Drawing the Curtain by Michael Loveday

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After departing in a blaze of mediocrity, Graham Vasey returned to St. Joseph’s Junior School only twice in his life.

The first time, it was being renamed the Graham Vasey Junior School, in dedication to his Booker Prize-winning success. He had sprung from such humble origins; he thanked his schooldays, in several interviews, as a formative influence. A rope was tugged, a curtain opened on a sombre grey plaque engraved with his name and a brief explanation for future generations.

It was a miserable little place, really, though he kept the fact locked inside. Prefab buildings, a drab concrete quadrangle: so much smaller than he remembered. The ceremony ended with stilted chitchat in the Headmistress’s office, and a too-dry Amontillado that burned his throat.

The second time, he returned unannounced, late in his life, a career of glories spread-eagled behind him, mingled with the usual dissatisfactions. He wandered into the school grounds and found a seat on a shabby wooden bench, not far from where the curtain had been pulled aside all those years before. Perhaps, in some way, those months had proved the high-point of his life.

He closed his eyes and drifted into a haze of far-off images: delicious thefts of chocolate biscuits when on milk duty, and daydreaming through classroom windows, yearning for the playing fields.

Out in those fields, he’d flunked his tests but cultivated the daring of his imagination. He’d conquered the literary terrain through long effort, yes, but also through a visionary cunning. No one need know the truth of how.

A rough hand on his shoulder roused him.

“Move along now,” a teacher said. Her voice was as rough as her hand. “You can’t sleep here.”

*****

Michael Loveday

Michael Loveday’s hybrid novella-in-flash Three Men on the Edge (V. Press, 2018) was shortlisted for the 2019 Saboteur Award for Best Novella. He is currently completing a flash fiction collection on the theme of secrets. He also writes poetry, with a pamphlet He Said / She Said published by HappenStance Press (2011). More at: https://michaelloveday.com/
Here’s a link to the publisher to purchase Three Men on the Edge:
My Twitter handle: @pagechatter
Here’s a link to Michael’s previous story at STORGY:

Cover Image by Leroy_Skalstad

pencil


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