ARLEN HOUSE warmly invites you to celebrate the launch of my new short fiction collection HELLKITE on Wednesday 4 December at 6.00pm Venue: Dublin City Library and Archive 138-144 Pearse Street Dublin 2
‘Bring me back great stories,’ Andrew’s sister says. She is sitting up
in bed her arms clasped around her knees, blue eyes
waiting for him to sweep them clean of any dreams. ‘Bring me back a big slice of the city in your
‘With or without pepperoni,’ he jokes. Then he
leans over, kisses her cheek and picks up his keys. He files away the tall
order she has presented him with and head out the door, pulling his parka more
tightly around him as he hits the cutting air. He makes his way along the
street. People are already moving in and out of the day. He heads towards the
shops, walks by the square where the homeless are
scavenging the bins of the homed. They pull out chicken bones, empty pockets of
pita bread; upend a can of coke to see if it still has a dreg of sugar left
inside. He burrows his way through the aisles of the supermarket; buys what’s
needed to keep flesh under their skin and heads back to where she is waiting
for him. How thin his sister, how very sad her eyes.
‘What have you brought me?’ she enquires.
‘A bowl of fresh morning air.’
He curves his
hands and holds them to her face. She feels the cold of the new day on his
fingers and caresses them before she secrets her own back under the duvet.
He sets up a tray for her, cheese from the new
cheesemongers, bread still smelling of the oven it was saved from, some wild
acacia honey. He takes out a fresh napkin depicting a scene of girls and
bridges and blue weeping willow, tucks it under her chin.
‘My very own restaurant,’ she says, as she
plays with dripping bee sweetness onto the bread, moves it around the plate he
has placed before her. Stocks and shares fall on the other side of the city.
Mortgages default. Businesses fold in on themselves while she cuts the bread
into little cubes; stacks them into columns three squares high, playing with
them like a child; pretends she doesn’t see his frown, his threats if she
doesn’t eat. She knows that she is pushing her luck with him
Finally she takes a mouse-bite out of the
‘Where are my stories?’ she demands, lifting
the napkin to brush crumbs from her mouth. So he tells her, embellishes the
things he has seen on his domestic expedition. How there were archaeologists excavating ruins near the top of the square. A woman in a high-vis
jacket was sweeping soil from the bones of an ancient bird with a small paint
brush while a man numbered shards of plates that still held a tracery of leaves
and vines. Another turned to a collection of battered drinking vessels with the
memory of some magic potion. Some day it would teach the world to sing.
‘All those things you can see in a single
trip,’ she says.
‘It’s simple,’ he replies. ‘All you have to do
Extract from forthcoming short story collection: Hellkite
As part of The Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering, which
this year is celebrating Irish Women Writers, Hedy Gibbons-Lynott and Iareperforming a kitchen reading of Me
and Nu by Anne Gregory, as well as our own work tomorrow, Sunday 6th
October. Many thanks to Marion Cox for
inviting us. A day that is packed with inspiring events, times and venues are
10.30 The End of the Cycle: Lady Gregory and Yeats ‘A Vision’ Prof. Meg
Harper, Glucksman Chair in Contemporary Writing in English, University of Limerick.
Venue: Coole Park
11.15 Coffee Coole
Park Visitor Centre
11.45 Strange Encounters – Interactive Ghost Stories & Strange Tales
from Lady Gregory’s ‘Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland’
Dr. Cecily O’Neill, Author and International
Authority on Drama and Arts Education
Coole Park Visitor Centre
12.30 Coole Connections- a personal encounter with Lady Gregory and Coole
Hedy Gibbons-Lynott, Award-winning
Venue: Coole Park
14.30 Me & Nu – A Kitchen Reading
Hedy Gibbons-Lynott and Geraldine Mills
The Gate Lodge, Coole Park
15.30 Out of Old Stories
Geraldine Mills, Poet & Short-story
The Gate Lodge, Coole Park
20.00 Lady Gregory’s Ingredients
A three woman play depicting the life
of Lady Gregory
The Wild Swan Theatre Group
The Town Hall, Gort
7th October 2013
10.00 Creative Writing Think Tank (2 hrs) Gort Public Library
He followed all her actions on Facebook. The whole
world knew about her white-water rafting and the cycling, as well as driving
her truck into great hills of snow. She was smiling out at him, holding up a
snow rake that had precipitated a roof avalanche on top of her. Covered in
white and laughing. He could imagine the snow that found its way down behind
her scarf, melting as it touched the heat of her neck. She was pontificating
about frost heaves as if she had never heard of potholes. She hadn’t realised,
until she was where other people were, that this was where she wanted to be,
she told anyone and everyone who bothered to read what she wrote.
I could be you, Gretta.
That’s some man you’ve got there,
He could see her in the General Store, with its good
old-fashioned charm. She was one of ‘the
communidy’ now. The t softened to
d, letting go of her own tongue to
suck on someone else’s. Boars-head meat beside favourite frozen novelties.
Walking in, being greeted by Barbara behind the counter. How rage boiled up in
him. Lee Saoul playing her guitar over the soft rustle of newspapers as people
turned them over and filled their coffee cups again, called out to her. A pan
in the kitchen being scraped and potatoes mashed while she bought pastrami on
rye, linguica, corned beef hash for her Tom. At least he wasn’t called Bud. Bud
would have killed him entirely. That name opening up to her petal by petal.
Sitting in the front yard on a love seat, a fucking loveseat with his square
jaw and his hair streaked back, a cold beer, full-fitting jeans; blue jays in
She posted up pictures of their sugar house. Night
temperatures cold enough to send the sap rushing back down the bole of the
tree, followed by a warm day that drew it right up again. The two of them in
their big, red ass pick-up as they drove out to the sugar bush, striking it
while the sap was running, boring into the trees, the spigot drip, drip into
the pail, bucket, whatever she called it now. All day and night the stove fed
with kindling as they boiled off the water, reducing it all to sweetness.
Bleeding sweetness out of the sugar bush as if she were born to it. Drinking in
all its sickening sap.
Could she not have waited for his sugar time, good old
promises between her lips, instead of packing up and taking the bus to the
airport, fuck-friend waiting for her at the other end with his Shiloh Sharps.