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I am sitting here, esconced in a slightly darkened corner of the Watershed, drinking hot chocolate, feeling pretty damned exhausted and considering the last few hours. We had gathered to discuss the stories submitted to fulfil last month's challenge, to write a short story including the three words above, namely 'jumping', 'crossword' and 'fairy'.

And the results were, to be blunt, bloody good. The tales ranged from Anne-Marie's childlike fairy and dragon story to the almost film noir detective story authored by Chris L. Other submissions included a delightfully rude three wishes tale (Rachel), a wonderfully imaginative take on the Miss Marple genre (Simon) and a clever impactive time-travelling piece from Chris (theSkoot). Sian's nightmarish good behaviour tale was balanced by Sara's excellent detective murder story.

Comments were positive, insightful, clever and witty. We laughed a lot and enjoyed the whole experience immensely (well, I did).

One of the things I enjoyed about it was the sheer range of ideas, styles and talent on show. Having sat with most of these people during NaNoWriMo write-ins it was a real pleasure to finally read something they had written, and the quality was high, even though time constraints meant some of the stories were written without benefit of redrafting.

A thoroughably enjoyable and educational session, which got us all writing and reading and smiling.

My own story is below (after the jump); written yesterday lunchtime in a fit of desperation after four abortive attempts. Hope you enjoy it.


He thought for a moment, the end of the pen tapping its familiar rhythm against his bottom lip, his brow furrowed with concentration.

Tap-tap-tap. The pen bounced against the paper now, and for a moment he was distracted by his hand, mind lost to reverie. He could not believe it was his fingers lying there, that the withered claw had once been able to bend six inch nails could now only just hold the pen with its extra thick body. It irked him less so now, but occasionally the anger flared, but even that was weary, half-hearted, spent. Still, the pen bounced and he was drawn back to the crossword, his mind dancing across clues and words and letters, captured by the simplicity of those little white boxes.

He thought some more, suddenly aware of every ache and pain, the tiredness of his body. Distracted. So easily distracted these days. At least his hearing had gone, isolating him, even more so that he had thought possible. It gladdened him, in a way, a very strange way. He no longer had to listen to the platitudes, the noise, the moaning, the eternal griping and senseless twitterings of his fellows. Silence blanketed everything, excluded it all. He hadn't bothered to learn the makaton they had tried to teach him, his obstinate stare eventually driving the nurses away. He felt, in a sense, more in control this way, not being told what to do, or what was happening.

He glanced up, staring into the room. Ah, yes. The common room. Filled with long years and abandonment, captured in the sad, deranged forms that sat or ambled around. Everything was dimmer, and slightly darker now. He supposed he would lose his sight soon. He wasn't sure about that, whether that would make him happy. Not that it mattered, he supposed. He'd miss the crossword. He wished he could lose his sense of smell, but nobody ever seemed to lose that, which he didn't think was very fair.

He looked back to the crossword, and was almost surprised to find himself writing in the word 'fairy'. Cobweb. That had been the clue, or part of it. He had known a Cobweb, once, long ago. She had been magical, lithe and graceful. Like an animal, or the fairy that she was. She had moved across the stage with an almost divine surety, dragging his eyes from Titania and Bottom and the others, enchanting him, his heart jumping with her every movement, her every moment of stillness. He smiled then, remembering her. He had spoken to her, trembling and unsure, in the bar afterwards, a brief exchange that had somehow led to something more, and then to even more than that.

Ruth, that had been her name. Ruth.

She was, in life, so much more than Cobweb, that magical being of paint and costume in reality a mere, pale imitation to the one who inhabited her. Ruth had been something more, something solid and sure and enchanting. She had captured him from the first, and it had been a long time before that had let go. Perhaps it never had. He had fallen in love with her. It had been easy to, so easy, and he wondered what had become of her, where she was. He hadn't thought about her in years.

It was so much darker now, so peaceful and for the first time in a long time he didn't feel tired at all; the aches and pains faded away to nothingness. He closed his eyes, resting his head back against the chair, and thought of her, then, dancing her way across that stage, flowing and enticing and captivating.



So lovely.

So very lovely.

He smiled, drifted into darkness, and slept.