Cornwall is a part of England that holds a special place in my heart.
My parents retired to Cornwall when I was nineteen years old. I was at university by then so it was never technically my home, but I used to go back to visit in the holidays. Many years later, my Dad is still living in Falmouth, and I also have good friends in the St Austell area so I spend lots of time there.
My mother was Welsh and my father is a Channel Islander, and both of them were proud of their Celtic heritage. When they were deciding on a retirement location, Cornwall–with its links to Wales and Brittany–felt like a good fit for them.
There is something magical about Cornwall. The landscape has a wildness and beauty that draws me in and enchants me. There’s also so much history there. From disused tin mines to ancient standing stones, there is a wealth of human stories going back thousands of years. My mother was a writer, of poetry as well as stories, and much of her inspiration came from the landscape and history of Cornwall.
When I started writing a short Christmas story that was set in Cornwall, I knew right from the start that I wanted a scene on a beach, because I love beaches in the winter time. My character, Jago, was pining over Will, and I thought that a chilly, grey beach with the waves crashing on the shore would be the perfect setting for that. I seem to recall doing a bit of pining of my own on winter beaches when I was Jago’s age. There’s something about watching the waves that’s wonderfully soothing. It always helps me get some perspective when I’m feeling blue.
Here’s an excerpt from the beach scene in Coming Home:
On the day before New Year’s Eve, Jago drove to Vault Beach. He parked and walked down the steep cliff path to the long stretch of sand at the base of the cliff. Never busy, because of the long walk down, today the beach was completely deserted.
The sky was heavy with grey cloud, turning the sea that dark slate colour that Will had used to describe Jago’s eyes. Jago felt a sharp twinge of longing at the memory. The sea rolled in, breaking on the sand with a dull, repetitive roar. Seagulls wheeled overhead, their bleak cries piercing through the sound of the waves.
Jago wandered aimlessly, lost in the desolate beauty of the place. He found the traces of a bonfire from a summer beach party and sat on a rock staring at the blackened remains of driftwood.
He wondered if it was the same fire where he’d sat with Will beside him in the warmth of a distant summer evening, watching the embers glow and flicker as the smoke drifted on a gentle breeze. He’d been so full of nervous excitement that night, knowing they were poised on that delicious knife edge where friendship tips into something more. They’d gone skinny dipping and hadn’t bothered to get dressed afterwards. They’d dried off by the fire, then wrapped blankets around themselves until the chill of evening had driven them into the tiny tent. Naked, shivering and giggling from the rum they’d been drinking, Jago had pulled Will down on top of him in the darkness and kissed him for the first time.
Jago’s chest ached and he lifted his head, focusing on the dip and rise of the waves and the rhythmic crash of the surf. The rolling, endless cycle of the ocean brought Jago a strange kind of comfort. It offered perspective in the same way that the night sky did when he gazed at the stars sometimes, and felt his worries fade away to insignificance amid the vastness of the universe.
Jago returns to his home in the wilds of Cornwall, and is looking forward to catching up with old friends after a term away at university. When he’s reunited with Will—his best mate from sixth-form college and last summer’s fling—Jago’s feelings for him are rekindled and impossible to ignore.
Over the short winter break, Jago can’t resist taking whatever Will’s offering. But will the New Year bring new beginnings? Or will Jago be left with more bittersweet memories and a heart that needs to heal again?
Coming Home is a free read. You can download the full story in the following places:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her amazing, occasionally ridiculous husband, two noisy-but-awesome children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.