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Issue 18 - June 2010

Twice-yearly Magazine of Literature & the Arts

Children’s Literature Special With the current crossover appeal of books like Harry Potter and the Twilight series and ebooks now outselling hardcover books on Amazon 2 to 1, the publishing world seems firmly in the hands of the next generation. With this in mind, we decided to dedicate an entire issue to writing by and for children and young adults. It’s important to encourage young writers, especialy at a time where so many creative outlets for children and young adults are closing down. So this issue we have a selection of poetry submitted by children (see p4), an author interview and two book reviews written by 14-year-old Vicky Thompson and a short story by 12-year-old Rosie McKeown. Astonishingly, Rosie’s work was independently selected for both best poem and best prose – this is clearly a name to watch..! Three of our book reviews focus on children’s stories, including an interview with the writer of Spork, an exciting new picture book that has a funny story with a clever message and illustrations to die for. Our first poetry anthology, aptly titled Liquid Gold, is to be published shortly, while our 2011 calendar will be out in time for Christmas. This issue, you can choose between two special children’s themed covers! A gorgeous illustration by in-house artist Owen Pomery or a stunning photograph of a young musician by Stephanie Moore. Of course, you can also collect both! Omma Velada (GD magazine founder)

Gold Dust magazine www.golddustmagazine.co.uk mailtallulah@googlemail.com Prose Editor & Cover Designer David Gardiner Poetry Editor Claire Tyne Webdesign & Layout Omma Velada (Founder) Illustration Owen Pomery

Join us Mailing list: www.golddustmagazine.co.uk/MailingList.htm Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/golddust MySpace: www.myspace.com/golddustmagazine

Artwork Cover (Illustration version) Octopus & Lobster by Owen Pomery Cover (Photograph version) Key of D by Stephanie Moore, Model: Demetris Cover design David Gardiner

Circulation Online (www.issuu.com/golddust): ca. 3,000 PDF (www.lulu.com/golddustmagazine): ca. 500


Contents Short stories

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True Love is a Fairytale by Tomas Furby Romance

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Saw It All by Andrew Campbell-Kearsey Drama

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EDITOR’S CHOICE CHILDREN’S PROSE £15 The Alleyway Girl by Rose McKeown Romance

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EDITOR’S CHOICE ADULT PROSE £20 In This Short Life by Abigail Wyatt Drama

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Elephant Juice byJason Vandaele Romance

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Rice Grain Story by Egle Dargyte Fantasy

Features

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3 Girls in India The Guardian told the parents’ story, we give the children’s point of view!

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Interview: Andrew McIntyre by David Gardiner

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Interview: Mary Hoffman by Vicky Thompson

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Unicorn Branching Out play extract Feature by Omma Velada

REVIEW: The Short, The Long And The Tall by Andrew McIntyre (p16)

REVIEW: Spork by Kyo Maclear & Isabelle Arsenault (p28)


Poems

Regulars

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1

Editorial by GD founder Omma Velada

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Contributors Our writers’ bios in all their glory

Poems by Children & Young Adults A special selection for our children’s issue, including (p7) EDITOR’S CHOICE CHILDREN’S POEM £15

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Stick to the Fight Fitz-Gerald Delice

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EDITOR’S CHOICE ADULT POEM £20 Mediocrity is not enough (In the Bodleian Library, Oxford) David Morgan

REVIEW: The Journey Through the Forest by Daphne Wright (p23)

Reviews

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The Short, the Long and the Tall by Andrew McIntyre Reviewed by David Gardiner

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The Journey Through The Forest by Daphne Wright Reviewed by Vicky Thompson

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The Rainbow Pony by Daffni Percival Reviewed by Vicky Thompson

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Spork by Kyo Maclear Reviewed by Omma Velada

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Coombe’s Wood by Lisa C Hinsley Reviewed by David Gardiner

Flash fiction

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That’s All, Folks by Judy Viertel Science Fiction

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The Sundress by Judy Viertel Romance


Poetry by Children & Young Adults Down By The River Ashes now lay where once fires burned And the biting wind of winter has returned You and I are laid bare, Our knees bent, hands poised in prayer We must bathe in the river my dear Our soul is pure and the water is clear "We are no longer clothed in sin" He whispered from within "Swim with me in the river, beside the old oak tree Tell nobody else, it ought be just you and me" And carefully, I listened His body and mine, we glistened In the winter sun, a chill in the air Blew through my raven hair I point to the sky as it moves in time And he smiles so kind. His fingers on my lips And mine on his hips We are no returned Where once my fires burned. Miranda Wilkie, age 17 My Little Girl She looks up at me, my little girl Her face is all wet, my little girl She’s been crying, my little girl Though I don't know with happiness or sadness, my poor little girl She has found me, my little girl Her eyes are searching me, my little girl She still cries, my little girl I ask why she weeps and why she looks so serious, my delicate little girl She shakes her head, my little girl Her eyes tear anew in desperation, my little girl She is getting up and backing away, my little girl She has to leave me, now, my grown-up little girl She reaches out a hand to me, my little girl She’s hurting; she's hurting cos I hold her back, my little girl Her legs still move away as I push her hand back to her, my little girl Then I turn to leave, oh my poor, delicate, grown-up, little girl Paige Coleman, age 15

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All of these poems were written by under-18s

Why?

Hawk

People all around babble and chatter, by the truth confound.

The sharp-eyed birds circle in the black desert heat, Far below, a mottled array of black and smoking warts Stain the rolling, rippled tissue, And mark out the coming feast.

What truth? We kill our planet.

‘Hawks’ they call them: A misnomer and slight on a gracious bird For such an ignoble pursuit.

Ignorance. Arrogance Selfish desires. The next generation cries. As there planet dies. Our legacy? Death. Destruction. Failure. We are cancer on this beautiful earth. Slowly it is dying. It screams in pain. Can you hear it? At the dawn of time We were not conceived. All was quiet All was good. And by some defect A mutation We appeared. And we will leave. But can we change our legacy? That is a question for you and me.

It feels like an enormous weight of thoughtlessness, A great building mass, devoid of empathy Progressing irresistibly to its pitiless terminal. Is this finally that rough beast Slouching toward its untimely birth? Beneath the petty squabbles of the older vultures, In the midst of their high-minded scavengery, Lies a broken body. Not one being fought over; A long forgotten figure, Curled up into a lonely, wistful repose, Her alabaster sheen blemished in crimson fissures. Noam Baruch, age 15

Ep Epsilon, age 15

The words of a summer's day The words of a summer's day Drift into a winter's morning That has fallen from a crowd of mist The sun has broken all And made a summer's day But the clouds will come Spreading anger across the world. Maybellene Kisseih, age 11

Issue 18

December 2010 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk

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Poetry by Children & Young Adults [cont’d] Claire, our poetry editor, approached her old school, Holy Cross in New Malden Surrey, and invited the students to submit both poetry and prose pieces to the magazine. From the numerous submissions we received, and with the help of English teacher Elizabeth Grout at Holy Cross, the editorial team are pleased to include the work of selected students, in particular Rosie McKeown and Emilie Ellis, in this special edition of Gold Dust. We are extremely impressed by the quality of work from these young contributors, both of whom are 12, and we are sure they have bright literary futures ahead of them.

Where I Belong The crisp, cold wind sweeps through my wispy hair The sea crashes against the shore Its thunderous power frightens me But it is its beauty that I adore I step forward, the sand crunching under my feet I find driftwood and start to draw The sand a blank canvas, under me The wood dry, cracked and raw I search for shells that look appealing to the eye Some spiralled, some flat, some round I wash them clean in the deep blue abyss And listen to their distant, echoed sound My nose tingles with the salty air Here my mind and spirit are free I swing my arms at my sides Here I feel I can be the real me Emilie Ellis, age 12

Source: stock.xchng

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CHILDREN’S POEMS EDITOR’S CHOICE £15

Spring

Part One: A storm in Spring as the night draws in New-leafed branches pull my hair Tug at my swirling skirts And tear at my skin A lightning flash against the sky Illuminates the forest where I wander My sickly yellow lantern shines upon White blossoms dripping wet like jilted brides I shall not pass this way again, if you but let me live The birds all roost in nests of broken twigs A string of pearly raindrops lands in my hair Dislodged by owls swooping to and fro Their chorus of the dead scythes through my soul The screams of dying creatures fill the dark I shall not pass this way again, if you but let me live My heart is like a fretful ghost Beating and struggling hard A fevered prayer escapes my lips This wind must be the Devil’s breath I shall not pass this way again, if you but let me live Part Two: London in Spring The turgid river swells and boils And winds its languid way To open sea The greatest city that ever was In all its fresh-faced beauty

The greatest city that ever was In all its fresh-faced beauty Children laugh, milkmaids sing The poet finds his muse again Rose McKeown, age 12 Issue 18

December 2010

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk

Source: stock.xchng

Hyde Park trees are frothed with flowers Delicate silk to Winter’s frosted lace Pond throw off their icy mantle Ducks and boats return

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Three Girls in India A family of five decided to spend a year travelling around India. Their story has been covered by The Guardian (http://tinyurl.com/3girlsindia), but you can read 13-year-old Saffron’s first-hand account here, followed by poems about the experience by younger sisters Thalia (10) and Kezia (5)...

My First Impressions of India

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guess (if I’m being honest), my first impressions of India were purely negative. To help write this, I took a look at the first few pages of my diary. It’s mainly me complaining about the heat and the dirt, which to someone who has lived in London her entire life was an absolute shock. In the taxi as I stared out of the window I saw the rubbish everywhere, and the people just sleeping on the streets on anything they could find. I cried silently for most of our journey to the ‘welcome hotel’. I can see that image as clearly as if I were there now, and often re-live it. Later I learned we had driven through one of the largest slums in India, it wasn’t a great start and I went to sleep wishing that I would wake up at home. I didn’t. The first time we went for a meal, not easily forgotten. We had all geared ourselves up and were all nervous and scared in our own way of going outside into the complete unknown. I stepped out of the hotel, clutching my dad’s hand firmly with no intention of letting go. There was a very wide road, with cars zooming past; beeping their horns (constantly), the motorbikes speeding past narrowly missing the pedestrians and wing mirrors. We all turned to our left and

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Saffron, age 13 moved quickly down the street, just wanting to get out of the sea of people. Whilst in my haste to find somewhere quiet I stubbed my toe on an uneven paving stone, it split and started bleeding. My anger took over. My optimism no longer existed. I was confused, worried and angry with my parents for choosing to bring my little sister’s and me to this horrific place! We eventually reached the restaurant, we walked in and the sound was so loud, people just stared at us open mouthed. We were quickly ushered into the airconditioned area, where a man was sternly told to leave his seat so we could sit down – he was ushered almost violently into in to the non air-conditioned area. We sat down and my parents ordered for us all, and then asked us how we felt. When it was my turn I said I hated it and then a wave of emotion overwhelmed me, sucked me under and I just about managed to choke out a plead to be taken home. My mum reached across my younger sister (who seemed unfazed by the situation, just happy to be drinking her bottle of coke) and gently patted my arm. The reassuring pat was helpful, but not sufficient to my needs. I just wanted to go home, wake up again and go to school on the bus

Saffron, Thalia & Kezia in India and see my friends. When it was my mum’s turn she burst into tears, which quickly turned into laughter. I definitely don’t want to go home now! But I can remember feeling that, and it doesn’t seem silly. But now I’m in a wonderful paradise, the view from my room is postcard perfection; I go to sleep listening to the waves crash against the rocks. And I wake up to see the sun glistening on the waves. And we have just purchased a house, which backs on to palm trees and a jungle looking area. I love this part of India and I would happily stay here for the rest of my life.

Gold Dust


Three Girls in India follow your dreams and they will come true follow youre dreams and you will find the real you I also learnt just to trust to take somones hand We started of in a busy place if you must go with the flow and not plan the day where everyone makes sure they know you’re face. cause nothing ever goes exactly your’re way with richaw drivers and dogs on the streets It doesn’t matter where you are or where you stay and in every direction you are surrouded by cheats. its who youre with which makes things change we travelled our way across the south and ended up My adveventures have in hampi made me see the world differently which wasn’t at all trampy. I am more open minded of what comes my way we ate at mango tree a restauraunt every night I used think that brick lane was busy never got tired of the the mango delight. now I have seen mubai it is much more whizzy

My Travels In India

Then it was mysore the city of silk where lots of cows lived so the smell was fresh milk. next was otti a place with green fields where each of us put down our shields then we eat the landlords food and we were sick and were not in a good mood After otti we watched what we eat and were careful what we put our plate we met some young men in allepey who gave us a laugh who guided and helped us to choose the right path we liked it in allepey and looked at some houses they were all nice but none quite perfect

Source: stock.xchng

We went to trivandram for my birthday it took us a while to find our way here we ate pizza and pleanty of cake we swam and swam in a rooftop lake we took a taxi to vist coonor which was mums friends house it was wild and exotic and full on and more. then it was varkala a taxi ride away we ended up in vakala and new we wanted to stay we live in a big castle house it is by a deep blue sea it here we have decided to be it is amazing to think of this place as home it is more like a fairy tale or dream come true. i miss everyone back home and the organized streets and the cleaness the most. But here I am free to be who I am no disguise no costume just me. I have learnt so much and expirenced lots I have learnt lots of lessons including this one

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December 2010

I have thought at times why am I here but now the dirt in the water has cleared I am here to enjoy,enjoy my life things can go wrong,there can be a crisis it is important to know that sometimes and that is why I wrote this . Thalia, age 10

In India… October 2010 In India there are lots of palm trees I have honey porridge for breakfast I like purist for lunch I have fish and rice for dinner I drink coke a cola and lots of water; except no tap water In India there are bright pink flowers I wear a salwar kamise I can see the sea and feel the sun I have lots of mosquito bites on my legs and arms In India there are rickshaws There are no red traffic lights There is rubbish on the roads I have seen lots of monkeys I get my cheeks pinched by everyone I love it that my parents took me here because I like watching the sea.

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Kezia, age 5

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FLASH FICTION

That’s All, Folks Judy Viertel What to do when there’s no-one left to look after you... om said turn that thing off, I can’t take the noise. So I did, I turned off the TV; I made Eddy the Eco-Disaster Dog go away. It was Marnie who clicked it on again. I looked at her. What do you think you’re doing, I said. She shrugged. I'm the younger sister. Most of the time, Marnie gets her way. Mom came to her bedroom door and yelled at us. She limped over in the slow, crooked way she has now, and snatched at the remote. She put it in her robe, so that was that. Go outside and play, she

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croaked. The sun’s too bright now, Marnie said. The TV doctors say it's going to mess up our eyes. They say it will hurt our skin. Mom said: oh, that's right. Why can't I remember things anymore? Play with your toys, then. Draw pictures. No more TV. I started drawing. I drew tall, brown trees with pointy leaves. I drew green fuzz coming out of the ground: we used to call that grass. I drew big flowers like the ones we see on TV. We don’t know if those pictures come from far away, or if they’re from the time before. I drew birds, which look like flies, only bigger, and I stuck them up in the sky. Marnie said it wasn’t even all that long ago, and I shouldn’t act like I don’t remember. I told her, look out the window. Just look out there and try to use your mind to see it the way it used to be. Because, I said, I can’t. We heard our mom coughing, but we'd heard that before. She coughed louder, and then it turned into a strange noise. Then the noise

stopped. Should we go look, Marnie asked, staring at me as if, for once, she wanted me to be the one who decided. We’d better, I said. There wasn't any point in running. We both knew what we'd see. When we'd seen it, Marnie said: Okay. We should call someone, I said. I grabbed her hand. Except for hitting, it was the first time we'd touched each other in a long time. What good would it do, she asked; no one's supposed to go outside, not until the TV says it's okay. And who would we call, anyway? It seems like most people are dead now. So what should we do, I asked. Let's just watch TV. Okay, I said. Marnie got the remote from Mom's robe and shut the door behind her, and that’s what we did. We kept doing it for as long as possible, until we ran out of canned food. We did it until the water stopped trickling out of the tap. We just watched TV.

Gold Dust


FLASH FICTION

The Sundress Judy Viertel How reliable are those old memories..? hen you came biking down the hill, I was waiting for you on the porch. It was hot, so I was wearing a sundress. Your brown, unruly hair was sweaty from the ride, but your skin looked scrubbed, like you'd just taken a shower. This was the summer before our final year of college; we were both working weekend shifts at the bookstore, leaving us plenty of time to hike in the woods and to lie on the beach. There was time, that summer, to think about whether or not we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. I was lounging in an old, wooden slat chair, which I'd cleaned for the sake of the dress. I was holding a book I was only pretending to read. It was blue, that dress, with tiny pink flowers, and it stretched tightly across my chest. It smelled like the wind. I'd taken up line-drying my clothes that year out of a yearning for rustic living, and also for that smell. Hello, I said. Look what I got for you. Before you'd arrived, I'd cut the watermelon in half,

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December 2010

lengthwise. Then I'd sliced one of those halves into eight sections. Now, catching your eye, I took one long, narrow slice for myself. You kissed me and pulled up a chair. Then you reached for the uncut hemisphere. Slicing it, you grabbed a full quarter of the melon, balancing it on a paper plate. Then you bent your head eagerly to the task, wrapping your lips around the glinting, fuchsia flesh. You see, I said, what a good memory I have? When you were a child you used to eat an entire watermelon by yourself. You told me that, I said, and so I wanted to see it. I wanted to watch you eat watermelon. You smiled wickedly. Then you ducked your head back into the green, curved rind. Just then we heard a whistle. In that town there was a train for the summer tourists. Starting out from a state park high in the hills, it chugged its way down to the coast. It went right past that old house where I was living: there were tracks down the middle of the street.

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As the train slowed to a stop at the corner light, the passengers waved at us. They were couples, mostly, some of them with children. They looked so peaceful: it seemed to me that they had already figured out what to do with their lives and who to do it with. When I think of that day, I remember you loosening your fingers and letting the moist shell, now empty, drop to the plate. I see you waving at the passengers. I hear your voice: “That's what I want for us someday. I want us to travel like that, you and me and our children, riding trains. I want us to wave at strangers.” I often hear those words in my head even though you never said them. Most of the rest of it, I think, really happened. I do have some doubts about the sundress. If I knew where you were, maybe I'd call and ask: “Was I wearing a sundress that day?” But it's possible you don't remember. Your wife, I think, would not want me to call, not with a question like that. Not after twenty years. So I guess the sundress stays.

Gold Dust

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SHORT STORY

True Love is a Fairytale Tomas Furby The first thing you must understand about Thomas Dark is... y old hands shake, scribbling words into meaningless scrawl. My breath wheezes and crackles in my throat, threatening to choke me. Fear of death is for the young; I just hope my story won’t end before I’ve even begun. I don’t even know where the beginning is, what truth and what lies to tell. It’s been so long. I stare at my husband. Thomas smiles shadows at me from his darkened chair in the corner. He knows. He has always known. Clutching one hand to my bosom, as though pressure might hold the ache inside, I begin to write. The day I met Thomas Dark was unremarkable. I woke around dawn, cried myself into a drowsing, dreaming stillness, then woke again at midday. This was not usual for me, but I’d barely a week ago had my heart broken by a man I thought I loved. He is not important. Love is a strange, elusive thing. Many things can masquerade under its mask, while having nothing in common with it. I was not in love with that man, but I

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was young and he was beautiful and cruel. I woke the second time feeling drawn and drained, but older and wiser somehow. I felt that turning point that anyone trapped in the melancholy of self-pity feels, where it’s no longer attractive to remain at the bottom of the darkest pit of despair. So I climbed up, fleeing last night’s shadow of self-disgust. My glimpsed reflection almost sent me back to bed. I was thin, pale, last night’s mascara deepening my eyes to a skull’s stare; my hair unwashed to a dull brown that was not my natural blonde. I looked like an ogre. It is amazing what a hot shower can do. Truly, I felt clean when I stepped naked from the steam and stared into the foggy mirror. I wiped a gap in the condensation. Better. Not perfect, but better. Evening found me quicker than I’d hoped. I was late when I arrived at the bar. But Jane was not there to meet me. I checked my phone. Sorry babe. Katy’s got chicken pox. Cant do 2nite.

2mo? X With all the petulant desire of an ex-student toeing the thin line of alcoholism, I ordered a drink anyway. Nothing is worse for an injured soul than gin and tonic. One drink turned into three and a brooding stare. Alone, in the darkest corner of the bar, pretty, but pale and angry, I was not approached. What, I thought, did I want? I was sure now that I hadn’t wanted him. But I was empty, a dark hollow of loneliness sitting in my chest. Was I already searching for someone to fill the void he’d left in me? Was I that much of a slut? With the curious waver of a third drink, I segued into another question. What would my dream man be like? He would be tall, dark, with perhaps a day’s growth of dark stubble upon his face. Yes, he’d have to be taller than me, and I was not a short woman. He’d be smart, trim, witty. A lot like me in appearance, and our friends would remark upon our similarity and we’d smile and laugh. He’d be that kind of


True Love is a Fairytale by Tomas Furby

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December 2010

rifying: the reflection of that pitiful state in Jane’s eye. ‘Really?’ She grinned. ‘Tell!’ Of course she assumed it was a man. I fetched the ashtray and we sat, the room slowly filling with the fog of addiction. ‘His name is Thomas.’ The kettle screeches at me from the kitchen. I jump a little, my back dully protesting the jolt. I don’t remember putting it on. Thomas is no longer in his chair. I turn back to the page, ignoring the racket. He’ll take care of it. I frown, unsure what’s important. Perhaps I should move on. Source: stock.xchng

funny that can curb any argument and set any insult straight. And most of all, he’d be utterly and completely in love with me, and I with him. I pause, and look up at Thomas. Yes, he was all of those things. Thomas smiles at me, still handsome despite how the years have touched him. No longer raven, that hair, but certainly darker still than mine. His broad shoulders now bend under the long years, his skin sags into the toe-tracks of time and his stubble now glimmers grey in the feeble light. But he still loves me, and I him. I woke to a buzzer and a hangover the next morning. I limped to the door and checked the spy-hole. Jane. Damn. ‘Two secs!’ I flitted round the living room, hiding the shame of two empty bottles of wine and a full ash tray. Then I let her in. ‘God, you look awful, babe. What did you do last night?’ Jane’s expression was one of cheerful disgust. She had been my room-mate at university, and shared many of my habits. ‘I went to the bar.’ ‘Oh God, you didn’t get my message?’ ‘Doesn’t matter.’ ‘Oh I’m so sorry Rose. I shouldn’t have left you alone like that.’ ‘I wasn’t alone.’ I don’t know why I said it. Perhaps I just rejected exactly how pathetic I’d been lately. More hor-

‘Our first date was amazing. He took me to Bath, and we just walked... It was so beautiful. Then we had dinner- he paid- and… We missed the train so… so we got a room in a hotel!’ Squeals all round, cutting through the dull roar of the bar. My three best friends were clustered around me, heads bent together over our drinks. Their respective boyfriends were casually uninterested, staring at the widescreen on the wall.

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‘And…’ Jane grinned a Cheshire Cat at me. ‘What was he like?’ I laughed, my face feeling like sunburn. It seemed all the answer they needed. They all fell about giggling, full of wine glamour. This was all going too far, but I couldn’t stop myself. I grinned suggestively, then held my hands quite far apart. They roared with laughter. Alex, the youngest, stared at me owlishly. ‘Really?’ ‘Really.’ She sighed. ‘Oh you’re so lucky. Dave‘s… Well…’ She held her hands quite close together. Dave turned round and she dropped them quickly, blushing. ‘So when do we get to meet the mysterious Thomas? It’s been nearly two weeks now and I haven’t seen as much as a used condom at yours.’ I felt a little jolt of temper at Jane’s speculative tone. ‘I’m sure he’ll be around soon.’ ‘Saturday. Bring him on Saturday.’ ‘Fine. I will.’ Thomas’ entrance is preceded by the tinkling and clanking of the tea tray. Excellent. My throat is dry and raw from whispering to myself. He carefully sets the tray down beside me, pours a mug for each of us, and flicks the TV on. It’s the Sport, but he keeps the sound down. I smile. I love him very much. 13


True Love is a Fairytale by Tomas Furby

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‘Oh.’ I felt crimson warmth stain my cheeks. ‘Probably. I’m Rose. Rose Perrault.’ ‘A pleasure to meet you, Rose Perrault.’ He kissed my hand. Charming. Perfect. This would keep Jane quiet. My friends had indeed remarked upon our similarity. I had smiled and laughed, although he had looked awkward and a little shy. I never knew his real name, and we never met again after that night. I watch the harsh silver light of the television cast a glamour upon Thomas’ features. They deepen his eyes to dark pits and make his face shimmer and twist strangely. I never told him about that night. It was my secret. I’d taken Prince Charming home, drunk and elated at my success and the envious looks Jane had shot me as I left. Then I dragged him into the bedroom and truly got my money’s worth from him. Bravo indeed. Reasons for long absences could be fabricated. Dirty texts could be forged. Dramatic arguments over the phone could be enacted and amazing make up sex stories constructed. I had everything under control. All my friends were in awe of my storybook romance. And I told myself it was only one, small lie. One lie begetting more lies. Layers and layers of lies. I awoke once again to the buzzer and the hangover. The

clock’s crimson twinkle taught me 3.30pm. I scowled at it and limped to the door, opening it without looking. ‘Rose.’ ‘Mum?’ All I could think was Oh God, oh God, oh God. Source: stock.xchng

It is surprisingly difficult to find a ‘white knight’ in the city, regardless of what others might tell you. It took me a full three days to find the right man, leaving me only a couple of hours to get him ready. He entered in a sharp suit with a bunch of flowers. Prince Charming. He was almost perfect. Not quite tall enough, too clean-shaven and with a slightly hawkish nose, but the best I could do at such short notice. ‘You know my rates, and understand the terms and conditions?’ He was a little gloomy too. ‘Yes, yes. Don’t worry, you’ll be paid in full. Now pay attention: your name is Thomas and you have been my boyfriend since… let’s see, must be the fifteenth of April.’ ‘OK…’ ‘For our first date, you took me to Bath where we walked all day before dinner. We missed the train back and got a hotel room.’ ‘Erm…’ ‘Oh and you have a massive cock.’ ‘Actually…’ He grinned at me. ‘Bravo. Now, have you got all that?’ I stood with my hands on my hips, glaring at him. He sighed, obviously aware I wasn’t going to be an easy customer. ‘Yes, ma’am. I don’t suppose your name would help?’

There is nothing more terrifying than the unexpected appearance of a parent on one’s doorstep. She breezed past me into the sitting room, tutting at last night’s detritus, tidying and opening the curtains in that auto-pilot mode that all mothers have. She paused at the overflowing ashtray and glanced up at me. I grimaced, blushed and shrugged. Shameful secrets. I sat and lit a cigarette as she pottered, consoling myself that it was now too late for denial. Eventually, having restored an irritating maternal order to the room, she came and sat next to me. ‘We got a call from Jane this morning.’ She stared at me, cold and angry and silent as only mothers can be. I frowned, uncomprehending.


True Love is a Fairytale by Tomas Furby ‘Yes. She told us something rather interesting.’ I frowned, uncomprehending. ‘Oh shame on you, Rose Perrault! I can’t believe you let us find out this way. Couldn’t you have just told us?’ I frowned, uncomprehending. ‘Congratulations!’ She flung herself upon me, hugging me tight. ‘I can’t believe it: my little girl, engaged!’ Oh God. It came back to me in a horrible, alcohol-blurred rush. We had been dancing. Jane had been going on and on about how perfect everything was between her and Alex. They’d got married three months ago. It had been beautiful, very romantic, a lovely wedding. I’d was jealous, and it only got worse as she went on and on and on and on about it. I was drunk. I wanted to wipe that superior smirk off her face. I told Jane that Thomas had proposed to me. Damn her. Damn me. When Mum pulled away her eyes were shining with tears. I felt a moment of sick self-loathing. Damn me. ‘So? Have you set a date yet?’ It’s late. My hand aches from the fingertips to the wrist. But I must finish this now. Issue 18

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Someone will find this, one day, and they might understand, and forgive me. I hope so. Thomas glances over at me, catches me staring at him. He cocks one eyebrow, quizzical and quiet. I shrug and smile. He shakes his head wearily and turns back to the TV. I love him so very much. Even then, I loved him. I was so scared at the thought of losing him… So I bought myself a ring. It was beautiful, and expensive, and every time someone smiled and asked me about it I felt a little flush of happy amazement. I was engaged, to be married to a beautiful, incredible man. My friends were envious of me, my mother obsessed by the wedding and I… I felt better than I had in years. Thomas was the best thing that had ever happened to me. And I loved him even more for that. I knew that I’d gone too far. I knew this had to end. But I couldn’t leave him. He meant so much to me. He was the centre of my world. I was, I realised, in love. I formed a plan. It was simple, and I knew no one would ever question it. First, I needed a husband. I had an old friend in the Police. I asked her to search for a man matching the description: tall, dark, handsome. He was unmarried. Going by the name of Thomas. She didn’t ask, I didn’t tell. I was a friend, that

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was enough. She returned to me three weeks later with my husband on paper- driver’s license, passport, criminal record… Everything I needed. His name was Thomas Dark. We eloped two weeks later, in a ceremony presided over by Elvis in the state of Nevada. The man who stood by my side was not Thomas Dark, but he looked somewhat like him. Thomas has lit the fire. I stare into the flicker and writhe of its golden flames and wonder. I wonder what life might have been like if I’d never met Thomas Dark. It’s been so many years… Would I have married? Would I have children? Would I have been happy? I flick back to the first page. The first thing you must understand about Thomas Dark is that he does not exist. I have loved him from the moment we met. I smile at Thomas. He smiles back, his features flickering between firelight and shadow, sometimes there, sometimes not. Appearing and disappearing before my eyes. He’s a ghost, if he ever existed at all. The best lie I ever told. I lay down my pen, sip at my tea, and wonder what life might have been like if I’d never met Thomas Dark.

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Review

The Short, The Long, and The Tall by Andrew McIntyre (Merilang Press, 2010) £7.99, 164 pages ISBN: 978-0-9555430-7-4 Reviewed by David Gardiner

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ndrew McIntyre was the writer of two of the best short stories ever to appear in Gold Dust magazine, Dirty War and the equally dark sequel Snuff. The two appear together in this collection, which at first glance seems to squeeze no fewer than thirty-four stories into its hundred-and-forty or so pages. This, however, is somewhat deceptive, as many of the stories might be more accurately described as sections that follow on from one another to constitute single narratives. Another stylistic oddity that readers of the collection will need to get used to is McIntyre’s refusal to use quotation marks or any other form of separation between dialogue and narration. As a technique this is no longer all that unusual and I found that I adapted to it quite quickly, but it does produce rather large, dense single paragraphs which can be daunting on the page, and it requires you to read more slowly than usual, which may be a deliberate aim of the author. I have yet to be convinced that the format yields any positive advantages, but am keeping an open mind.

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The recurrent theme of the collection is war and armed conflict, mostly under the tropical sun in far away places. McIntyre’s central characters are typically hard-bitten chain-smoking Westerners, thoroughly disillusioned former idealists, we suspect, cynically playing whatever role they have slipped into in the local attempt to realise Dante’s Inferno. The over-riding message seems to be that war attracts or where necessary creates the vilest monsters that can exist in human shape. What we get from these tales is a thoroughly jaundiced yet strangely compelling view of the human race as a bickering, mean-spirited pack of predators driven by a need to dominate and subdue. There isn’t really anybody to like in McIntyre’s stories, and this I think may constitute their only weakness. We long for contrast, light and shade, angels to counterbalance the devils, and they aren’t really there. But aside from this it is extremely difficult to find anything to criticise in the way these tales are told or constructed. They are nicely-paced, highly atmospheric, and have a good balance of narration, description and dialogue. It’s easy for the reader to enter imaginatively into the world of each story, and enough space is left for us to interpret things in our own way. The characters are rounded and believable, extreme at times but never caricatures. There is a brilliant creative mind at work behind these offerings, and if you have a strong enough stomach to survive them it’s a collection that will engage, repel, fascinate, and live on in your imagination long after you have turned the final page.

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Title here

The Short, the Long, and the Tall by Andrew McIntyre

Andrew McIntyre

Review Interview

(Merilang Press, 2010) £XXXX.00 ISBN: 978-0-9555430-7-4 Andrew McIntyre

What was it that inspired you to take up writing, and how long ago did you start? I attended the Downs School, Colwall, where they encouraged creative writing based on W.H. Auden’s teaching there in the 1930s. He developed The Badger, the school’s magazine, and there was tremendous competition to be published. A couple of decades later, after years of traveling, during a rather difficult time, and with numerous anecdotes in my memory, I decided to write as a mode of survival. I worked on some stories and, about 10 years ago, I started submitting to magazines for publication. I see from the Publication History section at the back of this book that you have been successfully finding homes for your stories in magazines and anthologies for at least the last ten years, and that coincidentally we both had a story in the 2002 anthology of Fish Prize winners. Is this the first collection you have had published, and if so, why did you wait so long? This is the first collection of stories I have had published. It has been a matter of time. I estimated that a collection required about 100 to 150 pages to be suitable for consideration. Many of my stories are quite short, and I wanted to have every one in the collection published at least once, with reprints if possible. t has been something of an addiction, something that has kept me going. I also wanted to have some of the stories interacting with each other. Working 5 days a week, along with submitting, it has taken a while to achieve this, besides the lengthy research needed to seek a publisher who will accept a Issue 18

short story collection. What is the background to your obvious fascination with military life, and what comes across as your sadness and disgust with the way men act when you put them in a uniform and tell them they have an enemy? Like many other British people, I had numerous relatives in both world wars. As a result, from an early age, I have been very interested in military history. I also had the unique experience of spending some time with the British Army on the Rhine, in the late 1970s. I have observed that time and time again history repeats itself; states with a weak military are taken over or wiped out by states with stronger forces. War and the military are associated with barbarity yet, in order to survive, a civilized state needs a strong armed force. The most glaring paradox comes when a civilized state needs to defeat an insurgency. This is our big test today. Can we defeat an insurgency with our contemporary ethics? Or must we revert to the methods of the Romans, for example? Behind these challenges lies the murky presence of religion. There seems to be an unremittingly bleak quality to most of your stories and the view of human nature that they embody. Would you say that this is a reflection of something in your own psyche or is Andrew the man completely distinct from Andrew the writer? For the most part, the stories do reflect my view of the human context, the problem of religion, and the difficult choices that lie beneath the veneer of western civilization.

December 2010 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk

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Andrew McIntyre: Interview You have very few female characters in your stories, or male characters displaying what we might think of as female characteristics. Why do you think this is? This was unintentional; however, aside from a couple of stories, it is true that there are few females. I think this stems from a couple of factors. From a very early age, I was raised in an all-male environment: boarding school from the age of 8 to 17. In those days, conditions in these schools were no different from Borstal. A number of the stories I have written are based, either on my own experience, or on tales I heard associated with my father and his colleagues, who had been tested by war and life in the colonies. My main preoccupations are also associated with problems largely created by men: corruption, religious dogma, war, and subjugation. Do you have any ambitions to write a novel, or what other writing projects have you got in the pipeline? I have been working on a novel and a novella since the mid-1990s. Reflecting your previous questions, I think the novel portrays a much more feminine type of man, and the novella creates a more positive view of human potential than many of my stories. It will be interesting to see how these work out. With this collection of stories completed, I intend to work more regularly on these projects. Is the possibility of monetary gain from your writing something that you think about or does your motivation lie entirely elsewhere? Monetary gain has never been a motivation. Writing provides a purpose and meaning that create a balance to the banal, often absurd rituals of work and daily life. At some point, as a periphery result of success, it would be nice to make money from writing in order to dedicate more time to the craft, but it is definitely not what drives me.

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What is the event in your life as a writer of which you are most proud, and why? Having this collection of stories published, because it is the culmination of many years work. I never thought it would happen, and it is the realization of a dream that started on a Scottish hillside in late 1997, when I was at a very low point in my life. What imaginary future event would give you the most satisfaction as a writer? Publishing the novel and the novella I am working on, and becoming established with a wide readership. What would be your advice to someone setting out to learn the craft of short story writing, or attempting to reach an audience with stories they have already written? Read the very best authors as widely as possible, especially the Modernists for their style. Write from the heart; develop a unique voice to create a story that is original, interesting, meaningful, and layered with metaphor. Revise extensively. The story might take a day to write, and a year or more to perfect. Ruthless proofreading for basic errors and repetition is essential. Besides completing many drafts, it is helpful to leave the story for a while and come back to it later. Problems will emerge that were initially missed. A trusted friend or associate is very valuable for objective, even brutal feedback. They represent the market. Do not be offended by criticism, use it to make revisions or see the story from another angle. When everything seems to be ready, research the market for suitable magazines using one of the annual listings, and follow the editor’s guidelines exactly. Do not be dismayed by rejection. Keep working on the story, keep submitting. If the story has the necessary qualities, eventually it will be accepted for publication.

Gold Dust


Stick to the fight! Ok, You have lost the first game, You’re ready to quit, what a shame, All the zest now seem very lame, For in spirit you are out of flame. When you first started you made a vow, Families, friends looked and said wow! While practicing you cut your eyebrow, You kept on going for you wouldn’t bow. Remember it’s not over until it’s really over, All you need is passion you haven’t discovered, And a desire to work hard so you can take over, So get warmed up and be ready to manoeuvre. Like Muhammad Ali who didn’t give up his height, He stood up tall each round threw a left then a right, The same applies to you who are nervous and up tight, When you are hardest hit you need to stick to the fight. Fritz-Gerald Delice

Source: stock.xchng

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Mary Hoffman Interviewed by Vicky Thompson (age 14)

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hether you enjoy indulging in fictional fantasy or reading creative picture books to your young children, an author I would highly recommend taking a look at is bestselling writer and critic Mary Hoffman. Her first book White Magic was published in 1975, and now she has written over 90 books, including the teenage fiction series Stravaganza and the young children’s series of picture books

known as Amazing Grace. Mary was born with a passion to write, and after gaining a scholarship to James Allen’s girls’ school, went to study English at the University of Cambridge. She soon moved on to work at the Open University, contributing to courses for teachers on language, reading and children’s literature. A self-employed professional writer and journalist since the mid 1990s, Mary now lives in Oxford with her husband, and writes bestselling 20

books in her beautiful study surrounded by her three Burmese cats. The couple have three grown-up daughters, one of whom is also a writer. Mary says that her inspiration to write came from a local library, which introduced her to some of the best books in the world, inspiring her to write some of her own. Other inspiration came from a trip to Venice. Mary published her first book, City of Masks, in the Stravaganza series. The series is set in a country named ‘Talia’, based on Italy. Mary hopes to finish this series with at least six books, with City of Ships being released this year and City of Swords some time in 2012. Other books Mary has written are Special Powers written in 1997 and republished in 2008, The Falconers Knot published in 2007, and Troubadour published in 2009. As well as writing for children, Mary also writes for adults, although mostly under the names of Amy Lovell and Suzy Cavendish. She has written adult non-fiction under her own name and the name Mary Lassiter. In the Stravaganza series, do you have a favourite out of your Talian states? If so, why? I think it has to be Remora, which is a parallel world version of Siena, one of my favourite places in the world. I love the alliances and enmities between the cntrade in the real Siena and it is very beautiful. I watched the Palio on the In-


Mary Hoffman: Interview ternet a couple of weeks ago and was very sad that "my" contrada didn't win, since we had a good horse and jockey. How easy or difficult is it to write a picture book? Most would believe it is easier than writing a short story or novel; is this true? The hardest thing is to get a picture book length idea and then you have to treat it like writing a poem; every word counts. And you have only 12 spreads in which to do it.

If you could, would you rather spend a week in Italy, or a week in Talia? Well, I get lots of opportunities to go to the real Italy, so I'll choose Talia. Writing has not got a lot to do with personal image, but do you ever find yourself putting traits of yourself in your characters? I think every writer is every character in their novels, rather as you are every character in your own dreams. You’re mind constantly seems to be filled with brilliant ideas for picture books and stories. Do you ever experience ‘writers block’? Not about getting ideas. Sometimes I feel paralysed by the responsibility of turning the idea into a good enough full-length novel. Do you find it easier to write about people rather than animals, say in your picture books? I can write convincing cats and dogs because I know what they are like. And I think I could do a good wolf or shark or polar bear. But I couldn't do a chimpanzee, because I don't like them.

When writing the Stravaganza series, do you find it easy to create talismans to match your characters’ personalities? I match them to their problems or interests rather than to their personalities. No, it's not too hard; it's fun. When you began working on the Stravaganza series, was it obvious to you that all your characters would meet at some point or other? No! There were supposed to be entirely separate Stravaganti in the first three books but five main characters from book one insisted on coming into book two, and so it went on. Issue 18

When writing books such as the Stravaganza series or Amazing Grace can you ever get fed up with writing the story? Or is it something you are completely engrossed in from page one? You have chosen two series where I feel very at home in the worlds I have created and with the characters I know so well. So it's like going back to a familiar house where you know which way to turn to get to the bathroom, even in the dark. So I think ‘at home’ rather than ‘engrossed.’

Find out more You can visit Mary’s website at www.maryhoffman.co.uk.

December 2010 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk

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ADULT POEMS EDITOR’S CHOICE £20

Mediocrity is not enough (In the Bodleian Library, Oxford) I pursue decades of obscure study and publish nothing. The drunk reads maps of the skies under which he sleeps, and like the stars he is remote. In the eight-hundred section the drunk lectures me on T S Eliot. I sigh and offer unrealistically to trade my tie for his bottle, leather for his tattered tennis shoes. Ignoring me, he reads in a scratchy bass from The Waste Land.

Outside, bundles of books in hands, we watch clouds roll across from Wales. All I see is rain. Rubbing his weary eyes, he sees locusts, angels, artillery. David Morgan

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Source: stock.xchng

Neither of us is content. Neither can be. That is the point.


The Journey Through The Forest by Daphne Wright (Lulu, 2009) Paperback £5.99 (105 pages)

Review

Reviewed by Vicky Thompson, age 14

T

he Journey Through the Forest is the first in a three-part fantasy series by Daphne Wright. The book follows the tale of a young girl called July and her companion Michael as they travel into the forest to take a journey of initiation. With a series of guides this trilogy follows the children on their journey. Book Two is called Journey Over the Mountains and Book Three Journey over the Water. The thrilling story also visits the tale of Jacob (July’s uncle) and July’s grandmother. Whilst the children try and find the divide between good and evil, they also create friendships they will never forget. When starting to read Journey Through the Forest I was slightly apprehensive, as I did not know how the book had been written or how Daphne would follow the stories of two worlds without the book becoming too confusing for young children. Whilst reading Chapter One I did not get on with the book at all, but deciding to read on I found myself hooked by Chapter Issue 18

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Two. Although the book is aimed at children a few years younger than myself I really did find myself unable to put it down. Intertwined with the story of an uncle called Jacob the book recounts the tales perfectly. This book could teach you many lessons about trust and friendship, and would also work perfectly for bedtime reading for anyone between the ages of about five to ten. This is also a captivating tale for anyone above the age of ten. I would definitely recommend The Journey Through the Forest to any child over the age of seven or eight. It would make a perfect story before bed, either to be read by the child or for the child to have read to them. I found the book was mostly well written, and also very hard to put down after one or two chapters. Although I did find a few bits difficult to understand, without a full knowledge of how everything worked on the journey, overall I enjoyed the book and would not hesitate to read it to a child who enjoyed a good adventure story.

Find out more You can visit Daphne’s Quaker page at http://tinyurl.com/daphnewright You can buy this book from: http://tinyurl.com/luludaphne

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The Unicorn Summer Youth Theatre 2010 - Branching Out (Scene 1)

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PLAY (EXTRACT)

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Every summer, The Unicorn Theatre helps a group of young people to devise and write a play, and then perform it...all in just 2 weeks! This year’s project was a great success, as you can see from the photos and opening scene reproduced here.

L

ights: Night spirits purple and fairy lights

Music for each Spirit. Sounds to accompany them throughout the scene. The Night Spirits enter one at a time; Redwood, Firefly, Buttercup, Crystal. They move around stage fixing the tree, checking all the humans are asleep. They are cross with the offerings of stale bread, berries and apples Crystal: So, What have the humans left us tonight? Buttercup: Apples, Berries and Stale Bread. Crystal: Apples! Berries! And Stale Bread!!! What happened to the days when the humans left us edible offerings? Redwood: Just to point out, Mistress, those days did not really exist. Due to the treetop communications, the humans have very little, hardly enough for themselves let alone us. Crystal: No excuse! They should leave the very best food for us. We take care of the trees that they decided to make their home. I have spent all day balancing the weather system, making sure its not to hot or cold, keeping everything alive including the humans. Buttercup: And I have been helping the flowers grow. It’s not easy when everyone keeps picking them. I hear them cry ‘Ow’ every time. Firefly: I have been helping the bees with their pollination. How do the humans think they get their food! 24


Branching Out play extract Redwood: Well, I suppose I did see a child swinging on a branch that I’d been helping to strengthen, and that did rather annoy me! Crystal: See how much we do for them and this is how they repay us, with scummy monstrosity! Redwood: This is all well and good, Mistress, but what exactly do you suggest we do abut this? Crystal: We are Psychic. We all know we are psychic. We can mould the human brain into any shape or form that we want it to go. Redwood: That does sound a little devious, Mistress. Crystal: We can step into their minds and change their dreams. Buttercup: Oh I do love to go into human dreams. Crystal: Yes, Yes we can all change people’s dreams and cause lots of trouble. We need to plant the idea into their heads that we want cake. And? Redwood: Well, I suppose I do have a soft spot for haggis. Buttercup: And I would like jelly! Blue Jelly, Yellow Jelly, Purple Jelly and Red Jelly.

Source: The Unicorn Theatre

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Branching Out play extract Crystal: Yes, Yes Jelly. And what do you want? Firefly: I’m fine with apples. Crystal: What did you say? Firefly: Sorry, Mistress, I’m said I’m fine with apples. Crystal: Some spirits these days! Anyway chop-chop I want cake! Sounds of Cake, Haggis, and Jelly whispered. Charlie: Mistress the sun, the sun Lights: Dawn Breaking One fine day - Song appears here quietly. Hummed.

Credits: Dramaturge: Emily Nightingale Director: Vishni Velada-Billson Writers/Devisors: Unicorn Summer Youth Theatre 2010 participants Production Photographer: Peter Schiazza Set Designer: Laura McEwen

Light on Jenny looking for daughter Jenny moves to the highest platform and looks out for her lost daughter. Adam follows her (in place by end of song). Adam: Any luck? It won’t help you know, you standing out here every night. Jenny: I need to look for her. Well you can’t expect me to just give up. Adam: Come on mum. If she was going to come back up you would know. Adam leads Jenny down the stairs passing Laura.

Gold Dust Source: The Unicorn Theatre

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Review

Rainbow Pony by Daffni Percival Illustrated by Bruce McCay (Merilang Press, 2003) ISBN: 0955543045 Paperback £4.00 Reviewed by Vicky Thompson, age 14

Daffni Percival

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he short illustrated tale of The Rainbow Pony grabbed my attention straight away. Obviously I am much older than the age group the book is intended for, which is pre-school infants, but it was the eye-catching illustrations that intrigued me most. The carefully crafted words flow and the detailed pictures help, as you watch the pony’s journey up the purple mountain. I would definitely recommend this as a perfect bedtime story, and the hard spine and card pages make sure that bumps and tumbles have no effect on the little picture book. I expect both illustrations and words would be strong enough to stand alone but together they make a memorable journey for your child to travel along the purple mountain with the little horse. The dainty artwork becomes even more exciting as the horse travels along a rainbow, before flying through the clouds. Bruce McCay has always drawn and painted animals, and is an expert at horses. This definitely comes across as you flick through the book, watching the Issue 18

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small horse come to life on his journey into the unknown. When writing a picture book, obviously the words are very crucial, as there are not many of them and they have to tell a detailed story. You have to find a way of crafting your writing so it flows almost like a poem, and I think Daffni does this very well, and the words with the illustrations make a very good mix. Daffni has had a varied career, involving nursing, childcare and a degree in Russian and French. Now she runs courses in Russian, French, Welsh and German, yet still finds time to write and publish stories and poetry. This is the first of her books I have come across, and I would love to see more.

Find out more You can visit Daffni’s website at http://www.merilang.co.uk

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Review & Interview

Spork by Kyo Maclear (Kids Can Press, 2010) ISBN-13: 978-1553377368 Hardback, £9.64 (32 pages) Reviewed by Omma Velada

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ccording to the press release, this picture book is a "multi-cutlery" tale for children, a humorous and lively commentary on individuality and tolerance, the story of a young kitchen utensil born to a fork (his dad) and a spoon (his mum). The basic premise is deceptively simple, yet, as with issues of race and diversity, this is in fact a multi-layered tale: Spork is neither fork nor spoon, but a mixture of the two. Being so unusual makes him feel rather sad, though it is made clear his parents love him just as he is. Is he too curvy or too pointy? The forks have one opinion and the spoons another, so poor old Spork doesn’t fit in anywhere! We follow his adventures as he attempts to look more pointy and then more round. What is the solution? He finds his perfect usefulness when ‘a messy thing’ comes along yes, sporks are the perfect eating tool for babies and once one arrives in Spork’s home, he finaly discovers that you don’t need to look like the majority to be happy - perhaps not the most original message, but certainly a relevant one and told in a highly original way. This story is also beautifully illustrated by Isabelle Aresenault and my own ‘sporks’ loved it! 28

Kyo Maclear

First of all, please could you tell me why, after writing successfully for adults, you decided to write something for a younger audience? I have always loved picture books. I collected them even before I had children. I love the magic that can occur between words and images in a good story. (Think Maurice Sendak, Florence Parry Heide, Norton Juster...) When I was pregnant with my first son, Yoshi, I started making small chapbooks with my husband. The first draft of Spork was created during that time. I wanted to write a story about being mixed race. When I was done I realized that it was really a story for anyone who has ever felt that they don't fit in or wondered where they belong. I still write for adults but I find, increasingly, that the children's work sustains me in a different way. I love the brevity. I love the possibility of saying something large (or medium) in a small way.


Review & Interview: Spork by Kyo Maclear Illustration is so important for children's stories. How did you find your illustrator, how much input did you have, and do you have any plans for another collaboration? I was extremely fortunate to work with a lovely and intuitive editor named Tara Walker. Tara sought out various illustrators but ultimately felt that Isabelle Arsenault was the perfect match. The others were quite graphic in sensibility (thick black outlines, flat colour). In contrast, Isabelle has this lyrical, painterly approach. She is an amazing artist. She took the story and made it her own, adding and embellishing details. In using collage and multimedia materials, she allowed the form to mirror the content. It was really exciting to watch. CS Lewis once said he wrote the stories he would've liked to read, but could not find - did you have this problem growing up, or in trying to find stories to read to children? Yes, I did feel growing up that I was hungry for stories about myself. My favorite author was Charles Schultz. I devoured Peanuts comics. I completely identified with those kids: the melancholy humour, the existential questioning. I spent many summers in Japan and there happened to be a big Snoopy craze one year and I couldn't have been happier. But getting back to your question, I do think my motivation to write kids lit comes from a desire to express emotions that I would have liked to have seen reflected in the books I read as a child. I notice you are using the internet to great effect to market this story with your YouTube video and website - do you think this is the way forward for book promotion and publishing in general? For example, do you think it is important to have ebook versions of your stories available alongside the print ones? I am a book lover. I will always love the tactile quality of the printed page. Picture books, in parIssue 18

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ticular, seem irreplaceable to me. I cannot imagine them becoming obsolete. At the same time, I am a film lover and a music lover and a blog lover and a toy lover...Which is to say, I think books can have many facets and forms, and enter myriad conversations and only grow from the experience. Which is also to say, I am sober about the fact that most people interface with the screen more than the physical page, so why not use that fact as an opportunity? The theme of the story is clearly an important one, told in a light-hearted way. Was it tricky to achieve the right balance? What do you hope children will take from the story? I do believe that these stories of identity and belonging need to be told playfully. Personally I'm not interested in writing social studies literature, though I do see a place for such books. I'm also not terribly drawn to stories about multiculturalism that illustrate the issues with heavy-handed pictorial realism. I think children who read Spork or have it read to them enjoy the character. Spork is silly and his struggles are a bit surreal. But laughter is a good way of starting a conversation in a nonthreatening way. Do you plan to continue writing for children, and if so, do you have any other ideas lined up? It's my dream to continue writing for children. I have a second book coming out with Kids Can Press next year. The folks there have been fantastically supportive (thank you: Tara, Karen P., Karen B., Sheila, Erin, Amelie, Naseem...) The new book will be another collaboration with Isabelle and I am so moved by what I've seen so far. Her sketches take my breath away.

Find out more YouTube video http://tinyurl.com/kyospork Author website http://www.kyomaclear.ca

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Gold Dust 29


Review: The Heroes and Other Stories by Kat Hausler

SHORT STORY

Review XXXX Sad SawTale It All

XXXX XXXX Gareth Storey

Andrew Campbell-Kearsey The multiple piercings must make air travel rather tricky setting off all those detectors. Heaven knows how many others he has which are not on display...

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t’s rather difficult to know what to wear for such an occasion. Obviously, it should be quite formal. After all, there will be several important people there, although one can never say how well attended these things will be. It is at times like this when I replay my maid fantasy. How I would adore to call out, ‘Lay out my navy twin set Jane, and perhaps grandmama’s pearls.’ How often I have bemoaned the year of my birth. I should have been born into wealth in a previous century. I could have managed servants with ease; firm yet fair. Instead, my family inheritance has afforded me this miserable little basement flat. If only my father had risen up the ranks of the civil service. I digress. Now, back to the task in hand. I know that the tendency these days is to dress down but I was raised to take pride in my appearance. The last time I went to the theatre there was a man in shorts and a tee-shirt. Dreadful. I am standing in front of the mirror in the hall. I seldom use perfume but today is worth 30

a little dab. I am unsure as to the angle of my hat. As I reach for my bunch of jailer’s keys, I notice the time. A quarter to nine. That’s good, I don’t have to be there until ten o’clock. Apparently, my five locks are an incentive to potential burglars. The crime prevention officer, as he sat drinking a cup of tea and munching through four of my bourbons, informed me it advertised valuables within. The additional security makes me feel better anyway. Thieves

Source: stock.xchng

would be so disappointed. “Good morning, Miss Bellamy. You’re looking very smart this morning.” I smile guardedly. Is he suggesting that I do not usually make an effort? “Of course, it’s your big day. How are you feeling? Butterflies?” I really do not know why everyone insists on making such a fuss. “Not in the slightest, Stephen. I shall simply say


Saw It All by Andrew Campbell-Kearsey what is required.” He has long since ceased encouraging me to call him Steve. I feel the need to say something positive to him. “Your petunias are looking quite lovely. The fuchsia looks in need of attention though.” “I don’t think that this is the right place for it. I think I’ll give it a new home at the back.” I could, of course, object and demand that he seeks my approval as a co-owner of the back garden. I’ll let it go this time. He’s a nice enough young man. The multiple piercings must make air travel rather tricky setting off all those detectors. Heaven knows how many others he has which are not on display. I reach the bus stop and have to let the first bus go, as it is not yet nine o’clock. I am not going to pay for public transport when I can get it for free. As I show my pass to the driver of the next bus, he looks down at his wristwatch. “It is two minutes past nine. I set my timepiece to the chimes of Big Ben on Radio 4.” He makes some banal comment that I choose to ignore. “Please can you inform me when I should alight for the law courts?” “Why, what have you done then, darlin’? Drunk and disorderly or did you do in your old man?” I give him my best witherIssue 18

December 2010

ing look. I presume he will tell me where I need to get off the bus. But I shall remain vigilant. There are no seats available, but a man, scarcely younger than me, offers me his. It would be churlish to refuse, especially since I do not entirely approve of this driver’s motoring skills. Standing as he takes a bend is frightfully difficult. I sit down on the fraction of the double seat available. “Excuse me, please.” I fail to attract the attention of my fellow passenger. I try again. “Excuse me, could you move up please.” She is wearing headphones and either cannot or does not want to hear me. I will not be beaten and remove the earpiece nearest to me. Modesty prevents me from telling you what she says, but it displays an all too common vulgarity and lack of vocabulary. “You are occupying more than your allotted portion of this seat.” She has the gall to laugh at me. The open mouth reveals an excess amount of fillings and cheap dentistry. I have never been fanatical about garlic and certainly not as a second hand aroma. Also, she is indeed a stranger to personal hygiene. Fortunately, the obese gorgon gets off two stops later. Naturally, she elbows me. I feel her considerable weight as she not so

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daintily treads on my toe. “From which charm school did you graduate?” This witty riposte is wasted on her. It is fortunate that I am wearing gloves, as I have to remove the burger wrapper that she had deliberately left behind. What a breakfast. She must possess the constitution of an ox, which makes at least two connections with the bovine family, with any luck accelerated BSE will make it a trio. This is the first time that I reflect on what I will say this morning. I have rehearsed it to myself on several occasions. I shall be as factual as possible. Of course he is guilty. The police detective was thrilled that I came forward to testify as a witness. He said it was fortunate that I had been outside the post office at the time of the crime. He came to interview me at home. I had to let the neighbours know the reason for his visit, naturally. I could not have them thinking that I was in the habit of entertaining men in the afternoon, or at any other time as a matter of fact. He was awfully impressed with my thimble collection. I can tell when somebody is faking interest, but his was genuine. He commended me on my civic spirit. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he were to recommend me for an OBE. They seem to dish them out to any 31


Saw It All by Andrew Campbell-Kearsey Tom, Dick or Harry these days. Lollypop ladies, school caretakers, why not me? Someone who is actively doing something to reduce crime with no hope of a financial reward. “Here’s the courts. Hope they don’t treat you too harshly.” I consider threatening to report him for his impertinence, but he is not worth the stamp. I have been told where I should wait, right by the hot drinks vending machine. The price of a cup of tea is exorbitant. Besides, I do so hate drinking from plastic cups. I spy a drinking fountain, which is a relief as my throat is terribly dry. I find a row of empty chairs. Previous occupants have picked at the seat coverings to reveal the foam stuffing. I place a discarded newspaper between me and the stained fabric. I am tempted to take out a pen from my handbag so that I can correct the graffiti that is all around me. I have long since become immune to the predictable profanities. It is the grammatical errors and atrocious spelling which truly offend me. “Good morning, Miss Bellamy. Punctual, just as I expected. I hope I have not kept you waiting.” “Not at all, inspector. I’ve always believed in arriving early.” “You’re going to be sec-

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ond. Your eye witness evidence is pivotal to the case. I can’t thank you enough for….” “I see it as my duty” I interrupt him. “I am sure that anybody who had seen….” Now it’s his turn for an interruption. “If that were only the case, Miss Bellamy.” He explains that one of the court officials will collect me. “Miss Bellamy?” I nod and rise. “Please follow me.” As I walk along the corridors I am disappointed. These are not the hallowed and panelled halls of popular drama. There is something Eastern European about the utilitarian décor and the flooring could do with a polish. I am ushered into the courtroom. The surroundings are terribly municipal and plain. What has happened to our fine legal heritage and tradition? I had my day in court. It was not how I had repeatedly imagined. Apparently, according to some slip of a girl, I was “prone to embellishment”. I’m surprised that she even knew the words. I find it difficult to conceive that she could have undergone the necessary training to become a defence lawyer. Standards are indeed slipping. No doubt Ms. Walker attended a comprehensive establish-

ment. I expect she achieved her legal qualifications through some quota scheme, designed to help those from deprived areas. However, breeding will out. She wore a skirt that could have been more accurately described as a pelmet. And, if any male had as much as given her legs an approving glance, she was just the type to scream ‘sexual harassment’. The halfwit judge agreed and suggested to the jury that they should discount my testimony ‘due to inconsistencies’. I am too embarrassed to meet the eyes of the nice inspector. I just want to get home as quickly as possible.


Saw It All by Andrew Campbell-Kearsey Fate is indeed cruel to me today. I cannot directly reach the refuge of my home without succumbing to the third degree by Stephen, who is still kneeling in the front garden, attending to some insipid pink flowers. This is hardly the pastime for a grown man. “So, did you have him hanged or flogged?” “I have been bound to secrecy by the judge.” “Come on, Miss Bellamy, you can tell me. My lips will be sealed.” He grins in an intensely irritating fashion. “Unlike you Stephen, I have a healthy regard for the legal service. I am afraid I do not

share your enlightened world view. If you were to have your politically correct way, most cases would be dropped owing to some obscure extenuating circumstances: a single mother or only having three televisions in the one household. If a felon commits a crime then he should be punished.” “Or she, Miss Bellamy.” Even under the powder I am certain that he can see my cheeks reddening. I shall complain to the leaseholder. There must be something in the lease to forbid the colour Stephen has painted his front door. Those wretched wind-chimes of his are definitely going to have to go. “If you will excuse me

Stephen, I need to go and have a lie down. I feel a migraine coming on.” “I suggest you take…” “I know very well what I need to do, thank you. If I need your advice on medical or any other matters, you shall be my first port of call. I can assure you of that fact.” I manage a smile and then walk up the garden path. At least I have the satisfaction of having put him in his place. I run the tap in the bathroom and place my flannel under it. I close my eyes as I lay down on my bed. The cold damp cloth has a restorative quality. After a matter of minutes I begin to feel better. My heart rate becomes normal and my breathing has slowed down. It is almost lunchtime. Before I prepare myself a modest salad I pick up the local newspaper. An article on the inside page catches my eye. Hmm. Very interesting. I reach for the telephone. “I am telephoning in response to your appeal for witnesses of an incident which occurred in the High Street last Wednesday.” “Yes, I was there. I saw it all very clearly.” They are not to know that I was staying with my sister in Bognor last week. She’s still as frightful a cook as ever. I wonder what I shall wear in court.

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December 2010

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BEST CHILDREN’S PROSE £15

SHORT STORY

XXXX The Alleyway Girl

XXXX Rosie McKeown (age 12)

He was just rounding the comer of his (highly respectable) street when a cry from a nearby alleyway caught his attention...

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very Victorian Londoner who was worthy of that grand title had a weakness, sometimes hidden, sometimes not. All loved tales of the supernatural, from flimsy cardbacked penny tales of vampires and demons to leather-bound, gold-embossed volumes of ghostly voices and revenge from beyond the grave. But no matter how outrageously sensationalist or chillingly sophisticated, anyone who could read and had a few spare coins bought the books faster than the writers of dubious ability could churn them out. Society girls slipped unladylike stories of murderous werewolves into beaded bags, maids sighed over the ghosts of highwaymen, and tight-fisted headmasters hid melodramatic novellas of young women bitten by Dracula in their inkstained desks. But recently, such tales were losing popularity. For it was whispered that London's latest murderer deserved a

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book to herself. Sighted by few, with fewer living to tell the tale. She was known as the Alleyway Girl. Late on a Midsummer's evening, with the last streaks of spectral dusk thinning and fading, few were out, preferring to watch from the security of their homes as the city was invaded by the denizens of the night. That few included Silas Cawley, a humourless man and staunch non-believer in horror tales, which he believed were non-Christian and that morality fables would have a far better effect on society, which, to his mind, was slowly sinking into the mire of corruption. Stepping smartly along the pavement, his moustache quivered with distaste as grubby children cupped their dirt-ingrained hands out to him, in the hope of a copper or two. He was just rounding the comer of his (highly respectable) street when a cry from a nearby alleyway caught his attention. The place in question was immersed in darkness that seemed to ooze from the sooty walls.

“Excuse me,” Silas whispered into the darkness, “is there anybody there?” “Oh!” came a small, startled cry. “I was afraid that nobody would come. Those nasty boys said the people would never even know I was here.” The owner of the voice stepped out of the passage and into the ambient glow of the gently-burning streetlamps. She was, Silas noted with approval, a respectable-looking child in a creamy satin frock with puffed sleeves and gold embroidery at the front. Her voice was heavy with an upper-class accent and her buttoned black ankle boots reflected the orange light. She could even have a few titles in front of her undoubtedly very pretty name. She stepped forward and placed her soft white hand in his. This simple gesture of trust moved him deeply. “Do you think that The Alleyway Girl would have got me?” she asked, her pink lips trembling. Silas smiled indulgently and patted her dense blonde curls. “The Alleyway Girl is just


The Alleyway Girl by Rosie McKeown a story, and even if she was real, she would never hurt a lovely Christian child like you,”

he said with assurance. It is a dreadful shame he never thought to look into her

limpid baby blue eyes, for eyes are the windows of the soul. Hers were like marble, no shine to them, no reflection. They were formed of distilled evil. She waited with a fey smile on her ethereally perfect face, waited until Silas looked down the street, wary of Unsavoury Men and their Immoral Women, waited until the precise moment to bury her serrated teeth in his hand and sent a tide of freezing cold into his body. It took him one hour to die, and she watched the whole time. When the corpse stopped twitching, the eye sockets were slimy red hollows. Eyes are the windows of the soul. The Alleyway Girl had stolen his soul. In the early morning two young grave-robbers and their cart with its macabre cargo happened upon Mr Silas Cawley's twisted body. “Should we take 'im to the Peelers?” asked one, prodding the corpse with a wary foot. “An' tell 'em what we was doin' out when all them good peoples is still asleep?” scoffed the other. “Ah, yer right, Jed. Some other blighter'll trip over 'im.” He clambered back onto the cart. “Giddy up, Moonlighter.” And Silas was once again left alone in the street he had so wished to avoid, and where his dull but ever so virtuous life had ended.

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December 2010

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Review

Coombe’s Wood by Lisa C Hinsley Kindle (electronic download) edition, October 2009 (£2.23) File size: 276KB ASIN: B002TSAORU Reviewed by David Gardiner

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he first surprise is that Lisa C Hinsley’s Coombe’s Wood, after only one year of publication, has received 30 reviews on UK Amazon and 36 on American Amazon, most of them very positive. Further research, however, reveals that (as in the story itself) all is not entirely as it seems. This was one of a number of books piloted for Amazon’s new Kindle portable electronic book platform, and it was chosen for inclusion by means of a competition, in which visitors to Amazon were invited to read and comment on the opening passages of a number of new novels. Most of the reviews refer to these opening extracts rather than the entire book,

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and it isn’t made clear on the Amazon website which reviews are which. Some of the reviews have the words ‘Amazon Verified Purchase’ added in very small lettering, but the full history of the reviewing is nowhere explained. None of this is the author’s fault, and doesn’t necessarily imply that either the book or the reviews are suspect, but some of the less enthusiastic reviewers of the full work assert that the story opens well and then deteriorates. What, then, is the reality? What really happens, it seems to me, is that there is no hint of the true genre of the story until about the middle of the seventh chapter, and no confirmation until much later. The open-


Review: Coombe’s Wood by Lisa C Hinsley ing that the author creates is quite straightforward: Izzy, a woman with a 13-year-old son named Connor, has left her abusive (second) partner and found a council flat for herself and her son in an isolated Berkshire village. She reads some words scrawled beneath the wallpaper in her new flat and feels a sense of threat and unease, which readers might assume to be symptoms of her anxiety about the possibility of her former partner pursuing her. But nearby Coombe’s Wood holds a threat of a completely different kind, as she begins to learn from her neighbours in the village. What looked like a straightforward thriller shifts gear and becomes more of a ‘magical realism’ supernatural mystery. As a reader you are either intrigued and delighted by this, or perhaps disappointed if you have been expecting something else. A major difference from the reader’s point of view between a conventional mystery story and a supernatural mystery is that in the former it’s a safe assumption that if you pick up the clues assiduously and pay attention to the details of the plot you will be able to solve the mystery yourself before all is revealed at the end of the story. In the latter genre this is not necessarily the case. The story is not bounded by the normal laws of reason. For me this produced a tension – I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be looking for rational explanations or not. As it turned out this enterprise was doomed to failure. What we get is a cross between a Stephen King and something resembling a gritty version of a Harry Potter story. There is a set of rules established regarding the parallel world, and the author is relatively restrained as to how far the normal laws of nature can be bent. At the end, as so often happens in this kind of story, there is an attempt to reconcile the two levels of reality by manipulation of the protagonist’s memory I felt there were one or two plot weaknesses, but nothing of significance. For examIssue 18

ple, in the course of what seems to be a buildup to something resembling the iconic scene in the old Boris Karloff film where the villagers with their burning torches and pitchforks advance on Frankenstein’s castle, the first unambiguously magical element is introduced, and Izzy barely seems to notice. The action continues seamlessly, as though nothing has happened. Then the same conjuring trick is introduced later, and only this time does Izzy seem to react as we might expect. I wondered if there had been a slight editing hiccup of some kind that had produced this clunkiness. Taken on its own terms, as a novel of the supernatural, the story is well paced and the characters mostly three dimensional and involving. Occasionally the dialogue is unconvincing, and some details, such as the frequency with which Izzy addresses her son as ‘love’, can become irritating, but overall I felt myself drawn along by the unfolding of the plot and keen to get back to the story after breaks. It’s a good entertaining read, possibly better suited to a younger audience than an old cynic like me. And for £2.23 you can’t really complain!

Find out more Lisa’s blog: http://coombeswood.blogspot.com

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SHORT STORY

In This Short Life

Abigail Wyatt

He has asked me to fetch clean pyjamas, a request that speaks an intimacy that leaves me feeling disturbed...

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ravelling home, I am restless, troubled, relieved not to be driving. It is only the presence of strangers that keeps me from tears. A fiery-cheeked cherub wails through his fists while his mother fusses and flusters. In the seat behind, a young man seems to read but struggles to turn the page. Here, the day-world demands to be heard: a housewife frets over dinner, a toddler protests the pain and yet must cut his teeth; full of hope and faith, a young man insists on the end of the story; and, way up front, our blank-eyed driver dreams of the midnight run. The people on this bus are ordinary folk whose lives are weighted with purpose; yet, dogged as they are and downto-earth, their hopes spin with the stars. I am seeing them now as if through glass, but tomorrow I will re-join them. Once, my friend walked among them, too: Leo, always laughing and late. Now, Leo inhabits a place where day-world time has little meaning. He dives the depths with the dignity of one 38

who has calculated the risks. When he breaks the surface, he startles awake and his eyes betray his confusion. Leo has asked for a wall clock in his room. He will never be late again. In my trouser pocket I have Leo’s key. He has asked me to fetch clean pyjamas, a request that speaks an intimacy that leaves me feeling disturbed. For all his laughter and easy charm, Leo is not gregarious. I have never visited him at his home; I don’t know anyone who has. Leo was once married; then divorced, then resolutely single. Women, he maintains, are so very sweet that a little goes a long way. Doubtless he has had his amorous adventures but always with discretion. Leo, like me, is a geologist: we like to go underground. Now Leo’s door key rests on my palm. Tomorrow I will use it: along the hall, across the lounge, left to his bedroom door. Behind that door sits a chest of drawers, guardian of Leo’s pyjamas; two pairs, as yet unworn: ivory and chocolate brown. I feel a frisson of

excitement as I realise that my friend is still so full of mystery; I know nothing, for example, of the life he led before our acquaintance began. Once, a little flushed from too much wine, he said he had ‘escaped’ it. I don’t know what he meant by that. It didn’t seem important at the time. This evening, though, as the bus slows down and I stumble towards the platform, I consider the notion that, after all, Leo may not be alone; if not a wife, perhaps a sister, a brother; even adult children. Leo is only fifty-three: his mother might yet be alive. This is the thought that snags like a hang-nail. I stare into the darkness: I lay out the puzzle of Leo’s face and, in it, try to find hers. I am on my way to see Leo again. This time I am driving. Beside me, packed in a small travel bag, are the items he has requested: two pairs of pyjamas, three CDs and The Complete Works of Emily Dickinson, an ancient paperback, carefully annotated in his neat, close hand. The CDs are Gregorian chant, which, appar-


In This Short Life by Abigail Wyatt ently, he finds soothing. Does this imply a religious faith? I didn’t like to ask. Leo’s apartment was not what I had expected. I imagined something light but spare with strong, clean lines. Instead, I found wall-hangings, cushions, throws; a kind of ethnic opulence; also, some original art work and a cupboard full of DVDs. Yes, I’ll admit I looked around a bit – I had to find his stuff, after all – and who would have guessed that Leo was a Hollywood movie fan? Not that I went through his private things – but you can’t help noticing the obvious – which is why I now have the problem of whether or not to speak out. Normally, I’d say it’s none of my business. But surely this is different. Soon there will be no more words. Leo will be dead. Leo has cancer, cancer of the bowel. By the time he discovered what was wrong, it had already spread. They call it metastases, which Leo said sounded like a Greek hero. At the outset, he liked to talk; it helped keep his hopes alive. But once they tell you they’ve run out of options, why talk about your cancer any longer? Then it becomes no more than the bullet that happens to bear your name. It wasn’t me who said that, by the way; it was Leo, after the bombshell. ‘That’s enough of that then,’ he said. ‘What shall we talk about now?’ Issue 18

December 2010

I swing the car past the sturdy oak that signposts the entrance and follow the sweep of the circular drive. At its grassy centre, subtle in the moonlight, gleams a miracle in white marble. It is the Archangel Michael who comforts the sick and conquers all fear. I am reminded then that Michael is also the guardian of personal integrity. I rest my hand on my inside breast pocket and wonder if he will help. Leo is sitting propped up in bed, apparently a little better. He greets me with a smile that transforms his face, erasing the lines of his pain. ‘What have you brought me, my faithful friend? Gin, absinthe, ganja? Or could it be, in fact, pyjamas and poetry?

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Much more my sort of thing.’ I grin my appreciation of his joke and I rest the bag on the bed. The pyjamas and the Gregorian chant I place inside the night-stand drawer. I am about to follow with the Dickinson when Leo intervenes. ‘Don’t put that away. I’d like to see it now. Perhaps you might even read to me a little? If you have the time, that is…’ His voice is eager and wheedling like a child’s and he raises his eyes to mine so, although I have never attempted such a thing, I know I have no choice. I am still holding the book in mid-air but he nudges it towards me. ‘Ok, what’ll it be? But you know I’m out of my depth.’ ‘No,’ he says, ‘you choose. See what catches your eye.’ His tone is almost

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In This Short Life by Abigail Wyatt tender. Now I feel like the child. I read for half an hour or so and it isn’t as bad as I feared. I wasn’t joking. Shakespeare apart, I’ve never cared much for poetry. Muscular prose is more my thing – Hemmingway, Salinger, Carver – but this stuff is short and I am pleasantly surprised by how spare and sinewy it feels. Soon, I am enjoying myself so much, I forget about the thing in my pocket; forget, that is, until I arrive at 1026. The first thing I think is: No, not this one. Too late, though; Leo is on to me. ‘What?’ he says. ‘What?’ I make an excuse ‘Clearly,’ he says, pausing for effect, ‘something has made an impact.’ I take a steadying breath and begin to read. The Dying need but little, Dear, A Glass of Water’s all, A Flower’s unobtrusive Face To Punctuate the Wall, A Fan, perhaps, a Friend’s Regret And Certainty that one No color in the Rainbow Perceive when you are gone. When, finally, I can bring myself to look, there are tears in Leo’s eyes. ‘Leo, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have. Truly, I didn’t want to.’ Leo says nothing. Then,

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very slowly, he shakes his head, brushing aside my words. He fixes his gaze on the far wall and his face contorts with emotion. There is such a struggle in progress now that I can scarcely bear to watch. ‘Look, Leo,’ – my words spill out like excuses – ‘isn’t there someone I can phone? Someone you want to see? Someone should be here. Families can be odd, of course, and I don’t know what might have happened but there’s still time to get in touch. Maybe you can sort things out.’ Leo just stares at me; impossible to tell what he is thinking. Because the time for retreat has passed I have to persevere. My hand goes to my pocket and I place the photograph face up on the bed in front of him. He looks at if for a long time but he does not pick it up. ‘I found it in the flat.’ Even for me, this goes way beyond stupid. Of course, I did. Leo knows exactly where it was kept. He will know that I took it from the chest of drawers where it rested on a one-eyed teddy bear. My heart is beating in my throat as I brace myself against his wrath. But it doesn’t come. When next I look, my friend, Leo, is weeping; huge tears roll down his now jowly cheeks. He cries for what seems like a long time, then sniffs and wipes

his face with his fingers. I offer him my handkerchief which feels very odd. ‘It’s my mother and father,’ Leo says, ‘and that, of course, is my brother. Almost six years younger than me, always very bright. They’re still alive, as far as I know – but I doubt you’ll ever get to meet them. You’re right. I haven’t told them; if I had, they wouldn’t have come.’ I open my mouth to protest this notion but Leo hushes me quickly. ‘My friend,’ he says, ‘you don’t know; you simply have no idea.’ I look at Leo and I see he is right. What did I think I was doing? Far from helping him, I have made matters worse. I can’t help but wonder what caused such a breach but to ask him now would be odious. I slip the photograph back into my pocket and open the book.


In This Short Life by Abigail Wyatt Leo manages a grimace of a smile and settles himself into his pillows. ‘I don’t mind, you know,’ he says. ‘I can die without them here.’ Now it’s my turn to shake my head. His courage is humbling. ‘But, Leo,’ I say, ‘it’s so hard for me to think of you here in this place all alone.’ ‘I’m not alone. There are good people here and I know that they will help me. Anyway, you are here – and I hope you will visit me again.’ I promise Leo I will come tomorrow. He says he feels a little weary. He wants to hear some Gregorian chant to help him drift off to sleep. I set up the music and lower the lights. Leo looks comfortable and peaceful. I do not speak as I take my leave; I simply squeeze his hand.

Driving through the starless night, I have more than a little to think about: the photograph, Leo’s tears, the mystery surrounding his family, the power of the verse itself, the closeness I have left behind. Already, its absence feels like a loss, but the loss of what eludes me. I am pondering this when my mobile rings. Leo is dead. Except that the music is no longer playing, the room is as it was. His folded hands rest on his chest, cool and pale as a dove. Though his eyes are closed, his lips are parted, as if on the point of speaking. His whole face is bathed in light like the angel on the lawn. Then, as I wrest my gaze away, I see the book open on the night-stand. One of Leo’s business cards is tucked between its leaves. I remove the card – a last remembrance – and I turn it between my fingers. The back is inscribed in purple ink in a still steady hand: My Dearest Friend, Please read 511. Of all my hopes, the very is best that, one day, you will read to me again. Until then, a last kiss from Leo x For a moment, I am overcome. I cannot grasp what has happened. Is it possible that Leo,

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December 2010

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when I squeezed his hand, knew that death was so close? I am fingers and thumbs as I search the pages, but a purple star marks the place for me. So much darkness and so much light gathered in a few brief lines: 511 If you were coming in the fall, I’d brush the summer by With half a smile and half a spurn, As Housewives do a fly. If I could see you in a year, I’d wind the months in balls, And put them each in separate drawers, Until their time befalls. If only centuries, delayed, I’d count them on my hand, Subtracting, till my fingers dropped Into Van Dieman’s Land. If certain, when this life was out, That yours and mine should be, I’d toss it yonder like a rind, And taste eternity. But, now, all ignorant of the length, Of time’s uncertain wing, It goads me like the goblin bee, That will not state its sting.

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SHORT STORY

Elephant Juice

Jason Vandaele

Ordinarily, Josie would not have tried to beat Evan... erbie, an innocent game played throughout English history, on English streets by English children. The rules, although never actually recorded in any sort of official rule book are nevertheless understood by everyone. All you really need is an empty street, the fewer the cars the better, two people standing on adjacent pavements and a ball to throw at the opposing kerb with the aim to hit it and return the ball to the thrower. Now, these rules are not strict, indeed it has been known that player numbers have swelled to form a tag team and more, but generally this is down to a lack of balls, which itself has come under some scrutiny, with most favouring the larger sized football for ease but some rebels preferring the smaller sized tennis ball to test their accuracy, and on the odd street there will always be one person who brings the un-bounceable and un-returnable marble to the game because they get lonely playing alone with them in their room and get the warm feeling that maybe they could

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use the marble as an ‘in’ to play that strange street game with the other children. On any given night the components of a game of kerbie can change dramatically but more often than not, it’s not how you play it but what you say when you play it. This particular late summer’s evening was a warm and close school night Thursday in the middle of Getty’s Avenue; the two players were Josie Finn and Evan Mattie, both 10 years old and sort of friends at school. They were a strange and unlikely pairing that had formed about 10 minutes earlier when Josie Finn, carrying her brother’s football under her arm, had called for Evan. It was as strange as it was unannounced and unplanned, and she spent the next five long minutes tapping her newly double-laced foot, bouncing the ball along to her heartbeat and ignoring the waving hand and open window ‘hellos’ of George Dundleberry in the neighbour’s window, while she waited forever for Evan to put his shoes on. When he re-opened the door Josie bounced the ball a

few more times and a little more quickly and then caught it and asked Evan why he hadn’t learned to tie his laces double. Evan grabbed the ball and started bouncing it down the drive, testing its bouncebackability and leaving Josie behind, asking the question, “Can I do it?” With no reply, Josie quickly followed him with a few skips and, as Evan began laying down the ground rules for the evening’s game (that they were to play to 20, originally it was to be a 10-point game but Josie convinced Evan that 10 points would be a very short game since he was very good and she needed longer to practice, you got one point for hitting the kerb, 2 for catching the rebound and a further bonus point if you then hit the kerb and caught the return from the middle that would come in the form of a dare to be carried out by the other person, which was Josie’s idea) they both turned their backs on the waving hand of George Dundleberry. The street was empty of cars, people and for the first few failed attempts, conversation, until some of Evan’s


Elephant Juice by Jason Vandaele friends who were giving backeys on their BMXs to other friends rode by and Evan told them he was just showing a girl how to play kerbie and that he’d be down the park to play with them just as soon as he beat her. When her eyes looked up from the ball, Josie recognised some of the departing crowd from school and looked guiltily at Evan and asked, “Can I do it yet?” But, Evan seemed to not hear this question either. Ordinarily, Josie would not have tried to beat Evan because she liked him and thought any chances she had of a year 5 boyfriendy girlfriendy thing would be destroyed, or kicked to the kerb, as it were, if he were to lose to a girl. But, with the dare rule in play she saw it as an open opportunity to win just a few points to get to know Evan better without losing him forever. A while later when Evan had just taken the score to 4-2 in his favour and while in the middle of the street desperately trying to score the bonus throw, Josie interrupted him, “Could I do it if you were run over by a car and needed my help?” Not knowing what she was talking about, Evan asked, “What?” to which Josie extended an arm and pointed at a car coming down the street. Evan treaded carefully backwards taking care not to step on his undone shoe laces and Issue 18

December 2010

knelt down on his own kerb to tuck his laces in while the car drove by. When he got back in the middle, Josie asked, “How about now?” and Evan rolling his eyes said, “Okay, you can do it, but make sure you tie them tight and double.” This time, Josie’s arms and legs half turned to jelly but she wobbled forward into the middle of the street and tied Evan’s laces in

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a double knot for him. It seemed to work, for on his very next go Evan scored two more points and performed a very convincing impression of Michael Jordan to catch his rebound 10 feet up in the air. At 6-all, Josie had successfully managed to ask daring questions like what sort of things Evan liked to do, other than to play kerbie with her,

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Elephant Juice by Jason Vandaele and to see if he was at all interested in any girl at school. To the latter he said straight out, “Nope” and then hurriedly threw the ball and missed. For his part, harnessing the power of his double knot and taking the game to a 4-point lead at 10 to 6, Evan had dared Josie to scream at the top of her lungs, “I love George Dundleberry very much!” and to tell him a joke, which she did, it was a Knock Knock joke and she delighted in the fact that she had Evan say, “I’ve just done a runnip-who.” Revenge felt good, especially when Evan smiled about it. Whether it was poor judgement or the dying light or something else, no-one knows but the score remained 10-6 for quite a while. Josie silently hid her frustration and blamed her barren spell on the appearance of George Dundleberry whom she specifically blamed for her dropping a 2-point catch. Josie saw him walking along her kerb and was convinced his waving to her was the distraction that meant she only got one point but more importantly failed to dare Evan to reveal some more information to her. “What are you playing?” George asked Josie. She said, “Kerbie”, looking at Evan. George nodded his head like a bobblehead doll and carried on moving something in his pock-

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ets. “Umm, could I play with you, Josie?” George asked, standing perfectly still, but his head nervously bobbing in a direction opposite to Josie’s. “Yes, George, you can, here,” and faked to throw the ball to get his attention. But he stopped because George’s attention was fixed and even more so when Josie started speaking, “No, I’m sorry George, kerbie is a two-player game only. You can’t play with odd numbers. It’s the rules.” With those words, Evan looked at George’s mouth again and sounded what it looked like it was about to say to Josie, “Is it?” “Yes, I’m certain it is.” Josie shuffled two paces forward to sell her statement to Evan and loud enough that George would hear, “I’ve got the rule book at home, I’ll show you tomorrow.” George began to walk off and his frame would have looked even more like jelly if it hadn’t been for the thought that tomorrow, if only for a few seconds, Josie Finn would talk to him. But before his legs could wobble him away they stopped, “Have you got the time?” George turned and looked for the pair of lips that were moving, he saw that it wasn’t Josie’s and carried on until he saw Evan looking up, “Have you got the time, George, ‘cause it’s getting dark?” Evan asked him again. George pointed to his left wrist

and told him he didn’t have a watch. Evan said it was ‘fine’ and then watched him walk two slow steps forward and then stop, stand still and look at Josie. To Evan, on the other side of the street, George looked sad and he was about to throw the ball to him when he stopped at the sight of George’s lips mouthing something inaudible to Josie. While he watched he wondered


Elephant Juice by Jason Vandaele about a few things, what was George saying, how exactly had Josie tied that double knot and when had she learned, and why was he finding it so difficult to beat a girl at kerbie. But Evan’s wondering temporarily ceased when he saw George walk off. When he was far enough away and Evan missed Josie’s kerb, he told her he thought George liked her, but Josie dis-

Issue 18

December 2010

missed this with a “nope”, a facial screw and a failed attempt at a throw. “Well, what did he mouth to you?” Evan asked but Josie told him she didn’t know, but when Evan caught the ball for another 2 points and hit the kerb for the bonus, he dared Josie to tell him some gossip about George. “George?” “Yeah, George, tell me something about George Dundleberry.” Evan clarified his dare. “George, well, he’s in our year at school. Year 5.” Evan interrupted Josie, “Yeah, I know that and I know that he lives next to me, something else though.” Josie screwed up her face, “Okay, well here’s something, he follows me around school, like everywhere I go and whenever I catch his eye he mouths something to me, like says it without saying it, like, even in lessons he’ll stare at me when I’m trying to colour in and mouth this thing.” “And, what is it?” Evan asked rolling the ball with his foot with intrigue. “I don’t know, it looks weird to me, like he’s saying ‘elephant juice’ to me, so every time he does it I just start laughing ‘cause it’s so funny, but what he thinks I have to do with elephant juice, I don’t know.” Evan put his foot on the ball, “So, that’s why you didn’t want him to play.” “Why?” Josie looked at the ball stopped under Evan’s foot. “Because he’s a weird boy who says

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weird things like elephant juice.” “Yeah exactly and I think we’ve got a good game going” Josie smiled. “So, is that why you were laughing at me when he was looking at you just?” Evan bounced the ball into Josie’s arms. “Yeah, I just can’t help it when he does it.” Josie bounced the ball then threw it and caught it at a stretch to make it 12-9. But unfortunately for her she missed the bonus throw and the chance to dare Evan to do something embarrassing. As they walked back up to Evan’s house, Josie kept asking if ‘now’ was the time or not, and Evan kept saying, “No, not yet.” His laces looked fine. Then she remembered that she still had one dare for Evan remaining, seeing that she’d won the last bonus point but when she reminded him of this and asked if she could dare him to do it ‘now’ as they walked up Getty’s Avenue, he still said, “No, not yet.” As they approached his house, they noticed the woman from next door stood beneath the porch light on her driveway. She asked Evan if that was him who had been making the loud donkey sounds to which Josie giggled and Evan screwed his face and said, “Yes it was me but I was being an elephant, actually.” “Really? Sounded like a donkey to me, never mind, practise makes perfect.” 45


Elephant Juice by Jason Vandaele “I thought it sounded like an elephant, didn’t you?” But Josie was giggling too much to answer him and turned her back on the woman to get some privacy for her laughter. Evan turned back around, and seeing the woman look at her watch, asked her, “Do you find this funny? Two penguins sitting in a bath. One asks, ‘Can you pass me the soap?’ And the other says, ‘What do you think I am, a radiator?’” Facing the street, Josie mimed the ‘radiator’ part at the same time as Evan and then sunk her shoulders back into a giggle, attracting Evan’s attention. Upon finishing his more enthusiastic delivery, Evan turned and looked up at the neighbour for a response but she just ignored him and didn’t say anything. Just then, Josie who was still stood with her back to the woman nudged Evan in the arm and when he turned around, they both watched a car drive by and up the road. They looked at the back window. Evan quickly turned back around, “So, what do you think, Mrs Dundleberry, is that funny or what?” And with those words, Josie started to play a game of kerbie with Evan’s left hand, but all of the nudges she threw were unsuccessful in catching his attention and silently missed. “No, I’m sorry Evan, I don’t find it funny, it doesn’t really make sense.”

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She looked at her watch, then checked the dimming skies. “Have either of you seen George at all?” Two quickening Josie nudges ricocheted when, pretending that he might know, Evan half turned around to join Josie, screwed his red face again and said, “Yeah, we saw him about a half hour ago, down by the park, didn’t we?” This last part was delivered with a return nudge aimed at Josie and though she took forever to answer him, she eventually said, “Yes, umm, yes we did.” Seeing Mrs Dundleberry double check her watch again, Evan looked concerned, “Are you sure you don’t find my penguin joke funny?” She evidently did not and didn’t waste any time telling him so: “No, Evan I don’t. It’s not even a joke really, is it? It’s just a silly little story that doesn’t mean anything. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to check for George. Down the park you said you saw him last, right?” Evan smiled while his hand deflected multiple Josie nudges, “Right, yeah, playing on the swings down the park about half an hour ago, Mrs Dundleberry.” But before she could walk away, Evan asked, “Have you got the time, Mrs Dundleberry? ‘Cause when I asked George earlier he said he didn’t have a watch, and I mean, it’s getting pretty dark and me and Josie don’t want to be late for our

curfews.” She did and she told him without looking at it and then asked Josie’s back, “So, you’re the Josie from School?” Josie ignored her and Evan smiled when Mrs Dundleberry said, “I told George to put a watch on if he was going out, but he said someone had called for him and he was in a rush to play some sort of game, I presume with someone down the park if you say you saw him there. Oh well, he’s probably just lost track of time or something.” She checked her watch one final time and then joked, “Or got lost in the dark.” Evan found this joke funny and started laughing at George’s mother. As she started off down the drive Mrs Dundleberry turned her back on the watching eyes of Josie Finn and the waving hand of Evan Mattie. When Mrs Dundleberry was out of sight, Evan and Josie waddled over like two penguins onto Evan’s drive and just as he was about to enter his house, Josie nudged him and said, “How about that?” “How about what?” Evan replied. “The dare, how about you doing my dare before I go, you know, seeing I won kerbie and all,” Josie said under the light blanket of stars in the dark blue sky. “Okay, fine, I’ll do the dare, what do you want me to


Elephant Juice by Jason Vandaele do?” Evan looked at his laces and prepared himself for a lesson. Josie moved closer on the drive and asked, “Okay, so, can I do it now?” And Evan said, “Yes.” So, Josie slowly

waddled forward, part of the way looking down as if she were worried about tripping over her own shoe laces, and when she saw they were still double knotted she looked up

and quickly kissed Evan on the lips. She stood back like Evan had done and, though it didn’t break the silence, she mouthed something to him. Partly out of shock, confusion and to break the silence, Evan blurted out, “What?” And Josie, clutching her ball under her left arm, though fighting the urge to bounce it hard and fast, told him, “I said elephant juice, remember that?!” This last part may have been a question or a statement or something else, but whatever it was it made no sense and didn’t mean anything, and Evan didn’t say a word, he could remember only parts of the last 10 years of his life, most of which were trophy shots he had played at kerbie. His whole body had turned to jelly and all he was capable of was looking straight forwards. And when he did that he saw Josie quickly move in again, kiss him on his jelly lips and then turn around and walk away bouncing her ball up and down, “See you tomorrow, elephant juice.” Alone on his drive and unable to move he repeated, “See you tomorrow” and then he looked down at his double knotted shoe laces and then the left sleeve of his favourite white t-shirt and contemplated wiping his lips while they mouthed, “Elephant juice? Elephant juice. Elephant juice too, Josie Finn.”

Gold Dust Issue 18

December 2010

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SHORT STORY

Rice Grain Story

Egle Dargyte

The rats...adored its white shiny beauty the same way as humans adore the beauty of pearls...

I

Isaw a cat today. It appeared in my garden after the rain. The cat was sitting on a brick wall and gazing in front of itself. Like some Yoga practitioner it was sitting motionless for ages. The cat was observing things but not recording them into its mind. I often feel like that cat too. My days are passing by and I am looking into nowhere. I find myself counting pieces of dust and spots of dry water on the ground. I look for an eyelash which fell from my eye because I rubbed it too much. I

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search for clocks and observe their moving arrows. I stare at one point in space for ages. And then I forget to swallow saliva, which therefore falls down my open lips onto my chest. It drags down the last atoms of my consciousness. I don’t know how to use the given time. It seems that this one is not real, so I am waiting for another one. Waiting whilst my eyes, bloated like two soap bubbles, meet eyes of other people. Then they explode and their gaze just vanishes from memory.

The less I think the more I scratch my head. But what if that cat sees and remembers things? What if she thinks about what she sees and even understands it? What if she philosophises? What if she creates poems whilst sitting on that red brick wall? Then...I am not like the cat, I am a truly confused human being who underestimates animals. The very depth of my existence is just like an image of a still cat sitting on the wall. The feeling of weakness is stronger than my strengths... To tell the truth, I must pull myself together and think of jollier stories from now on. I shouldn’t gaze through the window for too long. I shouldn’t feed the greedy clouds with my thoughts. In fact, just looking at that cat I can see a story hidden in her soft tabby fur. It is a story which the cat made whilst sitting on the red brick wall. There was a big bag of rice in a kitchen cupboard. The rice was beautiful and white and of a very high quality. So no surprise that rats who lived


Rice Grain Story by Egle Dargyte in a cellar of the house knew very well about it. In fact, they knew everything about the food which was stored in that kitchen. They had a list of it written in rat’s claw writing and kept it on the wall for everyone to see. The rice was number one on that list. The rats were dreaming of it every day. They adored its white shiny beauty the same way as humans adore the beauty of pearls. The rats wanted to make some extravagant rice grain necklaces, bracelets and earrings. They dreamt of eating some of it too. Ideally, two thirds of the bag... The night came. One rat couldn’t wait any longer. -I don’t care, - the rat said, - I am not scared of any humans or cats or any other big monsters! I am ready to die if that’s my fate. I do not care, I am going to get at least six grains of that white shiny crunchy adorable nutritious rice! – Six grains!? – Other rats replied with astonishment, that’s far too many for one crippled rat to carry! – And also, people could realise that six grains are gone and then they will suspect us, and will complain to the ugly tabby cat and then… no need to mention what will happen then… – I know, I know, – the brave rat replied, - do you think I’ve got just three legs because it’s more comfortable? Do you Issue 18

December 2010

think I have a blue wire leg because it is fashionable? No, it was my fate to fight for my life with that heartless cat. But how worthwhile it was! It was the most delicious buck wheat grain I have ever tasted. And I know that this time it is going to be even worthier! – Even if you lose another leg? – Yes, even if I do! ...We still have some wire left... And the brave rat left the cellar. Once he entered the kitchen his nostrils became wider and his whiskers grew longer. All around was quiet and dark. Everything seemed fine. Everything seemed excellent. And even though one of his four legs was made of blue wire, he climbed onto a table gracefully and opened a cupboard door skilfully. Once he

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was inside a tear of joy ran down his cheek - a huge enormous gigantic cotton bag full of white rice stood right in front of him. The brave rat made a hole in it. Actually, it was a heart shaped hole because he considered it to be his own special signature. Then he took out six grains of rice, three into one claw and three into another one, got out of the cupboard and kicked its door to shut. But that wasn’t a very clever thing to do… The door made a huge “Bang!” which travelled all way down the corridor and straight into the cat’s ears. Cat (her name was Cat) jumped up with her sharp nails out and ready to grab. Normally she had very good night vision, but at that moment everything looked very blurry (Cat didn’t know, but it happened because she was awakened too suddenly 49


Rice Grain Story by Egle Dargyte and due to a low blood pressure she had become dizzy). Cat thought someone had come to cut her whiskers (it was her worst fear and nightmare) so she jumped out through an open window and ran as far as she could and climbed all way up to the top of a very high pine tree. Once she had no where else to run to she started to think of how to get down… However, the brave rat didn’t know that Cat had been frightened by “Bang”, and also had blood pressure problems. On the contrary, he thought he was going to be chased and eaten, and that his life was going to end in a few moments. But since he was a brave rat, he ran. He ran and ran and ran towards a hole in the wall behind the fridge. Unfortunately, the blue wire leg didn’t help him much. He tripped over a piece of an old cucumber which was lying on the kitchen floor and so he dropped one of the rice grains. But the rat didn’t care about that anymore. He jumped up, kicked the cucumber angrily and ran again. Soon he was underneath the kitchen floor. He wiped away his sweat, piled up all five rice grains, put his head on top and fell asleep. He dreamt about his grandmother and pear flavour candy. Now, it is not the end of the story yet. Particularly for

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someone like the little rice grain who was left lying in confusion on the kitchen floor. She stood up in a moment and started walking straight. But because she didn’t have any

of the main door and she wasn’t in the house any longer. The little rice grain was outside. It was snowing and cold, it was a beautiful winter morning. – Wow, it’s unbelievable,

night vision, she soon bumped into a table leg and fell over. She decided to sleep there until morning… The morning came and the little rice grain opened her eyes. What am I suppose to do now? She thought, I have left my community. I am little, free and completely alone. But… I am clever too, so everything should be all right. She decided to follow the smell of the air. The fresher it felt the faster she walked. Finally, she squeezed herself through a little gap by the side

different kind of rice is falling from the sky! – She whispered to herself, – I never thought I would meet this legendary rice which we talk about only in fairy tales… The sky rice… Sky soaring rice… So, the little rice grain started walking through the snow greeting every single snow flake on her way. But the snow was quiet and never responded to her. Not a single word. They have completely different customs from us, thought the rice grain, they don’t speak to strangers…


Rice Grain Story by Egle Dargyte The snow was falling and falling and falling and it gradually covered the little rice grain. She didn’t realise what was happening. She started feeling very sleepy and soon she froze. At the same time, Cat managed to get down from the

top of the pine tree. She had scratches on her nose and ears and was very tired and hungry. She walked towards the house leaving soft cat paw traces in the snow. When March came the little rice grain woke up. She found herself soaking in a big puddle of water. Luckily, she could swim and soon pulled herself out of it. Then she sat on the dry ground and thought: What a dream I had. I want it to be remembered forever… So the little rice grain took a needle from a pine tree (it is very likely it was from the same pine tree where Cat had sat) and started to write in the soil: Issue 18

December 2010

Ice is as beautiful as solitude. It is an air which parted from flowing moving time. Ice is not water. Ice is a pretender. Sometimes it is a diamond, sometimes a salt, sometimes a stone, a glass, even an earth...

Frozen waves are also ice. A beautiful white frozen wave. It feels so strange to walk on the top of frozen waves. They’d never swallow you. It seems that the sea has lost her appetite and now she can’t accept any animal or thing. She is not hungry now, she wouldn’t eat even a single little rice grain. When I stand on a frozen wave, I am not allowed to speak. Nobody told me that, but I know. Waves are silent and they don’t ask anything. I don’t have to answer, because I am not asked... But suddenly it started to

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rain and all the words written in the soil disappeared. – Oh well, - sighed the rice grain, – if I knew it was going to rain, I wouldn’t have started writing in the first place. I am not going to be a writer anyway, so never mind… And so the little rice grain decided to sit on a grey pebble and wait for what was going to happen next. She didn’t mind the pouring rain. She felt relaxed because she didn’t know that the other five rice grains from the same bag had been eaten by the rat with the blue wire leg. To be honest, the rice grain thought, that dream about the frozen waves is a little bit too extraordinary for me since I am just a little rice grain. If a human had such a dream that would make more sense… But wait a second, she gasped, just look at me!!! I am no rice grain any longer, I am a human! And that was entirely true. A girl, not a rice grain at all, was lying on her back in the tall green grass. Huge rain drops were falling on her hair, face and body. When she smiled they fell on her teeth, when she didn’t they went running down her lips. The rain woke her up. She opened her eyes slowly and carefully. What a little thing I am, she thought. This time it’s real, and cannot be more real than this.

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ContributorsXXXX This issue, we selected our favourite 5% of submissions that you can read here. Our contributors sent in their work from the UK and the US.

Short stories Tomas Furby Tomas Furby is a second year undergrad at the University of East Anglia. He’s been studying English with Creative Writing and has spent the past two years writing both prose and radio scripts. Andrew Campbell-Kearsey Andrew Campbell-Kearsey lives in Brighton on the South Coast of England. He is a former headteacher. He now writes full-time. He has attended several writing courses and groups. He gets his best ideas from walking the dogs on the beach at low tide. Rose McKeown Rosie McKeown was born in Kingston, London, on 8 February 1998. She had her first poem, Narcissus, published in Writers’ Forum magazine when she was nine years old. She is now a Year 8 pupil at The Holy Cross Girls’ School, where her favourite subject is history. Her top three books of all time are Scatterheart, by Lili Wilkinson, Victory, by Susan Cooper and Battle Fleet, by Paul Dowswell. She is most likely to be found in the teenage section of her local library, where her favourite authors are Celia Rees, Mary Hooper, Julie Hearn, Chris Wooding and Patrick Ness. Her biggest wishes are to time travel and to be excused from art and PE lessons forever! Abigail Wyatt Formerly Head of English at Redruth School, Abigail Wyatt now lives and writes in the shadow of Carne Brae in Cornwall where there is never enough sunshine and never enough time. Writing is her passion, but Abigail also enjoys dramatic performance and she appeared recently as King Rat in a local production of Dick Whittington. Abigail's poetry and short fiction has been published in a number of magazines and e-zines, including Words with JAM, Word Salad, One Million Stories, A Long Story Short and Poetry Cornwall. Her poetry collection, Moths in a Jar, will be available from Palores Press in November, 2010 Jason Vandaele Biography unavailable.

Egle Dargyte Originally I am from Lithuania. I am 26 and I have been living in London for 7 years now. I am a drama teacher in one secondary London school at the moment and have been married to a man from Japan for 5 years now. Therefore, London is a perfect place for us to be. Writing stories is my way of relaxing and expressing my feelings through imagination. I also paint. I illustrate my own stories. Because I see writing as my hobby I never felt that I can’t write in English, I never felt that my English is not good enough to express myself. Also, I want to share my stories with my husband so I use the language which bonds us.

Flash fiction Judy Viertel Judy Viertel leads the Drunken Goats, a San Franciscobased group for wine-swilling writers. She wrote Miss Judy Goes to the Yucatan (www.yucajudy.blogspot.com), a blog about her adventures among the Mayan people of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. She's been published in Mad Swirl, an online literary journal.

Poems (Children & Young Adults) Miranda Wilkie Miranda Wilkie is a student from Newport, South Wales. Currently studying both English Literature and Language, French and German at A-Level, she spends most of her free time writing, watching French films and playing with her cats. She was born in London in 1994 and has adapted to the cold, wet Welsh weather by staying inside and penning Haikus about otters and trees. Paige Coleman Paige is 15, and has been writing poetry since she was little. She loves writing so much that all her exercise books have poems in the back of them, and is never seen without a pen and paper. Ep Epsilon Biography unavailable.

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Contributors Maybellene Kisseih Biography unavailable.

Reviews & Features

Noam Baruch Biography unavailable. Emilie Ellis Emilie Ellis was born in Poole, Dorset and is now studying at Holy Cross School, New Malden. She became interested in poetry at primary school when she was given the opportunity to write her own. She enjoys writing poetry, and wants her deceased Grandpa to be proud of her, as he was a poet, and would like his wife, her grandma, to know that she is carrying on his work. Her poetry doesn’t have a particular theme or style; she just writes what comes to her. Where I Belong is her first poem to be published. Rose McKeown See Short Stories

Poems (Adults) David Morgan Author David R Morgan teaches 11-19 year olds at Cardinal Newman School in Luton, and lives in Bedfordshire with his wife and two children. David has been an arts worker and literature officer, organizer of book festivals and writer-in-residence for education authorities, Littlehay Prison and Fairfield Psychiatric Hospital. He has had two plays screened on ITV. His books for children include: The strange Case of William Whipper-Snapper, three Info Rider books for Collins and Blooming Cats, which won the Acorn Award and was recently animated for BBC2's Words and Pictures Plus as well as a Horrible Histories biography: Spilling The Beans On Boudicca. David has also written poetry books, including: The Broken Picture Book, The Windmill and the Grains (Hawthorn Prize) and Buzz Off. His poetry collection Walrus On A Rocking Chair, illustrated by John Welding, is published by Claire Publications and his adult poetry Ticket For The Peepshow is published by art’icle. Fitz-Gerald Delice Fritz-Gerald Délice; born and raised in Port-au-Prince Haiti, is the three time award winning author and poet of Just Let It Flow and It’s My Turn Now. He is esteemed by Radio hosts, Television, Newspapers and Magazines as one of the spellbinding, contemporary poets of the century. His impeccable poetry writing skills and flawless styles have been instrumental to thousands of readers and listeners across the globe. Délice’s third book, Romantically Yours is scheduled to be released in late Fall 2010.

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December 2010

David Gardiner Ageing hippy, former teacher, now part-time psychiatric care worker, living in London with partner Jean and Charlotte the chameleon. Adopted daughter Cherelle lives nearby. Three published works, SIRAT (a science fiction novel), The Rainbow Man and Other Stories (short story collection) and The Other End of the Rainbow (short story collection). Interested in science, philosophy, psychology, scuba diving, alternative lifestyles and communal living, travel, wildlife, cooking and IT. Large, rambling homepage at: www.davidgardiner.net. Omma Velada Omma Velada read languages at London University, followed by an MA in translation at Westminster University. Her short stories and poems have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. In 2004 she founded Gold Dust magazine. She is a member of the writing group Storyshed and her first novel, The Mackerby Scandal (UKA Press, 2004), received critical acclaim. She has also published a short-story anthology, The Republic of Joy (Lulu Press, 2006). Vicky Thompson Vicky Thompson is 14 years old. She lives in Dorset and has been writing for the past three years. She spends her spare time writing fan fiction and dancing (she is a Bronze Ballroom and Latin competitive and medallist dancer). She aspires to a career in writing or primary school teaching.

Source: stock.xchng

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Gold Dust news XXXX Issue 19 We have our usual great prizes lined up for issue 19! • Best short story wins £20 • Best poem wins £20 Gold Dust is a non-profit organisation and the prize fund is maintained by sales of magazines, books and calendars. For submission details, see our website, at www.golddustmagazine.co.uk

Liquid Gold coming soon! Liquid Gold, the very first poetry anthology from Gold Dust, is made up of our best ever published poems. Profits from sales will be used to help fund our prize money - usually two £20 prizes (best poem & best short story) in each issue.

GD Calendar 2011 This calendar will shortly be available to buy on Lulu.com. With 12 selected poems and photographs, this is a real treat for the ears and the eyes an ideal Christmas present!

GOLD DUST CALENDAR 2011

• Every issue of Gold Dust is viewed online absolutely free by over 3,000 readers. • Gold Dust magazine is at least 48 pages of quality writing, including short stories, poems, articles, interviews and reviews. We are listed in The Writer's Handbook and publish 2 issues a year. • It costs nothing to send in a submission to Gold Dust magazine and our favourite piece wins a cash prize! • Gold Dust magazine is available to buy from Amazon and Lulu.

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Issue 18

December 2010

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Gold Dust magazine - issue 18