Happy August and congratulations to the winner of our summer competition… Hannah Busby! Well done – you have won a copy of Jenn Ashworth’s brilliant first novel, A Kind of Intimacy (if you’ve already got it, let us know and we’ll send you something else).
Runner-up kudos goes to John Ritchie! Come back in a couple of days to read his story.
And now, for your admiration and enjoyment…
The Longest Day
by Hannah Busby
Jem cradled his daughter close. “Hello my darling girl,” he murmured. “I’m your daddy, did you hear me before?”
He kissed her forehead. “Why don’t we take a walk outside? Let mummy sleep, she won’t mind.” He adjusted his grip, settling the baby in the crook of his left arm, before picking his way across the carpet. “I think it’s important to see this, my darling.” He undid the bolts and hauled the front door open.
Blinding sunlight threatened to overwhelm him after the darkness of the room, but his eyes adjusted quickly. He took a step out into the garden, wiggling his toes against the sun warmed concrete.
“See this?” He asked his daughter, turning slowly on the spot. “I made this garden for you. Mummy may have given me the idea – she likes to sit out in the sun. Did you feel the warmth, my darling? She’d sit out here for hours reading, wearing her big floppy sun hat.” He took tentative steps onto the lawn, the grass crunching oddly beneath his feet. “She convinced me to join her, said there was no reason not to, not anymore.”
Smoke drifted with the air. He adjusted his hold on his daughter and carefully sat down. “Sorry, my darling, I know the smoke makes breathing hurt. But I think you should get to know what the sun feels like.”
In the distance Jem could hear the obnoxious roar of planes. “A man called Albert Einstein once said ‘I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones’. I think he was wrong, my darling, so wrong. And I’d love for him to be right, because that would mean you could grow up and be brilliant. But there’s not going to be anyone left after this. Do you hear that sound? That’s the sound of good men doing bad things.”
He paused, closed his eyes and tilted his head back to let the sun heat his face. “This is the longest day of your life, my darling, and I’m so sorry it’s not longer. But I thought you should get to see the sun. At least once.” He kissed her. “You would’ve been brilliant.” The noise of the planes grew louder. “Shall we wait here, my darling? We’ll see mummy again soon.”