Sky Light Rain – Underwire

Underwire by Judy DarleyHave you ever created a fictional character who gained traits and powers you didn’t expect? You may have noticed that for a while now I’ve been offering ‘behind-the-scenes’ insights into the inspiration that prompted the flash fiction and short stories that make up my Valley Press collection Sky Light Rain.

A few weeks ago, entirely unintentionally, I completely skipped over my story ‘Underwire’. This tale is the twenty-seventh in the collection, and should have appeared in this series of posts between ‘The Sculptor‘ and ‘Breathing Water‘.

This most curious thing about this omission is that ‘Underwire’ tells the tale of a woman who chooses to disappear.

It originally washed up in issue 67 (Winter/Spring 2018) of Tears In The Fence.

The image above shows where the story ends. It begins:

The pebbles of the beach are cold lumps beneath my soles. A January wind whistles in from the sea, but I ignore the goosebumps sprigging my flesh and with effort I think the core of me into heat. That’s a trick, imagining an inferno lit at the centre of my gut, flames licking the ropes of intestines and keeping me warm.

The whole world is dressed in shades of bruises today – bluish pebbles, the greenish sea, a sky like slabs of ice above.

I glance up the beach; see the violet trim of my sneakers where I kicked them off a few steps back. Nearby, my socks lounge untidily like patches of lichen or moss. 

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my other Sky Light Rain stories by clicking on the story titles below.

Discover the inspiration behind ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Moth Room‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Far From the Farm‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Breaking Up With You Burns Like Fire‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Flamingos and Ham‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Elevated Truths‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Not Every Wound Can Heal‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Little Blessings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Lodged‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Invertebrates‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Geese Among the Trees‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Distant Storms‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Sculptor‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Reeds and Curlews.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Fin‘.

Sky Light Rain – Fin

Fin. Photo by James Hainsworth

I can never resist a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse into the workings of a creative endeavour. It’s why I launched this series of posts offering insights into the inspiration behind the flash fiction and short stories that make up my Valley Press collection Sky Light Rain.

The thirtieth story is ‘Fin’. It surfaced in my mind one rainy January when I was certain our cellar (the same cellar that brimmed with uncanny encounters in my story ‘Lodged‘) was filling with water.

The idea merged with a whale watching trip I’d taken the year before, when I’d seen and fallen in love with the majesty of fin whales.

The story is about an ending, so the title works on two levels.

The story begins:

It began after their trip to the Azores. Toby had booked it as a celebration of their years together, complete with a voyage to look out for whales. Rachel glued on a smile and let Toby take her hand when he reached for it. She didn’t know how to tell him it was over, but something in the skitter of his glance made her wonder if he’d already guessed. It was as though he no longer dared to fully see her, in case he mistakenly found himself staring at a truth he’d rather not face.

Of the numerous species those Atlantic waters attracted, it was the fin whales that deigned to make an appearance. While other tourists, including Toby, stood and snapped photos, lens to eye, Rachel sat back in her seat and drank the sight in. The slap of fin against the waves, the slide of an immense, narrow body swooning up then over and down into the depths.

“Second largest mammal after the Blue Whale,” their biologist tour guide commented. “These ones are behaving strangely. Normally they come up for air only, but these ones have risen, what, three, four times?”

Each time the pair rose, they came a little closer, and each time, Rachel felt herself singled out by their deep-set, knotted gaze.

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my other Sky Light Rain stories by clicking on the story titles below.

Discover the inspiration behind ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Moth Room‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Far From the Farm‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Breaking Up With You Burns Like Fire‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Flamingos and Ham‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Elevated Truths‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Not Every Wound Can Heal‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Little Blessings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Lodged‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Invertebrates‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Geese Among the Trees‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Distant Storms‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Sculptor‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Reeds and Curlews.

Sky Light Rain – Reeds and Curlews

Laugharne Castle by Judy Darley

I can never resist the opportunity to catch a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse into the workings of a creative endeavour. It’s why I launched this series of posts offering insights into the inspiration behind the flash fiction and short stories that make up my Valley Press collection Sky Light Rain.

The twenty-ninth story is ‘Reeds and Curlews’. It carries us through a rainstorm to one of my favourite places, Laugharne in Wales, at the moment when a mother recognises the hazards of the age her son has reached following the death of one of his friends. Even as she attempts to shepherd him through his grief, she’s swept sideways by the relief that it wasn’t her son who died.

We all have those moments, don’t we? Those terrible, guilty feelings of “Thank goodness that happened to them, not us.”

An earlier version of ‘Reeds and Curlews’, then titled ‘Wriggler’, was published in the October 2018 issue of Ghost Parachute.

The story begins:

The suspension bridge tries to catch us in its wires as we drive from Bristol to Wales, chasing storm clouds as we go.

“It’s a spider with a gazillion legs,” Oli says, staring up throughthe sunroof.

I can’t help but smile. In those words I hear the little boy he used to be, just last year or the year before. Not that twelve is so very close to full maturity, but the perils in his vicinity seem disturbingly adult.

The thirsty July ground is too hard-baked to let rain soak in. Puddles form, then lakes and rivers, gushing down hillsides to meet us. The deluge fills me with a kind of fierce delight. I feel we’re amorphous – regressing to the amphibious beings we were in the womb.

“I was never a frog,” Oli says, holding tight to the backpack cradled in his lap. One hand is closed in a fist, gripping something I can’t see.

“No, but you were a wriggler,” I say, my own hands fixed to the steering wheel as we aquaplane for a second, and then regain the road.

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my other Sky Light Rain stories by clicking on the story titles below.

Discover the inspiration behind ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Moth Room‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Far From the Farm‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Breaking Up With You Burns Like Fire‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Flamingos and Ham‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Elevated Truths‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Not Every Wound Can Heal‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Little Blessings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Lodged‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Invertebrates‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Geese Among the Trees‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Distant Storms‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Sculptor‘.

Sky Light Rain – Breathing Water

Breathing Water by Judy Darley. View of harbour from prow of boat.I can never resist the opportunity to catch a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse into the workings of a creative endeavour. It’s part of the reason why I launched this series of posts offering insights into the inspiration behind the flash fiction and short stories that make up my Valley Press collection Sky Light Rain.

The twenty-eighth story is ‘Breathing Water’. It examines the small rituals we carry out to feel safe and to try to keep others from harm, and explores the tensions and tenderness within a family where two brothers have chosen very different paths – one an artist and the other a fisherman. The viewpoint is the artist’s son, Gil, whose neurodiversity perturbs his father and uncle.

An earlier version of ‘Breathing Water’ was published by Little Lantern Press.

The story begins:

The moon is thin, casting a faint spool of light that catches in the waves beyond the harbour wall. Gil likes this kind of night, softened by the salt in the warm air, all colours subdued. He pads down to the dock, strips off his t-shirt and shorts, clambers down the steel steps welded to the wall. The metal is cold against his skin, but not, he knows, as cold as the sea itself will be, even here in the harbour where it has been quieted.

He enters slowly, allowing the chill to creep over his skin. Become the blood in his veins. He sinks until his ears are submerged, and exhales with something like relief. There, now not only the sights are muted, but the noises too. All except those he creates himself, which sound distinct and pure.

He swims across the harbour to the first shadowy hull, heaves himself on board and stands, shivering.

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my other Sky Light Rain stories by clicking on the story titles below.

Discover the inspiration behind ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Moth Room‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Far From the Farm‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Breaking Up With You Burns Like Fire‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Flamingos and Ham‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Elevated Truths‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Not Every Wound Can Heal‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Little Blessings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Lodged‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Invertebrates‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Geese Among the Trees‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Distant Storms‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Sculptor‘.

Sky Light Rain – The Sculptor

The Sculptor by Judy Darley. Photo of an ice sculpture against a sunset.I can never resist the opportunity to catch a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse into the workings of a creative endeavour. It’s part of the reason why I launched this series of posts offering insights into the inspiration behind the flash fiction and short stories that make up my Valley Press collection Sky Light Rain.

The twenty-sixth story is ‘The Sculptor’.

When my father was diagnosed with semantic dementia, it was difficult, ironically, to find the words to express that cruel incremental loss. Fiction gave me a way to express what I was experiencing and communicate it to others.

Semantic dementia is the gradual erosion of language and meaning, and watching my father battling to recall the words he needed was both heart-aching and alarming. I’ve always written, and my working life has been centred around words as a journalist and fiction writer, but finding the form to talk about this particular situation was a challenge. I needed to create some distance, and fiction provided the means to do that.

I grew increasingly aware that other people around me were suffering shockingly familiar drawn-out plummets into grief. It seemed every other stranger I fell into conversation with was struggling to survive a similar tragedy. In this way, fiction became a way not only to understand my own emotions around my loss of a man who still lived, but as a means to reach out to and connect with others.

My first successful short story on this subject became The Sculptor. I made my protagonist, Isha, an ice sculptor and had her fall in love with a glassblower, using these elemental artisan-ships to create a fictional landscape in which to place the ‘dad’ character. Nothing was true to my life apart from the situation, Isha’s grief, and the words stumbled over by the man representing my own dad.

The photo shows an ice sculpture at my cousin’s Thailand wedding in 2019. Remember when travel was a thing? *sigh*

An earlier version of ‘The Sculptor’ was published in Unthology 8 by Unthank Books.

The story begins:

She has to pause every hour – that’s what the orthopaedist advised – to take a break from the frozen quiet and ease warmth back into her body. Standing in the studio, Isha cradles a steaming mug close to her throat so that the licking fingers of vapour lap at her chin. She feels the quietness inside her soften and begin to melt.

Even the juddering growl of the chainsaw can’t disperse the peace that takes hold while she’s working. She feels it grip her interior like the shy fingers of ghosts. Isha wonders how much time she has left before the orthopaedist’s caution makes itself known.

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my other Sky Light Rain stories by clicking on the story titles below.

Discover the inspiration behind ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘The Moth Room‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Far From the Farm‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Breaking Up With You Burns Like Fire‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Flamingos and Ham‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Elevated Truths‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Not Every Wound Can Heal‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Little Blessings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Lodged‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Invertebrates‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Geese Among the Trees‘.
Discover the inspiration behind ‘Distant Storms‘.

Sky Light Rain – Distant Storms

Sunlit water cr Judy DarleyI can never resist the opportunity to peek behind the curtain and catch a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse into the workings of a creative endeavour. It’s part of the reason why I launched this series of posts offering insights into the inspiration behind the flash fiction and short stories that make up my Valley Press collection Sky Light Rain.

The twenty-fifth story is also the first in the ‘Rain’ section, in which all tales are dappled with rain, or washed by ocean waves and rivers. ‘Distant Storms’ invites us to glimpse a future when rising sea levels creep above the lower areas of cities, isolating many people.

Imagine you and one other have been finding ways for the two of you to survive for a decade when a column of smoke lets you know you’re not entirely alone. What will you do?

I originally wrote this flash fiction for the Redcliffe Future Way story walk.

A shorter version was published in Mslexia’s Little Ms newsletter.

The story begins:

When the floods came, most people stuck it out for a time, then lost their nerve and travelled beyond the outer reaches of the city, seeking higher ground.

Not us. We stayed put in the tower block, watching as the streets went under, and then the bridges and even the skyscrapers closest to the strand. You showed me how to fish from the windows, going up a floor each month as the water levels climbed. We learnt to swim through the murky waves, salvaging anything that floated, diving down through waterlogged buildings to rescue anything we could make use of.

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my other Sky Light Rain stories by clicking on the story titles below.

Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Moth Room‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Far From the Farm‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Breaking Up With You Burns Like Fire‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Flamingos and Ham‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Elevated Truths‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Not Every Wound Can Heal‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Little Blessings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Lodged‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Invertebrates‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Geese Among the Trees‘.

Sky Light Rain – The Blue Suitcase

The Blue Suitcase. Photo by Anete Lusina on UnsplashI can never resist the opportunity to peek behind the curtain and catch a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse into the workings of a creative endeavour. It’s part of the reason why I launched this series of posts offering insights into the inspiration behind the flash fiction and short stories that make up my Valley Press collection Sky Light Rain.

The twenty-fourth story is ‘The Blue Suitcase’. This is the last in the ‘Light’ section of stories about journeys and change. It was inspired by discovering that someone close o me accidentally went home with the wrong suitcase from an airport carousel. Whoops! How must they have felt when they opened the case they thought was there’s, and found it filled with someone else’s things? How confused and distressed might the person whose case had been taken have been?

Seed in a marital betrayal, and there’s a drama, ripe for the writing.

It’s also a chance to relive those heady pre-pandemic days when we could jet off to Greece without worrying about quarantine.

The story begins:

I’m looking out for mine, I really am, hoping and hoping it will be next, but then I spy it, a little blue case bouncing jauntily along the conveyor belt. I can’t help myself – I just… reach out.

I don’t know what makes me do it. It doesn’t resemble mine in the slightest. Bella is sobbing and squirming in my arms, it’s too hot with everyone crowded around the luggage carousel, and it takes forever for the first weary bags to roll into view.

Somehow I feel like this is the suitcase I’ve been waiting for. The handle fits comfortably in my palm, as though it’s chosen me.

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Moth Room‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Far From the Farm‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Breaking Up With You Burns Like Fire‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Flamingos and Ham‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Elevated Truths‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Not Every Wound Can Heal‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Little Blessings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Lodged‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Invertebrates‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Geese Among the Trees‘.

Sky Light Rain – Geese Among the Trees

Geese Among the Trees cr Judy DarleyThere’s something magical about catching a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse into stories, music and theatrical productions. It’s part of the reason why I launched this series of posts offering insights into the inspiration behind the flash fiction and short stories that make up my Valley Press collection Sky Light Rain.

The twenty-third story is ‘Geese Among the Trees’. Just a few times in my life I’ve seen geese grazing – it always seems to me to be something uncanny and incongruous. I wanted to harness that feeling while exploring the challenge of being someone who’s been hurt too many times to give into wonder, and offset this against a person who actively seeks opportunities to be amazed. Can the cynic and the innocent ever find a happy ending together?

This story was written for the lovely folks at Liars’ League Hong Kong for their literary night of performances in December a few years back. I wanted to write something that wasn’t Christmassy, but captured some of the sense of childlike awe the season can evoke in those that way inclined.

Susan Lavender performed my short story as part of the special showcase.

The story begins:

I see it from the train each day, nestled between the fields and the canal. If I’m travelling at dusk or the day is overcast and stormy, the windows glint against the stone walls. I can imagine you then, moving about in there, doing whatever it is that you do without me. Or perhaps you’re resting your elbows against a window ledge looking out, wearing a worn-thin, oversized jumper, watching the train zipping by like something fleeing through the landscape, headed god knows where – who cares where, as long as it’s away?

Away from the house we shared – the one and a half rooms downstairs, two and a half up, if you counted the loft where the bats lodged and paid rent in foul-smelling droppings.

“Guano,” you told me, and scooped it up to fertilise the garden, transforming it into carrots and lettuces – a kind of alchemy. I never could eat them without feeling squeamish, although I knew they’d been scrubbed clean.

Country living, it’s not for everyone.

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Moth Room‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Far From the Farm‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Breaking Up With You Burns Like Fire‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Flamingos and Ham‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Elevated Truths‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Not Every Wound Can Heal‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Little Blessings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Lodged‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Invertebrates‘.

Sky Light Rain – Invertebrates

Arnos Vale woodland grave cr Judy DarleyI don’t know about you, but I adore catching a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse into stories, music and theatrical productions. It’s part of the reason why I launched this series of posts offering insights into the inspiration behind the flash fiction and short stories that make up my Valley Press collection Sky Light Rain.

The twenty-second story is ‘Invertebrates’. It bubbled up in my mind when I was strolling in Arnos Vale Cemetery, a grand Victorian amphitheatre cemetery which recent provided an area for woodland graves.

When I saw this rustic place of mourning, my intrigue and imagination were piqued. The profusion of flowers scattered on the bare earth made this seem an ultimately tender gesture. I pictured the people who might have laid someone to rest here, amid the trees and insects, I couldn’t help thinking of the brutality and beauty of many fairytales.

The resulting story, ‘Invertebrates’, serves as a sequel to a familiar fairytale.

It was originally published in Door Is A Jar Magazine.

The story begins:

We dug her up each solstice; each time she was a little lighter, her joints a little more unhinged. I worried she might come apart entirely, sinew and bones giving way as we propped her in the place of honour.

My brother and I allowed the invertebrates that had made her their home to attend our celebrations too. Sometimes centipedes fell from her eye-sockets and throat cavity to roam among the feast. I watched beetles nestle into her breastbone, and recalled how comfortably my head once rested there.

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Moth Room‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Far From the Farm‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Breaking Up With You Burns Like Fire‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Flamingos and Ham‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Elevated Truths‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Not Every Wound Can Heal‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Little Blessings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Lodged‘.

Sky Light Rain – Lodged

Lodged by Judy DarleyI don’t know about you, but I adore catching a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse into stories, music and theatrical productions. It’s part of the reason why I launched this series of posts offering insights into the inspiration behind the flash fiction and short stories that make up my Valley Press collection Sky Light Rain.

The twenty-first story is ‘Lodged’, which is one of the first ghost stories I have had published. It tells of a couple who move into a house where a former tenant has left behind more than a creepy atmosphere. I was inspired to write it while living in a rental property where the cellar was filled with items belonging to the previous resident – everything from old pots and pans to gymkhana ribbons, asthma inhalers and old teddy bears. My brain began mulling over why anyone would abandon things that seem so necessary, and of such sentimental value?

The second spur for the story sprang from ‘The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This eerie story seeded in the idea of Charlie, my character named in honour of Charlotte, becoming increasingly obsessed with the former tenant, July. I began to wonder what had happened to make the person leave so abruptly that they didn’t take half their things with them, and then to wonder whether they’d truly left at all…

An earlier version of ‘Lodged’ was published by Origami Journal.

It begins:

It’s just after 5am when Graham comes to find me. I’m in the cellar, still in my pyjamas, one leg half over the old armchair that sits in the section where the landlord’s dumped the former tenant’s possessions. I pause when he comes in.

“Charlie, what are you doing?”

“Did I wake you?” I push my tangled hair out of my eyes with one hand. “Sorry. Couldn’t sleep.”

I’ve found all kinds of things: old paintings, teddy bears, dressmaking fabrics… I wave a blue gymkhana ribbon in the air, half amused, half aghast. “Why would anyone leave this stuff behind?”

Sky Light Rain is published by Valley Press and is available to purchase here.

Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Untrue Blue‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Weaving Wings‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Woman and Birds.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Shaped from Clay‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Knotted Rope‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Two Pools of Water‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Puppeteer’.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Fascinate‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘A Blackbird’s Heart‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Paper Flowers‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Strawberry Thief‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘The Moth Room‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Far From the Farm‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Breaking Up With You Burns Like Fire‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Flamingos and Ham‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Elevated Truths‘.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Not Every Wound Can Heal’.