Truth or Fiction by Lorna Brown
I read an article a couple of years ago about a father, who cut his teenage daughter’s hair after she got highlights. It was her birthday and her mother treated her to the gift. The girl, I imagine, would have been looking at herself in the car mirror every now and again, thrilled with her new look. She was young, and it was probably the first time she could see the woman she’d become. Her mother dropped her off at her father’s house. I wondered if the girl was worried when she was going to the door. Did her mother linger with the car running to watch her daughter walk the path? Or had they no prior warnings to lead them to be nervous. And besides, what could make a man do that to his daughter? It could have been pure meanness and a need for control, but I don’t think anything can be black or white. There are grey areas in others that we never see-some hurt, some neglect or loss maybe.
In the story I imagined, ‘Walking A Country Road’, the mother, daughter and father live in Ireland and a thirty-year-old murder takes its toll on the father and makes him cut her hair. In much the same way, many of the stories in ‘Were We Awake’, were taken from news articles. A boy commits suicide by car, leaving the driver to live with what has happened, a woman’s baby is stolen in the middle of a bus station, hundreds of sea creatures are washed up on coasts and beaches are closed to the people living close-by. Many of these stories augment the saying that truth is stranger than fiction, but to get at the truth we need to delve without criticism. This is one of the most important aspects of writing. For me, writers have a duty is to examine the world and question everything, in a way that will not tell the reader what to think or how to feel, but in a way that makes them wonder too.
L.M Brown is the author of the novel Debris, and the linked short story collections Treading the Uneven Road and Were We Awake. Her novel Hinterland is forthcoming in 2020. She has three daughters and a very patient husband. They live near his hometown in Massachusetts. she but grew up in Ireland.