fiction


From Things Which Are Not True, a Guardian Summer Read:


When Coral announces: “I'm just going on holiday for a lark, really," no one reacts. A word like 'lark' is wasted on her colleagues. She heard it last week on a TV home makeover show, and Coral wrote it in her notebook under the heading Words To Say. In the column 'Example' she wrote, 'I'm just doing it for a lark, really' with 'Casual, nonchalant' in the 'Delivery' section. That word 'nonchalant' has an entry all of its own earlier in the book. It also appeared on the list Things To Be In 2007.

Coral has sung 'Summer Holiday' A LOT throughout the morning, just to make sure everyone knows she’s going away. When she came back from Llandudno in November they hadn't even realised she'd been gone. This is different though. She’s also hummed ‘Viva Espania’ in the photocopy queue.

Plus she's taken her luggage to work, saying that she has to go straight to the airport at 5 o'clock. But really she's not flying until tomorrow morning, so her backpack is full of tinned food wrapped in towels to soften the edges. She didn't want to actually pack because she's making an event of it tonight with a bottle of wine and a week's worth of Coronation Street episodes. It made Friday, Monday and last night quite difficult to fill but Coral knew she'd be glad of it later.
To read the rest of this story, go here.


      
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From In a seaside cafe, Bridport Prize finalist:

I look out to sea and imagine what it must have been like to really see it; not just the news footage.  That wall of something that shouldn't make a wall of anything.  Mum rang and I said – don't worry, it could never happen here, something to do with plates.  There must have been little cafes like this one: so on-the-edge.  Maybe there was an equivalent of me, waiting.
things Amy knows:
the coffee is making the old people twitch
she is the youngest manager in the whole chain
it was the sea that made her take the job
and it was the broken heart
when you reach a certain age, it matters what kind of chair you sit on
the locals don't like the refurb and they blame her a bit
nobody ever puts the newspapers back in the rack
the print on the wall is of a giant coffee bean which doesn't look like a coffee bean

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From After The Cat, finalist in GKBC Crime Story Prize:


He hands me a piece of paper. ‘Here,’ he says, ‘your new name.’ 
I tell him I like it, and he smiles, relieved, like it’s that easy. He doesn’t know there is a third person in the room, and you have just been given a surname. 
He wants me to look at the name and imagine who I could be. He is young, a few years younger than me. Has he noted the age difference, counted the years, and thought about what they mean? 
He asks how I would feel if he called me the new name for the rest of our session. I want to tell him to relax, that this is a formality, and outside a couple of guards are laughing at him. That he is late in the day. 
‘It’s fine,’ I say.

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Click to read  'We are in Whitby', a piece of travel writing published at Litro Online. 





Two very short stories first published in HUM DRUM Magazine.  






Ballwall
 
 
They said it in assembly A LOT like it was normal to
put these two words together.  Ball Wall.
'The Ballwall will be finished on Monday!'
Our eyebrows furrowed.

Eyes flicked left.   
Ball.  
                                                     And right.  
                                                            Wall.

We chanted it on the way back to the classroom.
Ballwall Ballwall Ballwall.

We mouthed it at each other from behind
picture books in the library. 
ballwall.

On Friday, 8 children were sent out of assembly
for spontaneously screaming
BALLWALL

The Saturday and Sunday were slow for us all.

Then at last we stood before it.

                   As high as t
                                    w
                                    o
                                    o
                                    f
                                    m
                                    e
                                             as     wide     as     three    of     me
                                                (but laying down)

A red brick wall on grey concrete.
We stared until somebody said ballwall and
then the air left us because the two words went together as if they were normal.

So we never said it again.



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 I knew this woman who feel in love


She loved him because he said 'yeah?'
at the end of every sentence. 
Like, 'And we want to reward you for that Mrs Croft, yeah?'
It was so involving; an invitation.
And he called her 'Mrs Croft.'
He thought someone had married her.  Suddenly anything was possible. 
She felt like Mrs Robinson.
 

She said she "needed time to think"
(about the offer).
It had been good saying that.
Plus it left everything open for him to phone back.


There was something in the way he'd said,
'Okay, now you take care Mrs Croft, yeah?' that filled her up.
She kept the receiver pressed to her ear after he'd gone,
her lips so close she could hear
herself panting.


Days passed.


The supermarket trip was important –
she was keeping her independence.
Still a woman in her own right,
right?

Then she bought meals for two
and food she didn't like
in case he did.

At home, she waited. 

Practised her 'Hello'
so it wasn't just 'Hello'.
Gave the phone its own chair
and sat on one next to it.

When at last it happened she had to hold her arm
steady not to answer on the first ring.
She opened her mouth for the 'Hello'
that would tell him everything.







But somewhere in a call centre across town,
a man who wasn't the same man,
had dialled Ms Croft's number.


The 'Hello'
stuck in her throat.
Half fell out
and landed at her feet.
She watched it,
maimed and impossible,
a half of something,
incomplete.

 
               

















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6 comments:

essygie said...

love it, made me :-)

Teresa Stenson said...

Thanks, Essy.

digestivepress said...

Ace. Simple and a bit magic.

(I found your blog through Dan Purdue's post about your Guardian success - which I also really enjoyed. Well done)

Teresa Stenson said...

Hi, and thank you, thanks loads, that's awesome to hear.

Helen Baggott - Author Services said...

Beautiful writing - so simple, so complex.

Teresa Stenson said...

Thanks, Helen.