Three weeks of silence, so here’s a story. It was written very quickly over lunchtime last Friday, as is fitting for the Faber Academy weekly #quickfic challenge. The winner gets a batch of Faber books; second place story goes up on the Faber Academy site with the winning story. Third place isn’t really a place but does, it turns out, get you a nice email from one of the Faber Academy folks letting you know that you very nearly almost scraped in, and that next time you might nudge it. Good enough for me. Below is a screenshot of the picture prompt from the Faber Academy site, and my words. It’s worth heading to the site and reading back through all the winners. A pleasant way to spend some time.
The floor is lava
The floor is lava and the lava is rising.
Yes, tread on the green, that’s fine – but the green is being blotted out by falling lava leaves so use it while you can. Or hug yourself to the cool protection of those petrified trunks. Wrap your arms and legs round, balance on welts and knotholes, and spring from tree to tree.
Yes, like a squirrel. Do you have rope? If you have rope you can swing from branch to branch.
Yes, a shoelace is fine, if you can stretch it.
The floor is still lava. It gets more difficult farther on.
These are older trees. They are wider and smoother, their leaves hotter. There is nothing to grip. You won’t be able to reach round and clasp your wrists or mine.
These are younger trees, swaying drunk with wind and weight. Their leaves aren’t as hot, but they drop too easily in a scatter around you. See my hair? It was never this curly or red till now.
The floor is lava, and – don’t cry, dear! I won’t let you be burnt up. The floor is lava, but if I stand on it it only warms me, up through my toes, see, and all my love for you heats into lava, and I’ll sprout it as leaves that will never ever burn you, and you can make the leaves into shoes. Look. Here are your lava love shoes.
Let’s walk home.
In the real world, it’s a busy time and that’s all my own fault for signing up to far too much, but I’m starting to tick things off the list of Things That Need Doing. I have run the Great North Run (or rather jogged, ran, limped and strode it, bitterly, in blazing sunshine, slower than I have ever covered that distance before. The pictures are. Er.). I have had a lovely email from the Hyperbaric Chamber admin thanking me for raising money, and I wrote back promising them that there would be even more. *This is a really unsubtle hint, dear readers.* I have ‘officially’ started both a novel writing course, which is already giving me a much-needed kick up the bum, and a forensic anthropology course, for the hell of it and because it’s free. I’m on the verge of booking my driving test, which I don’t think I ever thought would really happen. I have entered a poetry competition anthology thing for which, in retrospect, I am entirely unqualified. I have a friend’s manuscript to read. Literary Salmon is ticking along and we will soon be unveiling our beautiful cover. And I am going to Scotland to hide out for a few days this week, with minimal to no computer or phone access, but with a lot of pens and paper.
Very good times.*
*Personally speaking. Don’t get me started on politics and the rest of the world.