Heather Reid

Commendation, 2016

Excerpt from 'Junk'

It wasn’t that he’d expected applause or gasps of amazement, although either would have been welcomed, but if he’d harboured any dreams at all of being acknowledged as a writer, tonight was the occasion when he let those dreams go.

 ‘Shards of light?’ Ralph Muller had queried after the obligatory period of contemplation – a minute’s silence for the dear departed - ‘shards?

 ‘I liked it.’ Hazel Rennie ventured, contorting her face apologetically as if to dislodge a raspberry pip from a molar. ‘Shhhaaar-ds.’ Sitting opposite, Morris Foxton coughed abruptly and Malcolm fancied he heard the word twaddle disguised within its emission.  But it was left to Ralph to deliver the fatal blow. ‘Maybe it’s one to sit on for a while,’ he’d concluded. ‘Give it time to mature and then - perhaps - come back to it.’ He’d shuffled his papers - his novel - anticipatorily. ‘Is that you finished, Malcolm?’

Bernadette was outraged. ‘Sod ‘em,’ she said after he’d laid the bones of the evenings meeting before her like the mangled carcass it had been, ‘they wouldn’t know decent poetry if it bit them. And that guy – Muller - who died and made him Caroline Duffy?’

 Touched by her loyal, if misinformed, support Malcolm chose to withhold the fact that at the group’s previous meeting his use of the word azure had provoked a response close to apoplexy in a number of its younger members. No, he’d made up his mind. It was time to move on from the writing, to try something a little more suited to his abilities....