Short Story Acceptance: ‘A Thousand Words for Yesterday…’

Posted: November 11, 2015 in AJ Kirby Short Fiction, Other Writing by AJ Kirby

Cover - End of The Year Collection - 20157My long short story ‘A Thousand Words for Yesterday, None for Tomorrow’ (which weighs in at well over 1000 words!) has been accepted for publication in the end of year review 2015 from Onyx Neon Shorts.  (See cover detail left.)

It is an explosive piece regarding the nature of grief. Watch this space for more news on when you’ll be able to read it.

For now, here’s an extract:

“Working at the plant, he said, was never as exciting as it sounded. He had to monitor the radiation levels and I always used to imagine him walking around in a futuristic space-type suit, clutching a Geiger-counter and listening, ears-peeled, for clicks from it. Instead all he seemed to do was watch readings, and read-outs from a sickly-green computer screen. Or else he’d plough through the reams and reams of computer paper which were churned out by the printer, on the hunt for the slightest anomaly, the needle in the haystack which meant apocalypse was now. The printer was as large and lunken as an eighteenth century cotton-spinning machine and was about as noisy too. It sounded as though it was water-powered and the great turbine of it was somewhere very close. It spooled out entire forests of paper day-by-day-by-day, all of it the same size – between A4 and A3 – and all of it framed by these columns of holes with which the printer’s spool had held the paper in place. The printer only printed on one side, and, once the print-outs had been held for a certain amount of time, as required by law, Dad used to bring back box-loads of it for me to draw on the other sides.

Dad very much wanted to encourage my ‘artistic temperament’, as he called it. He saw a good eye and no little talent in my early, wonky sketches of potato men with large hands standing outside huge-chimneyed buildings, and was determined I should keep practicing.

My early efforts were characterised by their devotion to colour. I used to hold fast to the theory that unless I’d used every crayon in the rainbow, it wasn’t a finished masterpiece. But eventually I progressed to simple blacks, whites and sometimes greys too. I loved pen and ink sketches. I loved the thickness of a 4B pencil. I loved dirtying my fingers with charcoal. I drew nature scenes mostly, from memory, from our Sunday walks in the moors or on the dales, or by the cliffs. Or else I copied the scenes from our Yorkshire Scenes calendar which was hung on the kitchen wall, by the fridge.

In the aftermath of the incident, Mum and I left off changing the calendar. For months it still showed the cliffs at Ravenscar. The photograph was particularly bleak and the cliffs looked like a promise. In the aftermath of the incident, I started off every drawing by sketching out, in faint 6H pencil, a man’s rubber-boots. I did this unconsciously, as though guided by a ghost hand, as though the computer paper was my own version of a Ouija Board. But as soon as I saw the thin outline of what I’d drawn, I’d pick up the charcoal and scratch over it and over it and over it until nothing of it remained, just blank blackness. Sometimes I gripped the charcoal so hard and pushed it into the paper so forcefully, I’d tear right through the computer paper, onto the sheet below. And sometimes I’d go through that too, so that in the end I was scrawling about ten sheets down, onto graphs and grids which had been spooled out by the printer at Dad’s work way back in the misty mountains of time.

My new drawings weren’t of the kind which could be Blu-tacked to the fridge, or else kept under the sun visor in Dad’s Capri. They weren’t sweet or innocent, and they were about as far from hopeful as it was possible to be. But I kept at them, tried to rewire my brain so that eventually I’d churn out something different, something new.”

SCREENPRINT

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