I’m preparing another anthology of short fiction based on pieces I’ve written for this blog, competitions and guest posts. It’s time to decide on the cover. With the three previous anthologies, some part of my head appears on the cover. This is an example, from the 2017 collection Life In A Coversation
This time these are the possibilities for Life Sentences and I’d welcome your thoughts
And while you mull your answers, here’s one small piece from the collection to whet your appetites
The Immorality Of Rocks
Plinth the Undulating watched them approach. A girl, pebble-young in white, eyes lowered, nervy; a woman, nicely strata’ed, also in white, talking softly. Sodding devotees, that’s what they are, he thought. A novitiate and her minder. She’ll want to light the bloody candle, too and that wax would play havoc with his fissures, sticking the planes together when they should be easing – gloriously, inevitably – apart as the rain permeated his corporeal magnificence. That said, he mused, but for all the wax that had dripped down his flanks over the centuries, he’d be gravel by now, washed to the river and out to sea. Yuk. The idea of being completely granulated jarred like an earth tremor. Boulder had wanted that, hadn’t he? He’d been convinced he’d be at peace, in the swish-swosh-swirly currents. Bloody fool of a rock.
He’d had millennia to ask why. Why had they chosen him? Why had those stupid, simple minded druids decided he was divine? He was just an ordinary stone; not once of them Sarsen poseurs, but big enough to stand feature on their maps. The others, granite and grit alike, said it was his uncommon smoothness, the sheen of his flanks much admired amongst the Alluvial Set. At one point those lumps had tried to grind each other, the vanity of abrasive emulation blinding them to the reality that all they achieved was an accelerated erosion. Boulder had said they were flakes. Wise conglomerate that Boulder.
He’d not been immune, of course. He’d lost a couple of meters to floods and shakes before that little ape first appeared. Of all the warm-bloods, the bipeds, with their knowing eyes and chants and, especially those pointy tools, were the worst. It had been just another day, warmish with a chance of occasional storms later when that nosey little vandal appeared. Plinth saw in his eyes he was captivated by his curves. Then those strokes – they were nice – and how he’d titled his head better to see the way the sun reflected back off the sheen of the piece of polished quartz that had just been exposed by another flaking. It was then Plinth knew things wouldn’t be the same. The grubby little mammal had fallen to his knees.
Plinth watched in disbelief as this oaf, this ‘artist’ brought others to look, to stroke, to sigh and to chant. Then they started chipping. Chipping! The indignity. The discomfort. After their first efforts the other rocks started calling him ‘Uneven’ rather than ‘Undulating’ because of their ham-fisted carvings. They planted a tree which was all he needed, sheltering him from the rain and absorbing the water table before it could crumble him from below. And then they’d gone.
But relief was short lived. Every two centuries or so another group would find him, swoon, stroke his sides, see the old chip-scars and start their own chipping and chanting. Swirls and crosses, spikes and shelves; he had had them all. The candles came, what, five hundred years ago and hadn’t stopped.
The flame flashed and Plinth screamed; sadly he screamed at a pitch that the bipeds didn’t register but it caused the nearby limestone outcrop to wet itself again and another cliff fall ensued. How bloody long was he going to stay like this?
The girl scorched his surface with her clumsy match. It wasn’t her fault – she looked terrified. One day she’d be that woman with another clumsy little pyromaniac. He looked up at the sky, at the gathering clouds and felt the steamy heat. He’d have his revenge.
The pair finished their ceremony and kissed him, like it made things better. He watched them go. One day, one day soon enough they will be a reckoning, he thought. Go on, melt the ice caps, morons. That’s what always happened before the next ice age. Then we’ll see who’s best equipped to handle all-terrain glaciation. Oh yes. You’ll need a bigger candle then, he thought.