Featured Fiction: “Woodpeckers Peck to Establish Territory in the Spring” by Sherrie Flick

May 18, 2020

Today we are thrilled to share with you this excellent new flash from current Flash Fiction Contest judge, Sherrie Flick! If you’re still looking for inspiration for our contest which closes on the 31st of May, look no further: Flick’s “Woodpeckers Peck to Establish Territory in the Spring” moves from scene to memory with affecting seamlessness as our narrator recalls a traumatic event in her childhood. Read on:

He said, “Go ahead and yell for your mom.” She did. Then birds chirping, the world continuing on without Janice. Rat-tat-tat.

The tree branches that run along Janice’s path twist and loop like licorice whips, as she circumnavigates her way through a patch of wild garlic mustard and knotweed. A woodpecker drums a little rat-tat-tat … rat-tat-tat. It’s mid-March and the forest, dormant and muddy, has lost a tree here and there, giant roots upended from so much rain. A trunk blocks her way. Janice grabs at the bark, swings her legs over to the other side. The whole valley is subdued and still. Except the woodpecker. His exuberance is unbearable.

Janice hasn’t been on this trail for years. As she walks, it transports her back to a time when she wandered in these woods and her mother cooked her meals—gravies and roasts and a soggy green bean smell in the kitchen as Janice pushed the side door open. What she remembers is her mother’s back, curved toward a pot of steam, a wooden spoon, early evening light tipping through the window, a radio bubbling a few crackling polkas somewhere nearby.

Today Janice has some loose change in her front pocket, a cell phone in her back pocket, and a sinking feeling, even though these woods make her feel weightless, a little lightheaded.


To continue reading “Woodpeckers Peck to Establish Territory in the Spring” click here.


At The Masters Review, our mission is to support emerging writers. We only accept submissions from writers who can benefit from a larger platform: typically, writers without published novels or story collections or with low circulation. We publish fiction and nonfiction online year-round and put out an annual anthology of the ten best emerging writers in the country, judged by an expert in the field. We publish craft essays, interviews and book reviews and hold workshops that connect emerging and established writers.

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