Tuesday, 18 September 2018


My running review of Figurehead by Carly Holmes continues with this flash fiction piece. It is a familiar tale in some ways. The voice on the page is a young woman living in a poor, rural community who yearns for the liberation that knowledge can bring. She is sure that freedom is bound up in the power of the written word. 'I only wanted to write my name', she explains. But, of course, that is a revolutionary manifesto in some cultures, and not just in the historical past.

The woman becomes a wife and bears a daughter, for whom she wants better than a life of domestic servitude. Writing will achieve this, she hopes. The mistake she makes is to practice writing not in flour or mud but in more permanent media, clay and bark. The words are seen. 

'The local people took my scratched attempts at spelling to be spells. They called me wich.'

Words free us. Words condemn us. 

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