The 771: Manchester and the North – Part Three.

By Jay St John Knight.

Part three in a series of posts from my third year creative writing portfolio produced for my dissertation. This portfolio was comprised of a series of short stories from a variety of narrative points of view leading up to, and surrounding, a fixed event to provide a puzzle-like fragmented narrative on an ill-fated coach journey upcountry.


Henry Blackner.

The sweet and alluring smell of honeysuckle wafted down the short garden path as Henry locked the car and picked up his work bag. It was so powerful that he paused for a moment, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath before walking up the garden towards his house. Jangling keys rang out across the street like the shuffle of shackled feet as Henry tried to pick out his front door key in the dark, eventually finding it and ramming it into the lock. Before he pushed the door open, he silently prayed for a peaceful night, one free of arguments and snide digs. His marriage, after thirty seven years, was finally on shaky grounds. It wasn’t even a painful thought anymore; they weren’t the same people that walked down the aisle just days after his twentieth birthday. They used to be devoted to each other, symbiotic; living in a cushioned bubble only big enough for the two of them. Now they were two very different people, strangers that happened to live in the same house and their cosy bubble had burst, letting a grim void grow between them.

He breezed in and began taking off the trappings of his day. Henry was a coach driver; his job involved long hours of monotonous motorways and stopping off at service stations and depots to swap passengers. Years ago he used to be a bar manager at a reasonably swanky inner city hotel, before the drink got out of control and cost him his job. The drink had cost him a lot in the past: friends, family, job prospects, and his self-respect had all fallen victim to his past inability to put down the bottle. But all that had changed; he’d turned it around and had been clinging desperately onto sobriety like a stranded sailor on a piece of flotsam for the last seven years. He had his slip ups on the way, rare relapses that served to remind him why sobriety was so important.

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The 771: Manchester and the North – Part Two.

By Jay St John Knight.

Part two in a series of posts from my third year creative writing portfolio produced for my dissertation. This portfolio was comprised of a series of short stories from a variety of narrative points of view leading up to, and surrounding, a fixed event to provide a puzzle-like fragmented narrative on an ill-fated coach journey upcountry.


Charlie Edmundson.

Grey clouds hung menacingly in the sky as the afternoon rush hour traffic crawled out of the towering city. Tendrils of slow-moving cars spread out through the narrow streets and onto the main roads and dual carriageways, which themselves led to the suburban outskirts that gave life to the bustling metropolis. Cyclists weaved in and out of traffic like skittish minnows down urban streams and, under the streets where the city above is a constant hum, trains packed with blank faces wormed through tunnels, periodically stopping to spew a handful of dreary coated passengers onto a platform before carrying on into the gloom. A man stood partially leaning against a lamp post watching the oncoming traffic for a hulking coach that would take him upcountry. The pavement under his feet rumbled as one of the bloated metallic earthworms snaked away below him and a pair of pigeons fought over a discarded deli sandwich wrapper that had fallen out of the nearby bin. He was a skulking and gaunt man with thin black hair, wearing the monotone greys of corporate office buildings and wrapped in a black coat that he seemed lost in. In one hand he clutched a small briefcase that was filled with countless documents of garbled digits and graphs and the other, a black umbrella ready to ward off the perpetual dreariness that hung about above.

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The 771: Manchester and the North – Part One.

By Jay St John Knight.

Part one in a series of posts from my third year creative writing portfolio produced for my dissertation. This portfolio was comprised of a series of short stories from a variety of narrative points of view leading up to, and surrounding, a fixed event to provide a puzzle-like fragmented narrative on an ill-fated coach journey upcountry.


The Man on the Bridge – 1

He parked his Porsche up in an industrial estate on the outskirts. The noise of his phone vibrating in the glove box hadn’t stopped since he’d ran out of the back doors of the office two hours ago and it bored through his mind like a drill. As he turned the engine off the roar of the nearby motorway soothed him, like the cathartic cascade of an isolated moorland river…

Julia Vlinderstorm.

A white-faced clock silently clicked forwards a minute as it hung stoic above the exit of the station. People slipped and slid passed as Julia made her towards the escalator, faces downcast and preoccupied and faces staring out confused and frantic, with everyone trying to carve their way through the chaotic flow. She was running early somehow, twelve minutes to be precise, despite the reputation of Britain’s railway system. She didn’t have much luggage, just a well-made rucksack filled with her bare essentials: some clothes and toiletries, a few notepads and sketch books, some pencils, charcoals, brushes, water colours and an extremely well read copy of Sylvia Plath’s Collected Poems that looked like it had served time in the French Foreign Legion. It was a short walk from the station to where her coach was departing, so she decided to stroll down the street at a gentle pace and take in the surroundings. Cars hurried passed and flocks of small birds flew about in the distance so far away that they looked like tiny insects crawling across the sky. Across the street, between two gnarled oak trees that were set in the pavement sat a little florist’s shop with a multitude of different flowers layered up in shiny metallic buckets. A hand painted sign above the door had the name Flora’s Flowers in a vibrant indigo and, around the very edges, the paint had begun to crack and blister. Julia crossed the road, she had plenty of time and the quaintness of the little florist persuaded her to buy some flowers for Michelle and her husband.

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One Night By the Sea.

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By Jay St John Knight.

A short story written as a creative response to Eva Figes’ novel Light.


The noise of the waves lapping against the beach drowned out the crunch of the shingle under his feet as he got about setting up the tripod. He extended the three slender black legs and planted them firmly into the lose stones with a stab. Next, he moved over to his rucksack, unzipping the main compartment to reveal the tools he had at his disposal: three separate camera lenses within their padded compartments, along with two camera bodies in their respective cells, and several boxes of film of varying grain. The sun was low on the horizon; already the golden sky had streaks of scarlet running through it like a celestial hand had squeezed a blood orange and its juice had splashed across the sky. Judging by the sun he had about twenty minutes to work with before it would fully set and darkness reclaimed the world and, with that in mind, he picked out the larger of the two bodies, his cherished digital camera, and felt the surprising lightness of it considering the camera’s size. Without much thought he reached into the bag for his favourite lens: a wide angle Nikkor that he’d spent several months working late shifts in a supermarket to save up for. He delicately lined up the pins on the mount and twisted the lens into place on the camera body before securing it to his tripod.

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Today.

By Jay St John Knight.

Today’s the day. Liberation from this quilted prison of undulating sheets and pillows. Emancipation from this reclusive envelope of solid planes that I call home. I’m going to do it. I’m going to place my hand firmly on the handle to my front door and break the seal, burst through into the real world; actually feel the invigorating glow of sunlight on my skin that’s not been diffused and mediated through the barrier of my double glazed windows. I’m going to walk the beating; breathing streets bathed in golden light and not be a ghostly ethereal refraction watching from a prison of glass. I’m going to stand outside and feel the crystalline, cold rain on my bare face; feel the wild and unrelenting breeze tussle through my hair. I’m going to run through the heaped up autumnal drifts of bronze and auburn leaves I can see in the park from my window; trudge across the open grass lawns after its rained, spraying mud up my trousers and caking my shoes in wet earth. I’m going to do it. I’m going to walk up the road to the pub, stroll up to the bar with a beaming smile, proud as an Oscar winning actor, and order a drink without having the barman stare at me like I was talking some alien language of guttural stops and starts. I’ll walk down to the beach; kick off my shoes, then pull off my socks and stand at the shoreline as the freezing cold waves lap over my toes, watching the foam of the sea ebb and flow before me. I’m going to hop between rock pools with bare, sandy feet and carefully upturn stones to find crabs that I’ll pluck out of the water with my fingers pinched behind their ears. I’ll stand on the rocks that jut out into the ocean and feel the tempest of the sea against me; the minute specks of spray from the frosted tips of the waves gathering like drops of perspiration on my cheeks and clouding my eyes. I’m going to do it. I’m going to get up early one morning and clamber up the headland that I can see from my window rising up above the rooftops; I’ll watch the first rays of dawn creep across the landscape like a fist uncurling and sip steaming tea from the heavy, blue flask that gathers dust at the back of my cupboard. I’m going to shatter this safe and comfortable microcosm that I have built up around me, my bubble within a bubble. I’m going to do it. I will do it. Maybe tomorrow.

Well…

Its the first post on this newfangled blog creation of mine and I figure I should probably introduce myself a tad. I am Jay, and this opus of mine is my way of sharing and promoting my writing with the innumerable grey faces of the internet. I’ve just recently graduated from an English with Creative Writing degree course and am now currently studying for an MA in Professional Writing so the need to showcase my writing is more prominent than ever. Anyway, enough about me, peruse this blog and see what odd abstractions lurk within – maybe you’ll even find something enjoyable. Maybe you won’t.