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FOREWORD

Rhiannon Wood - Editor in Chief

I’ve been thinking about thresholds lately, particularly in my writing. After a note from my mentor, I read the word ‘threshold’ in large, red lettering on my latest draft. I had to think for a moment about what she meant in the context of novels. After I looked it up, I realised she meant the moment between the before and the after. We don’t get to think about this in life a lot. Time moves us constantly from then to now. From there to here. We don’t get to sit on the threshold. Unless you have Bernard’s watch, the titular magical object from a very old English kid’s TV show. I was always incredibly jealous of Bernard, who owned a watch that could stop time for everyone and everything except him, meaning he could walk around and do whatever he pleased while the rest of the world was frozen. How many times have you wanted to click a button and stop it all for a moment so you could just breathe? Bernard solved problems with his watch; I’d mostly use it to take a look around unnoticed! 

Of course, when we write and read, we get close to the power of Bernard’s watch. We can spend some time in the smallest moments and take it all in. The ultimate literary example that comes to mind is Ulysses. The events of that book take place in one day, yet it’s over seven hundred pages long (unpopular opinion, but it feels seven hundred pages long). Ulysses spends time in (and lets its readers spend time in) the moment between. When a character exists in one experience and is about to be thrust, or gently nudged, into another. It’s a millisecond in life, but in words, it can be over seven hundred pages.

It reminds me of when I fling myself into the sea. I’ve started swimming with a local group of people who also wish they had gills. We meet on a cold beach, usually early in the morning, depending on tide times, and collectively wade into the freezing cold sea. There is always a moment when your breath is pushed from your lungs, and you panic at how freezing it is. But you know that once you are in, it will be amazing. The knowledge of this fact, gleaned from the memory of previous times and the sight of your fellow merpeople swimming about with massive grins, is the only thing that propels you forward. You have to force yourself to breathe. To move. To just keep swimming, as Dory would say. It becomes a conscious act. As you shriek and flail, you know you are at a threshold. The ‘before this becomes enjoyable’ moment. It hurts. Your mind is filled with thoughts of ‘Why am I doing this?’ Then it happens – you are through. You are floating in salt water as close to weightlessness as you’ll get on this planet. It feels incredible – and not unlike the process of writing. 

Our stories in this issue are particularly thought-provoking. They exist in the threshold. Each one is that stuttering, forced breath I take in and then shudder out into the cold water. Death taking your hand once again and leading you back into life. Revenge served through words. The knowledge that what we do in life has consequences, and even if they take a while to find us, they will. When we fight to be heard, we lose our bodies to outside forces and must grab onto those remnants of self with every fibre of our disappearing being. When we are collecting parts of ourselves in the hope we can build something complete. 

In our forest by the fire, owls ruffling their feathers under the full moon, we can all sit with Bernard’s watch and stop time. We can cross a threshold together. Take a moment. Look around and find your fellow travellers, take comfort and take flight. 

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