‘The Shieling’ by David Constantine

“They invented a place” is my favourite opening sentence to a story. Constantine’s ill-fated couple create a shared imaginary space to visit alone when they can’t be together. Their shieling is high up a valley. Sparsely furnishing it, they take time to clearly imagine concrete details for every necessary thing, revelling in their shared invention. They keep a small library and have a rule that when one book is added another must be taken away. They leave each other notes and make small improvements. Their delight in imagining this place makes it so real that the discovery of the ruins of a shieling in the real world holds unspeakable sadness.

First published in The Liberal, issue 9 and available online to subscribers. Collected in The Shieling, Comma Press, 2009

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