[Short Story] – Going Back

Going Back won the 2015 Listowel Originals Short Story Competition, and was first published in the Listowel Writers’ Week 2015 Anthology.

Going Back

It was the quickest route, up through the mountain gap. And yes they’d both agreed to go this way, but Sinéad was still on edge. All that remained of the setting sun was a blood red gash on the horizon above the snow-dappled landscape. She rubbed her palms together, more out of compulsion than cold, and glanced across at Eoin in the driver’s seat. His shoulders were slack and he was humming along with the radio, with a funny little smile on his lips.

Sinéad thought that maybe he should be a little less relaxed considering the driving conditions. The grey slush had made a ridge of itself in the centre of the road, and the weather girl on the five o’clock news had warned of temperatures dropping below freezing after dark. But there was Eoin, with one hand on the steering wheel, paying more attention to the music than to the road. She gnawed her thumbnail. This wasn’t the sort of thing that normally bothered her. She’d always loved how Eoin was so laid back, especially when they were kids. He’d made life seem almost normal, as much as he could anyway.

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[Short Story] – The Biography of Euan Redmond

First published in Silver Apples, Issue 2 (Box of Tricks), I wrote this specifically for the prompt after reading a kid-friendly one-page run down of the Pandora’s Box legend. I had fantastic fun with this one, mainly thanks to the Silver Apples editors’ brilliant submission guidelines.

 

The Biography of Euan Redmond

Euan stood in front of his grandfather’s dust-thick desk in the family library. He pushed his hands deeper into his trouser pockets and resisted blowing his fringe out of his eyes as he waited for the inevitable reaction to his announcement. Euan’s father, Henry, was somewhere behind him, his sunbed skin blending in with the leather book spines stacked from floor to high ceiling. He’d allow Euan’s grandfather to have the first say. He would think it only proper.

Alexander Redmond eventually looked up at his grandson with a tight spectacled sneer. “Is she of old stock?” he said, and though Euan knew precisely what the old codger meant, he gave a contrarian answer.

“She’s not stock at all. She’s a person, if you’d believe it. Fancy that.” Euan rocked on his heels.

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[Short Story] – Ursula

First published in Crannóg 35, and my first official public reading. I was disgustingly nervous. Wine and good company helped a lot.

 

Ursula

The cat is on to me. She’s watching me balefully through the patio doors, and I’m watching her right back. I bring the joint to my lips and suck sharply in. I imagine the sweet tendrils invading every space, each alveolar pocket, inside my chest, licking up against capillary walls and entering my bloodstream. After a pause, I part my lips and let the smoke make its lazy escape. The cat drops her head before slinking down from the back step. I watch her tail flick out of view and am reminded of Ursula.

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[Short Story] – A Familiar Man

This was first published in Ropes 2013. I avoided reading it over too closely for posting here, because the temptation to edit after two years is much too strong. This is one of three ghost stories. The second, Kelpie, I read at Over the Edge Last Thursday as a featured reader. The third, I haven’t written yet.

A Familiar Man

The night gives way to the grey gloom of early morning as the train trundles east to west, cinching the waist of the country that used to be home. I’m glad the light has made my jaded and stubbled reflection in the carriage window fade, but the brighter it gets, the closer I am to the end of my journey. My stomach sinks and twists, balking at the thought.

I swore up and down that I’d never come back. I told them it would be the last they’d see of me, right before I walked out—that much of my promise I kept at least.  Mam and Dad. Both of their songs ended a verse early, but still no one called for an encore. Dad went first, four years ago, and now Mam.

From my seat, I watch as the daylight reveals a strange and familiar landscape. New roads and houses make an odd contrast with the old and always there. Then I catch my first sight of the bay, and the skin at the back of my neck prickles as my mind makes the air in the carriage taste of brine. When I think of everywhere I’ve been in my life since I left, I have never once experienced a place so entirely drenched by the sea. Every minute I was here I was drowning. And now it’s like I’m drowning again.

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