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At the start of 2020 I was commissioned by Writing West Midlands, as a partner of the Read On! project, to work with a group of year 7 students attending Ark Boulton Academy in Birmingham, and write a short story for inclusion in an anthology.

The finished anthology, Sealed with a Loving Kiss, featured this story Chordae Tendineae.

Read the beginning below.

My father’s a loser.

That’s the only thing you need to know about him.

Well, maybe there is one other thing, but we’ll get to that later.

My name is Shahzana. Most everyone calls me Shaz, except my Mum. She says she called me Shahzana for a reason. She says that Shahzana means Princess, because that’s what I am, her princess.

Yeah, right.

My mum’s pretty cool, yeah? I mean, she’s a heart surgeon, which is amazing. Unlike my father, who is a complete and utter loser. Did I mention that already?

But as cool as my mum is, she still named me wrong.

Cos I ain’t no princess.

Mum brought me up on her own. That’s because my father, The Loser, left us when I was only six months old. Just disappeared.

Mum told me she was scared out of her mind at the time. She thought he’d been murdered or had an accident or something. But then he took all our money out of our account (not that we had much) and Mum had to close it and open up a new one. And the police never found a body or anything, and it was just like he’d walked out of the house and decided not to come back.

Wait a minute, I’m telling this story all wrong. But it’s difficult sometimes to know where to start.

Maybe I should start with Grandma, and the intruders breaking into her house and attacking her.

She’s The Loser’s mother, but unlike her son, she’s pretty ace. After The Loser left Mum, Grandma looked after us both. She looked after me while Mum continued her studies at medical school, and when Mum started working.

She’s still looking after us now.

But wait, Grandma didn’t get burgled. That turned out to be a lie.

And now I’m telling the story all backwards.

So I’m going to start with the first time I met Lenore.