The 771: Manchester and the North – Part Four.

By Jay St John Knight.

The final part 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 – 3

…The flyover was a two minute walk from the car park; he’d driven passed it on the way. When he got there he remembered being six, stood on the bridge at Clearbrooke with his father throwing sticks into the river and racing to the other side to see which one emerged first. He smiled and dropped his phone over the edge, half expecting it to be swept away in the urban river below and not smashed to pieces under relentless tyres of the cars flowing beneath…

Theo Harley.

Theo grabbed his ticket out of his wallet and made sure he had picked up all his bags. His mum’s voiced echoed in his head, telling him to make sure he had everything with him and to keep his coach ticket safe. She was always a nag, and an annoying one at that, but it was only because she was always right. That’s the annoying thing about mums thought Theo, they’re always right at the end of the day. He stepped onto the coach and climbed the steps to the driver. He was an old man in comparison to Theo’s measly seventeen years, at least in his fifties, and he had a horribly disgruntled look about him. His eyes had that slight glaze that you see when people are either sick, drunk or worried about something and his complexion seemed to shift from being pallid to flushed. Theo thrust out his ticket to the driver who took it from him bluntly and stamped it, before thanking him and strolling down the aisle to find a seat. He was on his way to Manchester to see his dad for the weekend. He hadn’t seen his dad for the best part of a month now and he was surprised at how much he actually missed him, ever since his parents had split he still harboured a bitter resentment towards his dad for abandoning him and his mum but even that was starting to fade. Theo put it down to growing up, maturing; he was seventeen now and pretty much a man he thought. He couldn’t bear grudges for that long and the clichéd line ‘You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family’ seemed to revolve around inside his head like some sort of catchy advert jingle for happy domestic families.

Continue reading

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading