We are delighted to announce that the winner of our very first Flash Fiction competition winner for the Writing Places project is Claire Chappell, whose entry was chosen by a panel of judges, including Literature Works CEO Tracey Guiry and Plymouth International Book Festival Director, Bertel Martin. Congratulations Claire on a great piece of writing.
Honeymoon at Max Gate
It is with a strange coldness enveloping me that I tread the curving path towards Max Gate. I have walked this path as secretary, a companion and now wife. TH is behind me checking the growth of the shrubbery, though I think the cold February days have stunted it for the present. His plan is for the property to be shrouded, I find it constricting. This house is already tomb-like.
Our brief honeymoon in Devon was over too quickly, TH needed to get back to his work, of course. I could have stayed in Teignmouth for much longer taking in the brisk salty sea air, the linear coastline and promenade. Happy as I was here, the looming Jurassic red rock of the cliffs served as a reminder of what was waiting for me on my return as the new Mrs. Hardy.
I see that the dark green, funereal ivy has reached the attic windows. I want to pull it down and let the house breathe. I expect to see her looking down at me. We were friends of sort once. However many times I have been here, I now feel like an intruder about to cross her threshold. Even though it has been eighteen months since Emma died, I sense her here, in her attic rooms, haunting them as she did in life.
I approach the porch and am startled by the presence of the cat. He is sat sentry-like as though disapproving of my imminent entrance. It is one of Emma’s cats. I detest them. Always skulking in the shadows acting as her spies. TH brushes passed me and the cat in its arrogance turns its back on me as though in disdain and follows him into the house. I had thought Lilian had got rid of her sister’s cats when she had returned home but probably left them here to get on my nerves.
I take a deep breath, push away my fears and step into my home. I had forgotten how quiet it was without Emma. My ears strained for any distant sound upstairs. There is none. I set my bag down and peel off my overcoat and gloves. The ideas come quickly. I will peel away the dark, silent morose layers of this house. It needs new life, new light.
I know TH will squirrel himself away in his study. I will not let that intensity drive me away to the dark recesses of those attic rooms as Emma did. She receded from him and life.
The cats are definitely going. We will have a different noise here. A new companion. I will get a dog.