Get to know… John Stephens

My name is John Stephens. I have lived in Wimbledon for the past 38 years. My writing includes, memoir, fiction, short stories, flash fiction and poetry. Two current major projects are a memoir, Over My Shoulder Volume One – 1945-1975, and The Pool, a novel set in Wyoming after the Korean War.

I began attending classes at Writing Room in 2021 with Gio’s memoir writing course, followed by Allison’s Prioritise Your Writing. I am just completing another of these. I also regularly attend Feedback Friday. What I find most inspiring about what Writing Room has to offer is the sharing of work and sensitive intelligent reading and feedback that is always provided. I have learned so much by reviewing my own work in the presence of others.

I attach here two short pieces of flash fiction which have met with success.

The Glove

It’s not the safest place to cross. Cars are parked on both sides. It’s dangerous, because they jump the lights. There is a crossing, but it’s just too far along.

She dropped the glove as she started to cross. I picked it up – Mohair, soft, like a black kitten.

I called after her. I was going to give it back. She was tall and slim and had one of those black woollen berets – same as the gloves, a scarf to match. She looked very French. I wanted her to be French because in our story we are in Paris.

She was half way out when she turned her head. As she turned, her hair spilled across her shoulders, glistening red in the sunlight.

She hadn’t seen the lights change. She smiled; I think. I’ll never know for sure.

In my room the light is cold. The bed is the only warm place. I snuggle down under the duvet, take out the glove and slip it on. And it’s like we’re holding hands. I feel it soft against my cheek, her perfume on my lips, like the scent of jasmine.

In my story she smiles.

After Burn

All summer long they had waited.  The sun was a white disc. The sea a ripple of glass.

They stole away from the others and hidden in the marram grass they made love for the first time. Later they slept like children, limbs entwined.

Just before dawn she awoke. The tightness across her shoulder blades told her that she had burned. Naked in the dark she could not bear the touch of the sheet or his long delicate fingers. How contrary love is she thought.

But what she would remember most of this day were the eyes of the dead man they had found on their way back through the dunes.  The way he stared up at the sun.

First published in REFLEX FICTION, 2000
Shortlisted for the 2021, FISH FLASH FICTION PRIZE.