I enjoy reading short stories especially when I’m heading to work on the bus. They’re perfect for the 50 minutes it takes for my work commute and this collection made me actually look forward to the journey! Deeply dark and gothic, they are all equally good but two particularly stand out for me.
The first story in the collection is by Steve Mosby titled God Moving Over the Face of the Waters and it really resonated with me. I’m lucky to live close to the coast and I have an obsession with walking along the shoreline with my wee dog early in the mornings. There are not many people around, just the odd dog walker and a cyclist here and there. It’s the best time to make the most of the sunrise, the birds, the trees and the sounds of the sea itself. The landscape changes every day, no two days are ever the same. Indeed it can change within hours even minutes. It’s a living breathing entity and Steve Mosby has captured this perfectly. He profoundly portrays the ocean as a relentless creature, doing its thing regardless of the presence of humans. If we get in its way it will take us and it doesn’t make excuses. At the same time the thread of tragedy of those lost at sea weaves through the story and I want to know more about the Anna and Charlotte. Who are they? What happened? Who is the narrator? What has he done? What’s in his bag? This is the power of a good short story and I’ve read this more than once trying to concoct my own theories!
Another one which stood out is The Haunted Trolley by Nick Jackson. I used to work in a supermarket and it reminded me of how different the store was at night. Once the doors closed the shop was like a different beast, lights on, music playing, staff more relaxed and no longer worried about or harrassed by customers, and a hive of activity with the night shift replenishing and moving around getting the shop all ready for the next day. The Haunted Trolley really took me back to that time and also reminded me of the personal relationships made with customers and the way the staff get to know certain ones through their shopping routine. Nick Jackson has really captured the heart of supermarket life, even down to stray trolleys being left in the aisles!
All the stories in this book work as standalone pieces but put together like this they reflect on what we’ve all been through recently. They are entertaining and thought provoking but they say something of the way in which human life is unpredictable. Horrible things happen through death and loss and we often can do nothing about it. What we can do though and what has been happening is to look after each other and just be a little bit nicer to each other and the book can be dedicated to no-one better than the staff of the NHS, who know more than anyone the effects of this virus we have been living under recently. If you enjoy short stories try this collection – 100% of all royalties from The C Word will be donated to NHS Together Charities.