Kiss the Blind


, , , , , , , , , ,

Hand weakens resolve

Slips through my fingers

I cannot be

Perceptions of others

Vanish in daylight

So scentless the rose

The taste on my tongue

Reminds me of dreams

Beneath the bruise

Feelings of absence 

Drowning in platitudes

Still reaching out

Caverns uncharted

The blind kiss the blind

Lips dripping

Horizons a mirror

Footsteps untaken

A veil drawn over

Doorway that leads

Once more to the start

Across the Square


, , , , , , , ,

‘Across the Square’ is a short story taken from the collection ‘The Candle Game’ which is available as both a paperback and an ebook.

I hope that you enjoy it.

‘Of course I love you,’ you had said, and, at that moment I had, without the need for rationalisation, believed you.

‘Of course I love you,’ you had continued. ‘It goes without saying.’

But, I thought, if it goes without saying, then why would it need to be said; and, if it were not said, if those words that tumbled around us like mid-winter snow, had not been spoken, then would their meaning still exist? If you had not said, ‘I love you,’ then how else would you have made your feelings known; and if actions really do speak louder than the words that they emulate, then what actions could possible convey the meaning implied by them?

As you had said, ‘it goes without saying,’ I began to wonder what other feelings there might have been that had gone unspoken and what other truths had never found their way out into the light. And, if there were words that you had never spoken, words that I was supposed to have some implicit understanding of, then what would be my reply? How, I wondered, might I have responded to the words that you had left unsaid; how might the reactions and responses that I may have made changed the course of the events that had brought us to this point in time? And what of the words themselves, flying unrestrained through the air – where might they find themselves?

I had already shared experiences that were unexplained, moments when words fell into my ears without reason; moments when my thoughts shifted from track to track, unsettled by emotions that had arrived unexpected and uninvited. I began to wonder whether the language that we shared cast a stain upon the atmosphere, floated like dust particles in the light until it settled in darkened corners, slowly and inexorably building its meaning.

I was starting to picture entire lives constructed from the discarded words of others.  I feel like Strangers who met, sandwiched between the lost conversations of those who had previously passed that way.

‘I feel like I have known you forever,’ which, of course was true, because the words between them had belonged to others. How blissfully unaware they were, accepting with gratitude the silent sounds as they slipped like snakes along their aural canals, coiling themselves in comfort deep within the darkest recesses of foreign brains. Over time the words of someone else becoming indistinguishable from one’s own, until they escape the mouth, and find themselves once more borne upon the breeze.

We were sat on the Square, a wide, circular, well-grassed area, large enough to have once housed several post-war prefabricated buildings, but now defunct of purpose. The road that ringed us hummed with traffic as it arrived and then departed along the multitude of arms that connected the Square to the wider world. People criss-crossed the island, traversing its footpaths as they made short the work of moving from one shop to the next. They went about their business undisturbed by us as we sat in the Summer-warm grass, face to face, our fingers interlaced. I wanted to tell you every thought that entered my brain. I wanted you to feel every word that rattled through my head, but I knew that I would never let them go. Behind my eyes a new story had grown, developed from a few words into an entire novel. It had out-grown its opening and flowed into a mid-section crammed with description and action. Its plot held twists and turns, hope and disappointment, despair and success, and, finally, resolution. Like all good novels the story left scope for hope; a sense that the tale was not fully completed, leaving the reader with a glow of satisfaction at their own conclusion of it. I knew that no spoken words could ever accurately represent this images that I saw behind my eyes, but, despite my hope, I knew also that this was invisible to you.

I had seen my future in your eyes, and then left it to grow in your heart. I had always felt that without you it would fall apart, and, despite not feeling any shame, I was disappointed to realise that I had been wrong all along. Pages began to fall away from me and my resistance withered. I could sense new words starting to form themselves within my mind, replacing those that were now redundant, re-writing and editing the script even as I read it.

You stood up, hands outstretched, helping me to my feet. Your eyes were soft with a blend of sorrow and regret, but I knew that they masked a steely resolve. Mine reflected yours, except, for me, resolve was displaced by acceptance. I understood that behind your words was a meaning that, although perhaps neither of us wanted to accept, had been inevitable. I stood, holding your hands for a moment longer than was necessary and wondered why the prefabricated houses no longer stood where they once had. Perhaps they had merely been a metaphor for the relationship that we had shared – perhaps, once more, I was looking for meaning where there was none.

‘Of course I love you,’ you had said, and now those words, out at last into the blue, swallowed up a new resonance. They echoed now across the Square, a sense of sadness following them with a soft and whispered ‘but…’, a gentle sound that settled only momentarily on the ear. It swept over cars as they turned away along avenues that either led them home or severed them from the life that they wanted. It drifted on soundless wings through windows opened against the heat, tainting the warmth of the summer’s air. In distant kitchen women became stilled, knives held useless in their hands, half-sliced vegetables weeping water, as sudden thoughts of abandonment touched their minds. For the first time questions began to rise in their heads and tiny seeds of doubt or regret or mistrust began their search for a fertile ground in which to sink their roots. In teenage bedrooms darker music began to filter out across the Square, spreading melancholy and hopelessness – this was not to be the summer that had been longed for. A sense of despondency had begun to descend, spreading itself out like a blanket, smothering the shoots of youthful exuberance.

The action of an embrace, an embrace of farewell, no matter how amicably it was shared, was not enough to catch the words as they flew. It moved clumsily across the ground, stretching up and clawing desperately at the words as they drifted tantalisingly out of reach, before disappearing from sight with a mischievous wink. The embrace turned, defeated, but by the time it had we too had departed. For the last time I walked with you the streets that would lead you home, my words following me like fallen petals dying as they hit the ground behind me. I knew that they would guide me home once more, but I knew also that somehow my trust in them had died.

If some things truly went without saying, then why, I thought to myself as I crossed the Square one final time, should I be the one to give voice to them?







On Reading (part two – the books)


, , , , , , , , , ,

As promised here is the list of books to accompany ‘On Reading’ my post from Saturday.

I hope you got them all!

1. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
2. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
3. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky)
4.The 39 Steps (John Buchan)
5. The Trial (Franz Kafka)
6. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carrol)
7. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World (Haruki Murakami)
8. The Vegetarian (Han Kang)
9. The Castle of Crossed Destinies (Italo Calvino)
10. Hotel de Dream (Emma Tennant)

On Reading


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Just a bit of silliness, really, (the verse that is, not reading itself without which…).

Points will be awarded for anyone who can recognise the books from the (sometimes slightly obscure) precis. There are ten points up for grabs…but no prizes other than self-satisfaction!

I lost myself
Between the sheets
Lived each page and
Every beat,
I was the lover on the moor
The killer on the shore,
Sat in a garret wracked with shame
Keeping secrets on a train,
A man on trial without a charge
The girl both small and large,
The man with shadow never seen
A woman turning green,
My stories told in Tarot cards
Where dreams collide and play,
I lost myself
Between the sheets,
And found myself
Within the words.

Answers (for those interested) on Monday.

EBook Release


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

I am delighted to announce that ‘The Beautiful Silence‘, my second collection of short stories is now available to purchase as an ebook at all good outlets for just £2.99!

Thank you in advance and I hope that you enjoy the stories.

The Beautiful Silence‘ is the second collection of short stories to be published by Chris Nelson. It contains sixteen stories with each one focused around the impact of one event on its central character: some may be fantastical, some introspective and yet more haunting and disturbing.

The Smell of Cedar by River


, , , , , , ,

Just for a change (and in support of a few authors whose work I have been enjoying) I thought that I’d post a review a day for a week. Hopefully something might take your fancy!

The Smell of Cedar by River Dixon

The Smell of Cedar is an unsettling and unnerving psychological horror story made all the more believable by its backstory of abuse and control. For me the length is just right, with moments of reflection which help to not only explain the lead character’s past but also move the story along at a good pace.
River’s use of a nonlinear structure is both effective and skillfully employed and his careful use of description allows the reader to create a vivid scene whilst reading the story. At times I was not certain as to whether tense changes worked quite as effectively as they might have, but this is a minor issue and I am being, perhaps,  a little pedantic.
I do think, however, that the actions of the character Melanie, to whom we are introduced early on in the story, and which become clearer as the tale develops, add to the chilling (and all too real) possibility of history repeating itself. 
If you enjoy short, chilling and disturbing stories, then I would certainly recommend reading this.

You’ll Never Walk Alone by Chris Hall


, , , , , , , , ,

Just for a change (and in support of a few authors whose work I have been enjoying) I thought that I’d post a review a day for a week. Hopefully something might take your fancy!

You’ll Never Walk Alone by Chris Hall

Chris Hall writes with a style which can only be described as irresistible. From the very opening of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ until the closing sentence I was hooked and, like all of the other stories of hers that I have read, I simply didn’t want to put the book down.Written with great wit and humour, the story twists and turns, drawing new characters in as it unwinds, each of whom has their role to play. Without wanting to give too much away this is a story that is easy to imagine actually happening; the characters are all very real and three dimensional and some of the coincidences that occur along the way are very believable and, indeed, relatable.
Chris’s descriptions are vivid and clear, and certainly not over-worked, allowing the reader to easily form a visual narrative as they read. Would it help to have a little background knowledge of Britain in the 1980’s? Well, I’m not sure. Being British (and of an age) I found it easy to identify with the setting (even though my knowledge of Liverpool, where the story is set, is very limited), and I found myself chuckling at times at some of the references to which her characters allude: (‘You dancing?’ for example). So, in answer to the question, I would say not, such is the strength of the story.
There are moments within the story where I genuinely took a breath and thought ‘well, I didn’t see that coming’, which, if I’m honest, doesn’t happen that often.
And, of course, there’s a monkey! Who could say no?
This is a story that I know I will re-read over and over and, if you enjoy a good, realistic adventure (with just a hint of mysterious legend) then ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is the book you’ve been searching for. 
Highly recommended. 

Dead Souls by Andrew S French


, , , , , , , , , ,

Just for a change (and in support of a few authors whose work I have been enjoying) I thought that I’d post a review a day for a week. Hopefully something might take your fancy!

Dead Souls by Andrew S French

Dead Souls is a fine collection of supernatural stories each with an original and unique perspective. Very little about each of the stories is predictable which makes them a joy to read.None of the stories are overly graphic, focusing on the unsettling rather than relying on horror or gore for their impact, which makes them all the more interesting and satisfying.
If you are looking for short stories which are ghostly but thoughtfully written then I would highly recommend reading this collection.

Static Dreams – Tara Caribou (ed)


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Just for a change (and in support of a few authors whose work I have been enjoying) I thought that I’d post a review a day for a week. Hopefully something might take your fancy!

Static Dreams – various authors, edited by Tara Caribou

It would take a lot of searching, and even more page turning, to find a finer collection of dark tales than Static Dreams. From Mark Ryan’s quintessentially English story, which will make you think twice about visiting a charity shop, to Lou Rasmus’s chilling tale of a man’s decline to editor Tara Caribou’s own disturbing dystopian contribution, whose roots feel very close to home, this anthology features stories by some of the most original independent authors around.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

What’s more is that there is an equally impressive Volume 2 as well. Definitely worth checking out!

The Stories Inbetween by River Dixon


, , , , , , , , ,

Just for a change (and in support of a few authors whose work I have been enjoying) I thought that I’d post a review a day for a week. Hopefully something might take your fancy!

The Stories Inbetween by River Dixon

I will preface this review by saying that I read a lot of short stories.

Having got that out of the way I have to say that I have never read a collection so original, so cleverly written or so affecting as ‘The Stories Inbetween’. Whether it is the dark humour of stories like ‘The Example’, the superb literary idea behind ‘The Diner’ or the unsettling nature of ‘Conversations in the Mirror’, River Dixon has managed to craft a collection of stories which will stay long in the memory. His style is very much that of a writer’s writer, using prose effectively and succinctly and knowing exactly what to include and where to leave spaces for the reader to fill themselves.

Many of the stories contained here are darkly horrific, but benefit from River understanding precisely how much ‘gore’ is needed to maintain the effectiveness of the  story – yet I would not lump this collection in with a horror genre. It is far more than that. So many of the stories are both insightful of human nature and  indeed, thought-provoking, and this is, without doubt, a collection that I will read many times.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.