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The Gap

One of the stories appearing in 2018's Night Alphabet is The Gap.

The nameless main character of The Gap is an expert in period restoration. Escaping the disasterous end of a relationship he accepts a job working solo on the rambling Rowlands House, once a private home, later an office, finally abbandoned. While working there he discovers a mysterious gap in the fabric of the house that leads ... somewhere.

At the start of October I accepted a job renovating an abandoned building. It was hard manual labour in an out of the way location, a bleak and lonely estate unused since the sixties, but it suited my mood — it had been three months since Hazel had left me; I was in need of distraction, but not company.

The Gap is a story about loneliness, and isolation — a theme it has in common with many of the other tales in the collection. The main character is alone in his life, and alone in the house, which is, in turn, increasingly alone in the world (I won't spoil the story, but suffice it to say that it focusses on what's inside more than what's going on in the rest of the world). Apart from three words at the start of the story, he never speaks directly to another person. When he considers picking up the phone to report what he's found, he hesitates. He cuts himself off. Later, when he wants to speak to others, it is too late.

I'd like to assure those of you still reading that this abiding theme in the story, and the book as a whole, isn't a reflection of my own loneliness or anything like that, but is something that I associated with the theme of dreams. When you dream, you are alone in your own head. Even if you dream of other people, they are actually just aspects of yourself. The Gap takes this theme still further, what the main character finds within the gap helps to separate him still further from anyone or anything else, because the gap is inside, just like a dream.

It's therefore fitting that the story now appears in Solitude from DBND Publishing, where you can read it now.