The pea soup I was served in my local pub was beautiful. Vivid green, creamy and fresh. Exactly what I wanted that summer afternoon. My enjoyment was complete, but did not stop me becoming distracted by a small wooden sign on the wall.
“This pub was the scene of an inquest into a murder in 1852”
Now that’s a sentence to grip me. Why was an inquest held here? Who was murdered? Why were they murdered and by whom? Questions are always the best way to set a story going, so when I got home I made a basic search on Google.
As if it had been waiting for me, one of the first results on the list was a transcript of the inquest and, following that, of the murder trial itself.
Stories of extreme acts are gripping enough as it is but this one was based down the road from my house, the murderer had walked through the same woods, the victim’s track to work was where I had played as a child and the view over the Downs would have been as familiar to them as it is to me now. I pressed print and spent the evening pouring close over the manuscript, absorbing every inky piece of old soul the words conjured in my mind.
But even the most dramatic of stories can become overwhelmed by life.
Soon the imagined lives of the people down my road so long ago were swallowed up in exam results and my preparations for University.
The presence of that murder in my mind fluttered down to rest among the other scraps in the dark.