Oh my goodness, can you believe that it’s barely a month till the launch of my short story collection Remember Me To The Bees? Monday 31st March – put it in your diary – you’re invited!
The seventh story in my collection is Button Maker, a bittersweet tale of a fleeting romance.
The artwork is by Louise Boulter.
I wrote this short story after interviewing a woman who made buttons for a living – her craft really intrigued me and made me think of that moment in small talk at parties when someone asks what you do. Wouldn’t it be fab to say something as unusual as button maker? Once I imagined that beginning, the rest fell into place, with the created character become as elusive and alluring as the idea of her profession.
A short excerpt from Button Maker
She comes to a halt over something shining on the pebbles – large and flattish. It gives off a faint stink like earwax and cod liver oil and vomit. The sky-facing eye has been pecked away, consumed.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” She’s nudging at the fish corpse with a twig. Part of me recoils. What if she asks me to help her carry it back up the cliff, through the forest?
“Fish scales, they’d make pretty buttons, wouldn’t they?”
“What about the smell?”
She pauses, like she hasn’t noticed it till now, then wrinkles her nose, shakes her head. “I’ll remember what they look like, make some from silver. And a series of little dead fish buttons, cavities where the eyes should be! People will buy them thinking they’re cute and never even realise the truth of what they’re wearing.”
She drops the twig, turns and hugs me, whispers hot and loud in my ear: “If it wasn’t for the pebbles I’d like to fuck you on this beach. Right now.”
I hold her close but can’t help shivering at the thought of baring my skin to the elements. The heat of passion is locked away deep inside me, far from the wind that is sawing away at my face. In the city it never gets this cold. The buildings give off heat like I imagine stabled cattle do.
I bury my face in her hair, inhale the green apple smell of her. “Can we go back to your house?” I ask, thinking of her room full of buttons, the warm, blanket-laden bed where we cocooned ourselves till daybreak.