We are pleased to present the winning entry in the genre of Short Fiction from our 2015 Creative Writing Competition, ‘Dad and the Romans’ by Diana Beharrell.
Reading this story was a simple pleasure for us editors. It has a graceful pace, and a strikes a warm and, at times, wistful note.
Our fiction judge thought that “‘Dad and the Romans’ offers a thoughtful contemplation of life and death through a depiction of a trip to some ruins by a father and son. It has a lovely shape and a good eye for detail and place description. There’s a layered depth and metaphorical richness to this understated story, which excels in showing rather than telling.”
Dad and the Romans
We are off for an outing, Dad and I. We have left the slice of a house on the Market Place, passing the pele tower, stony and windowless, standing close up to St Andrew’s. Passing the Blue Bell; passing the gracious homes of Victorian industrialists; passing the bungalows of the polite and the retired; and soon out of Corbridge entirely, finding the turning off the old Hexham Road and swinging left into the car park of the Roman site.
Dad points to the disabled parking bay near the entrance. There is only sixty pence off concessions, and Dad is very definite about requiring a guidebook. I push through the swing doors, holding them open for Dad to follow, and find the site spread out in front of us, reduced to its foundations. We can see little more than a two-dimensional outline, the stones pilfered long ago. Where the fence borders the site and separates it from the field beyond, the foundations disappear underground, and sheep are now grazing and lambs skitter in the early summer sunshine a foot or so above the Roman remains.
‘The trouble is, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to sit’, says Dad. He looks around. He stoops and has to peer up to see what is on offer here, straining like a tortoise sticking its head out from its shell.