Wednesday 20 December 2017

The Lone Valley by Clare Weze

Clare Weze has been writing fiction for most of her life, starting as a child, and writes for both adults and children. She is a Northern Writers’ Award-winner (2016) and a runner-up in Unbound’s 2016 short story competition. Her work received a special mention in the Galley Beggar Press short story prize (2016), was longlisted in Fish Publishing’s short story contest (2016/17), and will appear in the next Bath Flash anthology (2017). An extract of one of her forthcoming children’s books is to be featured in Commonword’s anthology of ‘children’s writers to watch out for’.

Her short fiction has been published by Bridge House Publishing and Curiosity Quills Press. She is also the co-author and editor of Cloudscapes over the Lune, in aid of the children’s charities Make-A-Wish Foundation® and Rainbow Trust.
I knew immediately. That first day, before I even got my suitcases upstairs I knew it was a mistake. At the interview, she was just like she is on telly, and it was mega-quick, in a posh Mayfair hotel. All smiles she was, like when she’s reading the news, but when I got to her house in Chelsea a week later, it wasn’t her any more. She was someone else. Same face, but with … issues.

And I messed up. Her real name isn’t what you hear on telly. It’s Madelaine.

Laine,’ she said. ‘Not lin.’

We were in the kitchen and she was giving me what she called orientation.
I tried to be friendly. ‘Wasn’t there a song called Madelaine? K D Lang, was it?’ 

‘That was Chatelaine,’ she said, and she didn’t look too pleased. ‘I hear you’re quite a cook, Amber.’

She’d talked to Susanne, who I babysat for when I was still at school. Susanne can overdo things. Well, what was I supposed to say? I’d given it plenty of welly at the interview, so had to follow through. Interviews are a farce anyway. Everyone knows you just tell them what they want to hear.
I tried to turn into what she wanted, but my cooking wasn’t poncey enough. And anyway, I don’t see how you can be expected to keep a whole massive house clean and make something for tea as well. 

And she had people round to dinner loads, so it had to be perfect all the time, like a Spring Clean job. She did the cooking then, but I had to help and I didn’t understand what she was on about half the time. She called things funny names and used weird stuff. Quince paste. Candied orange peel. Where was I supposed to get those, and how would I even know what they looked like? I worked out that if I bought couscous and coleslaw and green gloop from the deli and put it in one of her fancy glass serving bowls she was cool, but when people were coming, she wanted a banquet.

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