We laid him out on a table and stood on either side, two sides of a simultaneous equation and the body playing the part of the equals sign between us. Everything looked fine – no bones broken, no bleeding, skin in tact. It didn’t seem good enough that it was not possible to just start him up again, in the way we could have rebooted a crashed computer or fixed a broken down car. It seemed so utterly useless that no one had figured out a way to do this thing. After we were angry at the world for its limitations, we got angry with each other for not being able to stop him doing this to himself, and when that burnt out we just got sad together and waited for that to pass as well, to harden into some knot of understanding that we could keep forever.
I have a new short story titled The Conventional Novelist, which is featured today at Every Day Fiction.
Every Day Fiction does what it says on the tin, posting a new short story every twenty four hours. I’m really pleased to have a piece up there, and have been impressed by their submission and editing processes – thanks to all at the website for their feedback on my work.
They spend the morning investigating the logistics of moving the chandelier into the greenhouse at the back of the garden. The greenhouse was erected many years ago but it has never housed a chandelier before. They are excited about this new development in their lives. The first problem they face is that the chandelier will not fit through the door to the greenhouse, a problem which they solve by carefully contorting the chandelier’s limbs so that they can manouevre it inside with minimal damage to the glasswork. Then there is the problem that they have not prepared a way of attaching the chandelier to the central beam which forms the apex of the roof, then the problem that they do not want to put it down on the hard paved floor, and the further problem that their arms are getting tired from holding it and thinking. They sweat gently as they fret. Twisting the chandelier’s limbs again, they scrape it back through the greenhouse door and set it down on the grass. There are the following problems to contend with – the fact that it is nearly lunchtime, the fact that there are dark clouds forming in the sky, the fact that the chandelier does not look as good in the greenhouse as they anticipated, the fact that they are not as strong or clever or able as they hoped they were. They head inside for a hot drink. As the kettle boils, the dark clouds swell like ripening fruit and then a hard rain starts up and pelts down, heavy drops chipping away at the chandelier, picking away at the greenhouse, leaving everything lightly shattered. The rain stops just as suddenly, and the sun returns. They go outside to survey the mess, find little bits of wood and glass scattered across the garden. There is something pleasant about it anyway. The hot sun warps the timber frame of the greenhouse. The chandelier begins to melt as if made of ice, wax, whims, extravagant fancies. They stand in the sun and watch it all until it feels like everything has turned out ok, and they float above the scene in the past tense.
The Second Guernsey Literary Festival will run from 13-16th September, with lots to see and do and appearances from people like Linton Kwesi Johnson, Carol Ann Duffy, Michael Morpurgo.
I have been invited to bring my own brand of rambly analysis to the festival blog, which is already up and running and busy with looking forward to the event. My first post can be read here, and there will be lots of other stuff posted soon by both myself and the rest of the dedicated blog team.
Links to the blog and to the festival site below: