The Story Mountain

We took the mountain to the sea today.

Grandma Tolly woke us after milking. We ate crumpets with hot butter, then she shooed us up the cinder path while she made angel cakes and doorstep sandwiches.
The morning mist already rang with the sound of hammering. We joined the snaking line of villagers all going to the peak, carrying rucksacks, supermarket carriers and panniers. Old Mrs Fisher brought her ancient red leather handbag. I held my unbleached cotton shopping bag tight and followed my brothers through the foothills.

Most fragments of mountain were the size of my fist. Any bigger and they would need to be broken up on the beach. Some of the young fishermen tried to carry pieces of the mountain as big as curled cats. By midday they sat by the side of the road, too tired to carry on. Some fell asleep under the trees. The old men laughed as they walked past.

My brother, Sam, wanted to taste the mountain. He cried until we got all the broken pieces of tooth out of his mouth, wrapped them in an old rag and gave him milk and honey to drink.

On the beach the mountain was passed from hand to hand, through the waves, to Jo Sandler’s boat. He stood in the bows saying a word over each portion, letting it fall into the salt water, out of sight of our village forever.

In the ocean the mountain will tumble through turbulent waters, past pods of whales and shimmers of angel fish, to land on other beaches. Here the mountain will become story stones. Seeds from the waves for other children to take home in sand covered hands and build tales around.

By dusk the mountain had gone, gifted to a thousand different people in a thousand different lands. To transform into gryphon’s eggs or witches hearts, dragon’s eyes and magical seeds.

I reached down the side of my bed for the small, fist sized piece of mountain. Every morning I will get up early, holding my piece of the mountain in the river until the water smooths the jagged corners. Every night I will rub it with sand from the beach until the surface is as polished as glass.

When finally, many years from now, I have my story stone the story I shall tell will be about the day we took the mountain to the sea.

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Burning Bright

A bit of flash I wrote a while ago.

They called him Blue Flame Billy. You could see him most nights at the bars, burning through that week’s pay cheque with bottles of gin. Rum, whatever came in a shot glass. His wages and his girl’s. She was known as Black Eyed Betty. Not in his earshot though. Quick with his fists he was, and not just with those who shared his bed.

Back in those days we lived across the street, first floor apartment with our windows opposite theirs.

The screaming woke us before we saw the fire crew in the street outside. A real guttural howl, like an animal with its leg snagged into tatters by rusted snares.

They found him in his chair, on fire. Her crouched in the corner of the room covered in blood. No damage to the rest of the apartment, luckily for everyone else in the building.

On the testimony of the fire crew the coroner reached a verdict of misadventure. That Billy had fallen asleep with a bottle of gin in his hand and a cigarette. But alcohol burns blue and I saw the flames that night, thick and yellow. Smoking with a hint of petrol in the air.