Recently I wrote a short story that won Ilkley Literature Festival's Spring competition. It's called "NOT MUCH OF A VIEW" and here it is.
His daughter called it downsizing and talked as if she’d done him a favour.
‘Just think’ she said, ‘no more lawns to mow or beds to weed. Just think of all the time you’ll save.’
‘What for?’ he thought, but didn’t ask. She’d only have had some smart reply, suggesting he played bridge or took up art. What’s the use of saving time if you’ve nothing to spend it on? Nothing to do all day except look out of the window. At least at the old house there had been something worth looking at. An uninterrupted view of foliage and sky stretching out from the end of the garden, so that from the dining room window he couldn’t tell where his property ended and the fields began.
‘It’s so big Dad, and isolated’ she told him. ‘At least now you can walk from the flat to the shops. You don’t have to get the car out just to buy a paper or a pint of milk.’
There was that he supposed. He was driving less and less these days and sometimes whole weeks had gone by without him leaving the house. He could get all the news he wanted from the radio and his daughter stocked the fridge on her weekly visit. Weekly glimpse more like. He was lucky if she stayed an hour, rushing in with her supermarket bags and grabbing the hoover, sometimes without even taking off her coat. Her energy exhausted him.
He looked around. Purpose built the estate agent called it. Living cheek by jowl he said. What if he could hear the neighbours through the wall? That would have been unheard of in his old home. The nearest house was over a mile away and since the old lady died he didn’t know who’d bought it.
He heard a noise. Not from next door but coming from outside. He crossed the room and looked out. On the other side of the road between a small car park and a pub that had seen better days was a well kept green. His daughter had made a joke about it when she moved him in. Something about offering his services if he found he missed his ride-on mower. A small crowd had gathered, shouting out greetings and laughing together. He watched as they unpacked balls and mats from cylindrical bags and set up their game on the square below. A bowling green, he overlooked a bowling green.
He thought back to his old house, remembering the hours he had sat looking out at the horse chestnuts, stately guardians of his privacy with their creamy candelabra and fox brown fruit. It was a long time since anyone had gathered conkers on his lawn.
He opened the glass doors and stepped out onto the tiny balcony. As he did so a woman in a red coat looked up from her game. She smiled and raised her hand. Shyly he waved back.