One of the wonderful contributions to June’s Inspiration Challenge was the start of a story by writer Amanda Addison. You may remember that I shared an excerpt of the text in the Inspiration Challenge blog post which focused on projects inspired by beach huts and now I want to share the rest of the prose that Amanda submitted so that you can enjoy her writing for yourself.
Samantha hangs up her wetsuit. The wind’s getting up and whistles in through the gaps in the wooden walls. Impatient and still breathing heavily from her swim, she turns her head and drips water from her sandy coloured hair onto the patchwork, forcing her to grab the beach towel and rub her hair dry before she can begin. She moves the fabric around on the little white plastic table and tacks another section of the pale blue cotton – whose former life was a bed sheet – onto the patchwork.
She shivers, throws a fleece on over her jeans and tunic and gets up and lights the Primus stove. Whoever composed the motto a watched kettle never boils must have been making a brew whilst camping, or in a beach hut. She returns to the quilt and is a couple of stitches away from completing another panel when the kettle whistles and she starts.
‘Matty!’ gasps Sam. With one hand she pours water into the mug and with the other she rummages for her phone and keys in a text. He’d be proud of his mother’s skills, both holding the phone and texting with one hand. She clicks send, knowing full well she shouldn’t fuss her son, he’s almost an adult. He is an adult. She wonders what she’s doing sending him reminders to get to work on time. Is she being a hypocrite? She’s usually one of the first to join in the conversation about incapable teenagers, how young they all seemed these days. But like many parents she’s tried to make up for things. To make up for her own youth, her own incapable mother.
Sam sips her tea and can’t resist raiding her secret biscuit tin for a Tunnock’s marshmallow – her favourite. After all she’s earned it. Swimming in the North Sea in November should have burned up a few calories. Sam unwraps the silver and red packaging and lays it out flat wondering if she could stitch it into her patchwork. Unfortunately the metallic colours don’t complement the blues and pastels of the beach hut design. She tucks it into the side of her plastic ‘bags for life’. For another project.
She rummages around in the lucky dip and pulls out a square of blue and white twill and immediately remembers starting sixth form at the posh girls’ school. You had to buy the blue and white twill fabric and make your own skirt. The day before school started she still didn’t have a uniform. That night Dad came home with an old sewing machine he’d borrowed from someone at work and three yards of the herringbone weave from Palmers department store. They’d sat up to the early hours, Dad cutting out the fabric and Sam machining it together. It was always Dad who looked after me, she thinks. The twill is discarded, too heavy and frays too much.
She dips into the bag again. What she really needs is a section of yellow. She pulls out some old yellow leggings. She holds them against her. The egg yolk yellow clashes perfectly with her purple fleece. The leggings, like a piece of music or a long forgotten smell take her back to the early 1990s. Did she really wear yellow leggings with a black leotard? She’s back on a step board wearing yellow and black, flailing around to Madonna like a demented wasp? Times have changed. Nowadays everyone does Zumba.
Her hand runs across the yellow Lycra and begins to tremble. Why is her body letting her down, revealing feelings from the past that are best left in the past? Is the past always best bagged up and put away? She hadn’t worn those leggings since she went to Amsterdam – when she was Matty’s age.
All that is left of her Amsterdam days was in the diary, or so she’d thought. She gazes up at the wooden shelf and pulls some books forward to reveal her teenage diary. She can’t resist taking down the diary down from the shelf and slumping into the deck chair. She flicks through the faded pages, looking for his name, the street, the café they used to visit – all written in the strange language of from just across the North Sea.
It’s getting late, the nights are drawing in. In the twilight she copies the words, words which are heavy and full of her past, down on the back of a supermarket receipt. She’s about to put the diary back on the shelf, back in its usual hiding place behind an out of date Rough Guide to Amsterdam and last month’s book club novel, when she has a change of plan. Moreover, a change of heart. She pops the diary and the travel guide on top of her scrap bag, throws the quilt on top, shuts up the hut and sets off across the beach for home.
Copyright Amanda Addison
Ooh I just want to read more! I hope this will turn into a book, because I’m already hooked and want to learn more about Samantha’s life! I’ll certainly be first in the queue to buy it if it grows into a new novel. Amanda is the author of one of my favorite books Laura’s Handmade Life and if you’ve not already read it, get yourself a copy – it’s the perfect summer read and I’ll certainly be re-reading my copy during the holidays! And make sure you check out Amanda’s website www.amandaaddison.com for information on her articles, craft projects and reviews.
Get involved in this month’s Inspiration Challenge and get crafty with the theme for July: Maneki Neko Lucky Cats
Other Inspiration Challenge articles
- June’s Inspiration Challenge update and new inspiration for July (cassiefairy.com)
- May’s Inspiration Challenge update and new inspiration for June (cassiefairy.com)
- Don’t forget May’s inspiration challenge – vintage sewing machines (cassiefairy.com)
- Inspiration Challenge for May – get involved! (cassiefairy.com)