Flash Fiction 2.0 | Meet the Winners

Presenting the captivating stories written by young wordsmiths who made it to the winning league of Flash Fiction 2.0.

After the success of the Flash Fiction Contest, Azim Premji University, Bhopal, is thrilled to announce the winners of Flash Fiction 2.0. In the second edition of the contest, young wordsmiths aged 13 – 15 years poured their creativity and submitted their short stories.

The online contest was from 2 to 4 Feb 2024, where budding writers from all over India shared their short stories on the prompt You wake up to find, you have been transformed to a plant/​tree.”

Jane De Suza, award winning author known for her insightful and humorous storytelling, judged the stories. Her books include Flyaway Boy, When the World Went Dark (When Impossible Happens in the US and UK), The Midnight Years, Uncool and the SuperZero series for youngsters, and The Spy Who Lost Her Head and Happily Never After for adults.

Read the captivating stories of our young storytellers! 

Winner: Anjali Jayaraman

I can’t move, can’t speak, can’t smell…

My body is completely green, long and slender, with a negligible amount of leaves. My mouth now behaves like a flap, with many sharp, jagged teeth. I’m definitely not unique anymore, as hundreds of beasts like me are scattered around the grassy terrain.

What am I?

Suddenly, I hear the sound of wings. Something soars past me, and the horrendous sound of the cracking of a stem fills the air. The demon bird casually flutters away with my brethren, never to be seen again…

Before I know it, a flock of these demon creatures start plucking my family out of the ground like they are flowers. Eventually, one of these spawns of Satan landed on me, and I feel my limbs ripping. Searing hot pain shoots up my system and clear liquid pours out of my body. In desperation, I snap my jaws shut. The bird lets out a cry as I pull the avian closer and close to me.

The bird succumbs to its exhaustion and lets me munch away at its body, its blood dripping down the sides of my stem. Its legs stick out of my stained mouth, contorting in multiple ugly directions. The creatures notice their deceased, mutilated friend and none dared to touch me. I was safe…

The others, seemingly following my lead, catch their predators in their bloodlust — filled mouths. A scene like a battlefield, with limbs, blood and sap strewn all over the field, the olive-colored grass turning a shade of red.

The birds’ population slowly deteriorates, and they finally take the hint and take to the skies, and hopefully never bother us again.

I asked earlier what I was, ashamed of my new body, but I’m not. Not anymore.

I am a Venus Flytrap…

Honourable mention: Vasudha Priya for Transplanted

Shaking off sleep, the first thing I see, are xylem and phloem, carrying water and glucose up and down. Studied too hard for my biology test, I think. I try to get out of bed, but I can’t, I feel as if I’m rooted to the ground.

I feel roots coming out from where my feet should have been, leafy branches along my arms. It’s real, I’m a tree! I can’t see beyond my trunk; locating a hollow, I force my eyes to peer through. I’m in my backyard, trees all around me.

It occurs to me that the two trees flanking me are my parents, solid, their barks a dark brown. A shorter tree, with a supple trunk, lightly coloured is in front of me- feels like my sister. Suddenly, yesterday’s headlines echo in my head, More humans disappear. No traces left behind. New trees appear overnight. Is it a coincidence?’

My head reels, every neuron swimming freestyle with shock. A breeze blows by, picking up leaves to form a spirit. Greetings! I’m an embodiment of Nature. Your kind has cut down my children, the trees, ruthlessly through the ages; I cannot allow siblings to fight so. I have merely changed your form, transplanting your soul to keep the balance; the only way both of you can survive. All of humanity shall not meet the same fate; I believe there is a way to co-exist peacefully. Every move humans have made, I have watched, and now I must act to keep my family intact and ensure justice to all my creation.”

She moves on, to deliver her message to others. I remain, overcome by my new rootedness. Her words resonate through my trunk. I look anew at the world with the eyes of a tree; and See’.

Honourable mention: Sneha Chattopadhyaya for Alder Woods 

I woke up with a start on a bright Tuesday morning, having an ill-fated dream that I had converted into a tree. What a silly dream! Nobody can just turn into a tree”, I remember thinking to myself.

Oh, how I wish I was wrong, to my despair I did turn into a tree.

I’ll confide in you the story of my life from the start.

I was a seemingly healthy baby when I was born. Perfect weight, height and no such diseases or anything abnormal. I was named Alder Wood.

My parents didn’t notice my inability to speak and learn at the normal pace of other children until I was 6. I had been diagnosed with dyslexia. Guess my enormity started so early in life. I had always tried to fit in and seek normalcy like the other kids, but life was light years away from normalcy now.

All my life I had been devoid of friends. Yes, people did talk to me, but it was only charity. I had a certain hatred towards charity.

I turned into a tree on 12th October 1999, my 27th birthday. I disliked birthdays too. People always showed fake love and affection.

Now, on the present date of 10th March 2010, I stand between a café and a library, providing shade to people. Charity. Little kids with their mothers come and seek shade beneath me, drinking their coffee and milkshake and reading their books; lovers come and carve their names enclosed in a heart on my trunk; loners like to their read books beneath me (I make sure to shield them properly, they embody in a way).

All this is not THAT dreadful as I thought it would be. Maybe I was never meant to be normal”. Maybe I was meant to stand alone. What is normal anyways?

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