Publication Day.

It’s a day all writers hope to see; a day to dream about, sitting at a desk, staring into space. A day which often seems impossible, unlikely, unobtainable. A day to confirm the belief in yourself which you don’t always possess.

First Publication Day.

image

Not for me the Fourth of July.
Et ce n’est pas le14 juillet. Non.

I haven’t been hoping year after year, month after month, day after long day, for independence; I’ve been waiting for publication. To see my name in print; in a book.

And so, the 17th July will henceforth be referred to chez flyingscribbler as ‘Publication Day’.

Ok, so it’s not my book per se. I’ve yet to publish anything bearing my name on the cover, ( something, naturally, I hope to put right in days, months, years to come), but I’m more than happy to settle for two of my stories to appear in a short story collection.

image

So I won’t be earning a penny from sales. This is not important. If I’d wanted to earn a living from writing, I would have given up ages ago….a report last week said your average published writer earns £11,000 a year from their toil. This is so far below the minimum wage as to make it practically worthless.
Sales of the anthology of winning stories in the Words with Jam ‘Bigger’ short story competition instead go to that publication (check it out, do), and to amazon.

But I don’t care. I’m currently on cloud nine, basking in my small degree of success; intending to celebrate in rather bigger style, almost certainly out of proportion to my achievement.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned since picking up my pencil, it’s that even the tiniest success must be celebrated.

Is that a cork I hear popping?

Incidentally, if you wish to add to Amazon’s groaning sack of cash, oh, and read my two stories, the book is “An Earthless Melting Pot”, published by Words with Jam,  (www.wordswithjam.co.uk).

Justin N Davies. Writer.

Rejoicing vs. Rejection.

Good news is always worth waiting for. Nobody waits in for bad news to arrive.

Trouble is, for the aspiring writer, bad news is the more frequent of the two visitors.; and it’s not easy to shy away from it.

This bad news visitor generally arrives in the guise of an email announcing competition results. It lures the expectant entrant into opening the message with all the hope and positive anticipation they felt when submitting the work so very many months ago. The emails have to be opened because you might, just might, find your own name lurking somewhere, anywhere on the list.

Not in the top three? No problem, keep reading; there’s still the shortlist to go. Still the hope that all your efforts were worthwhile. Not on the shortlist? Nor the long list? Who cares? It is, as we all know, and let’s hold hands and repeat the mantra once again, THE TAKING PART THAT COUNTS.

Still, for all that, the sinking heart and  momentary stab of regret are hard to avoid. Thankfully, these feelings and the disappointment always become diluted and tend to result in a burst of renewed energy and vigour; a determination to return to the desk and try again. Try harder. Almost certainly fail again. But next time, fail better (Beckett said this: wise man).

Yesterday I received a results email. I metaphorically hid behind the sofa as I scrolled down, as if waiting for a Dr Who monster to burst from my kindle fire. I felt prepared to do battle with my sinking emotions. I am, after all, predisposed to tackle the setbacks, the blighted hopes. We all are. It comes with the territory. Naturally, I hadn’t prepared for the converse emotional response: the thrill, the joy, the sweet delight of actually winning something. The need for this is so infrequent, so rare, so very unlikely, that it never occurs to me to brace myself to seeing my name up there on the list of winners. Runners and riders yes; winners no.

But this time I’m in the winners’ enclosure. The results of the Words with Jam ‘Bigger’ short story competition 2013 are out and I placed in one category and made the short list in another. I have neither won anything, nor been published for such a long time, I’d forgotten how it feels. To be honest, I was numbed yesterday by jet lag and tiredness, having literally just returned from our holiday to California. This compounded my brain’s confusion and probably inhibited it’s ability to compute positive information of this nature; it certainly meant that I couldn’t contemplate toasting the glad tidings with anything more exciting than a mug of Horlicks.

This morning in the warm, glowing light of day (it’s not: it’s cold and windy), I can bask more easily in the knowledge of my small success.

Now I just have to make this feeling last….it might be some time before I find myself dusting off this emotion form the shelf again.

My second placed story “Sackcloth and Ashes” in the category for stories up to 1000 words can be found over at Words with Jam. It is also to be published in a winners’ anthology in due course. My short, short story which was short listed will also appear in the anthology.

Follow the links above to read my story and the other winning entries. They are all very good.

The view from Mount Hooley

So much time has elapsed since my last post, it will be a wonder if I have any regular readers left. This is entirely my own fault and I am ready to deal with the consequences. I had a short story returned, unwanted, unloved, by a magazine last week, so I’m in the right frame of mind for rejection.
I’m settling in to a new rhythm here in our new house; but it is a gradual process. During these first early months, getting to know our village, the local area, a new country, there have been many all-too-easy distractions. For distractions, read: procrastinations.

Firstly, I’ve wanted to go into Edinburgh and begin to feel my way round; set my city compass, if you like.

Then there are the friends who have been eager to visit (thank goodness that they are eager: it’s a long way from ‘old’ home, and therefore more than just popping round); and other friends for us to visit who are now more local due to the move north.

Family, of course, have taken centre stage. I brought mine with me (a very understanding mother); whilst the ‘other’ side were already waiting patiently for us to make our minds up and join them in Scotland.

Oh, and then there’s been the AGA to get to grips with. Every day provides a new excuse to experiment with some baking. And who knew you could iron the bedding by laying it on top of the (covered) hot plates?

image: agaliving.com

image: agaliving.com

Hours of wash day fun.

What I’m trying to say is, that despite having loads of new ideas for stories crying to be let out on to paper, I have been finding reasons aplenty to ignore their pleas. Until now.

Perhaps it’s the change in the weather: there’s less of a pressure to be outside, and plenty of good reasons to stay within these old walls. Or perhaps those voices are simply becoming too loud to ignore. Either way, I have found myself increasingly drawn to my desk and I’ve been writing again.

I experienced a few days of not being able to decide which of my projects to concentrate on. There are several strands you see; I’m juggling more than one writing ball; trying to keep my eggs in alternative baskets.

1) The flash fiction. I still love this form and its inventiveness. I’ve just sent off a couple to compete in competition; bundled up in an email attachment and dispatched into the big wide (brutal) world of competitive writing.

2) Short stories. I have attempted a couple recently, but having concentrated for so long on the flashes, I find them daunting. However, I have completed one (that of the rejection letter: “we found your story a little weak”), and am working on another. These are intended for the magazine market. Publication for me can come from any source.

3) My children’s novel(s). These are long-term works-in-progress. One, I have kind of abandoned, in favour of a new idea. Actually, it’s an old idea which is in the throes of being re-born as a full length book. I hope.

4) This blog. I’ve enjoyed blogging over the last few years and don’t want to stop. I keep meaning to find a direction for it and stick with it. I’m sure it would be more successful that way; would be read by more people. Publishers say they like writers to have a blog; a presence online etc. So, in the everlasting hope that I will one day have finished something worthy of finding its way to a publisher/agent, I think I’ll keep it going.

I see no issue with my several strands. Some days I feel like concentrating on one; some days more than one. Some days I need to get out and enjoy my new surroundings; some days the wind blows so wildly that the only place to be is inside watching it whip white horses from the waves. Then, occasionally, I remember to turn away from the window and put pencil back to paper. (Did I mention that it’s really windy here in our new house? We’re rather exposed and the effect of the two bridges seems to send the wind swirling into weird vortexes over our garden. Shortly after moving in, we discovered that our house was built on what was once locally known as Mount Hooley.

Mount Hooley: it's not a mountain, but the wind sure blows like it was.

Mount Hooley: it’s not a mountain, but the wind blows here like it was.

And that’s exactly how it blows.)

The clocks go back tomorrow. As darkness encroaches on our days, I anticipate my word count will increase. At least, I hope it will. And in any of my strands. The important thing is to write.

The sun has just set. After a day of lashing rain, the sky cleared in time for a beautiful display of colours on the rail bridge. The view from Mount Hooley never disappoints. With any luck, the writing from Mount Hooley won’t either.

‘Pigeon Chasing’. My return to #fridayflash

It’s been a long while, but I’m finally getting myself back into my writing groove. Moving house (country) sapped my fiction juices away for the duration; I feel they might be returning. Whether they are back to pre-move levels or not remains to be seen (read).

I am marking my return with a very short flash fiction piece for #fridayflash. Other #fridayflash contributors were asking where I’d got to. I’m still here and thank you for asking after me. Comments always welcome.

Pigeon Chasing

Image from google images

When Robert was a toddler he discovered that chasing pigeons was more fun than almost anything else. His aunt, something of a self-taught psychotherapist, assumed his behaviour was an effort to escape the over-bearing clutches of her sister-in-law; but in truth, in was all about the birds.

Robert continued to chase pigeons with an escalating degree of intensity, often resulting in painful collisions: town-square fountains, bicycles, and thorny shrubs, for example.

During a family outing to a picturesque fishing harbour – one famed locally for the quality of its crab cakes sold from a pier-end shack – Robert chased the most beautiful pigeon he’d ever seen. He chased its metallic iridescence along the harbour wall. He chased as he’d never chased before. He chased, ignoring his mother’s anguished shrieks and his father’s stern commands. He chased with increasing joy; joy which rose within him as he neared the terminal velocity of a nine year old.

Unable to perform the bird’s last minute aerial manoeuvre, Robert chased his elation over the edge, plunging into the ocean.

Within moments, he found the close deafness of the water a comforting change from the endless noises and voices he was used to enduring, and so, quite reasonably, he resolved to remain under.

 Briefly distracted from his efforts to stay submerged by the distorted image of a pigeon flying just above the waves, Robert was reminded of his new aquatic ambition by the flickering lustre of a passing school of mackerel.

With any luck, he thought, kicking down into the depths, I’ll develop gills of my own.

© flyingscribbler 2013

Creativity Update

I’ve been rather quiet here of late. It isn’t that I haven’t been writing; far from it. My creative writing course is providing me with lots of opportunities for that, and we are all working towards an end-of-course piece. Mine is taking shape and is going to take the form of a trilogy (triptych, if you will) of flashes. I’m not particularly happy with progress at the moment, but there is a reason for this. I’ll be blogging about THAT shortly.
Please don’t worry. Flyingscribbler is not unwell.
But that’s all you’re getting. For now, at least.
My writing course was cancelled twice in a row, which rather conveniently coincided with the two sessions I was unable to attend, but I’m keen to get back to it. The last class I went to was all about life writing which I didn’t enjoy half as much as the poetry class. However, I did have the chance to read out the poem I’d been working on throughout the previous week. It was based on a recent trip to Tanzania and took the form of a list poem (which we had discussed in class) similar to Song of Myself by Walt Whitman. We were to use anaphora – a repeated introduction to each line – and try to include grace and musicality in our work. I was quite pleased with my effort and received decent feedback from the class. I thought I might share it with you here.

Feel The Heat

Feel the heat.

Feel the sweat trickling, feel the skin slowly softening.

Feel the heat.

The warmth presses, kisses, wraps you in winter-quilt caresses.

Feel the white-wash glare from slumbering clouds.

Feel the city pulse slow, feel the sun’s burning glow.

Feel the heat.

Seek relief in noon-day shadows with locals who know.

Feel shots of hibiscus blooming blood through leaves.

Feel the afternoon breeze.

Watch seed pods spin from long-fingered clutches.

Hear palm fronds ripple applause.

Feel the marzipan softness of frangipani flowers

beneath your feet.

Feel hearts sing as old friends meet

to knock willow on leather.

Feel the heat.

Now the warm draft of eagle-soaring thermals.

Feel them rise and glide and fall.

Then the first cooling breaths whisper in from the sea.

Feel them calm and balm and soothe.

And the dusky blue pink platinum sky

feels the vibrations of a cow-hide beat from the street.

Feel the heat.

Let me know what you think.

Meanwhile, here’s a writing news update: my story ‘Kid Gloves’ is published today at everydayfiction.com. Please feel free to leave comments and vote. I also made the long list in the micro fiction category of The New Writer annual competition. Whilst it’s a shame not to have gone any further, it beats last year when I made no list at all, long, short or medium. Anyway, I’ll be peddling the story that made the list to plenty more competitions. It’s one I was quite proud of.

‘Table for One’ A new flash fiction

I didn’t think I was going to get a story written today. I’ve got some winter virus and it’s snowing. The snow has nothing to do with my ability to write a story, but it sets the scene for you.

Don’t ask me where this one came from; all I know is I did eat a tuna wrap last week. So there you go.

Table for One

They said at the inquest that it came down to sun-dried tomatoes. That might seem strange to someone who wasn’t there to hear the evidence, but having sat through the whole thing, it made perfect sense.

The arsonist, they said, was a loner (aren’t they always?), or he at least kept himself to himself. He sat alone in the restaurant every day, facing the wall. ‘Not exactly what you’d call a conversationalist,’ said Patti, one of the waitresses, who, by chance, had been having a temporary crown fitted the day of the fire, ‘but never rude.’

Patti’s evidence was crucial: no-one else had ever spoken to him; at least none that were still living. His landlord recalled a brief exchange of words from the day he arrived in the town five years earlier; the man had apparently moved around a fair bit until he’d “found a town where they serve my lunch the way I like it”.

Patti thought he probably only ate once a day, and always the same thing: tuna wrap with potato salad. ‘So you see,’ she told the inquest, ‘he never had a reason to talk. But he always tipped.’

She explained that a new chef had started. ‘He was anti-frills and Food Network, if you know what I mean.’ I don’t suppose everyone present did, but she continued anyway. ‘We said don’t mess with the menu, but I guess he had a vision of his own, like chefs do.’

The man had taken a single bite of his wrap before calling Patti over.

‘He asked me where the tomato was. The only words he ever spoke to me in all those years. “Where’s the sun-dried tomato?”’

The inquest concluded he’d been insane; at least, he was when he ran into the restaurant holding a petrol bomb.

Afterwards, when I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the time my mother forgot to take mustard to the beach for our hot dogs.

© flyingscribbler 2013

Your comments are important, so keep them coming.

‘Roots to Love’ A new flash fiction

I woke up this morning thinking that root vegetables would be an interesting starting point for some flash fiction. It seemed like a good idea at the time anyway…..

google images

google images

Roots to Love

George was halfway through the hourly sweep of his section, surprised, as always, at how much produce ended up on the floor.

‘Excuse me. Are those yam or cassava? I’m never quite sure.’

George was on his knees, reaching under the display for an escaped turnip, but he could still tell that the woman was taller than him; and she was solid, in the way that well-nourished women were.

‘The ones on the left are the yams. Beautiful thinly sliced and fried.’

‘That sounds delicious.’

George stood up. She was about an inch taller.

‘But not as good as plantain.’

The woman scanned the shelves.

‘I don’t see any here.’

‘That,’ said George, ‘is because I bought the last of them yesterday.’

‘Shame. I’d like to have tried them.’

George replaced the turnip, checking the pile for stability.

‘I could make some for us, if you like.’

It took three months to work their way through the whole root vegetable section. Patricia insisted on their taking turns, although George preferred to be in charge of the hot oil.

‘It’s dangerous,’ he said, ‘for a beginner.’

The carrot was the surprise success, and they agreed that parsnip was both reliable and tasty; but the sweet potato was disappointing.

‘Pappy,’ said Patricia, ‘like cheap bread.’

They had just finished a second bowl of ‘Yukon Gold’ one evening, (“crispy yet predictable”), when Patricia suggested they lay off the fried food for a while. George wiped the bowl with his finger.

‘But what will we do instead?’

It was a sensible question to which neither George or Patricia had an answer.

George continued experimenting alone, tweaking his technique. Each vegetable, he found, had its particular thickness for the optimum fry. Only the oil was a constant; the temperature and brand never varied. The oil, he understood, acted as a conduit for the vegetables, transporting each to a higher plane of enjoyment.

Patricia hadn’t been back to the supermarket for a while, but appeared one Tuesday morning at George’s check out.

‘You’ve progressed from fruit and veg then?’

George glanced at the mountain of carrots making their way along the conveyor.

‘My manager said I’d be more comfortable here, sitting,’ said George. His swivel seat creaked in protest as he shifted position.

‘Good for you,’ said Patricia.

‘They’ll make you a lot of carrot chips,’ said George, ‘you’ll never get through all them on your own.’

‘These?’ said Patricia, laughing, ‘oh, we’re juicing them. You wouldn’t believe how many carrots it takes to make two glasses.’

‘We?’

‘Yes. Peter, that’s my partner; he just loves carrot juice.’

George pushed the carrots into the bagging area.

‘You said a relationship couldn’t be based on a mutual love of root vegetables.’

‘Did I?’

‘Yes. I wrote it down. On a ‘post-it’.’

‘I don’t remember.’ Patricia looked at the counter. ‘Don’t forget our celery. They taste great together; the celery gives the juice an edge.’

‘But celery isn’t a root vegetable.’

‘No George, it isn’t. But a varied diet is healthier.’ Patricia bagged her vegetables. ‘How much will that be please?’

© flyingscribbler 2013

Please comment on my writing, if you have the time. It’s really very useful. Other flash fiction writers can be found at #fridayflash on twitter and at fridayflash.org.

Did you catch my post about historical accuracy in weights and measures? Vital advice indeed for budding historical fiction writers.

 

 

 

Vital Signs. A new flash fiction.

It’s been such a long time since I have posted a story here, that I was beginning to think it was never going to happen again. However, I decided to start the year as I hope to go on, writing more and posting more frequently. I haven’t written anything for a month or so, having taken the month of December off (I wrote about this the other day), and I found it much harder than I though to get back into the swing of things. Having said that, the subject matter for this one came to me easily: a leaflet was posted to me recently, offering ‘life signs’ screening. Clearly, this is the sort of thing which starts happening when you reach your forties; it’s just a matter of time until I’m being offered invisible hearing aids and bulk purchase trusses. Until then, I aim to continue writing and posting.

Incidentally, I had some flash fiction success this week: my story ‘Worm Hole’ was published at Every Day Fiction. Please nip over and tell me what you think.

On with my first #fridayflash offering for the year. As always, comments are hugely useful, so please take a second to leave one. And don’t forget to check out all the other #fridayflash writers over at fridayflash.org .

image: google images

image: google images

Vital Signs

Dr Lovric re-examined the evidence. For the first time in his career he wasn’t quite sure how to proceed; whichever way he looked at it, his client was clinically dead.

‘Are you certain?’ The client was on the bed, attached by electrodes to the clinic’s machinery.

‘The facts, Mr Kanting, do not lie; you have no vital signs.’

The client stared down at the mass of wires stuck to his torso.

‘You’re telling me that you are one hundred percent certain that I have no discernable heartbeat?’

Dr Lovric paused for a moment. It was his belief that one ought always to appear to consider a question carefully, especially when the answer contained such monumental tidings.

‘I am certain.’

It was another of Dr Lovric’s beliefs that uncertainties in life were unnecessary and dangerous complications which, left unresolved, bred pessimism and misery. Certainty was so central to his philosophy that it had led him to establish his screening clinic whose motto, “It’s your future; be certain of it”, placed the concept centre-stage.

‘I’m sorry,’ the client closed his eyes and shook his head, ‘I must be missing something.’

At Med School, where the young doctor had had a reputation for a macabre bedside humour, his response would have been ‘you’re not wrong there’, but today it seemed inappropriate.

‘Missing?’

‘Yes, missing. You said these tests were supposed to identify the absence or presence of an irregular heartbeat.’

‘That is correct.’

‘Well,’ continued the client, ripping an electrode from his chest, ‘they haven’t, have they?’

Dr Lovric took a step back. Experience had taught him that when a consultation appeared to be going badly, it paid to be prepared to make a quick exit.

‘They haven’t what?’

‘Found the absence or presence of an irregular heartbeat.’

Dr Lovric nodded sagely.

‘Indeed.’

‘So, I’ll be requiring a full refund.’

‘Mr Kanting, I haven’t been able to discern whether your heartbeat is either regular or irregular because I have been unable to discern any type of heartbeat at all.’

‘Exactly. I want a refund.’

‘Mr Kanting, the situation, or more precisely, your situation, is very serious.’

‘Dr Lovric, I have paid to have my life signs screened, which thus far you have singularly failed to do.’

Dr Lovric couldn’t recall an occasion where a client had been so difficult. He prided himself on his clinic’s professional service and even those people who needed to be referred for specialist care left his clinic happy; happy in the knowledge that a medical disaster had been averted.

‘I’ve looked for your vital signs Mr Kanting, several times. In fact,’ and now the doctor finally felt he was rising to this most unusual of challenges, ‘you could say that you have received rather more of our service than you have paid for.’

‘I don’t believe I’m hearing this,’ said the client, ripping off the remaining electrodes.

‘Please get back on the bed Mr Kanting; I’m sure we can come to an arrangement.’

‘Arrangement?’

The doctor cleared his throat. The clinic’s satisfaction ratings were riding very high and this client wasn’t going to change that.

‘The ‘Signs of Life’ clinic is prepared to offer you a full refund.’

‘It is?’

‘Indeed. But I must advise you to seek urgent specialist attention.’

The client laughed.

‘You must take me for a fool Doctor,’ he said, ‘according to you I am no longer alive.’

‘Well, medically speaking, that is correct.’

‘And yet, here I am, talking to you.’ The client reached for his shirt. ‘Philosophically speaking, since you can see me, I must be here, and since you can hear me speaking, I must be alive.’

Dr Lovric squirmed. It was arguments like this which had led him to dropping out of his philosophy minor at college.

‘So Doctor, am I alive or not?’

‘Medically? No.’

‘But philosophically, you must agree, I am alive.’

Dr Lovric felt he was being backed into a corner.

‘You could say that the two points of view cancel each other out.’

‘Which,’ said the client, ‘leaves us back where we started.’

‘Indeed.’ Dr Lovric took a deep breath. ‘Would you like to be re-tested? At no cost, of course.’

‘I think not,’ said the client, ‘I am, on balance, happy with the status quo.’

‘That’s probably for the best,’ said Dr Lovric, leading his client to the door.

 But despite his best efforts, the doctor couldn’t forget about the unexplained phenomenon. He’d never previously been stumped like this; there was, in his experience, a medical explanation for every anomaly.

Before closing for the day, he wandered past the bed recently vacated by Mr Kanting. The doctor couldn’t help wishing that he’d never set eyes on the man. In fact, he wished he’d never known about his existence.

Suddenly, a thought struck him: in one of the few philosophy lectures he’d attended-metaphysics, was it?-hadn’t they discussed unperceived existence? A quote rang in his ears, dredged up from the murky depths of his academic memory, “To be is to be perceived”. Yes, thought Dr Lovric, that was it, and he smiled for the first time in over two hours. If he could no longer see Mr Kanting, he must no longer exist, which meant that none of that afternoon’s shenanigans had ever happened;  and even if they had, it no longer mattered.

Dr Lovric locked the door behind him and headed for his car. He might, he thought, have made an equally brilliant philosopher after all.

© flyingscribbler 2012

A Rest is as Good as a Change

In the first week of December I found myself frustrated by the lack of time to sit down and work on any of my writing projects. I had ideas for blog posts, flash stories and short stories. Also, having finished the first draft of my children’s book, I wanted to get to work on the second. However, as happens in the run up to Christmas, other demands on my time kept appearing. And if they didn’t appear, I suddenly remembered something that had to be purchased, wrapped, sent, decorated, baked, cleaned……It’s the same for everyone. I know. After several days of worrying about not having enough time to get any writing done, which threatened to result in early-stage festive resentment, I made the decision to stop fretting and write off the month as far as writing was concerned.

It was, let me tell you, liberating.

Did I feel guilty at letting the writing slip? No.

Have I experienced a sense of loss? No.

Do I feel that I have let myself down for delaying a project? No.

Have I now lost the urge to write at all? No.

There may be those who would say that if I was a real writer I would simply HAVE to write every day. They might say that a real writer would always find time and make space for writing, no matter what circumstances they find themselves in.

Let them.

By taking a voluntary break at a very busy time of year, I avoided feeling at all guilty for spending time wrapping gifts properly; I was, for example, able to go out and find the perfect wrapping paper and even came up with a rather creative method of labelling, using old-style luggage tags. (These were commented on when it came to gift distribution). I felt that it was acceptable to pass a day baking festive biscuits. And eating them. I even enjoyed the prospect of having friends to dinner without feeling that it was encroaching on the precious time I might have earmarked for writing. In short, I had a relaxed and worry-free month.

This is not to say that writing fell entirely by the wayside. Ideas still came to me; some whilst I was engaged in the very yuletide pastimes which I had ditched the writing for in the first place. These were naturally noted down for reference in 2013. And of course the characters from my children’s novel have been consistent in the way they keep appearing to me; I could hardly have expected them to observe the month’s break as well, could I? So they have continued to grow and develop all the while, which is fantastic. I didn’t even have to make an effort.

The distance I gave myself from my notebooks and laptop has also offered me the chance to work out which writing projects are the most pressing; those for which I have the greatest enthusiasm. This is possibly the most useful thing to have come out of not writing for a while. I now feel energised and ready to take up my HB pencil and write again.

And what better way to celebrate the start of my writing year than see one of my stories published. The excellent editorial team at Every Day Fiction have taken my story ‘Worm Hole’. They offered me the chance to make some vital changes, which was an education in itself, and were happy with the end result. It is being sent out to their subscribers tomorrow (2nd Jan), but anyone can see it by heading over to their website everydayfiction.com.

This is the perfect kick-start to my year, and I sit, refreshed from my break and pencil at the ready, to face any number of new writing challenges. You can join me for the ride, if you like.

‘Between the Lines’ A new flash fiction.

Continuing the theme of stories inspired by my recent holiday to Spain, I have come up with this piece of flash fiction. True, the link to Spain isn’t immediately obvious, but it really was inspired by something I saw whilst there; and there’s a photo at the end to prove it.

Between the Lines

When Maria had said she wished Carlos could stay longer what she actually meant was ‘for goodness sake just leave your wife and move in with me.’ Carlos, who entirely lacked the ability to read between the lines, (a shortcoming which had once lost him a considerable sum in an unfortunately-timed share purchase), simply shortened his journey by cutting across the construction site opposite her apartment.

Maria wasn’t ungrateful for the extra ten minutes this afforded their love-making, reasoning that with twice-weekly visits, the hours would soon add up. Nor did she begrudge the extra ten minutes spent sweeping away the dust afterwards. Carlos was, after all, an easy man to love: presenting her with the first of many sunflowers, he had, somewhat clumsily, announced, “your smile stays with me as surely as this flower follows the sun,” after which he never appeared without one. It was, he said, their “thing”, like some couples have a song.

His visits ceased at about the same time the stalling economy left the cranes rusting above the building site. Maria followed the news of his sudden disappearance at a distance appropriate for an unknown usurper, grief at her loss causing her to sweep invisible dust from her floor and to keep a vase filled with fresh water for a sunflower which would never need it.

The cash-strapped police were understandably grateful to call of the search with his wife’s revelation that Carlos had been planning to leave her for another woman.

‘I was so sure I could read him,’ explained Maria to a long-suffering confidante, ‘I knew I was sharing his love but it never once felt that diluted.’

She couldn’t imagine who had stolen his heart from her; or her flowers.

Months passed and the silent cranes continued to loom impotently over the rubble. Well-worn tracks now criss-crossed the site affording time-saving dashes to local residents running late for work. Maria, grateful for the ten minute leeway in her morning routine, joined her neighbours in their daily trespass. The sunflower, when she saw it one day in June, seemed impossible; it was like a desert mirage, sprung optimistically to life amongst the dust and girders. She understood its meaning at once, as Carlos perhaps would not have done; the forensic investigations which followed her call merely confirming what the flower so bravely declared.

Mourning her loss for a second time felt unkind, gratuitous even. Maria coped by nurturing the seeds scavenged from the site of Carlos’ first resting place. In time she hoped the flowers would follow the sun as surely as the shadows cast by the cranes progressed across her balcony each evening.

© Justin N Davies

Image:author’s own.

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