Monday, 20 March 2017

Cathedral Stories, by Hannah Stevens

On Friday 3rd March Leicester Cathedral became a gateway to an alternate universe, a place where hidden treasure was discovered, where angels fell to earth, where wooden carvings began to talk.

As part of the BBC Storytelling Festival over 100 children from local schools joined lecturers, tutors and writers from the University of Leicester’s School of Arts for a Flash Fiction workshop. Using objects and artefacts all around the cathedral as inspiration, the young people wrote their own flash fiction (or very short stories) and shared their work to applause from the rest of the crowd.

Here is a story inspired by the Ypres Cross in the Cathedral:

The Ypres Cross

I visit the cathedral every week. I come to see the Ypres cross, to touch the glass that covers it, keeps it safe.

The broken beads wound around the crucifix remind me of the beads my grandmother used to wear.  She wore them for special occasions: for nights she wanted to feel beautiful. She looped the string around her throat and they looked pale against the dark blue of her blouse.

Next she added colour to her cheeks, lipstick to her mouth. She knew her own face well and did this with precision. Later, she slipped a shawl over her shoulders, stepped out to dance with her friends.

My grandmother doesn’t wear her beads anymore. She cannot walk, doesn’t have the strength to lift her legs. She spends her days in bed now, dying slowly from something they cannot cure.

Sometimes she asks me to put powder across her cheeks, to fetch a mirror so she can see. She tells me how she loves to dance and she asks me for her beads.

When I tell her that the beads are broken, that she cannot dance tonight, she begins to cry.

I wipe her tears with my hand, say I love her, but she looks confused. My grandmother doesn’t know who I am. She doesn’t remember me. But she remembers her beads. How they felt cool on her neck and how they moved against the dark blue of her blouse as she danced.

Hannah Stevens

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