Extract from 'Is' - Chapter 2:

Isabel lifted her drawing up so we all could see.

Mr Phillips stared at it, then clucked his tongue like an old hen.

"Oh, dear me, Isabel, no." He chided. "You've missed the point entirely, haven't you?"

"What do you mean, Sir?" asked Isabel in a hurt voice.


"Well look at it, Isabel, what do you call this?"

"It's an arch bridge, Sir, like Robert's."

"But it wouldn't work, would it Isabel. You've only drawn one arch across all that width. Why it's almost flat in the middle!"

"Of course it would work, Sir!" I couldn't believe it was Isabel speaking for a second.

"What did you say, Isabel?" Mr Phillips, I could tell, was already bristling.

"I said of course it would work - Sir!" replied Isabel.

"And what do you propose that this - 'bridge' - of yours would be made from?"


"Bricks!! Hah!!" Mr Phillips scoffed.

Even I could see that it wouldn't work. My own effort was much better considering. At least I had enough arches to support the lorry, which was more than hers did. Arguing with Mr Phillips was pretty dumb too. But she wasn't about to give in.

"Yes, bricks!" she yelled defiantly and stood up with her eyes blazing.

I'd never seen Is like that before. It was a quite extraordinary scene. Mr Phillips, needless to say, was not amused.

"How dare you talk to me like that, my girl! How dare you answer back! I will not have it, do you hear!" I will not have it! Your bridge would fall down. It couldn't possibly support its own weight let alone the lorry's. And that is that!"

I thought Isabel would burst out crying there and then. But amazingly she didn't. She just spoke very quietly.

"You are quite wrong, Sir. You might think that it wouldn't even support its own weight, but you would be quite wrong Sir. As long as the arching forces are properly calculated and evenly transmitted, it would work. The design is perfect. You Sir, do not know what you are talking about."


'Is' by Derek Webb is published by Troll Carnival and available from your local bookshop as well as from Amazon  Waterstones or Gwales