Sky Light Rain – Paper Flowers

11_Paper Flowers by Judy DarleyOver the coming weeks, I’ll share a few insights into the stories that make up my collection Sky Light Rain. I’ll explore them in the order in which they appear in the book. The eleventh story in the collection is ‘Paper Flowers’.

As you may have noticed, I draw a lot of inspiration from my travels. This one sprang from a visit to Mount Isola, Lake Iseo, courtesy of Brescia Tourism. The traditional craft I describe in the tale, of making thousands of paper flowers for the Santa Croce festival that takes place every five years.

I wondered what it would be like to live there as an outsider, and dreamt up Julia, a woman who’d intended only to pass by on holiday, but fell in love with the setting and a man who later died. Now her daughters are almost grown, and she’s wondering what she can do to keep them with her in this place where time seems to hold its breath, or whether she even should.

An earlier version, published by The Island Review, I used the first person perspective, but at my Valley Press editor’s urging, I changed it to the third person.

The tale begins:

Julia hands the yellow felt-tip to Chiara, half watching as she adds a few dots of ochre-yellow to the heart of a paper lily: pollen that will never billow free.

“What’s wrong, ha?” Chiara asks, focused on her task. “You’ve been almost silent since you arrived.”

Julia shrugs, trying to smile, but Chiara re-caps the pen, flicks her eyes towards the younger woman, insistent.

“Bianca…” Julia admits, and she snorts.   

“Of course, Bianca. What’s her trouble now?” Chiara’s own daughters are grown up, married off, safe. Julia’s eldest is fifteen, that most lethal of ages, when everything wants to devour her, and she seems hellbent on devouring everything.

“There’s a boy…”

Chiara hoots. “When isn’t there?” She snips the petals of a tulip a little more roughly than intended, tsks, and tidies the ragged crepe edges. “Who this time?”

“Not local,” Julia admits. This is what perturbs her most.

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

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