What does home mean to you? Is it one place, or many places, or even a place at all?
For our next theme, HOME, our editors thought about what home means to them: spices cooking in the kitchen, a freshly printed plane ticket, the comfort of a writing desk.
Home is many things to different people. What can be comforting for one person can be suffocating for another; what is exciting can be overwhelming. For some, it is a place to escape as soon as you're old enough. For others, it's somewhere to return to, time and again.
For this theme, you don't have to write about what home means to you; as always, we're looking for you to interpret the theme in your own way (however loosely). We're after short stories, flash fiction, poetry and nonfiction that weave in the theme HOME in some way – whether that's concrete, abstract or experimental.
Check out our updated guidelines – and good luck!
Co-founder and editor
I’m starting to wonder if homes are not places, but people. I'm starting to wonder if my father is home: in the sound of a trickling watering can, and the smell of lemon balm on my fingertips. In feeling soil clump under my nails and damp potted earth, and oil paints drying in the sun. If my brother is home: hot summers spent lazing in long grass, and cold drinks in tea room hideaways. In the thick spread of melted chocolate on a croissant. If my mother is home: in soft chenille bedspreads and Indian spices, and the taste of sweet milky coffee. In curling into a cocoon against her, like a foetus inside the home she made for you.
Calling somewhere home, I've come to understand, is hard when you feel you don't belong in that place. It's hard to call somewhere home when all you see is a swarm of thunderflies hovering over your head, feeling the heat after a storm. When that place feels like leeches drawing blood from you, and woodlice crawling into your head as soon as it hits the pillow.
But if homes are people, not places, then homes move. They move to the coast with red hair and show you how to bodyboard. They tell your mother they'll look after you now, share your bed and share breakfast with you. You'll spend Christmas not in one place, but you'll move to the people that make up your family, your friends: your home.
Co-founder and editor
I know that home is not one place but many. I know that moving makes me feel better than standing. I know that I can feel at home in a hotel room just as much as I can in my own bed.
So I decided I'm the people and places that I love, the places I feel most at home. I am my mum: our house on the outskirts of London, a house I found hard to call home after my parents' divorce, one that has picked me up so many times since. I am my dad: a small country village, a wild garden, a rolling stone. Marmalade cooking on the stove, plums stewing. I am my grandma and cousins and aunts and uncles: forest and rivers in southern Germany, pretzels for breakfast and snowy mountain peaks. I am where I love to be: the deep south in the USA, the tallest building in Tokyo, a hotel in Dublin, a long haul flight somewhere new. I am a spider-infested house in Sydney, a peachy apartment near the sea, the bottom of Deadman's Ash Lane. I am Berlin: my new now.
Home is a three-storey Georgian townhouse with a small writing room on the top floor and a cellar full of trinkets, toys and memories. Home is curling into my favourite armchair to read by lamplight, or drinking the good coffee at the kitchen table on a Saturday morning, eating cake for breakfast.
In true Taurean style, I love to be at home, surrounded by nice things; candles, notebooks, cushions, green plants, art, lots of art, and my lovely writing desk. Writing is home. Writing keeps the strange dreams at bay. When I’m writing, I feel like I’m right where I should be.
I prefer stability to change, routine to spontaneity, and that feeling of coming home at the end of the day is what keeps me grounded. I love to travel, but nothing compares to sleeping in my own bed, and turning off all the alarms in the morning.
To submit to HOME, visit our Submittable page.
Photo: Ján Jakub Naništa