For any of you in the North West area, my short story ‘Every Yesterday’ came third in this year’s short story competition. The story features in full on the magazine’s website and the printed version contains the judge’s thoughts on the top three stories. I’ve uploaded the full story below:
“Do you remember the very first time we sat here?”
Terry’s fingers entwined with mine and that old familiar frisson of warmth rippled through my skin.
“Of course, my love, as if it were yesterday,” I replied, closing my eyes and lifting my face to the early evening sunshine.
“I knew I was no match for some of the lads at the factory, with their looks and banter, but I could always rattle on about history to cover me nerves. You learned so much that day about the history of Parkgate, you said I was the brainiest fella you’d ever dated.”
Terry inhaled and even behind closed lids I could see the swell of his chest as he straightened his back. Always a proud man.
“That’s why I brought you here … to try and impress you,” he added. “And it proper worked …”
“And you, as I recall, were equally impressed I’d got Lennon and McCartney’s autographs at The Cavern the week before.”
Terry laughed and my breath caught in my throat. I’d loved that laugh for more than forty years.
“That was the only reason I asked you out, you know, see if I could get my hands on your autograph collection.”
I aimed a swipe at his head and missed. “And the only reason I said yes was to have a go on your motorbike.”
He laughed again. “Happy times, though, eh Trish?”
I nodded. “Hell, yes. The best.”
“I’ll never forget those Sundays.” Terry laced his fingers behind his head and my hand was suddenly cold and empty. “Eating chips or ice creams, not even talking, just taking in the clean air and the view. Worlds apart from Liverpool … yet only a stone’s throw across theMersey.”
The vast greenness of the distant Welsh hills drew my eyes as they rose through the heat haze like some magical mountains of a far-off land in a children’s novel. A different world to the industrial Merseyside where we’d grown up.
“I think it was down to me Da’ bringing me here as a nipper that got me into local history,” said Terry, interrupting my thoughts. “I mean, how can you imagine this tiny place being a bigger port thanLiverpoolin its day?”
“I know. It’s so beautiful and peaceful.”
Between us and the Welsh hills, theDeeestuary spread like a sea of melted chocolate, glinting way off to our right, where the incoming tide met the mudflats. Birds of all shapes and sizes, from swallows to herons, swooped high in the sky or picked their way across the silt on legs as thin as knitting needles, filling the air with distinctive calls and chatter. One time I’d brought a book fromBootlelibrary and we’d spent a whole afternoon trying to identify the different birds. The day ended in tears of laughter as Terry made up the most ridiculous names for make-believe birds that he tried to convince me were rare sightings – and I’d almost fallen for it too.
“I still struggle to imagine all those hundreds of people leaving from this little port to start new lives inIrelandandAmerica,” Terry continued with a shake of his head. “Fascinates me, it does. I only wish I’d been a writer, it would have made a terrific film.”
“Yes, I wonder what stories this little place could tell if only it had a voice.”
“Every town has a voice, Trish. It’s just a case of finding it and listening.”
“Well, Parkgate will always be special to me, with or without its history – because it’s the place I fell in love with you, Terence Hawthorne.”
Terry snaked an arm around my shoulder and planted a kiss on my forehead. “Ah, god bless you, doll. You make an old man very happy.”
I settled my cheek against the warm tweed of his shoulder and allowed the tide of memories to wash over me. Distant traces of Yellow Submarine. Terry singing ‘In My Life’ at the top of his voice as the bike sped down leafy green lanes … There are places I remember … all my life …
The blare of the factory clock signalling the end of the working day. BabyGary’s first laugh, how it had struck a chord deep inside me and evoked a love so powerful it left me weak. Train chugging on the tracks as it pulled away from Bootle Station, carrying us off to holidays inBangor, never straying far from our belovedLiverpoolBay.
Someone shook my shoulder and I forced my eyes open.
“Time to go, Mrs Hawthorne. The coach’s ready to leave. We have to get back for tea.”
“No, sweetie, it’s Sally. You’ve nodded off and you’re all confused. Come on, take my arm. Time to say Cheerio to Terry for now.”
Smooth fingers closed over twisted, leathery talons I hardly recognised as my own.
I frowned. “Terry?”
The grip tightened as I eased myself to my feet.
“No, it’s Sally. Come on, it’s okay now. Don’t worry, we’ll come back and see Terry next month, I promise. Say goodbye for now, sweetie.”
The fog of my thoughts lifted, replaced by the blur of tears. I kissed my fingers and pressed the tips to the shiny bronze plaque on the back of the bench.
‘To Terry. Who loved this place. For every yesterday. With Love, Tricia.’
I looked out at theDeeheading inland on its journey towards high tide, the repetitive cycle of life and time, the rising green Welsh hills on the far shore …
‘There are places I remember … All my life, though some have changed.’ I hummed the missing words. ‘Some are dead and some are living … In my life I’ve loved them all …’
… and finally back to the little bronze plate.
“Goodbye, my love,” I whispered. “Until next month.”