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 hope by Judy Darley.
Judy Darley is a fiction writer, journalist and communications manager from Bristol. She was lucky enough to spend much of her childhood up trees with her nose in a book or scribbling her own stories. Her fiction has been described as ‘shimmeringly strange’, possibly because she can’t stop writing about the infinite peculiarities of the human mind.
Judy wrote fiction from a young age but began her working life by gaining a BA Hons in Journalism. She soon discovered she loves working with any form or discipline of the written word, and now works in Communications Management and Community Management, alongside her fiction and journalistic writing. She enjoys interviewing creative people and finding out what drives them. In the same way, she interviews her fictional characters to uncover their anxieties and motivations. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published in the UK, US, New Zealand, Canada and India. She is the author of three fiction collections: The Stairs are a Snowcapped Mountain (Reflex Press), Sky Light Rain (Valley Press) and Remember Me to the Bees (Tangent Books).
‘The Green-Gold of Wet Kelp’ follows a grandmother and granddaughter as they help a neighbouring family.
In rain, sunshine, mist and high winds we tottered through the fields as fast as Elspeth’s little legs and my dodgy knees allowed. Both of us breathless, we rushed up the hill – more of a hillock really – that Elspeth had named The Big Mountain. The vista from the top encompassed the sweep of the bay beyond: grey or blue or churning green all the way to the horizon.
Elspeth always brought the small teddy that her other grandparents had sent in the post – a palm-sized old-fashioned thing with articulated limbs. It was hard and beige. I was sure she’d shun it in favour of some vibrant plushie, but Elspeth surprised me by taking to Barry, as she named him. She carried him everywhere, often singing repurposed nursery rhymes in a comical gruff voice she claimed was his.
‘Three blind mice – had a naughty fight – bit and scratched and cried – then went back insiiiide!’
When we reached the beach, Elspeth danced Barry’s furry feet around rockpools, stroking his increasingly grubby paws over barnacles and periwinkles.
I pointed out a flurry of black-headed gulls.
‘They’re eagles, Gri-gra,’ Elspeth corrected me, with such certainty that I agreed.