Makarelle Spring 2022: 'Landmarks'

Landmarks

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Landmarks Spring 2022

Cover Art: Totipotence by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad (she/her)

Oormila is an Indian - Australian artist and poet, who serves as a chief editor for Authora Australis. Her recent artworks have been showcased in West Trestle Review, Oyster River Pages, and Libretto, and on the covers of Amsterdam Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, and Stonecoast Review. She lives and works in Sydney on the traditional lands of The Eora Nation. Find her

@oormilaprahlad and www.instagram.com/oormila_paintings

Love the smell of paper? Now you can own a print copy of the beautiful Makarelle stories and poems! Well, you ’ re in luck! We have released the Makarelle ONE Anthology , which contains almost all of the written content of all four issues from 2021. All profits are equally divided between all contributing artists.

Buy it here

Special Limited Time Offer! £8.99 ( instead of £15.99)

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Welcome to Makarelle!

Image Ruth Loten

We thought that as we began to prepare this issue, Spring would be well underway and it would bring with it a new sense of optimism, as we finally began to emerge from the ever-present threat of Covid. Instead, we were greeted with fierce storms and the news that Russia had invaded Ukraine. We hope that through this magazine you can escape for a few minutes and that the stories and poems we have collated, bring a smile to your face. In our first issue, we wrote about how creativity can bring comfort when life is difficult and a year later, we can honestly say that there have been times when working on Makarelle has kept us sane. As the weather starts to improve, we hope that some of the writing and images in this issue will inspire you to get out and start exploring the world again. So many of our regular contributors have contacted us to say how much they have been struggling to keep their creativi- ty flowing in recent months. Not only are we very grateful that they have sent us their excellent work, but if our read- ers have been similarly struggling, we hope that this issue inspires you to rediscover your own creativity and obvi- ously, we’d love to receive your submissions for our Sum- mer issue!

We also have our very first author interview with- in the pages of the magazine and we are pleased to wel- come Sarah Banham to Makarelle. Sarah leads the Writers of Essex group, who are affiliated with the Society of Au- thors and we are delighted that she is the inaugural author in our new section. Once again, our contributors have heeded our call for ‘out of the box’ thinking and come up with some won- derful interpretations of our theme. We’ve got the person- al, the world-changing, the physical locations – almost every variation we could have imagined and a few we did- n’t anticipate! We hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

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03 Welcome by Editor Ruth Loten

06 Editorial by Dini Armstrong

08 Meet the Author: Sarah Banham

09 Flash Fiction Competition Winner: Welcome by Gwynne Weir

10 Flash Fiction: Beside Myself with Glee by Beck Collett

11 Flash Fiction: The Old v The New by Tess P

11 Flash Fiction: A Stitch in Time by Tracy Brown

11 Flash Fiction: A Landmark In Their Relationship by Stuart Cavet

11 Flash Fiction: Tracks by Kristen Chapman

11 Flash Fiction: Never Forget Home by Adedayo Banwo

12 Feature Visual Art: Untitled by Lelia Tanti

13 Feature Poetry: and stars and stars and stars by Carl Alexandersson

14 Feature Short Story Fiction: Prisoner 5-2 by Ron Hardwick

18 Feature Creative Nonfiction: Tracking Hemingway by Zelda Roberts

22 A Passing Fancy by R.E. Loten

24 I Just Had The Strangest Night by Toby Goodwin

27 Or is this a different world by P Douglas Hammond

30 Pilgrim Track To Mont St Michel by Frank McMahon

31 The Devil’s Chair by Jane Langan

33 Nunraw Dovecote by Sasha Saben Callaghan

34 Black Dog On Galley Hill by Andrew Kingston

35 The Copse by Sue Davnall

37 Successio Eirian by Beck Collett

40 Landmarked by Sharon Henderson

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41 Sacred Spaces by Ken Smith

43 Life by Lily Lawson

44 The Last Fighting Tommy by Jane Langan

45 The Sunken Garden by Dave Sinclair

46 The wild, Welsh waves by Gwynne Weir

47 To the Left of the Frame by Dini Armstrong

51 You Are Now Entering West Lancashire by Jonty Pennington-Twist

52 Lockdown Routes by Rukhsana C

53 Upright and Good by Colin Johnson

56 The Few by R.E. Loten

57 Back by Aisling Finn

58 L and Mark by Louise Wilford

61 No Seeds Were Lost by Louise Wilford

62 The Gift by Robyn Jefferson

65 The Quake by Louise Wilford

66 Camouflage by Sam McFarlane

67 Whatever Happens Next by D.H.L. Hewa

70 The Mariner’s Table by Sujatha Menon

71 Biographies

72 Meet the Editors

73 Opportunities for Promo for Indie Authors

74 Good Bye to Readers by Jane Langan

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Editorial

by Dini Armstrong

Photo: Sandy Cameron

In my day job as a psychotherapist, I often start an initial session with a timeline. “Tell me about the significant events in your life,” I say, and together, we attempt the seemingly impossi- ble task of reducing an entire life to a single line, neat and chronological. And already, the chaos of trauma, heartbreak, successes and great loves seems more controllable. These are the land- marks that shaped me, these are the past experi- ences, which led to me as I stand here now, in this moment. Another place, in which our lives are summed up, are gravestones. Another line, a short one, between two numbers: “John Smith 1876 - 1944”, and that little dash is meant to be enough to contain 68 years for eternity, years that have seen entire nations rise and fall, chil- dren born and killed, then tragically that final number, one digit out from peace.

My mother lived on an island called Föhr, just off the former Danish coast, now Germany. If you ever find yourself there, visit a churchyard. On their gravestones, it is customary to describe a person’s life with the use of flowers - some represent male children born, some female, a broken stem might be a child lost too soon, a stem with branches of its own might signal grandchildren. Landmarks for those who missed out on literacy and numeracy instruc- tions - something to touch and hold on to. The journey from birth to death is reflected in the way our visual artists have answered our call for submissions on the theme ‘Landmarks’. When submitting her image ‘Totipotence’ to us (now the cover of Makarelle Landmarks) , Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad wrote: “ My artwork represents one of the most signifi- cant moments of my life, a moment which for me is a landmark - the day I went for my 6 - week scan (after two previous miscarriages) and saw my daughter as a viable embryo for the first time. She was just a sac with a beating heart at the time. I remember marvelling at her totipotence, how her cells would slowly differentiate into all the parts that would eventually become a complete hu- man. “ In contrast, Lelia Tanti’s beautiful artwork tells a story of past deaths and preserved memories, a body disintegrating into its component parts. Unsurprisingly, we have chosen her image as

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our visual art feature. Because that’s what landmarks are - something to anchor us in our journey: a lighthouse to guide our path past obstacles, a pier to tie our boat onto, familiar buildings to help us find our way home, cairns on the summit of mountains, to let us know we have arrived.

‘Writers Resist’, a feminist ezine from the US, who gave me my first official author-paycheck for the short story ‘ Clutching at the Final Straw ’. And it’s this which is at the heart of Makarelle, driving us forward from giddy conception at a book club meeting to the publication of our fifth issue - again packed to the brim with talent and beauty. We are a platform designed to launch emerging writers and creative artists. Putting together a magazine like this on nothing but our blood, sweat and tears is hard, but the reward comes with emails like these, all responses to an acceptance from Makarelle: “ Wow, thank you so much - that is so lovely to hear! Waking up to this email absolutely made my day yesterday. Am still on a high! “ (Carl Alexandersson)

“ You have made an old man extremely happy! “ (Ron Hardwick)

And even as writers, we tie our narrative to landmarks, carefully placing one stone after an- other, to help our readers safely hop across our stream of consciousness from opening to conclu- sion. A famous example is Kenn Adam’s story spine, the foundation of countless narratives, including the majority of Pixar animations: Beginning 1. Once Upon a Time 2. Every Day

“ Yes, yes, and yes. Thank you so much for your email, and for accepting my story. This will be the first time one of my stories has been accepted for a magazine. I have contribut- ed to a couple of anthologies, put together by our Open University society. Could it be that I am finally getting my foot on the first rung of the ladder? Hope so; I have been looking for it for such a long time. Hang on, let me read your email again: you did say that you have accepted my story. I'm going to pinch myself anyway - just in case. ” (P Douglas Hammond) When the end of a set of therapy sessions comes near, I often ask my clients to continue their timeline into the future, adding all the land- marks they hope to see, right into their eighties and beyond. Again, this provides a line to hold on to, a goal to work towards and hope for. Makarelle, too, has big plans for the future. Alas, this time, the submission fees have not even covered the nominal royalties we have paid to our featured artists (despite one of them kind- ly refusing their fee) and the winner of the flash fiction competition. And in case you thought we were filthy rich...our last donation drive raised just under £20. We know there are so many much more important things to budget for these days, but if you have even one spare pound, it really would make a difference to keep us and our writers, artists and readers going to that next big landmark. (Click here to donate)

Event 3. But, one day…

Middle 4. Because of that… 5. Because of that… 6. Because of that… Climax 7. Until finally… End 8. And ever since then…

Some, of course, need nothing more than a few words to anchor an entire tragedy onto. The shortest story to reduce readers to tears was this one, allegedly written by Hemingway: “For sale - baby shoes - never worn” We have paid tribute to this artform by choosing flash fiction for our competition this time. And yet, vanity driven or not, we creative breed all remember one significant landmark - the day one of our pieces was finally accepted for publi- cation! I myself will be forever grateful to

Warm regards from a thawing Scotland

Dini x

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Meet the Author

Sarah Banham

Twitter: @sjbwrites

Facebook: For The Love of Books

Facebook: Sarah Banham

Instagram: s.j.banham

Linked In: Sarah Banham BA (Hons)

I’ve been a writer for over 35 years and created For The Love of Books www.loveofbooks.co.uk 2011. Services in- clude courses, coaching, ghost writing, editing, and proof- reading. I lead several groups including the quarterly Writ- ers of Essex , kindly supported by Society of Authors , a book review group, and a coaching group empowering writers’ self-confidence. Freebie services include The Versatile Writ- er podcast and a newsletter which invites contributions. Over the past 15 years, I’ve written 9 books bearing my name and two more I ghost wrote. I’ve mostly chosen to independently publish for two reasons: I genre-hop (mainstream publishers find that difficult to categorise) and I enjoy controlling the publishing process. My first book was back in 1986 based on characters from the TV show Moonlighting . It’s what we’d now call fanfic- tion, but the gist of the story was about right for the genre I’m drawn to: Romantic Suspense. In 2006, I published my first original book, Dicing with Danger based upon a dream; and since dreams are illogical and abstract, it re- quired structure and analysis to become an 84,000-word novel. All art is subjective, but I do know what makes a good story: excitement, thrills, and a satisfying ending. My fa- vourite part of writing is building characters and forming relationships between them; seeing them engage with each other is where I find the real excitement. My typical day isn’t a day, since I do my best writing at night. After every- one’s gone to bed, I’m at my laptop with my imagination and classical music; I’m able to completely focus on the scene and can easily work into the early hours. If a scene

makes me cry, I hope it pulls at the reader’s heart strings. If a novelist has done their job right, a reader ought to have all kinds of emotions poked. One of the hardest things about writing is convincing read- ers to buy your book and, with so much competition, it’s tough. My last book Livin’ and Lovin’ in Texas Ama- zon.co.uk : SJ Banham was inspired by a picture in a holi- day brochure. My current one is based upon the concept, ‘can you dream inside a coma?’ I’ve just received my beta readers notes and I’ll apply what’s needed, then hire an independent editor and cover designer. Then I’ll begin my marketing campaign in earnest. I’d offer two tips in this business: hire an editor – an editor will see what you cannot (once you’ve published, you want positive reviews, not people pointing out where you messed up) and never allow age be a barrier for learning. Nobody knows everything, and we all learn at different times of life. I say this after being awarded with a BA (Hons) degree in English Literature and Creative Writing as a mature student. Since my degree finished in 2020, I’ve continued professional development receiving diplomas in editing and proofreading, and psychology - particularly useful when analysing character relationships. These qual- ifications help me empower those I coach. It ’ s so reward- ing watching them creatively thrive.

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Winner of the Flash Fiction Competition

Welcome

by Gwynne Weir

The boat has been drifting for a while by the time grey light appears on the hori- zon. In the night, the waves have been rough, tossing the vessel up and down. The frightened, wet occupants frozen in a white-knuckled grip to stay on board. The crossing wasn’t supposed to take all night: the engine died around midnight, and the passengers tired quickly, taking turns to paddle in the dark, hoping against hope that they were heading in the right direction.

‘Look!’

A small voice calls.

Tired eyes turn. Towering white cliffs straight out of a song shine in the dawn.

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Other Flash Fiction pieces we loved

Congratulations to Gwynne Weir, whose piece ‘Welcome’ won the Makarelle Landmarks Flash Fiction competition, and was awarded £50! However, we had so many excellent entries, and it was such a close call between the win- ning entry and the follow-ups, that we wanted to give these beautiful pieces a platform as well. Enjoy! Beside Myself with Glee by Beck Collett She whirls gracefully around the sprung-floor of the Tower Ballroom to the Wurlitzer’s song. ‘He’s playing our song, Stanley, and we do like to be beside the seaside, don’t we, my love?’ Tourists mill around the edges of the floor, dazzled as the chandelier light trips from Elsie’s drop -earrings to her sparkling eyes, mar- velling at her perfect posture, and blissful expres- sion. ‘It’s her diamond anniversary,’ a passing usher says, ‘every year she comes to dance.’ ‘Why’s she dancing alone?’ a girl asks. ‘She’s not alone,’ the usher says, as Elsie dips and twirls past, lost in the moment, ‘not really.’

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Other Flash Fiction pieces we loved

The Old v The New by Tess P

Tracks by Kristen Chapman

Tower Bridge, was proud of her Barry and Bru- nel engineering. Her twin, sixty- five metre tow- ers were the envy of all the Thames’ crossings. She opened and closed them regally, for she considered herself the queen of these waters. Millennium, was her nemesis. A mere young- ster, who could never have her dignified, Grade one listing, respect or admiration. Tourists plod- ded over Millennium, tying cheap key locks and taking selfies. They would never dare touch Tower’s elegant walkways. The other bridges observed with amusement as the two divas ex- changed daily, iron glares. The Thames used to be such a peaceful river. A Stitch in Time by Tracy Brown The workshop. Wooden shelves loaded with bolts of fabric, a sewing machine adorned with tricolour triangular shaped linen. The old man sat up from his stitching, rubbed his eyes and looked at the time. An hour after midnight. Cof- fee going cold, he stroked the bristles on his chin, stretched, and leant over again. Expertly feeding the tape through the machine, encom- passing the cloth in its fold, he wished he was a shoemaker. He wished he had elves to help. Dawn. Bunting ready. He cheered. The Jubilee. A landmark 70 years on the throne.

The mirror doesn't lie. I lift my husband's t-shirt, then my skin. There's a scar smiling back at me. Seven inches of angry, puckering pink, from the hours the surgeons fought for me and my daughter. When my innards slid from my body; when one became two. My fingers travel along the tracks - still sore to the touch, a bit of yellow pus winking from the end. There's a soft ripping sound. The last steri strip curls down and I pluck it from my skin. There's a cry. I re- lease my belly, my shirt, and go to my daughter.

Never Forget Home by Adedayo Banwo

No food in the fridge. The house was cold. Freezing. Ice in the winter. Music blasts outside at all hours. Walking to school, despite broken glass. Difficult to focus. Past the drugs. Past the crime. But Grandfather’s photo. Grandmother’s words. They linger and drive. Hunger is biting. On arrival, teacher says hello. Come with me. In an office surrounded by people, a brown en- velope sits on the table. Spires. Towers. Magnif- icent lawns. Joyous applause. An escape from poverty. But never forget. Landmarks.

A Landmark In Their Relationship by Stuart Cavet

They had been together three months.

Their first date, they had walked across London’s bridges at night in a soft mist of gently falling rain. From one side of the river to the other they had gone, like a slow-moving shuttle in a loom, weaving together the magical fabric of their relationship, on to which the heavens had seemed to sprinkle atomised diamond se- quins. Now he waited for her in the middle of Tower Bridge. There was something important to talk about. Between his feet, both sides of the bridge met, like the tips of a pair of tailoring shears.

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Feature: Visual Art by Lelia Tanti

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Feature: Poetry

and stars and stars and stars by Carl Alexandersson

this landscape feels like / a panorama of Humboldt County out by Trinidad Head / I remember / us / driving out there for a Christmas Day hike / and past it / to reach Fern Canyon and the Redwood State Park / that spring / but this night / we drove out into an open field / to see the stars / better / leaning back against the night sky / we found / maybe a landmark doesn't need / capital letters / maybe a landmark is / wherever / there are people / and a blanket and crisps and maybe some rosé / and banter and wonder and fairy lights / and stars and stars and stars / and the audacity / to claim this spot / as ours / to know that / for tonight / it is.

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Feature: Short Story - Fiction

Prisoner 5 - 2

by Ron Hardwick

I was packing for a much-needed holiday. I needed complete rest and relaxation from the hustle and bustle of life in East Dulwich. I packed my blue bathing trunks and plastic water -wings and closed my case with relief. I took a final look outside my window at the people in the street and the traffic roaring past like wilde- beest across the African tundra. I noticed a large hearse pull up outside the door and an undertaker who looked like Abraham Lincoln get out, carrying a small Glad- stone bag. He approached the house, extracted a tube from his bag and shoved it through my let- ter-box. The next thing I knew, I woke up in a strange bed. I felt groggy and it was an effort for me to get up. I glanced in a mirror and saw to my surprise that I was wearing a navy-blue blaz- er with white piping, white slacks and a pair of blue plimsolls. I could swear I had been clad in an Arran sweater and a pair of dirty jeans before I fainted. I made my way across to the window, looked out and gasped with astonishment. I was in Portmeirion, on the Welsh coast! Just then, an intercom perched on a shelf boomed out. ‘Number Three hundred and eighty -nine, welcome to the Village.’ ‘I am not a number, I am a... .’ Oh, my

goodness, was this a dream? I’d seen the repeats on television only last year. ‘I hope your journey here was unevent- ful…’ ‘It was. I was asleep.’ ‘Perhaps you would care to join me for breakfast? My residence is in the large building with a cupola in the roof. Green door. You cannot miss it.’ ‘Who are you?’ I already knew the answer. ‘I am Number Two.’ William Clough Ellis’s Italianate fantasia was bathed in bright sunlight. Men and women in azure trousers, bright red capes and straw hats strolled about in the grounds. They all carried numbers on badges attached to their lapels. They greeted me in a friendly fashion, touching their foreheads with thumb and forefinger. I reached the green door and pulled a handle which served as a bell. A tiny, bald- headed butler in a penguin suit opened the door and ushered me into a large conference room. A serious-looking chap appeared from under the floor in a seat shaped like half an Easter egg. He was dressed in the same uniform as me, was slim as a reed, sandy-haired and sported a pair of thick tortoiseshell glasses. ‘Ah, Number Three hundred and eighty -

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Feature: Short Story - Fiction “ Prisoner 5 - 2” by Ron Hardwick

nine. Please join me. There are devilled kid- neys in that silver dish and lapsong suchong in the pot.’ ‘Never mind breakfast. I demand to know why you have kidnapped me and brought me here.’ ‘You were anxious for a holiday, were you not?’ ‘Yes, but in Brighton, not here.’ ‘Brighton is such a seedy place,’ said Number Two, ‘the air is much cleaner here. You can look upon the Village as a higher-class Butlin’s.’ ‘Butlin’s be damned. I demand that you let me go.’ ‘Tscch, tscch, temper, temper. Try a piece of toast and Seville marmalade. I have it brought in especially from Fortnum and Ma- son’s.’ ‘Stuff it up your jumper.’ Number Two’s professorial features took on a more serious look. ‘You seem hostile. Very well, I will cease the pleasantries. You can leave here once you have answered one vital question.’ ‘What’s that?’ He poured himself a cup of tea before responding. ‘Why did you resign?’ ‘Why did I resign?’ ‘That is the question.’ ‘Why on earth should you want to know that?’ ‘Because, number Three hundred and eighty- nine, you are an important person.’ I stared at him with incredulity. ‘Important?’ ‘In that brain of yours, you have knowledge about the activities of governments throughout the world. You know who is on your side, and who is against you. You have tracked the movements of hundreds of agents. You have been indispensable to your organisa- tion.’ ‘What on earth are you babbling about?’ ‘You were a top man, yet you marched into your superior’s office, banged on the table, breaking a valuable china cup, I may add, and threw a resignation letter at him.’ ‘Top man?’ ‘Do you deny it?’ ‘Of course I deny it. Mr Francis couldn’t have cared less whether I resigned or not.’ ‘Mr Francis?’

‘My boss.’ Number Two pressed a switch on a con-

sole in front of him.

‘Number Seventeen, check the files for a chap by the name of Francis. See which area of government he controls.’ ‘Right away.’ ‘Area of Government?’ I was flabbergast- ed. ‘Our computer, ‘ The General ,’ will soon cough up the name and Francis’s position.’ Number Two’s telephone buzzed. He lifted the banana-shaped receiver. ‘Yes?’ ‘Number Seventeen here, Sir. I have to report there is no trace of anyone called Fran- cis.’ ‘That cannot be. Perhaps it’s a pseudo- nym. Describe him to me, Number Three hun- dred and eighty- nine.’ I thought for a moment before replying. ‘Short, fat, oil -slick hair, sticky- out ears.’ ‘Did you hear that, Number Seventeen?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Feed that description into ' The General '

and see what it comes up with.’ ‘Very good, Sir.’

‘In the meantime,’ said Number Two to me, 'until we find out about your mysterious Mr Francis, kindly return to the accommodation we have laid on for you.’ I left with grave doubts about his sanity, and went back to the apartment which, I have to confess, was far superior to my rented flat in East Dulwich. To my surprise, a woman was seated on a large beanbag in the corner of the living-room. She was strikingly beautiful, dark- haired, sloe-eyed and olive-skinned. Her badge showed the number sixty-six. ‘So, they have taken you.’ She had a for- eign accent. I’ve never been much good at ac- cents, but she might have been Romanian. ‘They took me, too. Sleeping gas through my letter- box.’ ‘I think that’s what happened to me.’ ‘Speak in whispers. Number Two hears everything.’ ‘What are you doing here?’ I whispered. Number Sixty-six covered her mouth with her left hand. I noticed she had long, spatu- late fingers. She would have made a good violin- ist. ‘In the Village?’ she asked. ‘In my room.’

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Feature: Short Story - Fiction “ Prisoner 5 - 2” by Ron Hardwick

‘You wish to escape, no?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘I too. I cannot do so alone. You must

can’t pronounce if you have false teeth. Pen something.’ She nodded. ‘Meet me at the village store,’ I said, ‘dress all in black if you can.’ ‘Why?’ ‘I think it will suit you.’ It was a cloudy night as I crept from my apartment and hurried to the rendezvous. Num- ber Sixty-six was already there. ‘I’ve made a couple of masks from black silk,’ she said, ‘wear one.’ She had a torch which emitted a feeble beam, and she shone it as we slunk along. We soon reached the northern edge of the village. Beyond it was a range of hills that were difficult to traverse in plimsolls. ‘I must rest,’ she said, after we’d hiked a couple of miles. We perched ourselves on a rocky outcrop. ‘You are married?’ she asked. ‘I was. My wife Miriam ran off with a computer programmer from Ilford.’ ‘I, too, was married, to bold Gregor. He worked so hard to undermine the State Intelli- gence Agency in our home country.’ ‘What happened to him?’ I asked. ‘They shot him.’ ‘I’m sorry.’ ‘It was a few years ago. That is why I am here, because of my association with him. I will never divulge what I know to that rascally Num- ber Two. I owe my wonderful Gregor that much.’ ‘I would shop Miriam in an instant,’ I reflected. ‘Running off like that. She even took the cat.’ ‘You are lonely?’ asked Number Sixty - six. ‘Desperately.’ ‘I have grown fond of you over the past few days,’ she said. ‘Perhaps we can share our lives once we are away from this dreadful place.’ ‘I don’t suppose you have a British visa?’ She shook her head before replying. ‘You can smuggle me into your home. I will pretend I am your maid. No-one will know.’ I must say the thought of having Number Sixty-six as my maid was appealing, but what would mother say? ‘We must press on,' I said, 'soon it will be light and we will be as easily spotted as flies on a whiteboard.’

help me.’

‘How do I know you’re not one of Num-

ber Two’s stooges?’

‘You must trust me.’ She looked so forlorn, I couldn’t help but

believe her.

‘How do we escape?’ I asked. ‘After midnight, we make our way down to the stone boat in the harbour. All we need to do then is swim three miles to the next landfall and safety. I require you to support me if I am in danger of drowning.’ ‘You are joking, aren’t you?’ ‘I never jest. I am in deadly earnest.’ ‘I have news for you, my Romanian beauty. I cannot swim three yards, never mind three miles. Why do you think I packed water- wings?’ Her face fell. ‘I was relying on you for my freedom. We are stuck here then, for eternity?’ ‘There are worse places - East Dulwich, for example.’ ‘Not Haskovo.’ ‘Haskovo?’ ‘My home town, in Bulgaria. I am not Romanian, as you surmise, but a proud Bulgar. How I miss Haskovo.’ A tear rolled down her cheek. ‘Never mind,’ I said, ‘we’ll think of something.’ ‘There are guards everywhere,’ she said. ‘As well as cameras covering all vantage points and a huge white ball they call Rover that bounces along and suffocates anyone who tries to escape.’ ‘I know. I watched every episode.’ Number Sixty-six gave me a puzzled look, but I didn’t feel the need to explain further. Over the next few days, we met discreetly on the human chessboard in the landscaped gar- den. I was a black rook, Number Sixty-six was the white queen. We usually met at king’s bish- op five and six, for the French Defence is partic- ularly unimaginative. ‘We go inland,’ I said, ‘three in the morn- ing. With luck, we can reach the A487 before dawn.’ ‘The A487? What is this, a secret rendez- vous for spies?’ ‘It’s a road. It leads to somewhere you

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Feature: Short Story - Fiction “ Prisoner 5 - 2” by Ron Hardwick

After clambering over rocks and loose scree for an hour, we reached the A487. That long, curving ribbon of tarmac was a welcome sight. We were free! Then, from out of the shadows, four thuggish-looking men ap- proached. ‘Here he is,’ said Number Sixty - six. ‘He is all yours.’ ‘Jezebel,’ was all I could think to say, once my heart had re-started. ‘Sorry, Number Three hundred and eighty- nine,’ she said, 'but Number Two prom- ised me your apartment - it’s so much more comfortable than mine.’

The phone buzzed again. ‘Ah, Number Seventeen. A result? No? You’ve fed Francis’s description in fourteen times and The General’s now on fire? Buffoon. I’ll have you sacked for this.’ Number Two replaced the telephone. He looked glum. ‘Can I go now? I’m very tired,’ I said. ‘Won’t you tell me why you resigned?’ I felt sorry for him. ‘Alright then. I resigned because I didn’t approve of Mr Francis’s choice of patterns.’ ‘What?’ ‘In the shop. I couldn’t possibly sell the likes of aubergine and orange striped shag- pile.’ ‘Shop. Shag - pile? For heaven’s sake, you’re a top - notch British spy.’ ‘I’m a carpet salesman.’ I was walking along the Brighton Palace pier when I saw her. Tall, queenly, beautiful, dark-haired, sloe-eyed, olive-skinned. ‘You,’ I gasped. ‘We’re both free,’ said Number Sixty -six, ‘Number Two went berserk and blew up the Village. How do you like the maid’s uniform?’

Number Two took off his spectacles and

polished them on a blue silk handkerchief.

‘I was unaware you were so fond of mid-

night walks,’ he said.

‘I needed a change of scenery.’ ‘Why did you resign?’ ‘I needed a change of scenery.’ ‘Fool,’ he said, ‘If you think you can de- feat me and all the resources I have at my dis- posal.’ The banana-phone buzzed and Number Two picked it up. The colour drained from his face. ‘I’m working on it, Number One. He’ll soon crack.’

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Feature: Short Story - Creative Nonfiction

by Zelda Roberts Tracking Hemingway

Chickens crowing outside Cheri’s tiny flatlet wake me early. She’s up already and grumpy. ‘Fucking roosters. Wish I could wring their necks!’ she shouts out the window. Next to her in her denim micro-mini and silvery t- shirt, from a range she’s trying to peddle in her latest scheme, I feel gawky in my half- mast baggies and sensible blouse. Yet again I marvel at how tanned blondes can make tousled appear cute. This is the first time that I am in Key West for no particular occasion. Since my younger sibling settled on the island two decades ago, I’d attended New Year’s Eve Parades and Fantasy Festivals and her two weddings. But my researcher’s salary struggled to keep up with the ever- increasing flight fares and for three years I’d found excuses: ‘You haven’t visited me since I moved to Scotland, why should I fork out to attend your 40 th ?’ ‘My new man prefers local vacations.’ ‘With the money wrangles after Hugh,

ability conference in Arizona; my only cost would be for a detour to Key West. ‘But nothing happens here in January,’ Cheri protested on the phone. ‘We can do stuff I’ve always wanted to, such as visiting Hemingway House.’ ‘Everyone else I know visits the seven - mile bridge or take the ferry to Tortugas and lay on the beach in between.’ ‘This time, I wouldn’t mind visiting Tor- tugas to check out Fort Jefferson. Apparently, Hemingway used to go there.’ The prospect of a ferry outing prompted some enthusiasm from Cheri. ‘And afterwards I’ll go sit at Sloppy Joe’s while you do the muse- um thing. What’s new,’ she said. The taxi is late, and we manage to board Yankee Freedom 111 only because my sister outargues the man at the onramp. Inside the door she hisses, ‘Fucking dick- head.’ Worrying he might hear I push her to- wards the windows. Once we’re seated, I say, ‘You’ve become too American, all drawling and effing. No wonder people don’t believe we’re

I’m broke.’

Then I had a paper accepted for a sustain-

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Feature: Creative Non - Fiction “ Tracking Hemingway ” by Zelda Roberts

sisters.’

We don’ allow that kinda stuff no more.’

‘People can’t believe I’d have a sister who, on exotic holidays, visits old houses in- stead of the beach. You’re like Dad used to be.’ I sigh. ‘If I could, I’d gladly swop you dad’s egghead for Mum’s voice. But Mum would have come along to Hemingway House.’ Cheri pointedly stares out the window to Sunset Key passing by. I change tack. ‘Do you realise how much you have in common with the late Hemingway?’ She snorts. ‘He disliked New York, was fascinated by Cuba and an outspoken liberal.’ She pulls her mouth. ‘That describes most people in Key West.’ I press on. ‘He loved Scotch and Daiqui- ris. Said people shouldn’t visit churches, they’ll learn more in bars. And,’ I pause for effect, ‘his first cat’s name was Snowball.’ ‘You’re making that up.’ ‘I’m not. Eventually he had 57 cats.’ She squints at me. ‘Maybe my Snowball is related to his.’ ‘Unlikely. I read that his Snowball’s de- scendants are all six- toed.’ ‘If I had so many cats, I’d set them on the chickens.’ I laugh. ‘I suspect that in Key West even cats know it’s illegal to harm roaming chickens.’ ‘So, other than his book addiction, I could’ve been Hemingway’s twin?’ she mocks before declaring, ‘Okay. I’ll go to his house. But I’m plugging in my iPod. And don’t nag me to read books.’ After forty minutes of rocking waves, Fort Jef- ferson comes in view. The imposing six-sided structure covers practically the entire small is- land. Our stroll around the inside of the walls takes us nearly an hour. Cheri descends on the gift shop; I opt for the one-room museum. A woman with post-box red spikey hair tells me, ‘Fort construction started mid -1800s. Still ain’t finished. That tells you about local builders.’ She cackles a smoker’s croaky laugh. ‘Later became a prison, where the Lincoln assas- sins were kept.’ ‘Hemingway used to camp out here?’ ‘Yeah. He’d have sailed 10 hours to get here ‘coz they had to pick up barrelled fresh wa- ter from the Marquesas. No restrictions those days and he brought lotsa friends for booze-ups.

Back on the ferry – me carrying a Dry Tortugas book and Cheri a Fort Jefferson t-shirt – I say, ‘I get why Hemingway loved this place. A real-life fort will appeal to any adventurous types.’ ‘He musta caused loads of damage now needing fixing.’ ‘You really think the worst of people.’ ‘A bunch of men boozing and shooting?

There’s always collateral damage.’

‘And you wonder why you’re single.’ ‘I’m separated. You’re single. Being all

polite didn’t help you much.’

Opposite Key West Harbour, waiters are posi- tioning lunch menu boards outside restaurants. Cheri flags down a bicycle taxi – three-wheeled, backseat for two, surfer-type bloke doing the cy- cling – and requests Hemingway House as desti- nation. I ask, ‘Can we go past First State Bank?’ Surfer bloke frowns. ‘That’s the other

way.’

‘Never mind,’ I say and explain to Cheri, ‘In Hemingway’s To Have And Have Not a bank robbery led to a shocking twist.’ ‘Why d’you think it’s that bank?’ ‘Same name, same street.’ ‘What’s the twist?’ ‘Read the book and find out.’ At 907 Whitehead Street, the two-floor French Colonial style house with its Caribbean-yellow shutters and 1851 scrolled above the front door is surrounded by green lawn and tall palm trees. The door opens into aircon-generated coolness. A buxom bottle-blonde full of Ameri- can conviviality, name tag Shona, leads us from room to room, reciting her lines. ‘Hemingway was born in 1899 in Chicago. He was a junior reporter during the war, and wrote his first novel while he lived in Paris. His writing style showed a move away from the old elaborate British style.’ She looks at me. ‘Not that British writers are bad…’ Cheri interrupts. ‘Just continue the tour.’ The lounge boasts antique chairs and Af- rican statutes on plinths, the bedrooms dark bed- heads and armoires. Shona tells us Hemingway brought the furniture from Europe. I focus on the framed photos, some with Hemingway holding huge sailfish/swordfish/

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marlin and several of him on a boat. Shona says, ‘During the war, grenades and machine guns were fitted on his boat to help ward off German U- boats between America and Cuba.’ I frown. ‘There were U -boats here near Key West?’ Cheri interjects, facing Shona. ‘D’you have pics of his cats?’ Shona opens an album and points to a faded-grey picture of the legendary Snowball. ‘His first polydactyl cat, which means they’ve extra toes, came from a ship’s captain. When Hemingway died the cats from his Cuban house were brought here. Now we have thirty poly- dactyl cats.’ Cheri asks, ‘Do your po -whatever cats kill chickens?’ But Shona is already walking to the hall- way, where a sign proclaims BOOK SALE . She addresses me. ‘Did you know The Old Man and The Sea won a Nobel Prize?’ ‘Yip,’ I say. ‘That proved that writers don’ need vio- lence to get bestsellers.’ ‘His other books have plenty of vio- lence.’ Shona picks up Islands In the Stream . ‘If you don’ like all that, try this book. Came out months before Hemingway died. There’s a great scene of a barracuda stalking a mullet.’ I say, ‘Okay, I’ll buy it. And To Have and Have Not for her . ’ ‘I prefer a cap,’ says Cheri. I buy the two books and two caps, and we exit into the heat. At the gate Cheri says, ‘D’you know, I totally forgot about my iPod.’ We walk the eight blocks to Duval Street, half- way to where we’d mounted the bicycle taxi. I’m sweating rivulets by the time we reach the 1950’s façade of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, renowned for Hemingway’s patronage decades ago. Inside, a U-shaped bar counter juts into the sizeable res- taurant. Numerous flags hang above the bar; I recognise the Irish and French flags. Elsewhere Hemingway dominates. Keepsakes for sale in- clude mugs, glasses, headbands, all featuring his face. On a side wall are photos of his lookalikes from an annual competition. The bordering wall features numerous old snaps of the real Hemingway, sitting at the bar with different men, sitting at the bar with different women, posing with shotgun while straddling an

assortment of dead animals.

Cheri aims for a window table overlook-

ing the street.

‘You eating?’ a lanky waitress, name tag Ray , asks. ‘Otherwise you mus’ sit at the bar.’ My sister looks around. ‘The restaurant’s empty. What’s it matter where we sit?’ I say, ‘Ray, we’ll be eating. Please bring menus.’ ‘And the Hemingway Cocktails menu,’ Cheri shouts after Ray, and says to me, ‘See, I know some Hemingway stuff.’ I order Mojito (white rum, lime juice, soda, mint); Cheri, Scotch Cocktail (Scotch, sherry, champagne). The aroma of meat cara- melising over hot coals sways me to request an- other Hemingway favourite: seared steak. Cheri chooses crumbed cheese sticks. The aircon is off because, says Ray, ‘It’s winter.’ I flap a placemat in front of my face and reminisce. ‘Do you remember one Fantasy Fest we stood outside and chatted to your friend Eric sitting here?’ ‘He knows the owner, always gets the good seats.’ ‘In his day Hemingway would have scored the window seats.’ ‘Did he attend Fantasy Fest?’ ‘Surely you realise he was long dead be- fore the first Fantasy Fest.’ ‘Oh. Right.’ I resume my memory trip. ‘I bet Hem- ingway would’ve loved the Pirate’s Party in Plaid float. Even in Scotland I’ve never seen so many tartans worn together.’ Our drinks arrive and the first sip of Mo- jito makes me pucker. Sourer than I recall. Cheri says, ‘I know something which you pro’bly don’t,’ and she asks Ray to change the jukebox music to Hemingway’s Whiskey. It croons, Three sheets to the wind, live hard, die hard, this one's for him . Cheri sings and sways along to the mu- sic. When late afternoon turns sallow, empty glass- es confirm our progress down Hemingway’s menu. Snowball (Advocaat, lemonade, lime juice) for me, and Papa Doble Daiquiri (rum, grapefruit juice, Maraschino, lime juice) twice for Cheri, followed the initial order.

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‘Let’s get going,’ I say, signalling for the

sarky to new people and drink Daiquiris where Hemingway once drank 14 in one go, and we’ll dance the tango.’ ‘Must find boyfriends first. I’m not danc- ing with you in public.’ We take photos of each other wearing our Hemingway caps and pointing to the 90 Miles to Cuba inscription. On a short video clip I lift my cap and say, ‘So long, Ernest.’ On her clip Cheri purrs, ‘ This one's for him… ’ We walk back towards the main road to find a taxi. For some minutes the rhythmic splash of the ocean from a block away is the dominant sound, until Cheri asks, ‘So how did Hemingway die?’ ‘Shot himself.’ ‘Holy crap! Why?’ ‘Could’ve been something hereditary. Five of his family members committed suicide. We remain silent for the next block. Then she says, ‘You know, I might take up reading this year. I’m dead curious about that robbery.’

bill.

‘Am jush shtarting to loooove Heming-

way,’ she slurs.

Bending forward, I tap on the table, imi- tating our dear departed mother. ‘You carry on and I’m leaving you right here!’ She folds her arms and pouts, her evoca- tion of those childhood standoffs. Up Duval Street, walking south, Cheri belts out, ‘Sheetsh to the wind…’ A woman walking towards us crosses the road. Cheri clowning around, me the audience, others getting irritated, are also reminders of our childhood years. But her cheekiness became un- ashamed self-assurance, the trait I most wish I had inherited. Near the end of South Street stands a large concrete-anchored faux buoy. Captions on the front indicate Southern-most Point and 90 Miles to Cuba . For now, this is as near as we’ll get to Hemingway’s Cuban landmarks. ‘One day your country and Cuba will make up and we’ll fly there,’ I say. ‘And drag me to which old buildings?’ ‘Finca Vigia, his Cuban house, and Am- bos Mundos, a hotel he frequented. You’ll be

***

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A Passing Fancy by R. E. Loten

‘It’s just a passing fancy,’ I told E. ‘D has no in- terest in marriage. Not with me, not with any- one. He gets bored quickly. In a few months, I’ll be pensioned off with a gift or two and we’ll go back to our life as it was before.’ E shook his head. He didn’t like it. Why would he? What man would be happy at the thought of sharing his wife with another. He saw the benefits of the relationship, but he didn’t like the price he’d have to pay. ‘You can’t have both, honey. Ambition or love. Which is it to be?’ Of course, he picked ambition. And I don’t blame him any more than I do myself. I’d have made the same choice in his shoes. Everything went to plan at first. D was infatuat- ed with me and I knew exactly what he needed. Mothering. Encouragement. Everything he did- n’t get at home. There, everyone told him what to do without paying him the courtesy of letting him think it was his own idea. And as for moth- ering – what a hoot. There was none of that. No one to tell him how clever he was or what won- derful company he could be. Just cold disap- proval and the sense that nothing was ever good enough. He was always expected to be some- thing more than he was. Except with me. I knew how to flatter him, how to cajole him into doing the things he hated.

‘Come with me,’ he’d say. ‘I can get

through it if I know you’re waiting for me.’

‘Oh darling you flatter me. You’re strong enough to do anything. But I’ll come if it will make you feel better.’ He buried his face in my neck, breathing hot kisses on my skin. I knew where we were headed and I gritted my teeth. Sex wasn’t some- thing I particularly enjoyed. It wasn’t necessary to me in the same way it was to him, but it was the price I had to pay to keep my position. He knew there’d be a terrific row when it all came out, so we had to be careful and when we went away, E always came with us. If my husband was one of the party, then there could- n’t possibly be any impropriety. After all, what husband would turn a blind eye to something so blatant? It was inconceivable. Nevertheless, even we underestimated the force of the reaction when they found out. I begged him to let me go home, but he refused. ‘I need you here.’ ‘I’m harming you by staying.’ ‘I’ll harm myself if you leave.’ ‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ I told him. ‘This is more than either of us bargained for. We have to end this now before it’s too late.’ He gripped my arm and the expression on his face froze me. ‘I won’t give you up. Remem-

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ber darling, I sleep with a gun under my pillow. One squeeze is all it would take. If you leave, that’s what I’ll do.’ I threw my arms around him and begged him not to speak of it again. What else could I do? I couldn’t have his death on my conscience. It would be like killing a child, for that’s what he was. They don’t like being told ‘no’ either. I tried so many times to get him to see sense. I even left. Hid. He found me. ‘When will you realise you can’t hide from me? You can go wherever you want, but wher- ever you go I will follow you. I cannot live with- out you.’ He spoke to friends, colleagues, tried to get them to support us. Some did, most didn’t. Most saw me for exactly what I am – a woman out for herself. They know my type. We’ve existed for hundreds of years performing the same function for different men. I’m no different to the others. Not really. However much, he might like to think otherwise. Something changed in him during that time and that was when I realised I’d won. I was going to get my freedom back. I telephoned E and told him I would stop the divorce proceed- ings. There was no need to continue the cha- rade. D had agreed that we were being ridicu- lous and the only course of action left was to give me up, to let me go back to E. For him to focus on his new job. I would only be a distrac- tion. ‘I thought maybe I’d go to Paris. Lose my- self there for a while until all this blows over.’ ‘I have friends with an apartment in Cannes. Go there instead. It will be harder for them to find you. I’ll let them know it’s all over and then you can disappear. No one will bother you after that.’ I agreed. I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted out. I was suffocating. D telephoned to let me know all was well and proceeding exactly as he’d planned. He didn’t want to rehearse his speech with me, just told me how to listen in when he delivered it. ‘I think you’ll be proud of how clever I’ve been,’ he said. ‘Everything will be just fine, you’ll see. When it’s done, we’ll both be free to live again without being followed at every turn. They’ll be off our backs once it’s all over.’

So here I am, sat alone in a borrowed apartment waiting to hear him give me back my freedom. My life. My husband. E is waiting in Paris for me. He asked to come here tonight so we could listen together, but I wanted to be alone. Even the servants have been sent away for the evening. I have few regrets, but hurting E so badly is one of the biggest. I never imagined things would go so far. I’m not blind – I can see in the mirror I’m not the kind of woman men lose their heads over – but D did. It’s almost fin- ished now though. We’ve nearly reached the end of the road and I’m glad. I didn’t want any of this and I feel the excitement beginning to bubble within me at the thought of my reunion with E. It won’t be long now. I glance at my watch. It’s time. I lean over and turn the wireless on. The static crackles for a moment and then I hear his voice. ‘At long last I am able to say a few words of my own. I have never wanted to withhold anything, but until now it has not been constitutionally possible for me to speak.’ He pauses for breath. I anticipate the break in his voice as he solemnly declares he has made the choice to put his country before his heart. I pour myself a glass of champagne and let the words wash over me. ‘But you must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy bur- den of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.’

This isn’t what we agreed. Red spots drop onto my dress. The stem of my glass has snapped.

‘And now, we all have a new King. I wish him and you, his people, happiness and prosperity with all my heart. God bless you all! God save the King!

God save the King , I want to cry, What about me? God save me!

***

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