A few extracts

This last week I’ve been dealing with a lot of real life stuff and I’m not feeling up to writing a full-on blog post. But I have been entering quite a few writing competitions lately, so I thought I’d share some excerpts here which will (I hope) whet your appetite for more.

1. ‘The Gorge’ – non-fiction travel writing on the theme ‘A Narrow Escape’

Sicilian road designers have an approach best described as whimsical. They enjoy creating motorways with no road markings, changing speed limits at random, and leaving important turnoffs entirely un-signposted. And sometimes, they try to kill you.

2. ‘The Muse’ – short story, a venture into ‘literary’ fiction

I’m standing in front of a three-quarters profile portrait of myself. Picture me is gazing out of a window. On the surface of the window is inscribed a poem, about me – my sandy hair, my pale skin, and my ever-changing eyes. The effect is rather like the vertiginous sensation of looking in a mirror with another mirror on the opposite wall which reflects my own reflection. A man in a red velvet jacket comes over and joins me in front of the picture. He looks at the painting, then he glances at me, then back to the painting… and then he does a proper double-take, like something out of an old comedy routine.

3) ‘Dear Mary’ – a short story on the theme ’65 Not Out’

Dear Mary,

You may be quite surprised to receive this letter, as we haven’t seen each other for such a long time. Although perhaps I’m not the only one to suddenly get back in touch. Maybe quite a few people have been coming out of the woodwork lately, to offer their support and say things like ‘You know, I never really liked him’. And maybe a few others, sadly narrow-minded, have gone the other way and stopped inviting you round for tea.

But that’s just speculation, because I don’t really know anything about your life any more. How many years has it been? Far too many. It’s amazing how they just slip away. Whenever I look in the mirror, I still almost expect to see a pretty girl with flyaway hair and a few freckles. It’s always a bit of a shock when some middle-aged woman with a stern grey crew-cut looks back. Well, I say middle-aged. I’m sixty-five now, retirement age, so I guess I have become old. I turned gradually from a fresh young thing into an old maid, as one by one all my friends got married and started families, while each September I returned to school and introduced myself to a new class as ‘Miss Keown’, not ‘Mrs So-and-so’.

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