First Place | Flash Fiction Writing Contest

54th New Millennium Award for Flash Fiction

Amina Gautier of Chicago, Illinois for “Persephone”

Gautier will receive $1,000 and publication both online and in print.


Amina Gautier


How his hand came up to meet mine, breaking through the dense, rich soil, cupping the roots and bulb of the narcissus, while I clasped its roots and stem. How my companions scampered across the meadow, gathering bouquets, unseeing, unmindful, never noticing me kneeling beside the plucked flower, knee-sunk in that fertile earth and striving to see what lay beneath. How the ground became our go-between—there in the cleft of the earth we joined hands, fingers and palms and roots all plighting our troth. How he shunned the disguises his brother favored, masquerading as neither ram nor bull nor swan, coming only as himself, bearing all the secrets and treasures of the world below and promising me an equal share. How we were all plunder and promise. How in that touch—the first caress that was not my mother’s— I knew.

How my mother’s cries sought me, echoing through the deep rich earth, and yet I lingered.

How beneath this world there was another world—his— a place both beautiful and terrible and entirely its own lure. 

How my mother made me a girl for growing things and he made me… something else.

How together we agreed what was to be done. 

How I opened my mouth for the blood red seed he slipped beneath my tongue, a promise to return and return and return. How I smiled at my mother’s coming, tongue against teeth to keep my promise. How there will be no alternative tale—she will always believe that I was unwilling and he will always bear the blame. 

How if he had not come for me, I’d have sunk my fingers into that deep earth, dug past the narcissus, and rent the ground asunder myself, tearing the world apart with my own beautiful bare hands. 



Amina Gautier is the author of three short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy, and The Loss of All Lost Things. She has published more than one hundred stories. They appear in AGNI, American Short Fiction, Boston Review, Callaloo, Cincinnati Review, Glimmer Train, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review, Latino Book Review, Los Angeles Review, Pleiades, Southern Review, and TriQuarterly among other places. She is the recipient of the Blackwell Prize, the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award, the International Latino Book Award, the Letras Boricuas Fellowship, and the PEN/MALAMUD Award for Excellence in the Short Story. 

Persephone © 2022 Amina Gautier 
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4 thoughts on “”

  1. That’s excellent – love the imagery and effortless shifts between perspectives. Had flashes on Angela Carter in there in a non-cliche/authentic/original which was a delight. Congrats on the win

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