 that begins with this oft-quoted line:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding 
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing 
Memory and desire, stirring 
Dull roots with spring rain.

So celebrate books and poems and dead writers and spring flowers with a 15-word flash piece. Best 2 winners get a book about winter. Makes perfect sense, right?

And The Winners Are... Jose F. Diaz & PLA

Thank goodness I can award more than 1 winner this month because choosing a winner was very difficult. So many great entries--from past winners and new voices! I was worried that my prompt was too lame, but you all really ran with it. Nicely, nicely done!

Without further ado, our winners:

From Jose F. Diaz:

Iraq in April

The Euphrates River



for blood


during the war.

The flowers

Also bloom.


From PLA:


April has the cruelest mouth, spitting lilacs as if they were teeth.

Taylor Houston

Column by Taylor Houston

Taylor Houston is a genuine Word Nerd living in Portland, OR where she works as a technical writer and volunteers on the marketing committee for Wordstock, a local organization dedicated to writing education. She has a BA in Creative Writing and Spanish from Hamilton College and attended Penn State's MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. She has taught writing at all levels from middle school to college to adult, and she is the creator of Writer’s Cramp, a class for adults who just want to write!

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Englisheyes's picture
Englisheyes April 16, 2016 - 3:46pm

Home-Thoughts From Abroad

Subtle bluebell!  You flourish on the south side in the shade.


nai's picture
nai April 4, 2016 - 12:09am

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Timothy Burbage's picture
Timothy Burbage from Sunbury, England is reading The Girl of Ink and Stars April 4, 2016 - 5:07am

Dressed for Spring: the Big Tease

Sun outside, shorts and t-shirt. Run inside with frostbite. Tomorrow brings heatstroke in woolly hats.

CS's picture
CS from Biloxi, MS is reading Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity April 4, 2016 - 7:28am

"It's Not Me, It's You and That Damned Book"

She left me in April,

I was too busy reading Rob Hart's novella to notice.

resabug's picture
resabug April 4, 2016 - 8:12am

Loquacious Fruit

“I want to plant a book.”
“Why, sweetheart?”
“To grow a word tree!”

Christopher Peterson's picture
Christopher Peterson from Illinois is reading the tea leaves... April 4, 2016 - 8:20am

Bibliotherapy, or the Dangers in Reading Too Much Into Things

I'm writing about the only book I've ever reread. I burn pages to keep warm.

Maria D's picture
Maria D from Washington, DC is reading The Haidmaid's Tale by Margret Atwood April 4, 2016 - 8:43am

On the insistence of plants and people

Buds erupt, unfurl, battle late chill. I, too, am stubborn, and take my books outdoors. 

Christina Re's picture
Christina Re from the United States is reading something a friend wrote April 4, 2016 - 10:08am


Cherry trees vanquish winter by sucking it up their roots;

Reincarnating slush into snowy petals.

Genetic Sovereign's picture
Genetic Sovereign from Ogden Utah is reading The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake April 4, 2016 - 10:01am

Henry Eckford: A Scientists Nursery

In dirt gently
With his finger
Creates a womb
From which
Sweet pea hybrids blossom

tidfisk's picture
tidfisk from Saint Louis is reading People of The Book April 4, 2016 - 10:35am

Written In Bloodroot

The sanguinarine soaked pages of her diary sustained many Spring days of pressing perennials.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel April 4, 2016 - 12:40pm

Iraq in April

The Euphrates River



for blood


during the war.

The flowers

Also bloom.

JamieHolland0929's picture
JamieHolland0929 from Pittsburgh, PA is reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra April 4, 2016 - 4:31pm

There isn't glory here six under.
Sweet peas laid at head; she'll never be alone.

Jimothy Scott's picture
Jimothy Scott from Canada is reading The wise mans fear April 4, 2016 - 10:09pm

Should I die in April

My epitaph won’t quote Shakespeare. It will be better.

PLA's picture
PLA from Oregon is reading The Bone Clocks April 4, 2016 - 11:37pm

April has the cruelest mouth, spitting lilacs as if they were teeth.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday April 5, 2016 - 5:35am

There are Always Options

I sprung forward, right into my fall back plan.

Now April and I may die.

The Dark Lord's picture
The Dark Lord from The Void is reading The Book of the Dead April 5, 2016 - 10:37am

Caveman Shakespeare

“You fierce yet futile like dying dragonfly,” Grok said, dragging Sheena angrily by her hair.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine April 6, 2016 - 9:52am

Early Spring in Maine

60° is Summer. Gathering hiking gear, the TV says 6-10". April Fools' New England

BarryG's picture
BarryG April 6, 2016 - 11:00am

Tubby or not tubby?

"Methinks," Shakespeare poked his winter-belly with discontent., "a glorious summer physique requires some spring training..." 



Ms. Jackalope's picture
Ms. Jackalope from Colorado April 12, 2016 - 10:13pm

In Bloom 

Winter memories, once buried deep, press through dead foliage along with my lover's hand.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal April 14, 2016 - 6:26pm

The Season of Love

April comes before May every year. May's always disappointed.

Werus's picture
Werus from Portland, OR is reading Secret Acension April 27, 2016 - 8:45pm

Spring Shakes Awake

Compositions compost
Poems push up and gain purchase
Frosty folios flower