Memories and Marshmallows

The sky-blue swell pounded the breakwater at Borthel on Sea in a steady rhythm. John gazed out at the mountains across the broad bay and drew a deep calming breath. The anxiety that had built up and wracked him in recent months and on his spontaneous long drive from the city eased its intensity.

Memories and Marshmallows is a short story from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. At the end of the episode, Robert provides his insight into the story, which he wrote for Furious Fiction in March 2021.

The show notes include links to Memories and Marshmallows on Tall And True and the podcast's theme music and sound effects.

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Writer's Insight for Memories and Marshmallows

I wrote Memories and Marshmallows in March 2021 for the Australian Writers' Centre's monthly 500-word short story competition, Furious Fiction. The brief was:

• The story must include the setting in a photo provided by the Writers’ Center.

• Being March, it must also have the MAR words MARKET, MARBLE, MARVELLOUS and MARSHMALLOW.

• And the final sentence must contain dialogue — i.e. someone speaking.

The photo provided with the brief was of a broad bay, possibly on the coast. There was a concrete and stone breakwater with boat ramps and mountains in the distance. And in the foreground of a pebbly beach sat an old red public telephone box. 

I gazed at the photo and reflected on my summer holidays. Of the favourite rundown places, I've visited over the years. And the quaint fishing villages of southwest England. I thought about how the hurly-burly of work can take over our lives and distance us from happy memories and places. And how we may not realise this is happening until it's too late!

In the story, John revisits Borthel on Sea, the scene of his happy childhood family holidays. It’s rundown now but always was unfashionable. However, John and his family had loved the quiet seaside village with its breakwater, fish market and chilly swims, and the pebbly beach where they had built bonfires and toasted marshmallows.

One afternoon on the breakwater, John’s father told his son he wanted to retire to Borthel on Sea. But his father dies of a stress-related heart attack before the next summer, and there are no more family holidays on the coast.

The adult John has followed in his father’s footsteps in the city, working long hours and climbing the corporate ladder. But he’s also feeling anxious and stressed and, like his father, is drawn back to Borthel on Sea. 

I hope you enjoyed this seaside short story — perhaps it’s inspired you to toast marshmallows. Did you catch the MAR words (one's a tasty giveaway!). And the red telephone box for the final dialogue?

You can read Memories and Marshmallows and all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at TallAndTrue.com.

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Read Memories and Marshmallows at tallandtrue.com.au/short-stories/memories-and-marshmallows

Podcast Theme and Podcast Sound Effects

Royalty-free music from Pixabay.com: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 'Pastorale' – IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non-Troppo, performed by Karine Gilanyan.

Sound effects licensed under Creative Commons 0 from FreeSound.org:

Sea and wind: https://freesound.org/people/Globofonia/sounds/547011/

Seagulls: https://freesound.org/people/plantmonkey/sounds/377107/

Fire: https://freesound.org/people/craigsmith/sounds/483311/

Laughter: https://freesound.org/people/Evil_Ear_Recordings/sounds/524775/

Car horns: https://freesound.org/people/allanh15/sounds/353180/

Walking on pebbles: https://freesound.org/people/775noise/sounds/494571/

Phone ringing: https://freesound.org/people/aldenb4610/sounds/348584/

Phone pickup: https://freesound.org/people/MootMcnoodles/sounds/444399/

Production Notes

Tall And True Short Reads produced using Audacity. Thanks to Josh (VoiceOverMaster) Meyer for Audacity recording tips and tricks.

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