Sky Light Rain – Strawberry Thief

Strawberry Thief by Judy Darley
Over 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 twelfth story in the collection and also the final in Part One – Sky is ‘Strawberry Thief’.

I wrote this story especially to perform at a local literary event, Novel Nights, which was about to host an evening at a bar called The Strawberry Thief. I love writing to prompts, and this was an excellent one. I thought about the sensory pleasure of picking strawberries, and how as a child I’d eat as many as would end up in my pot for weighing.

The drowsy summer days felt like the perfect backdrop to a first love based on shared secrets, thefts, lies and discoveries.

‘Strawberry Thief’ was originally published by the deliciously named Straylight Magazine, biannual literary magazine of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

The tale begins:

The hide is empty but for herself and Jonathan. In the clearing beyond the structure, birds cavort – more species than she can name. Jonathan would know them all. He understood their code of feathers and colours in a way she’s never been able to grasp.

She reaches into the bag beside her and draws the thermos out.

The cup that sits neatly over its lid makes her pause, flooded with a memory. At the hospice, she’d crushed strawberries against its rim, fed the crimson pulp into his mouth with a teaspoon. He’d swallowed, then muttered, soft enough that she had to lean close:

“Wrong season for strawbs. Where’d you get ’em?”

Not wanting to name the shop she’d bought them from, where they nestled in the fridge alongside own-brand sausage rolls, she smiled back and said: “The pick-your-own. Remember?”

That lie had seemed worth it for the brief lessening of the pain she saw in his mud-brown eyes. She popped one of the berries into her own mouth, chewing fast. It was cold against her tongue, and lacked the burst of sweetness she craved, but its flavour connected her to the moment, to him.

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 ‘The Moth Room‘.