I’ve been trying to find inspiration recently to start a new short story. It’s been so long since I’ve attempted to write any fiction, that I’ve started to question if I can actually do it! As 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, I thought I’d re-post The Shelter Boy, a short story I wrote a few years ago in which the narrator, Frank Abbott, is a former soldier who fought in WW1. How do you find story inspiration? I’d love to know!
‘Mr Abbott? Are you okay?’
My eyes open. A boy is watching me; I’m coughing.
‘Yes, yes. Sorry, David, I’m fine.’ I prise my face from the concrete wall and sit up straight, ‘Must have dozed off for a minute there.’ The boy is staring, his eyes fearful. I smile. ‘I’ve told you a million times, haven’t I? Call me Frank.’
He is shy, the boy. He wriggles back across the hard floor towards his sister and busies himself with a blanket, wrapping it tightly around the girl’s sleeping body.
I rearrange myself, tightening my coat. In the darkness, pockets of ethereal light illuminate snatches of people – crumpled bodies, tired faces – but amid the melee, as dust and dirt flutters between the candlelight, I struggle to locate the boy’s mother.
‘She’s still upstairs,’ he says, when I ask.
‘In the flat?’
‘She said she’d rather…
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