The Reliable Witness – Writing Magazine Flash Comp Winner, May 2015

Comp Win001The years have been kind to him; kinder than they have to me.

On this chilly January day, he’s enjoying his moment in the flicker of flash photography, the clamour of people seeking his views; it’s been a long time.

He turns his head this way and that, as though each posture has been rehearsed carefully before a triple-view mirror. There’s an almost languorous air to every movement; even his eyelids droop slowly with every well-choreographed blink, opening just as slowly to reveal ice-blue eyes that have mesmerised men and women alike over the years.

His wife is a study in contrasts. Her movements are jerky, almost bird-like, her glittering eyes constantly surveying the crowd. That perfectly reconstructed jaw is clenched, and a tiny pulse flickers beneath her ear. She stands erect, proud and clad, probably on his advice, in faux fur. He has an instinct for the ebb and flow of public opinion, a talent that’s served them both well over recent weeks.

“Could you tell us how you feel, now it’s all over,” calls a television reporter, as fur-muffled microphones are thrust forward.

He pauses for effect.

“I feel…” There is a long pause. I wonder whether some of the journalists aren’t shifting impatiently, glancing towards the doors of the courthouse, looking for other, speedier fish to fry.

“…. exonerated, saddened…”

He pauses again, and a journalist, impatient for a sound-byte, prompts him.


I see the flash of irritation, just as quickly concealed.

“Relieved? I was innocent, so I feel no relief… only total vindication, and a sense that justice has prevailed.”

For a moment, it seems he might not be asked to elaborate on these sentiments, yet I know he’ll do so, even if some gullible acolyte does not oblige.

He takes a deep breath. “There are no victors, in these cases. Everyone, young or old, rich or poor, is a victim.”

He glances towards a taxi which has just pulled up, and into which the three hunched and snivelling prosecution witnesses are being ushered, all trembling lips and trickling mascara. His mood switches rapidly and he pulls his shoulders back; he always had a low threshold for martyrdom.

“It’s been a witch-hunt, unreliable witnesses… all of them, just as the judge said. Foolish women who…”

I see, though I doubt others will, the light pressure his wife’s hand exerts on his elbow, and the slight shifting of her position.

“… unfortunate women who…”

I take one step forward from the crowd and he stops, mid-oratory. His wife looks puzzled.

His eyes meet mine, and the snap of recognition is instantaneous.

I hadn’t intended to do this. Indeed, I’ve been resolute in the face of pleas, persuasion, coercion and appeals to a better nature I no longer possess.

I may regret this tomorrow, but at this moment, as eloquence deserts him, I feel the deepest thrill of satisfaction.

Because suddenly he’s old, so very, very old.

And I was so young; so impossibly young back then.


Winning a competition in a national writing magazine is a terrific feeling; you know that you’ve been judged against others and not found wanting.  Disappointingly however, my name was consistently mis-spelt throughout the attributions to the story in the magazine.  Kinda took the buzz out of it…  😦

About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
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29 Responses to The Reliable Witness – Writing Magazine Flash Comp Winner, May 2015

  1. erinleary says:

    Well done, Sandra! Sondra. Shonda. All the same, it’s you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations! As long as the spell your name right on the cheque though, it’s all fine 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue says:

    Well done! Shame about the renaming of you….


  4. subroto says:

    Fantastic! Congratulations on the win Sandy.


  5. I am in awe of your writing. You are immensely talented and I urge you to keep this up. Many congratulations! As to their sloppy editing, I see it all the time. An author gave a talk recently at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts about her book “To Marry An English Lord.” How did the museum’s program refer to the book? “How To Marry A British Lord.” She was the picture of graciousness when she came on stage and joked that, sadly, her book was not a “how-to” manual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sandra says:

      D’you know Barbara, you’ve just made me feel a whole heap better! 🙂 Thank you for your words this afternoon. I am in awe of your author – I may not have been quite that gracious. Happy Easter!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. rogershipp says:

    WoW!!! Congratulations. A powerful piece of writing!


  7. Sandra, I could see this man, inwardly as well as outwardly, from your masterful (or mistress-ful?) description. You already know that I think you’re a wonderful writer and this piece only solidifies that knowledge. Well-deserved congratulations!



  8. So well done, Sandra. This story is so relevant, and you penned it to perfection. Pity about the misspelling of your name. That’s unforgivable.


  9. Congratulations, Sandra. That was great writing, as always. I can see how it won. I’m sorry they mispelled your name. How difficult can spelling “Sandra” be. At least they came close. Anyway, winning is what counts. 🙂


  10. Congrats, an excellent, powerful story. Don’t let anything bring you down. 😉


  11. Indira says:

    Wonderful writing. Congratulation dear Sandra.


  12. Ellespeth says:

    Oh good lord, Sandra! I’m so sorry about your mis-naming … as picky as editors are these days, too 😦
    Here, though, Sandra has written a merciless piece of fiction. There is a mysterious sense of satisfaction in the narrator’s voice only revealed at the end. Loved it!


  13. ansumani says:

    Congratulations Sandra!


  14. Pingback: Thirty Pieces of Silver – Friday Fictioneers, August 2019 | castelsarrasin

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