Clay by Lauren Bell

clayI know I shouldn’t stare but I just can’t help myself. It’s like when someone tells you not to turn around because something bad will happen to you if you do, and even though you might lose an eye or several teeth, you can’t help but to turn around and look. It’s human nature.

Except this girl doesn’t look fully human to me.

I see her every morning on the train into town with her hair in a sleek midnight bob which effortlessly frames her face. She reminds me of a china doll with her small hand-crafted features making my heart giddy. She doesn’t look at me even though I know she can see me from out the corner of her eye. I’m just another suit-wearing guy with far too much deodorant choking the air.

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Lauren Bell

Lauren Bell
Lauren Bell

Lauren Bell is the author of flash fiction piece ‘Clay’.

Lauren lives in Birmingham, is often drunk on inspiration and will attempt to start work on a novel soon. Her work has been published by Word Bohemia, Synaesthesia Magazine, Bare Fiction, The Casket of Fictional Delights and Storgy Magazine where she is a contributing writer.

Short Story Sunday Q & A with Lauren Bell

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this story?

As a writer you are constantly attuned to your environment, looking for things which stand out, meaning you take in pretty much everything including the people, the land, the transport, the sky etc. Clay came to me when I was on the train on my way to work and saw this young woman’s profile silhouetted against the slate grey backdrop of Birmingham. Her features were small and sharp, perfect points, as though someone had created them using clay. That’s when I thought: Hey, maybe I could write a piece about a person whose features are made from clay.

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The True Color of The Sky By Chrysler Szarlan

true color of the skyWhen I was thirteen, I made a dress. I have no idea what possessed me. The dress was denim, sack-like, too big for me. It had a ruffle at the bottom, swooping just below my knees. It was the 1970’s and such things were in fashion. The bleached and faded fabric pleased me. It reminded me of sky. I watched the clouds pass in that sky as I pushed the fabric at the machine I was afraid of, all the time trying not to think of the speeding, piercing needle. As I stitched seams, I saw dragons and warriors with drawn swords in the fabric, a dog barking, the Virgin Mary. She was at the back of my dress, just below my right shoulder. But by the time I noticed her, she was upside down. I hoped she didn’t mind so much. She didn’t seem to, I imagined she looked serene. Just to be on the safe side, every time I wore the dress, just before I pulled it over my head I said a little prayer. Not an entire Hail Mary, but something like, “Dear Mary, I’m sorry you’re upside down, but maybe you will bless me anyway.”

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Chrysler Szarlan

Chrysler Szarlan
Chrysler Szarlan

Chrysler Szarlan is the author of short story ‘The True Color of The Sky’.

Chrysler is a published author who jogged racehorses and worked as a magician’s assistant before graduating from law school. She was a managing attorney with the Connecticut Legal Rights Project. She lives in western Massachusetts with her family, works part-time as a bookseller at the Odyssey Bookshop and rides her horse in the Hawley Forest whenever possible.

Short Story Sunday Q & A with Chrysler Szarlan

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this story?
I was with a friend who sewed (I do not!), and we were looking at fabric. She bought a piece of stone-washed denim – this was in the 80’s – and I saw all kinds of images in it, including the Virgin Mary. I guess that stayed with me, and it came to me as the beginning of this story, many years later. And I have always been fascinated by memory, the persistence of some memories, the loss of others. What it would be like to know you are slowly going to lose your memories, and what would seem important then.

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