Rebecca Sowray





The bleaching reek of sulphur remains but I have manufactured strings enough for a month or two.  With each shorter day the solar panels work a little less and voices, not vehicles, dominate the early dark outside.  In a last, desperate search of the travelling market I discovered a much washed, but intact, black dress.  It is soft and silent and deflects attention from me; this is the first time that I will be there alone.

Only what I do should be seen.

Tonight is one of the last nights that we will spend in the open before the cold. We gather while we can at the ruin of the city’s centre.  The concrete bones and stairways are all that remain of the high rise block that still dominates the sky.

I begin the climb through the building, leaving the streets still busy with people.

LED lamps brighten the steps at intervals but on the roof we save the stored light and favour candles. The leftovers of the industrial age must be relished; they will not come again in my time.  Anxiety shortens my stride.  They crowd around the place where I will sit, a circle of ten or twelve deep. I unpack my things.  My mother used to tell us that the sun’s heat went to another world as summer ended but tonight I see it in the fading moon and the emotion it reveals in peoples’ faces.

Recently polished, and restrung, my mandolin has a clear voice.  For a minute my knees shake though the notes still fly. An inverted chord, an improvisation and the sense of travel takes me.  The melody moves outwards and answers its own refrain as they travel together, reinventing and redefining the long tale of this year.

When I return, with the final phrase, they are clapping.  I can see the nearest faces smiling.  This will be the first payment for my passion.





Scarred by early success fitting cartoon feet to yoghurt pots Rebecca Sowray ran away.  She lives the ordinary dream, getting high on radio-noise before sharpening her words.
Talk nonsense to her on twitter @RedStar240 or find her fictions at

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