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Breath & Shadow

Winter 2018 - Vol. 15, Issue 1

"The Lady of Shallot Avenue"

written by

Lyn G. Farrell

This time she gets to the front gate before it hits. She pants like a dog and snaps backwards as if on tight elastic. She slams the front door against the interrogation-bright light and slumps to the hall floor. The air congeals in her mouth and nostrils, slides jelly-like into her throat and she spits her breath back up as her heart squeezes and thumps. The coir rug pokes into her bottom, her handbag lies on its back as if dead. Sweat drips from her forehead, slides with her tears down her face. A drop of one or the other has been dangling from the tip of her nose for ages. She knows that she will find that funny later.


She wanted to walk to the park, strengthen her leg bones, let the autumn sun gently burn her unaccustomed cheeks, kick through leaves for that perfect, wet, sound. She sees herself, aged nine or ten, running with her friends, yelling as they race through the thigh-high grass. Her arms are out like plane wings. The feathery tops of the grasses tickle her legs. Her top is old, holey and faded, the last thing her mother gave her before disappearing, along with a long lost scribbled note on perfumed paper. The bruises her father's fists have made across her thighs show every time the breeze flips her skirt. From a distance they look like bubbles.


She opens all the windows, imagines memories being blown clear, along with the cobwebs. The wind makes the curtains flap and pushes her birthday card over. It flutters to the floor like a big, clumsy butterfly, revealing the wedding photo of her parents that she has decorated with devils' horns and black teeth.


“Fuck you.” she tells them. She runs to the hall, grabs her bag off the floor and battles her way outside.

Lyn G Farrell's debut novel, The Wacky Man, won the 2015 Luke Bitmead Bursary Award. It depicts the impact of extreme violence and abuse on Amanda, a teen struggling to cope with her mental illness.


Lyn grew up in Lancashire where she would have gone to school if things had been different. She has battled with anxiety and PTSD since childhood, but is addicted to education and creativity. She has gained a BSc, PGCET and MA and is currently in an academic role at Leeds Beckett University.

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