In Other Words

By Mainspring Arts

A remarkable anthology of short stories by eight autistic writers, with forewords by David Mitchell and Joanne Limburg

Thursday, 30 April 2020

We've hit 70%! And to celebrate here's an exclusive extract from In Other Words

The pledges have been coming thick and fast since a big donation took us from 36% to 65% a couple of weeks ago - and now we're delighted to say we've hit 70%! Thank you so much to everyone who's supported this wonderful anthology. These are stories that need to be read - and with your help they will be! 

If you've already pledged, please do spread the word and encourage friends and family to pledge too. If you haven't pledged yet - please consider supporting this beautiful collection of stories. This anthology is timely, necessary, and above all it showcases the amazing talent of a group of people who have rarely been afforded their own voices in literature.

If we haven't convinced you yet, here's a little sneak peek from one of the stories in the collection, A Conversation of Sparrows (Eine Konversation von Spatzen) by Jon Adams:

The garden was empty. They had watched as she slept untouched for four years seemingly unloved by anyone other than themselves. They had watched as plants, left unkempt, grew wild, invading those spaces they had never been intended for but had since settled in perfectly. They waited for someone, anyone, to unlock the back door and enter the garden along the narrow weed-strewn side path, longing for someone to look around, to care for them all again. They'd  grown accustomed to the door being opened only when the Gardener or his wife attended to the rubbish or used the washing line. But they never entered for pleasure, or so it seemed. Life, they felt, the heart of a garden, a celebration of growing, the core of her very soul was long fledged and flown. Then one morning, they observed a change. The Gardener had filled a new green bird feeder and hung it up on the frayed washing line. Rising above the chatter on the rooftop and gutter, they all watched and waited. It took three weeks until they summoned up the courage to return after this non-routine intervention. But when they did, they brought with them a song. A song of renewed conversation.

Four years before this, the Gardener had sat in the bath for three days, slumped, knees upwards, the water lapping at his chin. It wasn't actually three whole days as he’d taken accidental tea breaks when the phone rang and had slept in a bed. But it was close. By choice, he now lived gentle cycles of release as the water cooled followed by a foot-spun refresh of hot water when he noticed he was shivering. Always having loved water, even now at 55 he'd retained a childlike delight, relishing the touch on his skin as he slipped in. Memories flooded through him. One especially, of swimming in the dark aged 11. He’d learnt to do this in Devon with the green glow of plankton enclosing him, pulsing with each hand-stroke or foot-kick. The Gardener especially enjoyed remembering those beaches where sand-surfed hymns were sung for wave-makers lost in mutual embrace, but these weren't the reasons for this ongoing marathon. He was searching for an answer. It had started as a plain bath, the sort you'd take after a long day in the garden, a soak your bones bath, not a wash for the day bath. He was frightened. He couldn't say why, and couldn't get out of the bath,- or rather didn't want to leave the cocoon of warmth he had spun. His fear was not all irrational, not measured either but was there each day, fingers closed firmly round his chest holding tight. Today was bad. Not only had he woken as usual at 4:23 am in a cold, sticky sweat but the nightmares had strayed into his daylight. He could taste the difference, the progress of degeneration as the days clicked past each other and he fell in slow motion. Closing his eyes, he deliberately let himself become distracted, lost in the warmth, becalmed, soothed, every neuron reciting in unison a new self-wrapped prayer for these waters to cleanse him, pardon him and take away his sin.

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