This is a collection we’re quite proud of. This is what Charlotte Delaney said about the winning story in our competition that commemorated Shelagh Delaney Day. Staff from the University of Salford were involved in long-listing and short-listing and Charlotte chose the winner.
Below are a few paragraphs from the winning story.
Why I chose Everything Is Seen At Its Best In The Dark:
“I particularly liked the way a brief moment in time is coupled with enough information about the past to tell the tale of a tragedy and its effects on those concerned. Particularly Sue. The description of her regular walk and her regular route, through very ordinary surroundings, is vivid in its simplicity and heart-breaking against the backdrop of grief and loss. The language is uncluttered and used to great effect. I am always interested in the aftermath of an event, how people cope, how they don't cope. This particular story flicked that switch beautifully.”
Everything Is Seen At Its Best in the Dark
Sometimes in autumn when the ash trees are filled with red berries there are loads of crows among the branches, and evening sunlight filters through the taller trees, spraying the meadow with golden light. Sue always sits at the same bench near the pond so she can listen to the whispering of the reeds. She’s seen whole families of herons by that little pond. And it is quiet down there in the late afternoon. From the bench by the pond she can look beyond the river towards the high rise flat where she lives. And from the eleventh floor Denis can keep an eye on her too. Denis has always kept his eye on her, but he doesn’t know everything. She has friends on Chiffon Way and Angora Drive, and sometimes she sees them in the Old Pint Pot, but mainly it’s just her and Denis.
To get to the meadow she cuts down the cycle route instead of going via Blackburn Street. She has to be careful to cross on the sharp curve of road. On this occasion a car stops for a stray collie dog that clearly has somewhere to be. Sue crosses and looks up at the apple tree in one of the back gardens down there. She’s never seen a cyclist on the route and the road is scattered with broken glass. She follows the road round and finds herself by the bridge. She looks down at the swans that gather beneath it. The water is so shallow she can see tyres on the river bed. She follows along the river by the backs of houses, looking upriver at the weir that sparkles and crashes. She takes a right and then a left past the new houses, where a woman tending a newly-laid lawn ignores her as she walks slowly by. The people in the new houses don’t seem to know that it is okay to say ‘hello’. Sue thinks of how people are in such a rush these days. She was the same when she was younger, but she has forgotten.
She is not out of breath by the time she reaches the bench by the pond. That is the advantage of coming every day. She concentrates, and listens as the reeds brush together. Then she hears the crows calling out. They fly in pairs above the new-mown grass. How wonderful it must be to fly. It doesn’t matter to them if a lift breaks down. In a matter of seconds a crow can move from the meadow to the roof of the high rise.
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