Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our Fairlight Shorts archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about loneliness by Sienna Black.
Sienna Black is a young writer from the UK currently studying English at the University of Cambridge. Her poem ‘Measurements’ was longlisted for the Young Poets Network ‘After Sylvia’ poetry competition, and her work has appeared elsewhere in Spring Journal, Salt & Citrus Zine, Impspired, and CANVAS.
Sienna has been writing for as long as she can remember, however her writing improved the most through lockdown and with the help of some hugely supportive teachers in Sixth Form and College when she began writing poetry.
Now at university, Sienna is involved with running open mic nights and workshops through Blackbirds Poetry Society. She is also part of the editorial team for BAIT, a Cambridge-based arts magazine that aims to donate its profits to charity.
‘Drive’ follows a young woman losing control, and reflecting on her relationship with her grandfather
Resting my forehead on the tiny, wheezing fan in my 38°C apartment, I watch sunlight dapple and blur through its bars and make white the yellow and perhaps someday this city will quieten. Maybe it was the heat then, too. Maybe it was this glimmering tongue of a city that I was so sure would swallow me whole. But somehow, they all knew it long before I did. I was losing it a little that summer. Painting every surface of my rented apartment yellow, convinced it was the only way to let the light in. Letting days pass around my greying sheets and the blank TV and, all the while, my eyes wide open, or perhaps closed but seeming wide open, watching nothing move an inch. Friends told me I was losing weight. They caught sight of my yawning ribcage, or dresses that used to fit draping limp from my clothes-hanger collarbones like membrane. So, one by one, I began to pretend that I didn’t know any of them and never had. It was cruel, but I didn’t feel anything of it at the time. I still feel very little of everything.
All I feel right now, in the aftermath, is that I have made my home a yellow wall and I am very alone in all this.
When I was younger and got like this, restless in a way that felt like sipping water, my grandfather would put his hands on my shoulders and sit me down opposite him at the kitchen table and tell me to open my eyes. At the time, this was one of the worries. Thoughts would get caught, get stuck in my head, repeat until I listened to them and then keep repeating. Even when trying to unthink the catching thoughts, in a way, I was still thinking them. The point is: it was not light that I wanted then, but darkness, to make the world stop spinning. The point is: he would sit there with his hands on my shoulders telling me to open my eyes, saying I know it is scary for you right now, but I will not let you go till you feel okay, alright?My fears must have been overwhelming. It took us hours like this for him to talk me out of it, but he did not break his promise.