Sky Light Rain – Weaving Wings

Weaving Wings by Judy DarleyOver the coming weeks, I will 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. My second story in the collection is ‘Weaving Wings’.

This flash fiction story is only half a page long, but it was inspired by a huge true tale. I’d read articles about Mexican migrant children separated from their parents by the US government, and the idea haunted me. It seemed so barbaric. Two details about this really got to me – the fact that some of the children were writing letters they weren’t even sure would be sent to their parents, and the heaps of yarn brought out to keep them occupied during leisure time.

According to this news story published in October 2019, 5,460 children were separated from their parents due to the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy.

In my flash fiction I try to examine this ludicrous behaviour from the point of view of a child trying to make the best of an appalling situation.

My version of this story begins:

The best time is when we have an hour outside and can run and race like we’re still on our way. I pretend that I’m running to my mama and that this is all a game.

I’ve recorded myself reading ‘Weaving Wings’, which you can watch here. It also featured in National Flash Fiction Day’s #FlashFlood on 6th June 2020.

Discover the inspirations behind my story ‘Untrue Blue‘.

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

Sky Light Rain – Untrue Blue

1_Untrue Blue by Judy Darley
Over the next few weeks, I will 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, so will begin with the tale ‘Untrue Blue’.

This story examines a relationship between a brother and sister, from the point of view of the sister Tia. Themes include trust and betrayal, and when the truth can be the greatest cruelty of all.

You might notice if you’ve read my stories that sibling relationships and rivalries are recurring topics. A brother or sister might be the first person you come to know on an equal footing – your earliest memories are likely entwined with theirs, and there’s a high possibility that they know all the versions of you. It gives them a rare power. If anyone can derail you, I bet it’s them!

Bristol’s Cabot Tower, which I can see in the distance from my home and spent many childhood days climbing, is a key location for the pair in ‘Untrue Blue’.

The story begins:

As children we would go flying at night. You were always the instigator, shaking me awake then unlatching the window to let the night creep cool and bright beneath our pyjamas, under our skin. I’d edge out first, blinking in the sweep of orange-tarnished sky, beneath the faint stinging stars.

The story contains hints of fairytales and a touch of magic realism. For me, there’s a bit of wish fulfilment too – as a child I believed there was no more enviable superpower than the ability to fly!

I started writing it with the image the tale opens with, and then wanted to know why Tia seemed so wary of her brother. A lot of my fiction unfurls that way – with a scene I glimpse in my head like something from a film, and a question that leads me to what happens next. In fact, a lot of my writing is a journey of discovery.

Discover the inspirations behind my story ‘Weaving Wings‘.

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

A short story – Wild Times

Bees_MIR_darleyI’ve really been relishing the wildlife in my garden and surrounding area over the difficult months of lockdown. My short tale ‘Wild Times‘ takes this thought, exaggerates it and blends in a splash of curiosity about human nature,

I’m thrilled to share the news that ‘Wild Times‘ has been published as part of MIR’s Stories in the Time of Covid 19 project. A meditation on nature, both human and other…

You can read ‘Wild Times‘ in full here: http://mironline.org/wildtimes/

Two tales – The Rules of Contagion and Sanctuary

Elephant, Thailand. By Judy DarleyI’m so happy to have two stories in issue 34 of the wonderful The Cabinet Of Heed literary journal.

Firstly, a lockdown inspired story titled ‘The Rules of Contagion’ at https://cabinetofheed.com/2020/06/10/one-word-prompts

Secondly, a story inspired by a visit to Thai elephant sanctuary, titled ‘Sanctuary’, under https://cabinetofheed.com/2020/06/10/photo-prompts/… (scroll down to the elephant).

There are drawers full of fabulous tales to distract you in this fine issue!

A short story – the ebb and flow of tides

The Ebb and Flow of Tides by Judy DarleyI’m delighted that my short story ‘The ebb and flow of tides‘, in which a couple separated by lockdown enjoy a two-person remote carnival, has been published in issue 1 of Perhappened Magazine.

In solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement currently rocking the Globe, Perhappened’s excellent editors are password-protecting the first issue upon its release and asking you to either show evidence of a donation of ANY AMOUNT to a BLM/bail fund-related cause, or  proof of signed petition(s), and/or email templates for justice.

Here’s how The ebb and flow of tides begins:

For my lover’s lockdown birthday, we devise carnival costumes to cheer ourselves up. My mask will be the sun, to represent my fiery temperament. Hers will be the moon: calm, cool, reflective.

We live in different households, so there’s no chance of holding hands.

I must have water on the brain at the moment, as on Saturday 6th June, National Flash Fiction Day, I wrote a short tale prompted by the photo of a stormy sea. My story is called ‘Why rivers run to the sea‘, and explains exactly that in the words of the River Frome which  rushes through Bristol. Happily, this story is now live at The Write-In.

Here’s a taste of the tale:

I hunger for salt. I call to the gulls to follow me. I ripple with the anticipation of
spider crabs, squat lobsters, cuttlefish, cup coral and squirts.

I crave the North Atlantic.
My spine shivers with the instinct to surge in peaks.

So, rivers, celestial bodies, passion and energy.

A short story – Shadows and Shine

The BeautifullestI’m thrilled that my flash fiction story ‘Shadows and Shine’ has been published in The Beautifullest: Pure Slush Vol. 17. It’s a slightly twisted tale of sibling rivalry between two brothers.

Here’s a line from my story:

‘A spare key to the woman’s house hangs in their hallway. He wants to see what happens if he enters while she’s out.’

The publication features flash fiction, poetry and essays by 89.
Various other eBook formats will follow in the coming weeks.

A short story – The Go-Get-Gone

The Go-Get-Gone by Judy Darley
My short story The Go-Get-Gone, about a teen trying to enjoy a night out despite the best efforts of her dissociative identity disorder symptoms, has been published on the Lucy Writers’ Platform. I’m thrilled!

I’m delighted to see Amanda and her so-called friends coaxed out of the shadows!

This story has taken a long while to grow strong enough to fumble its way into the light. I believed in it from the start but needed to translate the story in my mind from its nebulae state into something other people could understand. Somehow that seems really apt, given the topic, and now I’m cheering for Amanda and Bim for remaining resolute throughout.

My editor Hannah at the Lucy Writers’ Platform introduces my story with the following words:

Amanda is out for the night with her new school mate, Lea. But when her so-called friends – an assortment of symptoms from her Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) – turn up, she finds it hard to determine who and what is real.

You can read the story in full here.

A short story – Rocked Awake

Earthworm by Judy Darley
I’m chuffed to bits that my mini myth Rocked Awake has been published as part of Dear Damsels‘ nature theme.

In the story, a mother attempts to solve the riddle of why her baby daughter is usurped in her crib by wild flora and fauna. Nature’s clues lead her to a fresh interpretation of the changeling myth. 
Here’s a fragment from the centre of the tale:

This morning, it was an earthworm, fleshy and pale, curled into a shape like a shepherd’s crook.Sometimes it wasn’t even a creature that breathed – last week my daughter had been usurped by an acorn.

You can read my full story, and the other fabulous words published by Dear Damsels, here.

A short story – The Tempered Lake

The Tempered Lake by Judy DarleyMy short story The Tempered Lake has been published as part of Ayaskala‘s beautiful March 2020 issue. Based in India, the online publication led by editor-in-chief Vaishnavi Sharma has a focus on mental health. As a writer with a preoccupation for the fallibilities of the human mind, I’m thrilled to have my story featured.

The Tempered Lake is part of my novel-in-progress Lake Glas, which explores a sister’s growing obsession with her brother, who removed himself from her life when she prevented him making a dangerous decision.

If you fancy a read, you can buy and download Ayaskala’s March 2020 digital issue here. It’s packed full of inspiring and moving writing and art.

Short story – Enduring Night

Iceland by Judy DarleyI’m utterly delighted that my short story Enduring Night, inspired by a visit to Iceland, is feeding the wonderful, eternally ravenous The Cabinet of Heed. It has taken up residence in Issue Twenty-Nine, out now.

Enduring Night is a love story that may not be a love story, set against the elemental beauty of Iceland in the snow.

It begins with a moment of anticipation, which I wrote before I actually visited Iceland, and long before the rest of the tale took shape.

I haven’t been here yet, but this is what I imagine it will be like. Dark as ink from waking till sleeping, with an occasional reprieve when the sun lifts its lead-heavy head. Fissures of aurora borealis dancing above bare-branched trees as ice crystallises in the air. Eyeballs rolling in the fight not to freeze; skin tightening; breath blooming like fog.

Read Enduring Night in full.

Enduring Night