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– the first issue –

The Short Anthology fiction from photography

– the first issue –

The Short Anthology fiction from photography

INTRODUCTION A photograph will rarely exist as a single moment in a viewer's imagination. Each viewer will bring their own interpretations to the imagery as a natural response to subconscious questions one might ask on seeing the images for the first time. Where was it taken? What happened before that moment? What happened after? The Short Anthology is an attempt to capture some of these varying interpretations. This first issue of The Short Anthology features photographs of various seascapes, which have been used as visual stimuli by six writers. Each, working in a different style and genre, has brought their own interpretation and narrative to the images. The themes that have emerged are diverse; a curious incident where a raised alarm leaves anxiety-stricken patients trapped and panicked, a meeting between a former student and his lonely history teacher, sci-fi in a futuristic Africa, a humorous take on the indignities of ageing, a death at sea from a different perspective and a geopolitical love story.

the cover A phytoplankton bloom made up of millions of tiny, lightreflecting organisms growing in the sunlit surface waters of the Barents Sea. Image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory, Norman Kuring, NASA Ocean Color Group.


7 Photography Joe Nigel Coleman 16 Coton in the Elms Scott Morris 22 Removals Matt Sperling

31 Lights on the Water Dilman Dila

48 The Very Old Woman Katherine Proctor 52 Deep Water Jonathan Kearnes 61 The Wave Michael Salu

Joe Nigel Coleman


Coton in the Elms Scott Morris

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The Pavilion was built in 1937 in the International Style by Polish firm Lorenz and Sasnal. The Pavilion is only so-called; it does not compete with the glamour or the scale of Brighton and Bexhill. It is what it is, which is little more than a glass box on iron legs. Those inside quickly discover that the Pavilion is a singleroom structure of fixed glass panels with no hinges. Even the large doors facing the sea do not open outwards or inwards; a discreet set of tracks along the floor and ceiling allows for the large panels of glass to slide open or (as now) to be pulled shut and bolted. The Pavilion was built for the use of interwar intellectuals, who entered alone or in pairs and sat quietly, watching the sea. Neither Lorenz nor Sasnal could have imagined a time when thirty guests (with only a few intellectuals among them) would find themselves together in the Pavilion on a hot summer’s afternoon. Neither Lorenz nor Sasnal could have thought it possible; neither could have pictured the occasion, nor the need, certainly not the odd spectacle of their structure seen from the pier, the car park or the dining terrace of the Hotel Royal, caught in the sun, its doors closed and bolted, and its glass panels obscured by the heat of the bodies inside. The Pavilion has only two objectives: Reflection and Relief. A few guests consider asking those beside them to smash a pane of glass and circulate some air. Lorenz and Sasnal meant for the sliding doors to be kept open at all times, having in mind a perfect synthesis of exterior and interior. But this is just not possible, now. At least half the guests have complained at some point in the last five years to Dr Burnett of respiratory difficulties; asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, bacterial pneumonia. The other half suffer from weak hearts or extreme nervous disorders. The guests - 17 -

COTON IN THE ELMS are in pain, but they are happy to be inside. One moment, there they were, arranged neatly on the beach, on neatly folded towels; the next, they are here, safe, a close call. Somebody, it’s not clear who, raised the alarm. The beach is not safe; they had their suspicions from the start. The guests suffer from the heat but also from anxiety, of what lies in wait outside. This anxiety prevents them from turning to their neighbours and, putting an end to the total silence, asking them to break the glass and let some air in. The guests quite admire the buildings constructed by Lorenz and Sasnal. Before booking their holiday, they spent some time researching these buildings on the internet. The Pavilion is their favourite, it’s the most famous. They could not bear to see it damaged, to put a fist through the glass, or to see a fist put through the glass on their behalf. Arriving in town, exhausted, a four-hour drive from Coton in the Elms, they made their way to the first shop on the seafront and queued to buy variations of the same postcard. On the front: the Pavilion, surrounded by sand and topless families. On the back: “We have reached the coast. Sun is shining. Feel better already. Wish you were here x x x”. At the height of each summer, Dr Burnett sends her patients to the sea, to become Queen Victorias and King Leopolds for one weekend of their lives. Many have never seen the sea before; such is Derbyshire. They wake late, they rise late, they wait until eleven to draw the curtains in their rooms. They sort through their suitcases, extracting bottles and blisters of pills, herbal teas and milk of magnesia, plasters, ibuprofen, sugar-free ulcer gels, rosehip extract, verruca creams, camomile lotions, decongestant strips, Berocca tablets, talcum powder, Deep Heat patches, Deep Freeze patches, cod liver oil tablets, phials of Otex and small - 18 -

SCOTT MORRIS rubber syringes, and find, beneath it all, sombre convalescent swimming costumes; these they slip on beneath their clothes. They have made a lucky escape. Who knows what might have happened if they had stayed outdoors, unaware, for a minute longer. They have no idea. It started with a strange shape seen out at sea, a shift in the tide, a subtle but irrefutable change in the afternoon light. Or a sound: who had heard it first? A quiet, dreadful humming, from beneath the waves, from beneath the sand, it had been hard to tell. “Listen to that,” somebody had shouted. The beach obeyed but couldn’t quite catch it, or caught instead the sound of its having happened, like the slow remains of a cough in an entered room. But it was enough. There could be little doubt. Dr Burnett has equipped her patients with a number of techniques designed to ward off panic in these kinds of situations. A few people – Jessica, Priya, Paul – place a finger against one nostril and count to four as they inhale through the other. They move the same finger to the second nostril and exhale through the first, counting again to four. Others project their anxiety. Who can they expect to address their complaints to? Something should be done by somebody but nobody is doing a thing about anything. They need a face to hold responsible. They think back to the bellboy on duty that morning or to the waitress who fixed the coffee machine or to the Portuguese cleaners they found hovering outside their rooms after breakfast. They try to picture the staff member at the Hotel Royal who had phoned their rooms at five to five the night before to explain that dinner would be served from six until eight, when they had bought a sandwich in town and would rather have been left alone. There is no clock in the Pavilion. Where would it go? The guests - 19 -

contributors Joe Nigel Coleman is a photographer from Newcastle, Australia. He works on film, portraying the landscapes he encounters whilst travelling. This series of photos was shot in Turkey, New Zealand and Australia over a two year period. Scott Morris is Fiction Editor of The Literateur. He was shortlisted for The White Review Short Story Prize 2013 and has been published in Valve Journal, Cake and Notes from the Underground. Matthew Sperling writes poetry, fiction and criticism and is a Leverhulme Trust research fellow at the University of Reading. Removals was in part inspired by David Herd’s work in progress, The View from Dover. Dilman Dila is a Ugandan writer and filmmaker. He was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2013. His fiction has appeared in many publications and was nominated for the 2008 storySouth Million Writers Award. Katherine Proctor, originally from New Bern, North Carolina, is a student of English literature and media theory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jonathan Kearnes holds a MA in Creative Writing and lives in London with his wife and their Newfoundland dog Jim. Michael Salu’s art, fiction and essays, have been published in magazines including;, Under the Influence, Grey Magazine, Eye and Varoom. He is the former Artistic Director of Granta Publications.

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thanks Imelda Barnard Ricky Burgess Thomas Marks Lori Ostlund James Piggott Emily Ross-Joannou printers Ditto Press editors Will Martin & Kat Phan #shortanthology

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The Short Anthology  

Short stories inspired by photography