Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Free until 15th December

Four separate short stories to download free!


an excerpt from my disturbing short story, Peaches in the Attic.

Peaches in the Attic

“Once upon a time there was a little girl, a scamp of a thing.  Inquisitive.  Always prying.  She lived in a house, deep in the forest, with her grandmother, who loved her very, very much. 
“One day, the little girl heard a noise…”

I can still recall my grandmother’s voice.  Its subtle inflections could evoke love, sympathy or terror.  I never knew which to expect.  Sitting sideways on her lap, my five-year-old legs long and scrawny, bruised and cut by swings and see-saws, I could smell her perfume, lavender, and the syrupy golden-bubbled barley sugar that she sucked constantly, moving it around her mouth, clattering it against her teeth, as she told me stories. 
Her face was plump, but had deep lines, or so it seemed to me, close-up as I was and, being young, all-seeing.  As I listened, I mapped her features, with the curiosity of a geologist, following the hilly contours of her soft-powdered cheeks, peering into the ravines that cut deep when she smiled, observing the fine ridges that appeared around her lips when she spoke, and, most of all, wondering how long it would take to count the forests of tiny hairs, invisible from a distance, but infinite and fascinating from my vantage point.  Against my fingers, they were silken, flowing in symmetry, downwards and out towards the skin around her ear, smooth and hairless, pale and delicate, where the powder had missed.  Sometimes, I could make out the boundary where it stopped, like a desert giving way to pale land. 

Grandma!  What is that scratching?  cried the little girl.  What name shall we give her?  Shall we call her Jane?  Or Lorna?”
“No!” I would protest.  “Call her Valerie!”

Very well.  You shall have your way, young lady, even though your manners are wanting!she would reply, tapping me lightly on the back of my hand. 

I generally got my way at the beginning of the stories, which were all about my grandmother and me.  Every one.  After that, I was mostly quiet, savouring the sound and shape of my name each time it was mentioned.  Valerie.  My fairytale twin.
I snuggled against my grandmother, studying the world she invented for us, following the paths she led me down, picturing the people we met along the way.  I waited when she paused, for the next step, sometimes making it up myself, daring to go ahead, but as soon as she began speaking again, I was back, holding her hand in a dark forest, hearing the hooting of an owl, the scream of a fox; or else we would be creeping through a tunnel inlaid with miniature doors, one of which might be ajar. 
I saw every detail, and my whole body thrilled to the measure and tone of her ever-changing voice.  At the same time, I held on, just a little, to the warmth of my grandmother’s soft body, beneath and around me, occasionally fixing on her mouth, which produced the words that flew out and magically expanded into places I had never been and people I had never met.

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