Jacki Donnellan: Flashversary Winner 2013

Jacki Donnellan Flashversary Winner

Jacki Donnellan
Flashversary Winner

Jacki is the first-ever WINNER of the Flash! Friday inaugural “Flashversary” contest as well as Flash! Friday winner for Vol 2-8. Read her Flashversary interviews here: Part I and Part II.

Jacki comes from England and currently lives in the Netherlands with her husband and two teenage children. She rekindled her childhood love of writing a little under a year ago during a holiday in Austria, while everyone else in her family was off skiing (she does not ski) and she was left with only apple strudel and a laptop for company. Since then she is delighted to have had several stories published online (Cafelit.co.uk; Opening Line Literary Zine, Paragraphplanet.com, Synaesthesia Magazine) and a few months in to her writing journey she stumbled across Flash! Friday and dared to join in the fun. She loves the weekly creative workout that it gives, and the competitive challenge that it offers in a very friendly setting! She was both staggered and thrilled to win the Flashversary challenge, and is looking forward to discovering just where else her writing and her love of words may take her.

Follow her on Twitter!


Vol 2-8: Disenchanted

Madame Marrygold tapped the photo with her wand.

“So. Can you identify what Angelica did wrong? Yes, Philowisha?”

“Took the photo in plain sight, Madame?”

Marrygold hesitated. “Well, yes,” she said, “but that’s not quite what I meant.” She turned to Angelica. “Although you evidently aroused curiosity, appearing openly in your uniform like that.”

Angelica’s blushes matched her cherry-pink gown.

Marrygold pointed at the car. “This,” she explained, “is an example of a highly inappropriate and inevitably unsuccessful attempt to apply the Cinderella Formula. A motorised vehicle cannot safely disenchant at midnight, and will not revert to vegetable matter. Furthermore, a loose wheel left lying in the gutter is never an acceptable substitute for a lost shoe.”

She turned to her students. “What is our aim in every Intervention?”

“Happily ever after!” chorused the Advanced Class for Fairy Godmothers.

“Quite. And how did this Intervention end, for this particular goddaughter, Angelica?”

“Somebody called an ambulance, Madame,” mumbled Angelica, meekly.


To Dream of Legend

(Flashversary winning story; the judge’s comments follow)

by Jacki Donnellan

No matter what happens, they never look up.

The water draws them downwards, without our help. It mesmerises them, with the flipping and flicking of a tail here, a rising head there.

And if ever the water should break and thrash, they may glimpse what they swear is reptilian skin, gleaming and rolling beneath the foam.

And they chatter of the rising and surfacing of what must have been the Monster, picturing her surging up from the deep for a brief, playful gasp of pure Scottish air, and then submerging, to swim once more along the murky loch bed.

They do not look up. They don’t pause, for a moment, to replay in their minds that strange, swift javelin of wind, moments before. They fail even to imagine an invisibly fast, joyful dive, straight from the clouds.

We play our part, of course. It is in our interests, too, to keep their attention focussed on the loch. We gather them around it and sell them our tartan landscape, woven of underwater caves and elongated prehistoric necks. And we take them out onto Loch Ness itself, where they clutch binoculars, and shortbread, and a growing hope, staring down into the opaque black water as if persistent eyes might penetrate what light does not.

Back on land, we’ll add soda to their Scotch. Water onto fire. Beside roaring flames, we’ll bid them relax, and think themselves brave- to contemplate an animal that has swum against the tide of evolution!

But we will not feed them the courage to dream of legend.

We will not carve her pearled, glistening scales on the wet, smooth skin in their minds, nor paint the glint of talons and the arc of wings onto clumsy flippers.

And we leave, uncorrected, the convenience of “Monster.”

We will look up, always, when her soaring presence circles and scorches the skies. And we will forever distract the crowds with weak, watery myths, whenever she desires to plunge and swirl her fiery form through the cool, onyx waters of Loch Ness.

She is more magnificent than this world could ever bear.


Regarding her Flashversary story, the judge said: 

All the #Flashversary stories contain dragons, of course; that was the prompt, and it just felt right to end the first year of Flash! Friday that way. Across these dozens of stories, some dragons were real; many were metaphorical or ornamental. All were unique and wonderful in their own way, and I hope each of you takes your dragons and finds a home for them somewhere out there in the world. They have earned their place!

Legend gives us a dragon’s dragon, one of  lofty majesty. It’s the dragon of ancient fairy tales, mysterious, commanding, inspiring fear and awe in its admirers. But it’s also the dragon of a modern fairy tale and those who journey far, at great cost, to plumb the depths of Loch Ness (at least in imagination) in the hopes of catching a glimpse of her.

To Dream of Legend is written beautifully, its careful prose dancing in and out of poetry and longing. It’s also structured beautifully, with its striking opening sentence (“No matter what happens, they never look up”) answered in its thunderous closing. In subtle tones we are introduced to the frank business side of legend (“We… sell them our tartan landscape”) and to those in whose cunning hands the legend rests (“We will not feed them the courage to dream of legend”).  

The reader is never addressed directly, of course, and yet the speakers make their implication clear: We are the ones who look up. We are the dream-weavers, the heroes, the storytellers. -And this is the message of every storyteller: dare to take your place among those who look up. Each of you, in bringing your stories to the world, has shown yourself among those who do. To Dream of Legend challenges us to do and be more magnificent than this world could ever bear. Congratulations, Jacki, for this unforgettable and gorgeous story.

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