|Trying not to shake too much! (photo: Liz Beer)|
The event was organised by the Hong Kong Writers Circle, which is a very active group of amateur and professional writers based in Hong Kong.
|Dani Lowry, co-editor of As We See It: Hong Kong Stories, |
read from her story: Broken Promise
There were two sets of readings. The first readings were by Dani Lowry and Edmund Price. Dani, one of the co-editors of As We See It: Hong Kong Stories, read from her short story in the anthology, Broken Promise. Edmund read from his recent publication, Thief of Love, a powerful love story about about the gods and their impact on us. Alan Brown read from his recent publication, Heavens Above, and I read a piece of Flash Fiction titled A Fond Farewell (see below for story).
Thanks massively to the people who took time out of their busy schedules to come along and be supportive: Angharad, Arlene, Alexias, Frances, Liz, Michelle, Neeko, Shannon Young, Sharon, Shobha Nihalani and Simon. Thanks also for encouragement across the miles: Beatrix, Chanelle, Dorothy, Mum, and Sara. Nick probably knows the story by heart; he helped me edit it when I wrote it and helped me practise reading it outloud. However, he still managed to look interested whilst I was reading, so thanks for that too!
|A good turnout! (photo: Simon Lawfull)|
For those of you who weren't there, or didn't quite catch every word, here is the story I read:
A Fond Farewell
As I stare at myself in the mirror, I wonder if I'm doing the right thing. I struggle to make my tie lie flat, something my wife always did for me. But not today. Today I'm leaving her for a woman I've just met.
My whole working life I commuted to the city on the 7:42 train with a flask of tea and a home-made sandwich. One chilly Tuesday, I noticed a woman on the platform wearing a bright turquoise scarf. Mary would never wear that colour, I thought. The woman was taller than average, even in flat leather shoes. She had curly brown hair and wore dark-rimmed glasses. Once seated on the train she pulled out a Penguin classic and was totally absorbed until Waterloo station.
I hadn't picked up a novel since the days of obligation at grammar school, but that crisp evening I bought the same Penguin classic in the station bookshop. I saw her nearly every Tuesday for a year and bought all the books I watched her read. The shopkeeper soon knew to look out for me. My colleagues, unaccustomed to my reading, threw friendly jibes my way. My wife and I enjoyed debating the various characters and plots.
One Tuesday she wasn't on the train. Three or four weeks passed and I stopped looking for her. I realised I wasn't going to see her again. I began to choose my own books, but it wasn't the same, not knowing if she was engrossed in the same tales.
Years later, having recently moved to an unfamiliar part of town, I caught sight of her again. She was sitting at a wooden table sipping frothy coffee. Her face was rounder, her grey curly hair shorter; but essentially she was unchanged. Her eyes, despite their crow's feet, were still dark and intense behind her rimless glasses. How many words had they read since I last saw her?
“Are you enjoying it?” I said, nodding at her book. I showed her my identical copy.
“Yes, immensely.” Her voice was deep, like melting chocolate.
“May I?” She nodded.
Slowly lowering myself into the seat opposite her, I added, “I think I prefer his last one though.”
“Me too.” She smiled.
“I’m Roger,” I said, and held out my hand.
“Catherine.” She took my hand. Her name is Catherine.
I grew to enjoy our weekly afternoon meetings. One day I asked her to dinner.
“That would be lovely,” she said.
“Splendid!” I replied. “I know a nice little Italian place not far from here,” realising I hadn't felt this happy in a long time.
Mary left me years ago when the cancer cells silenced her forever. God, I've missed her. Tonight, getting ready to meet Catherine for dinner, I'm finally able to leave my wife.