Without - women's fiction by Glenis Stott

A few years ago, I was at a loose end having just finished a writing course. One suggestion had been automatic writing, letting our fingers type while making absolutely no attempt to control them, putting one word after another on the page. I'd done it quite a few times and, to be honest, came up with a load of nonsense but one day I relaxed myself into it and wrote quite a few paragraphs before sitting back to read what I'd written.
It was about a woman who was late for picking up her children from school, She left the house, my house, and followed the route that I used to follow to pick up my children. However, there was one surprising paragraph:
"When I reached the school, the guard looked at his watch and then back at me. I took my passbook from my bag and held it out towards him. He didn't check it. They never checked in the afternoon. It was only in the morning when security was tight. He waved me on with his rifle."
What was that all about? Why would they need an armed guard at the entrance to a school? Isn't that a surprising idea, particularly in this country? Not only that, why would security be tight in the morning when the children were going into school? If security was needed shouldn't it be there to protect the children, not the school?
That's where Without came from. It's an attempt to answer my own questions about a strange place when a precious resource such as children seems to be less valuable than a school building. Once I'd followed that route, I began to think about a place where there could be people who weren't entitled to an education and maybe not entitled to other resources such as food, clothing, medical attention ... I was on my way to developing a whole new world.