Call for Entries: Flash 405, August 2023: “Secret”

We’re thrilled to round out our 2023 Flash 405 season with our next contest, “Secret,” guest-judged by the wonderful L Mari Harris!

L Mari’s own flash was featured in our latest issue, the subject of which—“Our Mothers”—knows a thing or two about secrets.

Flash 405 is Exposition Review’s multi-genre short-form writing competition, awarding cash prizes and online publication to the winners. Submissions will be open August 4–September 5, 2023.

Learn more about our final contest of 2023 below:

– June 2023 Round –

The Judge: L Mari Harris

L Mari Harris

L Mari Harris’s stories have been chosen for the Wigleaf Top 50 and Best Microfiction. She lives in the Ozarks. Follow her at @LMariHarris and read more of her work at

The Theme: Secret

From L Mari:

Simple words often carry the most weight.

“Secret” is a polysemous word. A few examples from Merriam-Webster include (1) something kept hidden or unexplained, (2) something kept from the knowledge of others or shared only confidentially with a few, (3) the practices or knowledge making up the shared discipline or culture of an esoteric society, (4) a prayer traditionally said inaudibly by the celebrant just before the preface of the mass, and (5) something taken to be a specific or key to a desired end.

A secret can be something positive. For example, the secret to a healthy life is lots of exercise and eating your fruits and vegetables, or your parents had a secret place in the attic where they hid your Christmas presents every year.

But it can also be negative, which is how most of us tend to think of it when we hear the word. There are harmful activities we do to ourselves or others that we take great pains in concealing. There are generational and current family secrets. On a larger scale, there are destructive business practices that are done surreptitiously. The list, and the possible interpretations of what is secret, can go on and on.

How you choose to interpret “secret” is up to you. I love it all—happy, peaceful, sad, angry. I love pieces that grab me by the throat and scream in my face. I love pieces that slowly sneak up on me and whisper in my ear. There are no forbidden topics. There are no preferential approaches. But you do have limited space, so each word must do some heavy lifting. Make them count. I can’t wait to read your words.

Ready to start writing? Full contest guidelines are available via Submittable. We also encourage you to check out past contest winners by visiting our Flash 405 page on our site. Please reach out to with any questions.

Good luck!

– Submissions open August 4–September 5, 2023 –


Photo credit: Mika Baumeister