Paper Darts Short Fiction Award

And the winner is...

Jill Summers


A note from our judge, Amelia Gray:

"Flash fiction sometimes strives to be a different size than it's meant to be—a sprawling giant with its legs cut off or an ant blown up ten thousand times its size—but this little story packs in everything you need within its 800-word bounds. I picked this story for its efficiency, surprising lines, and the feeling that stuck with me long after I put down the page. And that, Dear Reader, is saying a lot."

The winning entry will be featured in Paper Darts Volume 4.

Here is a sneak peek: 


Jeremy and I are gymnasts but not the unsettling sort of red-headed, twin, teen male gymnasts. People don't appreciate how gymnastics prepares you for sports like football, even if you never play those other sports, because you never wanted to anyway. Gymnastics teaches you how your body moves through space, how it can be thrown, how it collides.  

Get to know Jill Summers

Jill Summers writes short stories, puppet shows, and once, a play. Her fiction has been featured on NPR and published in Monkeybicycle, decomP, Knee-Jerk, Ninth Letter, Annalemma, THE2NDHAND, and MAKE Magazine, among others. She teaches in the First-Year Writing Program at Columbia College Chicago. 

What was the inspiration for this story? 

The first line popped in my head while I was riding in a cab and I really wanted to put my seatbelt on but did not, because I was afraid it would offend the cabbie. I wrote the earliest version of this story to read at Quickies.

Do you have a writing ritual? 

I work something like sixty hours a week during the fall and spring semesters, so I write when and where I can, usually late at night and/or under duress of a deadline for a show or submission call, both big motivators I seek out and employ to get work finished. The one constant might be begging for revisions from someone who will be brutal with my text.

What soundtrack would you give this piece? 

"Slow Ride" by Foghat?

In your youth (or now—this is a safe space), where in your home was the [imaginary] monster located, and what kind of monster was it?

Under my bed, and it was a pair of Italian gangsters (one fat/smart, one skinny/stupid) waiting to chop my hand off if it ever hung over the side. When skinny/stupid would miss his chance, fat/smart would berate him.

Confess a celebrity or fictional character crush you’re not proud of.

The Fox from The Fox and the Hound. I think his name was Todd!


Thank you to everyone who submitted to the first ever Paper Darts Short Fiction Award. We had a ton of fun reading your work,
and you didn't make selecting finalists easy.

You are all, truly, the bestest.