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My inspiration for Broken Mirror #2 Jagged Jaws

Updated: Feb 22, 2019

Today (Aug 1) is the release day for my short story collection, Broken Mirror and Other Morbid Tales. To celebrate and explain the background to some of the stories, this week I will be posting what inspired me to write some of the tales. Today I will discuss the background to Jagged Jaws.

CW: Sexual assault.

Something happened to me when I was fifteen. It affected me so profoundly that, thirty years on, it remains a part of me. It took decades and therapy to accept that I wasn’t to blame, yet part of me still asks – Why were you there? Why didn’t you stop it?

Jagged Jaws is my revenge fantasy.

Burying trauma isn’t unusual. It was only when I had daughters of my own and wanted to protect them fiercely, ensure the stuff that hurt me would never touch either of them, that I started to unpack what had happened and how I felt about it. Now my elder daughter is fifteen and I see how little has changed. I am as powerless now as I was then. Hearing her tales (that’s one thing I did right. She talks to me) triggers memories and sends me spiralling back to that mug, that bed, that boy.

Jagged Jaws is my revenge fantasy. A sense of powerless inspired it.

Excerpt -

‘Do you remember Daryl Smith?’ Clare asked, handing me a cup of fruit tea.

In spite of all the years, fear and disgust slapped my face.

‘Are you okay?’ she asked. ‘You look as though you’re about to throw up.’

I forced myself to nod. This wasn’t a conversation I was ready to have, not twenty years after the event and probably not after fifty years. The shame of it had burrowed its roots deep into my psyche. The packed soil, of experiences since that I’d used to insulate me from the pain, shook and cracked when I heard his name again. All that work rebuilding myself had never gained any solidity. The foundations were as shaky as ever.

‘What about him?’ My voice sounded thin, insubstantial.

Clare glared at me. The weight of her stare pinned me, squirming on the kitchen stool. Did she know?

‘He got married. They’re expecting a baby.’

Daryl was in Clare’s year at school. I’d been in the year above. We’d all left that concrete-blocked structure decades ago, but I guessed she’d kept in touch.

Daryl had been a friend of my school sweetheart. He was a troubled kid from a trouble-making family with a pleasant face and saccharine charm. Although it was hard to recall his facial features clearly, I remembered dark hair, tanned skin and roguish good looks. When I pictured him it wasn’t his face that sprang to mind, it was a part of him that hung midway between head and ludicrously expensive trainers.

I wanted to be alone, to stamp on these memories and trample them deeper, but I was cradling a freshly made cup of rhubarb tea and Clare had been bugging me for weeks to meet up for a chat. I couldn’t simply leave, not without explaining why.

‘They’ve got a croft in Thorne village. It’s a lovely place. She’s a landscape gardener. Although, I guess she’ll need to take it easy for a while, have more of a managerial role.’

I stared at the pink liquid in my cup, pretending to care, but a reply wouldn’t form in my throat. Clare’s chatter tightened its grip on me, squeezing. My mouth was full and I was choking.

‘Anyway, they’re having a party the weekend after next. I can bring a guest. Do you wanna come? There might be lots of the old crowd there. Maybe Stuart. They’re still friends. Daryl was talking about Stuart the other day. He’s single. He works for the MOD. Apparently he’s still gorgeous...’

I couldn’t hate her. She was trying to be sweet. I guess she’d watched me sprint through relationships since school, with long fallow periods between, and assumed I was still in love with the boy I’d lost at fifteen.

It wasn’t her fault that I’d never trusted her enough to tell her why I found sustaining adult relationships an impossible task. She was supposed to be my best friend, but really she knew nothing about me. She couldn’t understand my rage.

‘Aww come on. It’ll be fun. It’ll be like old times.’

‘Excuse me,’ I said, grasping my stomach and fleeing for the bathroom.


I can’t remember exactly how Clare convinced me to go, but here I was feeling shabbily dressed outside a rather grand stone cottage. My only consolation was that Clare was doing a superb impression of the Cheshire cat beside me. I’d rarely seen her so excited.

Can you call someone a best friend if you only have one friend? My life had become so tiny over the years that I had all my fun by proxy, listening to her stories. I knew all her disappointments. Her volatile relationships with work colleagues, the lovers who failed to call, and the ones who wouldn’t stop calling. It was refreshing to see her face without any shadow of sadness; it almost made me forget my own for a moment.

The door was ajar. I guessed this was the sort of area where you didn’t have to lock up your bargain-basement possessions for fear of theft. The music wafting into the garden was as bouncy as my friend. I gripped a chilly bottle of Lambrusco tighter in my fist and stepped inside.

It was busy. Half-remembered faces mingled with strangers as Clare and I wove between them toward the kitchen to drop off our bottles and greet our hosts. My saliva tasted metallic. Would Daryl recognise me? Would I recognise him? Who else would I know at this party and could I depend on Clare to stick beside me this time? One thing I knew for certain, I’d be mixing my own drinks this evening.

Broken Mirror is out now. Available on iTunes, Nook and Kobo, Kindle and paperback.

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