'The shop was gloomy. Tables and shelves presented animals and figures, all frozen in a pose, each delicately carved from different types of wood. It smelled musty, of wood shavings and wax; the scent calmed him. Nothing stirred aside from the sawdust that swirled with each step. He browsed the shelves, admiring the craft of the objects around him, smiling. This is something I would like to do. To draw life out of a husk of wood, to take something one might toss onto a fire and then nurture it, cutting it into something worth treasuring.
One carving caught him. Unlike the others, this was no animal, but instead a tree, carved from a pale, white wood. It was no taller than his palm, but elegantly carved, the bark etched and branches thin. With a delicate touch, he brushed the branches, admiring their sturdiness. The irony of it was not lost on him, and he wondered why someone would go to the effort of it, especially considering the quality of craftmanship of the items around it.
He lifted it, weighing it in his hand, amazed at the weight of it. He returned it to its place and made his way around the store until he found himself at the counter. Behind it, a door stood shut, and Eder surmised that the owner was somewhere beyond. On the counter, a carving of an albino crocodile sat, jaws frozen open, its tail snaked behind it.
Eder leaned closer. Of all the items, this was the finest. The entire piece was just longer than his hand, each scale was meticulously etched, its spine made of delicate, defined ridges. Yet, what he marvelled at most was not the attention to detail of the piece, but its imperfections, the consideration of a life for the creature. Its tail was shorter than it ought to have been; it had an odd count of teeth, and a scar crossed its shoulder blade.
Eder stared in awe, yet wondered who would purchase an item that appeared imperfect. Would many appreciate the character of the item? He traced his finger down its spine, admiring the wood. It was soft, as though made of soft leather. Heat seemed to emanate from it. Drawing a fingertip across its top line of teeth, he wondered how long it had taken to create something of such detail.
The jaws snapped shut and he leapt back with a yelp, wobbling the carvings behind him; a couple toppled.
You’re lucky I didn’t take your finger, Novo Maxia, a rough, hissing voice said.
Ed stared at the crocodile. ‘Who speaks? Show yourself.’
The crocodile shifted, curling around itself. Speak with your mind, lest you wish to pay for the wares you have broken.'
D. T. Gilmour
The above writers have either been previous members of the Minutemen or Vibe groups, or are current members or honorary members of the Firebird Writers' Group. Note that all work in all draft versions is copyrighted.
Based in the Midlands, Dominic is a novelist, author of short stories and a poet.
Since studying English Language and Creative Writing at university, he has found his particular joy in recording in words the varying perspectives of the people and places around him. His writing career began to take shape in 2016 when he was longlisted for the Christopher Tower Poetry Prize, before assuming a more tangible form later that year when he was voted runner-up in the Young Norfolk Poet of the Year competition. Since then he has been published in the anthology Pictures Launched a Thousand Words, while in early 2019 he published his first novel, The Queen, The Rogue, and The Apprentice.
When not reading for pleasure, Dominic can be found among the shelves in the University of Derby Library as he researches a Master’s Degree in Publishing, a métier he hopes will both complement and supplement his writing.