Secret duets, murdered butterflies, sabotage, pockets full of pink, and the desire to be desired: all these and more make up volume three of New Writing, our collection of original short-fiction and poetry from India. This third edition of New Writing features no fewer than 25 short stories and poems inspired by our theme (‘Strange Love’), all of which have been handpicked by our trio of judges: Krishna Udayasankar, Sharanya Manivannan, and Jai Arjun Singh.
The Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing: Volume 3
It’s always with some trepidation that one opens a shortlist of selections for a contest—but what a pleasure the pieces of fiction I read for Helter Skelter’s New Writing: Vol. 3 were. I laughed out loud to the hilarious The Groom and His Dog. I loved the simple, elegantly-told narrative of Trees. And the poignance of Duet stayed with me well into the next day after my marathon afternoon of reading and rating. I was truly delighted by the quality of the writing in the fiction shortlist. It was a pleasure to read these stories, and I hope all of them see the light of many computer screens, if not in this anthology then in another.
— Sharanya Manivannan
There were moments when our rhythms matched, and our feet, with a muddy shoe or two, were up in the blue sky together.
Even in his blue silk dhoti, Shekhar looks like a walking insect—a fancy walking insect. It is an interesting look for someone with no personality.
The girl and the boy made love to each other every night, and every night they climaxed knowing that they had climbed trees to get to one another.
I take you like a paper doll and crumple you.
Salves and salvation were two poles, and he, like the Earth itself, was slightly flattened at the doorstep of both.
You can do it. Accept that he isn’t upper class diplomatic or a refugee of war or lover turned killer.
When we left, we knew we’d probably never find our way back again.
She felt as though she had done something terrible. But technically, she had just been singing in her own bathroom, hadn’t she?
There is nothing to be said. The hour is past, and he should leave.
You would be pleased to know that the evidence has been removed.
I was always watching you but you never felt the heat of my gaze.
Layers upon layers of fabric, he knew, were surely hampering his beloved white butterflies from fluttering in the breeze.
What does her smile look like? Does she have crooked teeth like me? Do her eyes crinkle up when she smiles?
One slip is all it takes for this night of loneliness to culminate in a crescendo of muffled moans and suppressed sighs.
Bright lights flash about her, and the city steeps in her lap for an unexpected reunion.
The man’s voice had reached where his hands couldn’t have.
You don’t know me but I have lived a lifetime with you.
When she sipped from the flowers, she would make sure that her wings were stretched out and displayed properly for him.
Maybe it wasn’t her love that was strange. Maybe it was Grandpa’s.
Like every other time, I couldn’t crawl into your first verse or your second, your bridge or your chorus.
Alice pressed her palm to the cool glass as her husband snipped away at the fabric that would form his fourth hat that week.
Her joints are stiff, but it’s nothing to worry about. It’s her natural condition.
I could roll the window down to let out your scent, your presence that lingers here beside me like all the bad choices I’ve made.
It was the summer before her final year of college when Vaidehi first saw Suresh Babu.
I was baptised with dead saffron and don’t know what simple games of your childhood sound like.