‘Ida’ by Elisabeth Ingram Wallace

The first time I read this story, I only realised half way through that I was holding my breath, so worried was I that it would lose its momentum. It didn’t. From the very start we find that the Ida of the title has “broad shoulders. One is three meters long, the other, stretches sixty two miles.” Once worshipped as a goddess, she’s now a tourist attraction, Bird Island. But in the middle of the story there’s this glorious line: “If she doesn’t move, no-one will know she is breaking down.” Oh yes, something’s going to happen… 

First published in Atticus Review, Nov 2017, where it was Flash Fiction Contest Runner-up

‘Corvidae’ by Elisabeth Ingram Wallace

This Mogford Prize-winning story is set in the Scottish Highlands and focuses on Esme, a local woman who lives a solitary life, punctuated only by passing hipster tourists, who fill her ‘honesty box’ with coins in return for her home-made wares. Ingram is the mistress of foreshadowing when, in the opening paragraph, we learn:The crows don’t eat the nuts when they get crushed, instead they wait for a squirrel gathering up chestnuts to get hit by a car, and eat them instead.This stunning short story subverts the idea of the hunt in the cleverest of ways and its vivid detail and sardonic voice make it an absolute joy to read. 

Published by The Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing, 2019, you can read it online here

‘My Thirty-Eight Step Korean Cleansing Routine’ by Elisabeth Ingram Wallace

A mother and daughter become obsessed with skincare regimens and begin making YouTube beauty videos. Encouraged by their popularity and the influx of free products, they begin to push their bodies and routines to extremes. It might seem like YouTube beauty videos are a soft target for satire, but Wallace doesn’t just toss a barb or two in the direction of the consumerist’s paradise; no, she sets about ratchetting the absurdity of skincare products and standards of likeable prettiness to the point of gothic eeriness –

‘We weren’t getting the impact we wanted, YouTube viewer wise, so we upped our game.
Mum spackled plaster into her wrinkles and applied beige masonry paint.
I had my forehead surgically removed and replaced with the skull of a tiny baby bird. I’ve always felt insecure about my skull, ever since I was a toddler and I first noticed my cranium was disproportionate to my mandible.’

The story then emerges back out again, as the limits of social networking are left behind in daze of ampoule applications, as the narrative draws to its end in a kind of quiet blankness that hints, with implacability, at the fate awaiting all of our bodies, buttered and botoxed or not.

(Published on the Bath Flash Fiction Award website)