The Witch Who Walked The Shore (1st Place)

Gaynor Jones Your mother used to tell you stories about the witch who walked the shore. A gnarled, mangled woman with mossy seaweed trailing from her scalp and claws where her hands ought to be. A woman who had been trapped underwater for so long that her putrefied skin rippled across her body as she […]

Interview with Gaynor Jones, First Place Winner

Interview by Sudha Balagopal The witch in your story is a powerful, albeit unseen, character. How did the idea of a witch that haunts the sea come to you? Did she arrive fully-formed or did she develop and grow as you wrote the story? Was she the figure from whom your story began or did […]

Saudade (2nd Place)

Philip Charter When Richie McManus lost his hand in the hydraulic winch, he said he screamed like a banshee, but the North Sea winds whipped the noise away. I was hauling in gear on the port side and the alarm light was the only thing that snapped me out of my own thoughts. McManus was […]

Interview with Philip Charter, Second Place Winner

Interview by Neil Clark Saudade, the concept, really got us editors gabbing away and going on all sorts of tangents when we were discussing your piece during the judging. It was a lot of fun! Could you tell us a bit about how and when you came across the word? Was it your starting point […]

Lyrics For a Life at Sea (3rd Place)

Bayveen O’Connell Manifest. Dad is the captain of my imagination. I’m from coastal people who say the sea is a gateway to other worlds. The Atlantic, the colour of shifting dragon scales, gives me something to dream of: a life beyond our little Ballyscannell crossroads. High tide, all hands on deck, set sail.  Heave away! […]

Interview with Bayveen O’Connell, Third Place Winner

Interview by Edward Bassett Why do flash and microfiction appeal to you as narrative forms? I love paring stories back to their essence, telling a tale in the most condensed way while creating movement and emotional resonance. My favourite thing about writing in this short form is the natural high of (sometimes) being able to […]

Seven Tears (shortlisted)

Nuala O’Connor To call the merrow-man to the shore, you must shed seven drops of eye-brine into the sea. This is what lonely fisherwives do, when their men are away after swordfish and beluga, away for year-halves and more. The merrow swims through your dreams, his body offering rare comfort and, on waking, you long […]

All the Broken Things (shortlisted)

Melissa Bowers VII. Afterward, every beach is vacant. Our children still race for the sand, rip at the fluttering caution tape, ignore our frantic warnings, and we scoop them up and haul them away before they can tell what has become of the ocean. The rest of us know better—we’ve seen the horrors up close, […]

A Hole in the Wing (shortlisted)

Ian O’Brien The slowboat heaved on the black ocean. The weather seemed to have followed her from Dublin, lashing the deck, the windows, the roof. A baby was crying and she forced her way out onto a sheltered part of the deck. She tried to light a cigarette and gave up, found a bench to […]

An Aversion to Popular Amusements (shortlisted – CW: SUICIDE)

J.L. Willetts It’s not my first time. There was the time I tried to hang myself but got it wrong and spent weeks wearing a polo neck jumper in the dead of summer. Then there was the paracetamol that wouldn’t stay down, came up like I’d been force fed a box of chalk. You said […]

Origami Wars (shortlisted)

Amy Barnes My father sleeps skeleton-folded in a closet box. His face is pressed against his knees, a jumble of paper bones and battles, neck bone connects to the thigh bone connects to the hand bone. We unfurl him on holidays, a faded tribute laid on an empty dining room chair while his flag hangs […]

Leviathan (shortlisted)

Sutton Strother In her last life, your mother was a whale. She makes no secret of it, so you grow up carrying this knowledge like you carry the birthmark on your left shoulder. She raises you on grilled octopus, chilled calamari, fish with all their little bones left in. “Whale food,” she calls it, though […]

A Baby Born En Caul Can Never Drown (shortlisted)

Sara Hills 1.  En caul babies are as rare as giant squid and underwater cairns. En caul means born inside the amniotic sac; a mermaid birth. En caul babies are the luckiest humans on earth.  When you’re old enough to read, you find such facts in books.  You repeat these facts as a mantra, the […]

Last Boat

Ed Barnfield “You have ancestors. Remember them, their names. The Moken, the Sama-Bajau. Lives before yours, expended on the water. Follow their example through the storms.” The children nod, although they can barely see Mayer Franken in the fuligin gloom. His voice is cracked, parched, but the words keep pouring. We say, when an old […]

Thirst

Lorraine Thomson Alabama, Alaska, Arizona. Ever been thirsty? I’m talking about a thirst as deep as the ocean. A thirst like that – a real thirst – drives a person crazy. I don’t know if it changes them, could be it just coaxes out the evil that’s been lurking there all along. There is one […]

Two Tusks

Katie Oliver Being a narwhal with two tusks sounds fun, doesn’t it? Special. That’s what I thought too, once. Granted, it’s better than the crushing embarrassment of being a male with no tusk. You don’t see many of those round here, cast off as they are, frigid water and darkness their only companions as the […]

Flint’s Left-behind Girl

Jess Moody “I know an island.” The words that saved the lips that spoke them.  The Captain had no time for my opinions, he’d said. His men, no love for my songs. Harpy, sea-witch, a hex for such a girl as I to be on board. So they’d muttered, louder with each bloody sunset.  Anyone […]

Sea Mother

Jason John Kahler The oars broke the water as the morning sun broke the horizon. The first hours of the summer solstice woke slowly. Tomas navigated the two-person skiff away from the dock and toward the open water beyond the mouth of the bay.  The row to Hirvosurry Rock would take half the day. He […]

Put Weed in the Drawing Wave

Kate MacCarthy On Maundy Thursday in 1911, Ruaridh waded out waist deep into the water. The Atlantic was a glaucous grey-green in the dim light before dawn and mist obscured the horizon. He  dragged heavy legs through the swell with both arms raised above his head, careful not to spill a drop from either bowl. Once the […]

Amelie

Lauren Foregger This house is more like a ship. If it weren’t for the chimneys and the pitched roof, I’d consider calling it that. I think the house would prefer it. The five bedrooms teeter on the edge of the cliff, the slate-colored waves slicing at the craggy shoreline below. The spray just barely reaches […]

Account of the Sea Lady as Told by a Servant Girl, 1597

Amber Garcia I name every nick, cut, contusion, like children, as I rub my shorn head and when I come to the cut above my right ear, the body of a man falls over the cliff, flailing. I watch his cloak hood flap like a wing as he falls, sucked under with green drops of […]

Salt Tears

Sue Dawes He never takes his shoes off to walk along the beach, says he hates the way sand invades every crease without his permission.   ‘When’s dinner?’ he asks. Sophia washes the ocean from her fingers. ‘Not long.’ He walks to the window where she keeps driftwood and fragments of sea-polished glass.  On a sunny […]

The Last Prophet

Lisa Blackwell The bird stands at least a foot taller than any of the other birds on the rocky outpost. It’s head and shoulders bolt upright, a prophet in black and white. It’s large razorbill beak, as big as its head. We take it alive, the three of us, we think it will fetch a […]

Sea Animals

Sharon Boyle I am a butcher by trade. That’s what I tell my fellow passengers of merchants, their wives, soldiers, and able-bodied seamen – not that you would ken they were able after letting our mother ship, a French frigate by the name of Medusa, run aground in an exercise of high negligence. So we […]

The Sea Change

Jan Kaneen When hunger’s making your insides growl, and rain’s a-rattling your midnight window, and you’re lying in your driftwood bunk waiting for the door to whine open and your Ma to lean inside to tell you it’s time – the very second she does you whip yourself upright, shove Greymalkin onto the good-earth floor, […]

It Had Been Calling to Her

Peggy Riley It had been calling to her.   She could hear it from the water.  Revenge, it said.  Take back what was taken.   Its cries drew her up from the sea.  Out from the waves she heaved herself, onto this shingle beach to pull its empty air into her lungs.   Night here had its own […]

A Celestial Undoing

Sara Dobbie Henry is obsessed and there is nothing Celeste can do about it. She emerges from below deck, fraught with disappointment. Sees him standing starboard side, aiming his telescope into the ebony blanket of night sky swathing the sea.  High above them Orion mirrors Henry’s intent, and Celeste envies the constellation this kinship with […]