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Writing can be a lonely and thankless task at times, interrupted by wondering whether one has anything worthwhile to say, and then worrying if anyone will take the trouble to read it. So it is very gratifying, once in a while, to have one's work rewarded with recognition.

The very short story, "Fire," began in a writing class where we were asked to write something using as a prompt one of the four classic elements: earth, air, fire and water. Having been born under a water sign and followed the sea as a young man, the latter might have been an obvious choice. Instead, an image of flames flowed from my imagination through my fingers and onto the page. Flames that can warm and comfort, but also terrify and destroy.

I submitted the completed story to the 2019 Peter Cowan Short Story Competition. Named after one of Western Australia's best-known writers, the competition is open to unpublished short stories of 600 words or less, that have not received any other award or …

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