Focus Magazines The local magazines for Abergavenny, Crickhowell, Brecon & Talgarth – Events, News and Advertising

Congratulations to Chris Edmondson, the winner of our Short Story Competition that we launched last month in partnership with Bookish Bookshop in Crickhowell, in celebration of National Short Story Week 2012 which takes place between 12th – 18th November. We are delighted to publish Christine’s story, entitled ‘Willow’ which is both a beautiful and intriguing piece of fiction that we felt our readers would enjoy. Thank you to all those who took the time to send their entries to us. As usual the decision was a tough one, but we enjoyed reading all the fine stories submitted.


By Chris Edmondson
I’d never noticed him before. That night he was in the Union with the rugby crowd, which was probably why I’d never taken any notice. I was sitting reading in the bar while I waited for my lift; she had a late tutorial. Something about the tone of someone’s laugh made me look up, and I saw him noticing me. I looked back as coolly as I could. I wasn’t available or interested; I’d only been married about two months. But he had nice eyes and good hair and it was reassuring to be noticed anyway. I went back to my book, conscious of their presence for a while, but then, involved in the story again, I forgot them and couldn’t tell you if they were still there when Stella came to find me and we headed home.

That night he entered my dream. We were together in a huge, empty old house with lots of staircases, alcoves, passages and empty rooms. We played a fantastic extended game of hide and seek, running from each other and indicating our whereabouts and direction of travel by singing, or sometimes whistling, the chorus from Steeleye Span’s “All around my hat, I will wear the green willow” which had been in the charts a few months before. We never kissed, we never hugged, only the merest touch of fingers, but we shrieked and laughed and in my dreams I felt the unmistakable, certain knowledge of real happiness. It was strangely disturbing. I didn’t even know his name, though I thought I’d heard someone call him Rhys, and that was how I thought of him.

The dream returned to me once more that night and again a couple of times each week for the next month or so. Always the same man, always the same house and the same game. Always the same song. Always the same immediate knowledge that this was a small intimate space of extreme enjoyment, followed by the certainty that there was also a profound and disrupting danger. The house, which could have been built to a design by Escher, was crisp and clear in colour and texture. The game was fast, fresh and fascinating. Each time I woke up delighted, then soon felt anxious and confused. My dreams are often vivid and I remember many of them clearly but this was on another level. I was amazed that the pre-occupation I was feeling appeared to go un-noticed by anyone, even my new husband. The song, especially the chorus, played in my head relentlessly.

I never bumped into him in college. He was in the year above mine, and studying sports education. Our paths didn’t cross – I didn’t live in, so it was rare for me to go to the Union at all, never mind the bar. But one day I forgot my sandwiches, and went to the Union shop for a packet of crisps and an apple. As I was handing over the coins in payment, I became aware of someone close behind me. He was whistling softly. “All around my hat, I will wear the green willow”. The hairs rose on the back of my neck. I turned around slowly, with my little bag of snacks in my hand. It was Rhys. He stopped whistling and winked, quickly, with a small secret smile. We didn’t speak.

I saw him again, maybe three times more, before he finished his course. He always said hello, and always whistled the first few bars of that chorus. I never found the courage to ask him. The dreams stopped. But whenever I hear that song, I see his face and stand again on the main staircase of the old stone house in an undiscovered garden, ready to run and hide, laughing as I go.

Please support our local businesses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.