An ordinary day dawned. The sky blossomed deep cherry before clouding over marshmallow white. I had things on my mind: the hike in the price of milk, which I get delivered in bottles to my door; the overpowering smell of last night’s smoked haddock when I opened the bin to dispose of my teabag; the still-missing teenager last seen over a week ago as she made her way home at midnight.
I decided to take my stick today as my knee was threatening to do its collapsing routine. I walked a few yards from my front door to the spot where the wider pavement and distance from the swerve in the road make it safer. I looked both ways then crossed when it was clear. The Victorian park with its circumference of iron railings opens its gates from early morning to dusk. I entered.
I made my way, gingerly, up the gentle green knoll towards the walled garden, my favourite haunt, eager to check if any of yesterday’s buds had opened. As I came closer to the old flint wall, I stopped in my tracks at the sight of an opening I’d never previously noticed. I bent down to take a closer look. I was not mistaken. There was a gap in the wall which looked like it was made for a child. The top was level with my stomach. The width looked like it would allow a determined human to squeeze through.
Click here to download the full text of the short story Monkey Puzzle.
Click here to go to Shekhinah, which is part of the Women Who Dare collection.
Monkey Puzzle is a short story inspired by a creative writing class exercise to use ‘magic realism’. It was a joyous process to play with language and imagination without having to stay within the realms of realism.
It also aligned with my personal interest in the work of women surrealist artists, in particular the painter and writer Leonora Carrington who chose to spend most of her life in Mexico inventing a rich world of fantastical creatures and challenging our concept of the ordinary. My poem Shekhinah celebrates her life and work.