I don’t usually receive A4 envelopes in the post, especially not thick ones holding a promise of interest. Bills and bank statements, requests to buy charity Christmas cards and catalogues from businesses wanting to sell goods, come in smaller envelopes with name and address printed, not hand written.
I tear it open, extract the contents and look: a literary magazine with poetry, prose, literary interview and illustration. Interesting, definitely, and I like the cover image of a view up through the branches of Scots pines with their patterned bark the colour of a red fox’s coat. Why someone has gone to the bother of sending the magazine to me I don’t know. Perhaps someone I know has a poem in it and has sent me the magazine to see the work in print.
I flick through the pages, glance at the index. An intake of breath sticks in my throat for so long my head starts to spin. My eyes are so glued to the page I can’t even blink. I’m immobilised as if smothered in Pompeiian ash from the Scottish Borders equivalent of Mount Vesuvius — that would probably be the Eildon Hills. Yet I am vaguely aware of everything around me remaining as before the envelope was opened.
A gulp frees my breath. My fingers eagerly flip through the pages to…there… this is it. Still difficult to believe, but there on the page before me is my own name. My name. No, must be someone else with the same name…there are a few I know of, one of whom is a painter. My eyes take in the first paragraph. The words look familiar. I continue to read to the end. It’s my story, and it’s been published in a literary magazine. In a fit of enthusiasm I sent it off months ago, so long ago I have forgotten all about it with the excitement that was sweeping across Scotland this past summer.
Why is no-one here for me to share the news with. It’s mid morning and I’ll need to wait to the evening before husband reappears and I can wave the magazine in his face, jump up and down like a giant demented grasshopper, and yell at him that his wife has had a short story, called Tap o’ the Heap, published in the Autumn 2014 edition of Southlight. I may never feel quite the same again.