Flash Fiction Contest 1st Place: “Homecoming” by Kathryn Phelan

November 11, 2019

The winner has arrived! Kathryn Phelan’s “Homecoming” was selected by Kathy Fish as the grand prize winner for our Flash Fiction Contest this year. There’s so much to say about this wonderful flash, but let’s hear it straight from our judge herself: “This flash has the feel of a quiet, beautiful, deeply moving short film. It is deeply atmospheric and woven through with a palpable sense of loss and melancholy. It begins: ‘It was the year I painted the bedroom gold like kente cloth…’ I was immediately drawn to the voice and the internal tension of the piece, which somehow manages to convey an expanse of time and change in very few words. This writer chose evocative language and details to tell this story. I found myself lingering on ‘how different things comfort us, depending on where we have been.’ Memorability and emotional resonance are two things I look for especially when judging flash fiction. This story overflows with both.”

We strung up fairy lights but neither of us could figure out how to turn off the blinking setting. The rain didn’t stop—it plunged lawns into marshes, slurped with our footsteps, dripped from the ceiling.

After “A Second Time” by James Galvin 

It was the year I painted the bedroom gold like kente cloth, so pigmented you could nearly pluck it from the walls and weave it. You needed a haircut but wanted everyone to know you’d been through something. We read our old letters out loud to each other, twenty numbered pages, all covered in dust and dirt, felt the weight of the postage in our hands. In the autumn your dad’s kidneys failed. You offered one of yours but he wouldn’t take it: You carry that failure in your blood too, he said, and you might need both of them. The meteorologists spoke of lake-effect snow, but it fell to the ground as rain.

The apartment was almost what we wanted, and I bought frames so you could hang the photos you took. It rained and rained. Puddles collected everywhere, and you talked about the red dust of dry season. You said you’d get around to it—the haircut, the photos, everything. Convalescence seemed baggy on you, an awkward indulgence. You missed the Dogon mask dances you’d left behind, so you lit bonfires, sat under the poplars and waited for the same feeling. I don’t suppose our garden was anything like Africa but you breathed the smell of the little exhausted fire for as long as the rain held off.

To continue reading “Homecoming” 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.

Follow Us On Social

Masters Review, 2024 © All Rights Reserved