Brilliant and Fast

Brilliant and Fast


Photo by Mark Fischer via Flickr

Photo by Mark Fischer via Flickr

To  coincide with the publication of her debut novel “Our Endless Numbered Days” we have an exclusive short story by Claire Fuller for Litro readers. You can read our interview with Claire over at the Litro Blog.


She woke me up at dawn, nudging me where I lay under the mosquito net and said it was a good time for a walk, when the morning was still fresh and before it got too hot.

I must have had two hours sleep, but I got my sorry body, with all its bites and sunburn blisters and headache, out of our bed.

She let me brush my teeth but wouldn’t stop for a coffee. And I can’t function in the morning without coffee, which she knew. It’s the blood and breath of a writer, I told her again, but she laughed at me like usual and said that I’m playing at being brilliant and fast.

She said I only stay up late getting drunk and laying about on the beach so I can post on Facebook and Twitter.

She said it’s the same when I take my photographs: I should be living in the moment like her, not missing the world with my face stuck behind a black and silver piece of technology.

Record it in your head she would say to me; write it down later, put the camera away.

But back home she was always the first get the old cine film out when we went to visit her parents. She was the one who would laugh at herself and her sisters running under the hose in the back garden when they were five.

To be honest it bored me. I used to say that if her father had put down the camera and run under the hose too, there wouldn’t be a cine film, but she flapped her hand in my face and told me that didn’t count.
So that morning when I got out bed I hesitated before I took the camera, but then slung it around my neck anyway when she was tipping sand out of her plimsolls onto the wooden floor of our room.

And I have to admit her doing that pissed me off. I said she was making more work for the Thai chambermaid. She said that making more work for the chambermaid was a good thing – they need the work, the jobs, they need the foreign tourism and our money. You’re missing the point, I said.

And I could have gone on about the fact that the chambermaid would still have a job with or without the sand from her plimsolls; there’d still be dusting to do and picking up our clothes, making the bed, cleaning the shower and whatever else it is that chambermaids do. But I didn’t say any of that because the morning was perfect, or at least it had the potential to be.

I didn’t take a picture of her tipping out the sand because I didn’t want to start up the photo argument again. I kept the camera under my jacket so she wouldn’t comment on it, and we went out of our room and onto the beach and I let her lead the way because that morning she said she knew where we were going.
She was right, the morning was fresh – just some low lying mist at the bottom of the distant blue hills. She took us along a track. I was a few feet behind, looking at those hills and the mist and her walking in her plimsolls ahead of me.

I called out to her, ‘Yi Min!’ and then I stopped and held the camera up to my face – the black and silver box that was keeping me from real life, from taste and smell and touch – and she turned and for once she smiled.

I like to think she was recalling the cine film of her and her sisters jumping in the sparkling water from the hose, but perhaps it was the morning, being fresh and sunny and perfect and there not being sand in the bottom of her shoes.

Whatever the reason – she turned and I snapped one picture. It was the last picture I ever took of her.

Claire Fuller is a novelist and short fiction writer. For her first degree she studied sculpture at Winchester School of Art, specializing in wood and stone carving. She began writing fiction at the age of 40, after many years working as a co-director of a marketing agency. Claire has a masters in Creative and Critical Writing from The University of Winchester. Her first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days will be published in the UK on 26th February 2015 by Fig Tree / Penguin, by Tin House in the US on 17th March 2015, as well as seven other publishers around the world.

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