Last week, I became a published author. My short story "Family Language" has been published by Jurassic London in WE NEED TO TALK, a short story collection produced by Kindred Agency and the female cancer charity, The Eve Appeal. The theme of the collection is difficult conversations, something that was an easy prompt for a writer who deals with communication, silence and noise. I went to the launch last week with great friends who forced me to sign many copies and feel extremely embarrassed. It was amazing.
All proceeds from the book go to The Eve Appeal, and I'd love for you to support it if possible. To tempt you, how about a cheeky extract...? (Ebook available here, paperback here)
It began with a phone call. I was sitting in a car park, waiting for a space, when the phone rang. In the opera of my family, my dad is the bass. A steady, deep rhythm that controls the whole song, his tone perfected due to his career as a radio host. Danny Ray, the man with the velvet voice. Danny Ray, the father who I hadn’t spoken to in four months. When I think of my dad, I never see an image of his face. Instead, I hear him. As always, the memory of his deep baritone rose in my ears, filling my car as soon as I saw who was calling. I leaned back, shut my eyes, rolled down the window, attempting to drown him out with the noises outside - but all I could hear was him, vibrating against the car walls and pressing into my skull.
Irritated, I picked up the phone, only to hear nothing on the other end. “Dad?” I pressed the phone closer to my ear, and heard his breath, sharp and ragged in the background. The roughness of it pricked at me and I sat up taller, now alert. “Dad?” I said again, my voice barely audible. I listened, and finally heard the reliable bass line of my father, pulled upward, choked out of his throat, delivering me three words. “Leila…Mum’s died”.
The sentence threw itself against me. I sat, motionless as it scraped and slid across my body, staring straight ahead into the car park, watching the drivers move carefully around each other whilst my father began to cry. I couldn’t process it. It was too strange. The voice that I had grown up with, emitting from radios, silencing a dinner table, disciplining my siblings and me, was now completely unrecognisable. It was a sobbing, discorded whimper. I wasn’t tuning into Radio Danny Ray Kiernan anymore. He was breaking, his voice faltering under the weight of what he was telling me, but I couldn’t understand him, didn’t know him. I wanted to hang up. Instead I sat in my car and let him cry until his throat was raw.