A notable first collection.Christopher Norris

We went swimming, my daughter and I. She was twenty and a good swimmer. I didn’t need to keep an eye on her. I read on the beach while she went into the sea. From time to time, I lifted my eyes from my book and looked at her. She would smile and raise an arm, as if in greeting. Or perhaps she wanted to say, ‘Look at me,’ as children often do, seeking recognition even when they are past their childhood. The last time I saw her, the waves had grown and the choppy sea tossed her around playfully. One moment she was hidden under the foamy whiteness, another moment she was riding the crest of the waves, shimmering against the glistening surface of the water. I smiled and thought how much I loved her. This happy young woman. I wanted to shout how lovely she looked, but there was no point as my voice would have been lost in the crushing power of the sea. So I greeted her with my hand up in the air and went back to my reading. The next time I looked up, I couldn’t see her. I saw other swimmers, a dozen of them, enjoying the waves. I wanted to see her smiling and communicating her pleasure to me so I climbed a bridge next to where they were swimming. I still couldn’t spot her. A thought crossed my mind that she may have drowned. I have always been a worrier but sometimes your worst fears come true. I looked harder, I moved around the bridge but I still couldn’t see her. My chest tightened with fear. Was this really happening? Then I noticed a beautiful hair clasp, an antique piece that someone must have left there or, more likely, lost. The piece was lying on top of a stone pillar that formed part of the banister of the bridge. Cupping it in the palm of my hand, I caressed the pearly section held by its silver frame. The intricacy of its craft and the smoothness of the object charmed me. As I turned it around, sunshine played hide and seek on its surface. I would have loved to have it but the find was too valuable not to report. But something told me that I had the right to keep it. I clutched it firmly and walked home alone. I will be careful never to lose it.

from Temptation: A User’s Guide (Salt Publishing, £8.99)


Vesna_Main_290Vesna Main was born in Zagreb, Croatia. She is a graduate in comparative literature and has a PhD from the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham. She was a lecturer at universities in Nigeria and the UK and worked for the BBC. Her articles, reviews and short stories have appeared in newspapers and literary journals. Her published novels are A Woman With No Clothes On (Delancey Press, 2008) and The Reader the Writer (Mirador, 2015). Temptation: A User’s Guide is out now from Salt.
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Author portrait © Chris Gilbert