Strangers in a Croft House


On the train from Edinburgh to Inverness the view was quick to shift from medieval city to farmlands to the rugged, rich cliffs of the Highlands. About fourteen miles east in Beauly sat a restored croft house devoted to writers. At the top of a hill, it was nestled between snowy peaks and blanketed by clouds. We were meant to spend the week discussing short stories and indulging our writerly whims.


Guest author David Constantine joined us that evening. Over dinner, most were on their best behavior and asked innocuous questions — what books he’d recommended, where he liked to write, how he knew when something was a good idea. Not Mark.


Several of us stood around the kitchen, talking and drinking coffee and tea as we prepared the communal meal. Mark burst into the room. “I’ve had a success! I need to kiss a woman.”


A week I had eagerly awaited had nearly gone. I laid in bed trying to decide if the end was a good thing. The previous days had been as sweet and sour as a take-out dish. I did not want to part with the weathered hills that surrounded me, but I made a silent wish for the day to end as quick as it started.

Alli holds a Masters in Creative Writing from Uni. of Glasgow. Her work has appeared in From Glasgow to Saturn, The Write Launch, Crab Fat Magazine, & others.