COLOURS, a short story in the Anthology

'Shared Whispers' 


The story behind the story  of COLOURS

A friend laughed when I said Abigail, the romantic heroine of the short story COLOURS, was eighty-six years old. But there are reasons why I wanted her to be this age when the story begins. I'm in the distressing position of watching relatives struggle with ageing, and I know they have 'back stories'-sometimes very colourful ones-behind their outward appearances. In COLOURS, I've tried to retrieve part of one woman's tale. She may be a frail, forgetful, often frustrated 'grey' old lady, but she was something else in her twenties. And I want the intense romance of her youthful days to live again.

So does she-and this brings me to another theme:  the way we treat the elderly. What can appear as kindness may actually be cruel. Lacking the complete picture, we might oppose dearest wishes. So as well as being a romance and an adventure-Abigail calls it her "greatest adventure"-this story is also a tragedy.

But mostly, I hope, it's a 'rattling good yarn' which I really enjoyed writing. Part of the enjoyment came from using the livelier portions of my family history. When Abigail sprinkles her husband's ashes in the River Otter at dawn, this recalls a real event, one that was breathtakingly beautiful. Other true stories, however, have had to be toned down, as real life can be far stranger than fiction. When, for instance, Abigail stops the clocks in her dead husband's room, turning it into a dusty shrine, she's not acting like a latter-day Miss Havisham. What she does is actually based on the eccentricities of my Great Aunt Eva who took matters further than Abigail (or even Miss Havisham). After being jilted at age nineteen, Great Aunt Eva had what the family called an 'hysterical' reaction. She 'took to her bed' and never got out of it again until she was carried out dead sixty years later.

But that's another story, albeit a true one! This one's not true, and it's Abigail's.

'Shared Whispers' is available from Books. Kindle edition $4.39.