JP Reads announces short fiction contest winner

JP Reads has announced Jamaica Plain resident Rachel Bergquist as the winner of its first annual Flash Fiction Contest.

JP Reads is an organization that encourages JP residents to read a selected book and then holds an annual series of events around it. This year’s book was Junot Díaz’s “Drown.” Díaz visited spoke to an audience of more than 300 people at an Oct. 25 JP Reads event, where the “flash fiction,” or very short fiction, contest winner and finalists were announced.

Bergquist took first place with her story “My Son.” She studied creative writing and developmental psychology at Sarah Lawrence College. She grew up in Olympia, Wash., and moved to Jamaica Plain this fall, where she volunteers at the nonprofit writing center 826 Boston in Egleston Square.

The finalists were JP resident Mary Battenfield and Dorchester resident Bryanna Licciardi.

The Flash Fiction Contest was cosponsored by the Gazette along with the Writers’ Room of Boston, the JP-based Urbano Project and the Emerson College Department of Writing, Literature & Publishing.

For more information, see


My Son

By Rachel Bergquist

I didn’t have a son, and he didn’t come when I called. When a car didn’t hit him, I didn’t run out to the street and I didn’t carry him up the stairs to the house. I didn’t worry about the broken leg, and I didn’t lay him on the bed that I hadn’t made. I didn’t brush his hair from his face, didn’t read to him, nor play his favorite hymns on the piano that wasn’t tuned. I didn’t thread my fingers under his shoulders and knees, nor carry him to the hot bath I hadn’t run. I wasn’t told thank you, and I wasn’t called mama.

I didn’t watch him walk to school on his first day, and I didn’t shed a tear at the sight of his back down the street. His little legs that never healed didn’t run fast. I didn’t watch his champion games, nor hang the medals he didn’t win from my walls. We didn’t play cards after the dinners I never made. I didn’t take his photo in the uniform he never wore. I didn’t drive him to the station, didn’t hug him goodbye, nor pat him on the cheek. I didn’t call him my good boy. I wasn’t proud.

I didn’t get lonely without the son I didn’t have. I didn’t get the letters he didn’t write. He didn’t sign them with love. I didn’t ask how the weather was in the country he wasn’t in. I didn’t open the shades that weren’t in his windows, nor readjust the pillows that weren’t on his bed. The son I didn’t have didn’t cry when they didn’t take his boots, and he didn’t come home, wasn’t shipped to my door. I didn’t wrap him up, nor carry him in the cold. I didn’t shiver when I didn’t hold his hand.

I never saw the son I didn’t have for the last time. The rain never fell on me, the sun never shined on me. The day never dawned on me, and I never saw the night.

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