Sky Light Rain – Knotted Rope

5_Knotted Rope_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 fifth story in the collection is my three-voice tale ‘Knotted Rope’.

I used to live next door to a nursery school that took its tiny charges on daily meanders in the nearby Victorian cemetery – the atmospheric sprawling wilderness that provides the setting for this tale. I’d encounter them occasionally playing amid the headstones or obediently clinging to their strip of rope like the one pictured above.

I think we’ve all experienced that dizzying moment when you realise you’ve mislaid your wallet or door keys. As a child I liked little better than disappearing for a time. I decided to combine the two to examine the plummet of mislaying a child, as well as touch on the tot’s motivations for wanting to be gone, if only momentarily.

An earlier version featured four voices, including that of the tot who’s gone missing.

The tale begins:

Rita and I and our two volunteers count with care on the nursery steps. Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen… That’s everyone, isn’t it? A whole flock of little ones. Every child wears a fluorescent tabard and clasps tight to the length of blue rope, tiny hands wrapped around knots tied like memories.

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 ‘Two Pools of Water.
Discover the inspiration behind my story ‘Apollo’s Offspring‘.

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

Writing prompt – misplaced

Hair grip, Arnos Vale Cemetery by Judy DarleyOne of the early inspirations for my story Knotted Rope (published on the Seren website) was a small pink hair clip I saw lying beside a grave in Arnos Vale Cemetery. It made me wonder about the child who had lost it, and then wonder what would happen if the child want missing instead of the clip.

Could this inconsequential item serve as a clue? In the end my story about a missing child took a different route, and that initial thought was reduced to the following:

       I overhear one police officer mutter to another: “Shame it’s not a girl.”

       “Excuse me?” My voice rattles through the air. “What difference would that make?”

       “Oh, none, nothing. Just, little girls tend to carry things, hair slides…” He flounders, pointing to a broken clip on the side of the path. The pink paint is peeling away; it’s spotted with rust. “They’re more likely to leave a trail.”

       I glare at him. “If you’re any good at your job you won’t need a trail, will you?”

What ephemera you spotted by the side of a path or road? What directions could it carry you in your writing?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at) to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on