Featured Excerpt

 

This page features selected excerpts from my work - which will change from time to time.  You can also read excerpts from my novels Zeus of Ithome and Revolution Day  on the pages for each novel in the BOOKS section of this website, and poems on the POETRY page. 

            The latest selection is a piece of flash fiction, which features in the Darkness anthology published in 2020 by Twisted Fate Publishing.  

About Time

 

Darkness is seeping round the edges of my vision. It takes all my strength now to keep it at bay. Just as the world I inhabit has shrunk to these four walls, what I see is being squeezed into an ever-tighter space. But I can still see my daughter, red-eyed and moist-cheeked but still somehow smiling, and talking in a trembling voice about whatever comes into her head: anything but me, now, this. I don’t say much in reply, but I don’t have to. She talks as if her words are a lifeline and she cannot lose me as long as they are there.

            “ … do you remember Jason, Dad? Richard’s youngest. Tall lad, blond hair. Always in trouble at school. Set himself up as a carpenter …”

            I try to think who this Jason is, to put a face to the name, but I am so tired, clinging to consciousness by my fingernails. I can only raise the vaguest wraith of memory, but it will have to do. I nod.

            “ … well, he’s been living with this girl for three years – Rebecca, she’s called, Becca for short, works at the pharmacy – and they’ve finally decided to get married. The wedding’s in March next … ”

I can’t hold back the dark any more. It closes in, creeping over her face and now covering everything. But there are holes in the blackness: stars and a moon. Air is rushing over my face – I’m swooping on long feathered wings, down to an ocean, silver-striped by moonlight. Then, with a single beat, I soar into the sky once more.

            Ahead, pyramids of deeper black blot out the stars. I ascend to fly over them, but they are too vast, too tall. Only by straining every muscle can I raise myself enough to enter the valley between them. As I do, a pale dawn light beyond reveals them as grim rocky peaks, their bare flanks crowned by citadels of snow and ice.

            I fly on, over boulder fields and mountain streams, threadbare grass and stunted plants. The distant glow seems to be getting brighter, and mile by mile the valley descends and grows lighter, greener, wider, until I’m flying over forests and rolling hills, waterfalls and luminous blue lakes. The light ahead is brilliant now but not harsh; a warming light that floods the whole landscape with colour. A wonderful place! I want to explore every inch of it, every tree, every flower. But I am so tired, and the earth is pulling me down. There is a faint touch on my wingtip …

            “Are you still with us, Dad? I was just saying, it’s about time, if you ask me.”

            “About time what, love? I seem to have nodded off.”

            “It’s about time Jason got married.”

            “You’re still talking about Jason?”  

             “Dad, I’ve only just mentioned him!”

             How can that be? While I’ve been on my long, lonely voyage, she has spoken just a couple of words. A second passed for her, hours for me. How curious to discover, at this stage of my life, that when I close my eyes I am no longer bound to a rigid matrix of seconds, minutes, hours. So perhaps, when I leave this room for good, time will go on for me, not in some mythical place of angels, but as the infinite stretching of a single moment.

            It is a beautiful thought. I don’t need to fight any more. I feel my face subside into an expression it has not worn for some time. She sees it, and stops talking. A smile appears upon her face: not a brave smile but an honest one. She clasps my hand, and I tighten my fingers around hers. It is all we need to say.  

            The darkness is coming. But it comes in peace, I no longer fear it. A slight curl of puzzlement appears on my daughter’s lips. They part as if to speak, but so slowly. As my arms become wings once more, I see that her mouth is frozen, half way to uttering a word. And I know that she has become trapped for ever in this instant but I, at last, am free.