Lockdown writers’ work will be hidden throughout Argyll

Bethan Neil, left, and Julie Forrester, right, were the winners of the lockdown writing competition.
Bethan Neil, left, and Julie Forrester, right, were the winners of the lockdown writing competition.

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Writing submitted to a lockdown short story competition, run by Kintyre’s Argyll and Bute Council Community Learning Team in partnership with Found Fiction, will be left in secret spots around Argyll to be discovered.

The winners of the competition, Bethan Neil, aged 11, from Benderloch, and 64-year-old Julie Forrester, from Dunoon, were revealed last week.

The project has been supported from the outset by bestselling crime writer Denzil Meyrick, originally from Campbeltown, and the winning stories will be featured on his publisher’s website at www.polygonbooks.co.uk

The competition was run with the aim of encouraging people locally to get creative and focus on a positive activity during lockdown, to overcome the stresses and upheavals it may have caused.

When it is safe to do so – when there is no chance of Covid cross-contamination – all the stories that were submitted will be printed, put into envelopes and distributed in random spots throughout the area for people to find and enjoy. Found Fiction specialises in this type of guerrilla publishing, with the aim of connecting readers and writers across the world.

Bethan Neil’s short story, The Wave Seeker, was printed in last week’s Courier. This week, we share Julie Forrester’s winning entry.

June on the Beach by Julie Forrester

A June evening in West Bay. That rare kind of sunset that doesn’t just appear in the west but colours the clouds in every direction. The water is calm, with ripples stroking the shore.

Davie sees the beauty of his surroundings but it doesn’t lift his melancholy. Living by himself during lockdown, he’s felt increasingly lonely. He walks down onto the beach and starts to pick out stones for skimming. The beach is full of them – thin grey ovals that fit comfortably in the hand, just waiting to be flicked and bounced across the waves.

He aims one stone and it skims across the water three times, as a blur of grey streaks from behind him into the water, splashes and then emerges, resolving itself into a small wet dog which triumphantly drops the stone back at Davie’s feet. The dog crouches and wags its tail expectantly. It looks up at him, back to the stone and then stares at him again with so much hope that Davie cannot help but smile and toss the stone again.

The wee dog leaps into the sea after the stone. This time when it swims out, it fails to find anything, but that doesn’t seem to matter – it still comes back to Davie. Panting, with its mouth open, it looks like the dog is laughing, and the impression is even stronger when the dog shakes a surprisingly large quantity of water off its coat and all over Davie.

Now a woman is running towards them both, shouting: ‘June, June, come here, you naughty dog!’ A little out of breath, she stops a few feet away and starts to apologise to Davie. But how can he be annoyed when June is now lying contentedly across one of his feet, as if that’s how things ought to be?

He and June’s owner introduce themselves. They walk back along the beach together, as June runs in ever-widening rings around them, and barks in a way that might just be self-congratulatory. Ann says she walks her dog along West Bay every evening, and will they see him again tomorrow? Suddenly, Davie’s life feels less lonely.

CAPTIONS:

Bethan Neil wrote The Wave Seeker. NO_c43writingbethanneil01

Julie Forrester penned June on the Beach. NO_c43writingjulieforrester01