The cracked paint flakes from the window frame, settling like cigarette ash into a small pile on the sill. The wood is dark with damp, rotted and pitted with woodworm. I can hear the gentle shuffles and coos of a pigeon somewhere nearby outside and think it sounds quiet, as though the bird is young and unsure of the world around it.
The Scarecrow walks past, his small black dog stretching its lead to its full length. I call him the Scarecrow because his grey, wiry hair is wild, striking out at all angles, and his ruddy face is a complex map of deep crevices and lines; I imagine him perched up in a field, arms outstretched and face to the sun. I wonder how he ever came to look like he did if this wasn’t his existence, because I only ever saw him walk past this window, imagining he was off to the field.
I hear the tired hiss of a bus’s diesel engine before I see its dark bulk; it struggles around the corner and pulls its way up the road towards my vantage point. Time is still for a moment – a fraction of a second extended way beyond its normal parameters – and I see the faces of the people inside, busy with handheld gadgets that can pull them away from their realities, if only for a moment. The next moment, the faces are gone and time has corrected itself. I can see a dirty cloud left in the bus’s wake and a man on the pavement lets out a single cough.
This last piece was written for a writing group I have recently joined up in Keswick in the Lake District. A few souls meet up every fortnight to go over works, critique our novels and come up with some new pieces. This has been really beneficial for my work, and the feedback has allowed me to see things that I would have otherwise missed. I was always a little wary of putting my work out there for others to read, but now realise that it is just another – very important – part of the writing process.
One of our briefs was to write a sketch of a place or moment in time. This was my contribution. The idea here was to write something quickly with very little editing. Any feedback is always welcome.