I had the wonderful opportunity this summer of writing a short story for 33 East: Volume 1: 33 Boroughs, 33 Shorts, 1 London (London 33 Boroughs Shorts)
(‘Recommended reading for anyone who loves London’ Time Out). I’ve decided to put an extract up here to give you a taster of my short story. It is about Salima, a young married Bangladeshi woman living in Tower Hamlets who believes her house is haunted by a Djinn or ghost.
Extract from The Djinn by Tabitha Potts (all rights reserved).
The Curate was busy putting his notes together to prepare for the latest
local history walk he was leading that Saturday. He loved to explore
architecture, the traces of life lived hundreds of years ago that still
survived unacknowledged in the modern chaos of the city. He loved
the city farm, with its collection of hardy-looking Gloucester Old Spots,
and went there often to visit the ruins of a mediaeval monastery that sat
there unnoticed and unvisited except by a herd of athletic miniature
goats. He would personally scrub away sprayed-on tags proclaiming
the might and dominance of the Stepney Massive, or the same sort of
graffiti he remembered from his own school days in Surrey, differing only
in the types of names and the breadth of knowledge and inventiveness
of the sexual techniques described, when they appeared on the walls of
his beautiful church. He felt a thrill of pleasure when he looked around
the stone building that sheltered his flock as it had done for centuries,
withstanding even the Blitz. It had been a bit of luck to get a challenging,
inner city parish, that had a church at its centre as old and beautiful as
this. The Curate knew God didn’t care about architecture, but was honest
enough to admit to himself that he did.
The Curate’s latest walk would start on Cable Street. He would explore
the Ratcliffe Highway, where sailors from all over the world could once buy
wild beasts of all descriptions, from lions and hyaenas to parakeets, moving
on to the boundary stone marking the borough of Ratcliffe or ‘Sailortown’
notorious for its taverns, drug dens, brothels and general debauchery for
hundreds of years. He would show them Stepney Causeway, where Dr
Barnardo asked that one of the doors be kept permanently open after one
child came looking for shelter, was turned away and died two days later of
starvation on the streets. He thought how a historical distance could make
a world where anything or anyone could be bought and sold and life itself
was cheap seem exotic and fascinating while in fact the reality must have
been – and was still – terrifying.
The Rector approached him as he was rearranging his notes.
‘I have something interesting for you, Andrew,’ he said cheerily. ‘An
infestation, you might say.’
Andrew, a serious man, had never understood the Rector’s donnish
mixture of learning and levity.
‘A supernatural infestation. A young lady who lives in one of the old
houses over there.’
He gestured towards the row of Victorian terraces opposite the