Papier-Mâché Doll


Our short story of the week is a story about sibling relationships from the writer Amanda Staples.

Amanda has the usual pile of stuff she can’t look at without a pot of tea and a whisky chaser, but keeps it to remind her that writing is a process; there is always much to learn and improve upon. Amanda hones her craft by dabbling in poetry, limericks and flash fiction, and more seriously writing short stories. She has had numerous short stories longlisted and shortlisted in competitions and published in print and online magazines and anthologies. She has written two plays, one of which has been staged twice, and is titivating a YA novel. She has also self-published a specialist cookbook. She runs writing retreats to ensure that neither she nor anyone else has to suffer alone with self-doubt, and to compare the joys of writing.

Papier-Mâché Doll portrays a family rift brought to the surface by a sudden bereavement.


I pull my long black woollen coat around me. Lennon lies quietly at my feet, the cold air teasing his fur. My sister told me it was disrespectful to take a dog to a funeral. I didn’t see why. It’s a woodland funeral. Dad’s in a wicker coffin. She didn’t like that either, Jasmine. God knows how she turned out so conventional, so staid.

Twanged notes jostle the still air – Evan playing the five-stringed banjo. Dad’s banjo. He finishes the song, pauses, throws the banjo into the grave. It thuds and gives off a final dismal note. Jasmine pulls a face like she’s tasted something nasty.

The grave looks like a white elephant stall. So far it contains – as well as Dad – a flat cap, a scarf, a necklace, a coin, a crystal, a belt buckle, several CDs and photos, football programmes, a CND badge and the banjo.Read more…