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The stories in this collection are set in different places and eras. Each tale immerses us in the lives of ordinary people who find themselves where they don't want to be. A mother leaves her husband and chooses a dangerous path in Bolivia; a man is haunted by a buried, lost memory; a mute boy helps a friend realise that she is stronger than she ever imagined. Endings, beginnings and stalemates.
They explore the power of memories; the numbing dismay after a loss and the sense of impotence that can be felt with equal intensity by a working-class woman struggling to make a living and a professional in the City. Relationships are torn apart by events out of control; an illness becomes a foreboding of old age.
Each of these events forces a change, an unexpected turn in the characters lives. These shifts - small or large - suggest a paradox: that the only permanent element in every existence is continuous change; and every day can be the one in which one leaves everything behind.
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F. Ghiandai lives and works in East London. He has worked on this short story collection for many years, in many countries and different
languages. Like many of his characters, he has often got lost. He has stopped and started, fitted and disassembled, pruned.
He hopes, with your help, that these stories will be realised as a book.
Every evening, the same tug at the mouth of her stomach. Before his steps outside, before the keys in the lock. When Adam is inside, she doesn’t stir. Only her gaze, for a moment, turns away from the window. She’s still in her nightgown and hasn’t left the room since this morning. She’s been looking at the garden all day. The plants need water. It’s late November, but it has been dry. Her hands rest mechanically on her lap. Now and then, she shifts her weight from a foot to the other.
In a moment, he’d call her from downstairs.
How are you? How was your day?
She pictures him standing in the hall rubbing his eyes, coat trapped in the crook of his arm. He kicks off his shoes and rustles around the house. Fridge to cupboards, he fixes something to eat.
Normally, he comes up with a tray.
Eat something Tess. Please.
But tonight she hears the slam of the cellar door. Muffled thumps, crashes; floorboards creaking under his hurried steps. He climbs up the stairs, walks past the room. His voice amplified by the big bathroom:
I’ve booked the tickets. We’re leaving Sunday.
She doesn’t reply, but she needs to see. He’s thrown their old rucksacks in the bathtub. Knelt on the floor, he scrubs their waterproof canvas with a sponge. He lifts every flap, scours all the zippers. When he’s finished, he rinses it under the shower. She can’t see his face, but she knows he looks wild.
She follows him. She follows him to the airport. Tess smiles at check-in and takes her shoes off at security.
He wants breakfast, she feels dizzy.
- 12th June 2019 With a little help from my friends
I am here to ask you a big favour. You have already helped me towards achieving my target; but still, I want more from you, like an ungrateful bastard. No, not money (that would be greedy). What I am asking you is to convince someone next to you to pledge for me. I know. I am taking advantage of you. But, if you think about it, it's like recommending a cafe' where you had a good breakfast…13th May 2019 Someone else's dream.
This is my second update, and I will keep it brief, as I know that you're all very busy. A big thank you to all of you who just pledged and donated. One of you lovely people said: 'The great thing about crowdfunding is playing a part in realising someone else's dream.' True. I mean, I hope it's true. And I am grateful for it. Grateful to have so many good people around me. Whether I know you or not…3rd May 2019 First milestone!
Working on this collection has taken many years. I had to steal time where I could. So, one thing I have learnt in the process is patience. I am now 10% closer to my target, and I am grateful to each one of my backers. I am also thankful to Unbound and proud to be here in such talented company. I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have and hope that more people will help to…
These people are helping to fund Leave Everything Behind.
Barbara Joan Meier
Kit de Waal
An anonymous donor