I've pondered for a while on how to start my new website blog and come up short a hundred times. But this weekend gave me something to both celebrate & share. I'm delighted to have been chosen as one of two winners of 'Women on the Wall', a writing competition organised by Hexham Book Festival & Great Northumberland.
We were all invited along to The Sill for an awards event & a reading by Natalie Haynes. Not expecting to win, I was happy to listen to the winners stories & take notes. Having my name called & then getting up to read my story left me inspired & a little overwhelmed. This is the first piece of flash fiction I've entered into a competition & having it chosen by Natalie Haynes (who is super entertaining & awesome) was a real honour.
Script writing has long been my first love but flash is elbowing its way into my affections...here's my winning story, let me know what you think! You can read the other winning entry & runners-up here.
The Jewel of the Wall
Outside the landscape is growing wild. My neighbour is squirming, too many hours on a claustrophobic bus, bare legs stuck to leather seats. Relief fills the air as we slow and turn off at a brown road sign. I retrieve my bag, checking the inside pocket. Still there. I turn the small linen pouch over in my hand once, the pendants weight reassuring. Only a short walk now until it is returned. The map is already folded and marked, the trail moderate. A hill or two, perhaps a stile. I leave the tourists behind, baseball caps & walking poles cluttering the car park.
The truth was nothing like I’d imagined. My father’s image had always been clear. Waistcoat, shorts, dust covered boots and tanned calves. In his hand, a trowel and in his pocket, a linen bag. The treasure would have been checked in, numbered, catalogued. A piece of a woman’s life, remembered. And I was custodian of this rare thing.
The truth was dark, secretive. Evenings spent sneaking, stealing, pretending. He was a vandal. No-one but us would ever have known about this tiny fragment. Smooth, dainty, a minute hole for a delicate chain. Hers. Not his. Not mine.
I have never worn it. Even now I only touch it, occasionally peering into the bag to check its continued existence. The path takes a steep turn upwards to a crest where the low-lying ruins sit, waiting. Once she may have sat here, watching her children play, touching the pendant around her neck, awaiting the return of her husband from the wall. My father’s drawing points to the spot. I kneel and start to dig. A new grave for an old treasure.