Congratulations to all of the 500 word story entrants.
Really enjoying the coverage on BBC Radio 2!
Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival
15th - 23rd June 2019
Theakston Old Peculier Harrogate Crime Writing Festival
18th-21st July 2019
Bradford Literary Festival 28th June- 7th July 2019
Write a Novel in 3 days... all your questions answered here >>>
Meet the Editor
1st August 2019, 2-4pm at Custom House, Exeter
In this free session, held in association with Literature Works as part of Quay Words 2019, meet professional editor James Magniac. James will be talking about the role of the editor, how critical feedback can help develop your writing, and will be workshopping key editing questions to help you get to grips with your book. James draws on his experience as an editorial consultant and former in-house editor (with Oneworld), and hosts this session as a TLC Regional Ambassador. This marks the first in a series of free TLC regional events, with more to be announced shortly.
Participants are encouraged to send in their editing queries in advance of the session, and James will select a small handful to look at in detail during the session.
This session is open to writers of all levels.
For more info>>>
"This two-hour workshop offers young people aged 14 – 17 years the time to explore their writing skills through fun, engaging prompts and activities – whether it’s poetry, prose or any other kind of writing they wish to develop! They will then have some uninterrupted time to get words onto the page with the support of an experienced tutor, plus the opportunity to share their work with the group.
Places are free but limited in capacity – please book in advance to secure your seat."
Friday 23rd August 11am-1:30pm
National Centre for Writing, Dragon Hall, Norwich
For more info >>>
I like upsetting people. Especially people I don’t like. I don’t like my family. They don’t like me. Always been that way and it’s not likely to change today.
As I sit here applying new foundation to old skin, I dread the day ahead of me. They’ll all say the ‘right’ thing of course. They’ll all politely stand in a circle in my front room, when it’s over, sipping a sherry. Each and every one of them, wishing they were somewhere else.
But today they have to come. Wouldn’t look good, see, if they didn’t. And my family like to look good, on the outside at least.
My eyes are drawn to the photo of Paddy. He’s the reason I have to see them all again today. Dear, sweet Paddy. My life-long partner. My sparring partner… and of course, my drinking partner. Gone.
I finish making-up my face and drain the contents of the glass by my side. I pull back my greying hair and conceal it with a black chiffon scarf. I get up from the dressing table and topple slightly to the right. I reach out for wall to steady me.
“Oops,” I hiccup.
In the kitchen, I open the cupboard door and from it I pull the Silver Friend. Now, let me explain the Silver Friend. An anniversary present from my Paddy, eighteen years ago… It’s a whisky flask we used to take with us on trips and, well, just about anywhere really. I fill the Silver Friend with whisky until it can hold no more. I screw the lid tight and place it in my handbag. This is for Paddy. I have a new Silver Friend, this one is his.
Snapping my bag shut, I head for the door and wait for my son and daughter to collect me.
They never came to the house, the family. Well, I never invited them. They could come afterwards if they must. That didn’t bother me.
So the arrangements were that everyone was to be at the cemetery for eleven.
Jack, Emily and I are in the car following the hearse as it enters the gates and I catch sight of my family.
“You OK, mum?”
“Yep, fine.” I open my bag and pull out Silver Friend.
“Mum! For goodness sake, you can’t be serious. Not today!”
“Shut up, Emily. I need a drink.”
I tip the whisky flask and let the burning sensation work its way down my throat.
Jack hissed through clenched teeth, “If he could see you now… I can’t believe you’re attending his bloody funeral, pissed!”
“He can see me. And he’s jealous he can’t have a sip!”
Even my children have to laugh at that.
Jack holds open the door as I climb out of the car.
Which one would approach me first, I wonder. Fiona came tottering towards us, “Oh, Jeanie. I don’t know what to say… you look well. I am so sorry for your loss,”
“Yeah, course you are…that hat looks bloody awful by the way…”
Jack elbows me in my back. A ‘don’t start’ nudge.
I look around the crowd congregated and I see her. Marcia. She looks at the ground rather than at me. No surprise.
Aunt Greta looks like she should really be in the coffin, not Paddy. Now there’s an evil witch if ever there was one.
Hell, there are even people here I can’t name. I wanted to giggle at them, in their black clothes acting like they had lost the only important person ever to come into their lives.
As we are all ushered inside and take our seats, the voice of Dean Martin fills the room. Funeral music is wonderful, isn’t it? I never knew you could choose your own songs! I turn around and wallow in their expressions as ‘Little Ole Wine Drinker, Me’ creates an icy atmosphere.
As Dean belts out the final line, Joe, Paddy’s ex best-friend, rises from his seat. He wants to say a ‘few words’. When doesn’t he? Christ, this man loves the sound of his own voice.
I stare into his insincere eyes as he talks, “… we shared so many things, Paddy and me. I’ve lost my best friend… I’ll never forget the time we…”
I tip my head into my handbag and Silver Friend comes to my rescue. I don’t care who sees me.
I turn off Joe’s voice and fix my eyes on Paddy’s coffin. My man is in there. Cold and alone, just like me.
I can’t cope with his bullshit.
“Why don’t you sit down and shut your mouth, Joe?”
Simultaneously, mourners take a deep intake of breath.
I stand up, “I said… why don’t you…”
“I heard what you said,” Joe, red-faced, folded a piece of paper, placed it inside his jacket and walked back to his seat.
“Anyone else want to stand here and talk garbage?”
I take a look at each of them, waiting for a response, but most bow their heads.
“Is she drunk?”
I catch that, “Yes Aunt Greta, I am drunk. So what of it? Got a problem with that have you? You wicked old bitch!”
“Oh I say! I’ve never in all my days, been so insulted…”
“Well, go away then! Go home. He doesn’t want you here,” I point to the coffin, “anymore than you want to be here!”
She doesn’t move from her seat. I’ve dealt with her. I’ll move on now, “So then, no other meaningless people want make meaningless speeches to celebrate the life of a man they never had any time for?”
Jack and Emily appear by my side as the sound of Frank Sinatra sings, ‘My Way’.
I feel sick as the congregation are led back outside to admire the flowers. I checkmy watch, not much longer to cope with and it'll all be over.
I watch them as they crank their necks trying to read the cards of condolences pinned to wreaths and bouquets. But I know they aren’t looking for the words; they’re looking to see who sent flowers and who didn’t.
That’s how they are my family. God help those who never sent flowers, they’ll be talked about forever, “Well, what do you think of this? Geff and Rosie never attended, nor sent flowers to old Paddy’s funeral. I knew there was something wrong... I reckon he slept with…”
You get the picture, don’t you? Gossips. They lead such sad boring lives they thrive on wrecking others.
Paddy you are so lucky, my darling. You are better off where you’re going. Or have you already gone?
I look up at the sky and black clouds are moving in. Maybe, if it rains, they will all run to their cars for shelter. Never mind the burial, perish the thought of getting wet.
Paddy answered my wish. The heavens opened up and they scatter like ants, some to their cars and some back inside.
I stand with my son and daughter, at the graveside.
“Come on, mum. Let’s go now. It’s over.”
“No. You two go. I need some more time with him. And you’re right Emily. It is… over. Go home darlings and love one another forever.”
“Mum, try not to drink so much, eh? See you back at the house. Don’t stay too long, you’ll drown!” Jack tried to smile.
I smile, hug and kiss my children goodbye.
I wait until I see the last of the cars leave. I drop to my knees by the graveside. I open my bag and pull out Silver Friend. I lean into the grave and drop it.
“There you go, Joe. Have some of that. It’ll make things better,”
I reach back into my bag and pull out my new Silver Friend the cold metal warms my hands.
I wipe a tear away as I look up to the sky. I point the trigger to my temple as the black clouds make way for the sun.
(c) Rosie Shelby
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