Tuesday 22 December 2015

Day 22: What's in a name? by Vanessa Horn

The idea for my Snowflake story came about when I thought how strange it would be if someone was taken to Heaven too soon, due to an administrative error which was out of his control. This then led to me wondering exactly what would happen in that situation and how – if at all - it could possibly be resolved.

My normal style of writing is quite quirky (or so I have been told). Twenty-two of my stories have been published by Alfie Dog Fiction – entitled ‘Eclectic Moments’, the book is a collection of short stories based on the different dilemmas – both small and large - faced by people in their everyday lives.
Examples of storylines include the reunion of two friends after one of them has suffered a breakdown; a young boy’s search for a butterfly to help his family; a girl’s pursuit of sanctuary in surprising places; a woman faced with the problem of how to dispose of her husband’s body.    

The genre of the book is that of linked literary short stories and these include studies of family conflict, mental illness, murder, loneliness. I wanted to create a selection of narratives which examine – sometimes subtly, sometimes humorously – the sort of situations that people could find themselves in at some point in their lives.

I write in the library at the front of my house, where I can look out of the window and watch the birds if I need inspiration, and I tend to write first thing in the morning, whenever possible. 

An extract from What's in a name? 

It was very sudden, I’ll grant you that; one moment I was staring out of the office window, calculating how many more minutes until I could nip out for my ciggie break and the next… well, to put it bluntly, I was dying! Truthfully, when the mist had swirled around me, I’d thought – as would be perfectly natural on a Friday morning – I was just daydreaming. Albeit realistically. After all, I wasn’t expecting this; I wasn’t ill, involved in an accident or even that old! Anyhow, this pastel haze was quickly followed by short cinematic-type excerpts. Of my life. The good bits, the bad bits, even the mediocre bits. By then, of course, I knew I was in trouble – we’ve all heard all about those moments just before death, when your life is projected before you. In order for you to take stock, I suppose. So now it was just a question of waiting for the bright light and guardian angel to appear and that was me. Done.
Not that I wasn’t annoyed about this occurrence. If I’d had time to gather my thoughts rationally, I’d definitely have been peeved that I was dying way before I was ready (although I suppose most people would say that). But equally, I’d have berated myself at my lack of achievement in life; the things I hadn’t done, hadn’t said, hadn’t realised. The usual really. But, as I said before, it was all happening so fast. Too fast.
And before I could even protest, there he was – my guardian angel! Or so I assumed, he being the only person travelling towards me on a strong beam of radiance with his arms outstretched. Wide smile on his face. Although he was rather shabbily clothed, to be truthful - not quite what you’d expect. Man at Oxfam I’d have described him, if pushed to do so. Still, it didn’t do to be too picky about these things; I myself was not the sharpest dresser in my work or social circle. Good clothes didn’t necessarily maketh the man, after all.
 Before I could so much as pose a question, or even comment on this turn of events, the slightly dishevelled – angel? - grabbed my hand and quickly led me into the beam of light. Whereupon we were whizzed upwards. And innerwards too, if that makes sense. Next thing I knew, we were standing outside an impressive pair of golden gates surrounded by whirling clouds and mists of sorbet-delicious colours. In front of this entrance was an elderly man, sporting a long beard and carrying a bejewelled clipboard. All rather clich├ęd, I felt at this point. And still incredibly dream-like; I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d blinked and suddenly found myself back at the office, still staring out of the window. But I didn’t. Couldn’t.
The older man peered at me curiously, from head to toe. Then slowly shook his head. Frowning deeply, he turned to address my scruffy companion, his voice low and resonating. “He’s not expected.”
Now I was the one to frown (though probably not so impressively). I turned to my scruffy companion – now to be referred to as SC. My voice came out shakily and at least a semitone higher than normal. “What does he mean, not expected?

About the author 

Vanessa Horn is a Junior School teacher who first became interested in writing in 2012, when she took a sabbatical year off from work. Since then, she has written several hundred stories, some of which have been published in magazines, and others having won prizes in competitions. In July, a collection of twenty-two of her short stories – ‘Eclectic Moments’ - was published by Alfie Dog Fiction.



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