Laura Morris, an English teacher from Caerphilly, has won the 2022 Rhys Davies Short Story Competition for her story ‘Cree’, described by guest judge Rachel Trezise as “bristling with an irresistible melancholia and brimming with a bold confidence.”
The competition recognises the very best unpublished short stories in English in any style and on any subject up to a maximum of 5,000 words by writers aged 18 or over who were born in Wales, have lived in Wales for two years or more, or are currently living in Wales.
‘Cree’ is a story about the unconventional friendship between a 55-year-old junior schoolteacher Meryl Williams and her young pupil, Ben. With a school inspection looming, Meryl and Ben build a time machine in the classroom, hoping to impress. While Meryl feels life trickle away like ‘sand through an hourglass’, it is Ben’s kindness which offers her a safe place, her very own version of ‘Cree’.
Laura, 43, earned an MA in Creative Writing from Bangor University. Her work has been published by Honno Press and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Recent short stories have appeared in The Lonely Crowd and Banshee. She now lives in Cardiff where she is the Head of English at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern.
Established in 1991, there have been nine Rhys Davies Short Story contests to date. The competition was relaunched by Swansea University’s Cultural Institute on behalf of The Rhys Davies Trust in 2021, in association with Parthian Books.
Laura wins £1,000 and has her winning entry featured in the Rhys Davies Short Story Award Anthology 2022, which is published by Parthian in October. The stories from the other 11 finalists in this year’s competition will also feature in the anthology.
This year’s guest judge, the multi-award-winning Welsh novelist and playwright Rachel Trezise, said: “Laura Morris’ ‘Cree’ bristles with an irresistible melancholia and brims with a bold confidence. It’s maturity of tone lived long in my memory bringing me back to the story, bittersweet though it is, time and again.”