A black-and-white photograph links two of the three point-of-view characters in my new novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home. In Henry’s interpretation, it shows a father, his glamorous teenage daughter and his young son on holiday at Blackpool, a popular English seaside resort. Matty’s version has a ragged edge and shows only two people: an unknown woman in a polka-dot dress holding the hand of a boy with the Eiffel Tower sprouting from his head. If these two renditions of the same events can be reconciled, perhaps brother and sister will be reunited. Perhaps Matilda Windsor will make it home.
Photos were taken – albeit not by me – at the workshop I delivered last week at the newly-opened Secret Garden Studio in Nottinghamshire. I loved working with a small group of talented writers, and I’m sure I learnt as much as they did.
What was the topic of your workshop, Anne? I’m glad you asked: it was the 99-word story which, despite my initial scepticism, I’ve been practising for over seven years. This week’s prompt from the Carrot Ranch was to write about an old photograph.
I wrote my story before reading Charli’s complete post, so was pleased to find I’d echoed her theme of healing in my flash. Her posts are often poignant, but this, about the cruel consequences of armed combat, is especially so.
Mary’s bedroom floor is awash with paper. She tucks a lock of russet hair behind her ear and plunges in.
Her therapist said her childhood memories didn’t sound happy. Mary wades through school reports and twentieth-century diaries for the evidence to prove her wrong.
A photograph of two girls in polka-dot dresses, seated with their mother on a tartan rug. Decades on, Mary hears the stream gurgling behind them, smells the meadowsweet, tastes the fairy cakes, feels the sun warm her face.
The woman cuddles the raven-haired daughter. Mary weeps for the redhead, beyond the reach of mother love.