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Pushing Out The Boat 10 Foreword When you have written your first works the natural thing is to look around to find a place to publish. The same applies to creating your first images – where can these things be shown? If you are lucky there will be a good magazine in your part of the country. For me growing up in Belfast it was The Honest Ulsterman and a little later New Irish Writing in the Irish Press, edited by David Marcus. In the mid eighties I was Writer-in-Residence at Aberdeen University (more accurately Non-Writer in Residence) and the magazine there at that time was Scratchings. The quality was in the writing and not in the production. But that’s as it should be, there being no money at the time. Scratchings was a good name for it – porous paper and a couple of staples. But things have changed. Last time I was in Old Aberdeen I was given a complimentary copy of Pushing Out the Boat – a delight to the eye and to the inner ear. For the last 10 years North-East Scotland and its writers, artists and readers have been well served if this edition was anything to go by. Beautifully produced, stylish and with writing in English and Doric (when I eventually got round to reading Sunset Song I was amazed at the power and elegance of Grassic Gibbon’s language). The editors are proud of their track record in giving a worldwide circulation to new poetry and prose which includes work in Doric.   So congratulations on the Tenth Anniversary Issue. Long may it continue.

Bernard MacLaverty Bernard MacLaverty was born in Belfast but now lives in Glasgow. He has published five collections of short stories (the latest is Matters of Life & Death) and four novels – Lamb, Cal, Grace Notes (short listed for the Booker Prize), and The Anatomy School. He has written versions of his fiction for other media - radio plays, television plays, screenplays and libretti.  He was Writer-in-Residence in the Aberdeen University English Department in the mid 1980’s and later, in 2007 to 2008, he did some creative writing teaching at AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies. He is a member of Aosdana in Ireland.

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CONTENTS Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 22 Page 23 Page 25 Page 26 Page 28 Page 28 Page 29 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 56 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67

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Out of Commission image by Robert Gregson Fyfie image by Marga Schnell Preface White & Quickening poems by Jean Atkin Bloody Mary story by Heather Reid everyone marked their map image by Ann Craig Just-up Afternoon poem by Kevin Reid Sunday 4 Nov image by Ann Craig Glaikit Andra story by Stephen Pacitti Peninsula? image by Gerrard Lindley What Every Islander Knows poems by Jonathan Wonham Waiting for the Call Jonathan Wonham Bennachie image by Rosa Alba MacDonald Sunday Papers image by Tez Watson The Iguana/Scientist/Hamburger story by Martin Walsh element [three] image by Ann Craig Cult Poem poem by Mark Farrell Nautical Sign image by David Pettigrew Tyre 2 image by Pauline Thomas The Lord Was My Shepherd story by Louis K Lowy Enlightenment is Ordinary image by Hana Horack wame-mates & Le Temps Menaçant poems by Sheena Blackhall Peninsula 004 image by Gerrard Lindley Spit and Promise story by Vivien Jones heading out image by Dolleen MacLennan Field Systems poem by Neil Russell First Disobedience story by Judy Pinn all fall down image by Ann Craig Fàilte gu Alba [Young Writer] poem by Camille Conner By Dounreay image by Kate Campbell White Door, Fittie image by David Pettigrew The Paper Bag story by Jenny Watson Paul Smith offers image by Sarah Ellen Taylor a right hook poem by Mark Edwards Aberdeen Towerblocks poem by Rapunzel Wizard Prowler in Urquart Street image by Tez Watson My Shrinking Future story by Calum Stewart Rookery image by Neil Russell Edgar Allan Poe in Suburbia story by Max Scratchmann The Last Witch & Naming the Moon poems by Andrew McCallum The History Woman story by Joan Christie shifting sands image by Jenny Watt Colbeck

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Contents Page 68 He Showed Me poems by Page 69 Paper Chain Family Page 70 Pictured poem by Page 71 Sinnerella story by Page 74 The Girl in a Red Field image by Page 75 Peninsula image by Page 76 Island & Tide poems by Page 77 Snap poem by Page 77 Primary Landscape image by Page 78 Forgotten Dreams story by Page 83 Looking Down to Crivie image by Page 84 Ironing a Sari & Three poems by Page 85 Eastbound 2003 poem by Page 86 The Park story by Page 88 Invisible Cities image by Page 89 Fog-born poem by Page 90 Back Nine Narrative story by Page 92 There’s no such thing as… poem by Page 93 Contributor/Printer Information Page 95 Magazine Information [including Team List] Covers Front: Swimming in the Coral Sea Inside Front: Word Surface, Florence Inside Back: Louis Vuiton offers    

Elaine Reid Elaine Reid Isbel Moira Keir James Alison M Green Christopher Woods Gerrard Lindley Kate Percival Rachel Fox Hilary De Vries Colette Coen Jane Pettigrew Gerard Rochford Karin Slater Maurice Gartshore Neil Russell Davide Trame Matthew B Dexter Beate Allerton

Tim Winters David Pettigrew Sarah Ellen Taylor

Out of Commission

Robert Gregson photograph

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Fyfie

Marga Schnell

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artist proof woodcut print

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Preface Ten years is a significant milestone in the life of a ‘little magazine’ - a description that the editorial team is proud to claim for this publication. Although frequently short lived since their sources of funding are rarely secure and their distribution usually dependent on the good will of small bookshops - such periodicals are often the place where great writers first see their work in print and editors have the privilege of recognising and fostering new talent. As such, they are an important indicator of the cultural health of a community and, since they are usually produced by volunteers and cannot pay their contributors, the vitality of what we are learning to call the Big Society! Pushing Out the Boat is particularly proud to be able to provide an outlet for the work of both writers and artists. Our poetry panel sets a high value on freshness of perception and expression, whether it’s the kind of lyric that evokes a swift, satisfied response or the more complex poem that challenges you to look deeper into yourself and to bring new insights to the words on the page. Some of this year’s choices are still rough-edged, others delightfully inventive, such as the two concrete poems, which appeal - like the magazine - to both the eye and the ear. While there was a noticeable increase in the overall quality of the prose submissions this year, there were fewer really ‘stand out’ pieces. Sadly, there were none at all from young writers in the under-18 category, but we are pleased to have been able to include three or four stories by writers who are publishing for the first time. And, because of the generally high quality of the submissions, we have tried to reflect their variety of themes and styles in our final selection. For many of our readers, of course, it is the quality of the magazine’s art work that distinguishes Pushing Out the Boat from more conventional literary periodicals. These are often what first draw the curious reader’s eye to a particular page - surprising, delighting, amusing and sometimes puzzling. Being able to reproduce the originals, where appropriate and whatever their medium, in colour may add to the cost of producing the magazine but it ensures that we can do them justice. And it also means that every year we have a range of striking submissions from which to choose an eye-catching cover! So, whether your interest is literary or artistic, we do hope you enjoy Issue 10.

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Quickening It’s the way our hill has somehow heaved its shoulders high enough to catch the sun. It’s the ripple of warm eggs in the nest box, and the protests when you lift a ruffling hen.

You might say it’s the young sheep running bucking down the wintered slope; the way their hoofs carve little curls of mud.

White

Surely it’s the sweet stink of green buds bulging on the blackcurrant. Or the way I prize the sway of catkins like clean washing.

In this endless winter, at the end of short afternoons the sheep know when I go out to cut holly.

And didn’t I stand outside in my socks after dinner, on the cast iron doormat, listening

The sky is white with cold. The hills are worn as sea-wracked shells and the sheep are wild for green.

to the oystercatchers pairing, whistle and circle, in the March dark?

I walk their thin path under last night’s thin snow; burdened with the air and spears of holly I mind the rutted rib cage of the hill. Just here I let the holly fall among the sheep. They fill my head with fibrous tearing. On ice heave ground I squat to watch how their brown eyes are split by horizontal yellow bands, and I ache for green. Jean Atkin

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Bloody Mary

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solated in goal, whilst his team-mates jostle for the ball, the boy with red hair sticks his hands in his shorts and begins to rummage.

“Hey, Benny-boy, pay some fuckin attention, would yer?” shouts the coach, his jaw popping in its socket as he chews. Reluctantly the boy retrieves his hands and begins to jog between the posts, breathing deeply and knocking his fists together. Mary is watching from the bench: not the sub’s bench but the bench beside the play park where she’s come to let Finn run off steam. She had hoped there would be other children for him to play with, other mothers to talk to, but the swings are empty, the park deserted. Beside her, the baby is asleep, a parasol angled above the pram as though it might contain some miniature geisha. It is a warm day, unseasonably so, and, as Finn swings hand over hand from the monkey bars, she imagines his arm stretching in the heat like toffee. “Mum, look at me!” “Careful,” she warns, although it’s more of a disclaimer than a genuine plea for safety. A bee hovers near the pram and she waggles the handle to discourage it. The baby’s eyelids flutter and its little mouth pumps rhythmically around a dummy which in reality slipped out some time ago and is now perched on its chest like a bright, exotic beetle. A shout goes up from the field and the players slow-motion-jog their way back to the centre, jettisoning a cargo of snot and phlegm as they go. For a moment everything seems to Mary to run in slo-mo: the boys jogging, the sweat dripping, the gum-man clapping his hands above his head, the fat guy with the crew cut jabbing his finger in the direction of the other goalie mouthing ‘wanker’ as if trying to dislodge an oatcake stuck to the roof of his mouth. And then someone hits the play button and it all speeds up again, ball to foot to foot to head to chest to “Baz, here, over here.” “Liam, here mate.” “Och, ya wanker. See you!” “Tommo, I”m on it.” “Tommo! Tommo! Ach, you twat!” And, from the sideline, “Get the ball, get the ball, get the fuckin ball!” A boy appears beside the bench and stares unblinkingly in a three-year-old’s way. “Hello,” says Mary. The boy says nothing; he is wearing a yellow cap and frog-faced sandals. He points mutely at Finn. “That’s Finn,” she says, encouragingly, and the boy runs to join him.

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Bloody Mary “Careful,” shouts the woman approaching the bench; she is too old to be the boy’s mother and too fat to keep up. She drops onto the seat beside Mary, wheezing heavily. “Yours?” she asks, nodding at Finn. “That’s right.” “A lot of work,” she says as though she’s seen his prognosis and it’s poor. She gestures towards the toddler, “He’s my daughter’s. It was girls for me, three of them. I’m not used to boys.” She stares gloomily at the child. “A lot of work.” ~~~ A whistle blows and the red-headed goalie trots into the net and retrieves the ball. “What’s going on, son?” shouts the coach. “Where’s yer head, in yer kecks? “ The boy kicks the ball, hard, unfazed by the man’s tirade. “Too busy thinkin on that girl of yours, were you? Dinnae bother. You couldnae pleasure a Polo Mint is what I heard. Keep your eye on the ball, that’s your job. Eye. Ball. That’s why you’re here. That’s what you’re here to do. Stop playing like a girl and get on with it.” The woman turns to Mary, shaking her head. “The language!” she says, rubbing the pink swollen mitten of her hand around her neck, “and the shouting. You wonder where they get it.” The baby begins to snuffle in the pram and Mary rocks the handle and shushes. “Of course, it’s on the telly all the time,” the woman continues. “It’s no surprise that the kids pick it up. Thank goodness I had girls; you don’t get it the same with them, not language like that. Catty though, you have to watch out for that; and getting pregnant.” She looks bleakly to her grandson. “Oh, I don’t know,” says Mary, vaguely, although she does, remembering all too well the language amongst girls in the playground even when she was at primary school. Linda Carroll and her hangers-on bearing down on her like lions - ‘Say bloody, Mary, go on, say bloody, just once, let’s hear you, let’s hear you say bloody’ - a bit of pushing, some nipping and then Miss Ritchie spotting the mob and heading across to investigate; Mary leaning towards her aggressor before she reached them, whispering, ‘fuck off Linda, you fat cow’, and then turning on the tears and wide-eyed look of innocence when Linda repeated her words to the teacher and was sent to the headmaster for lying. Mary remembers the feel of those words in her mouth, the bright, metallic taste of them, like touching her tongue to a battery, and the power they contained if handled carefully: not frittered away in everyday conversation, but nurtured and brewed like a spell. Powerful words; status words. The woman is leaning over the pram, now. “Is that a little girl?” “Yes, that’s Jenny. She’s three months.”

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Bloody Mary “Aaa, lovely.” A petering out whistle drifts from the pitch and the players slow-jog back to the sideline. There is some backslapping, some hair ruffling and a bit more gobbing. They’re just boys, sixteen or seventeen, awkward in their bodies and testing them out like newly opened Christmas presents. They banter in loud, artificially-deepened voices, suddenly straining their vocal chords to bellow at people across the pitch for no discernible reason: rutting by any other name. Two of the boys are mock fighting, batting at each other’s faces with open palms, blundering amongst their team mates until one accidentally bashes into a dark-haired boy, sending him reeling backwards. When he rises his face is twisted with anger and he comes at the boy, hands raised, tweaking at his football top and pushing him towards the play park with his palms. “Ya cunt,” he’s shouting, “ya stupid, effin cunt.” The two children stare from the top of the climbing frame, the younger one frightened but Finn clearly fascinated. Mary feels the boy’s grandmother stiffen beside her, expelling a quickly drawn breath as a hiss through tightened lips. Mary rises and shouts “Hey!” to the boys before walking across to the man who she guesses is the coach. He meets her on the sideline, his hands pushed deep into his tracksuit pockets. “Everything all right, love?” “Actually, no. I don’t suppose you could have a word with your lads and ask them to tone the language down a bit? I know they’re just letting off steam, but we’ve children at the play park and they shouldn’t have to listen to language like that.” “Right,” he says, narrowing his eyes to look across at the park. “Sorry, love.” He turns away from her and blows a whistle, holding his arm up to summon the players. Mary walks back to the bench, the voice of the coach a low drone behind her followed by laughter from the boys, deep and derisive, washing towards her in waves. She hears “silly cow”; she hears “nice tits”; her face burns. On the bench the older woman is preparing to leave. “No!” says Mary, sharply, and then, “stay, please.” The woman looks doubtful and a little frightened but remains seated. The players return to the field, and the game and the language resume. “Good for you,” says the woman, eventually, “taking them on like that. They needed telling. You need to be firm with boys, otherwise they go bad.” “Not always, surely?” “Nine times out of ten. That’s my experience, anyway. Look at him,” she says nodding again at her grandson, “his dad didn’t hang around. When he heard a bairn was on the way, he was off. No sense of responsibility, you see.” Pushing Out the Boat 10

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Bloody Mary “What’s your grandson’s name?” asks Mary. “Bradley.” “Finn?” calls Mary, pushing the lid off a tube of Smarties. “Would you like to share these with Bradley?” Finn runs across and then returns to the roundabout and tips the tube into the small boy’s hand. Mary looks at the woman as if this one small act is sufficient to wipe out generations of male wrongs. “What do you say, son?” “Thank you.” “That’s it.” The baby wakes and begins to punch at the air with jerky limbs. “Aaa, she’s awake,” says the woman, leaning once more into the pram. “Hello, look at you, wee fighter aren’t you, eh? Wee fighter? Wee tom-boy?” Mary lifts the girl to her shoulder where she pecks at her mother’s neck eager for milk, and is about to call Finn in readiness to return home when there is a wail from beside the roundabout. She sees him standing over the younger boy, pinning him to the black rubber matting with a sandaled foot; emotions scud across his face, his lips tight, his body stiff. She does not know what the younger boy has done, but when Finn’s words finally come they are hot with anger: “Wanker,” he shouts, “you silly, silly, silly wanker!” It isn’t Finn’s words, or even his anger, which drives Mary forward but more the look of triumphant satisfaction on the older woman’s face, the pressing need to reset the balance of male and female relationships which has somehow been disrupted by the heat and the boredom and life’s many disappointments, not to mention the air-filled bag of leather being kicked around the field. And somewhere, in her memory, there’s the echo of the playground. She does it calmly, walking as she might across a field of edgy cattle, careful not to spook them, settling herself on the centre spot where the ground is warm and powdery, and taking off her tee shirt and her bra to feed her baby. And, like bullocks, they eye her warily; skittish and mutely curious in the late spring sunshine. Heather Reid

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Ann Craig

digital print

everyone marked their map


Just-up Afternoon Among friends, finely chopped thoughts shared over a partied table, cigarettes, smoked glass voices and simmering celery, deep red Chesterfield views on liberty couched in the comfort of onions cooking. Through the window a light bulb hangs from a dim November sky, bare trees sway to dark spells of Burroughs’ heroin hypnosis. 24 carat breakfast straight from the ground and served with bread sincerity, citrus sentiments offered in kind homemade pear and apple wine the zest of friendship singing Rosemary and Thyme. ‘Have you read your tea leaves?’ Written on the lip of the mug, I had just finished a cruel coffee with sediment like mud. Kevin Reid

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Sunday 4 Nov

PICTURE

Ann Craig

digital print

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Glaikit Andra

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an I wis a loon in the wee primary skweel at Teuchiehowe, Ah jist hid the ae ambition: tae be a missionary. Miss Gavin had sparked it aff bi tellin us sae mony grippin stories aboot thon brave men an weemin that went oot tae furran pairts, hackin their wey throw the jungle, tellin the natives tae burn their idols, an stairt weerin claes, an nae tae cut each ither’s heids aff, an the like. Ay, Ah wis gaan tae be a second David Livingstone, anither Albert Schweitzer. Bit, as Rabbie said, ‘the best laid schemes o mice an men gang aft agley,’ an far am Ah the day? Ah work for the Corporation Lightin Depairtment, Ah nivver ging near a kirk, an Ah hinna read a Bible for years. Noo, foo did that come aboot, ye’ll be speirin? Weel, it wis aa the wyte o ane o ma skweel chums, Glaikit Andra, as we caad him, an Mr Mackenzie, the heidmaister o the skweel. Andra wis fit ye micht ca a shillin short – or if nae the full shillin, ninepence at ony rate. He wis only wi us a year afore they pit him tae a special school. Ay, he wis a bittie slaa; bit lookin back, Ah winner if in a wey Ah wisna slaaer yet masel. Haud on, an ye’ll see fit Ah mean. Weel, slaa Andra micht be, bit fit a fine loon he wis; ask a bite o his aipple, an he gied y’it; ask for a len o his watter pistol an it wis yours; ask him tae gie ye a shottie o his scooter an ye didna hae tae ask twice. Some fowk caad him feel, bit that wisna richt – Ah’d caa him ‘an innocent’. Mr Mackenzie, the heidmaister, ye’d ca ‘righteous’ mair nor ‘innocent’. He wis an upricht man, bit affa dour wi’t, an elder an a pillar o the Free Presbyterian Kirk. Miss Gavin wis wir primary teacher, an on Friday efterneens she wid tak the quines for Religious Instruction; bit it wis the Heidmaister hissel that took the loons. Ah some think he wis o the opeenion that loons should hear the word o God fae a man, an nae fae the lips o a mere wumman. In he wid come, wi his goon flappin, slap doon a muckle blaik Bible on the desk, an dive stracht in tae a story aboot Noah, or Abraham, or Daniel, or somebody. Great Heroes o the Faith, he caad them. An fan he’d feenished, he’d mak us lern a Bible text bi hairt, or a bit oot the metrical Psaums, forbye. An wae untae us if we didna hae it aff perfect the follyin wik. “Richt, Robertson, let’s hear ye!” An Tam wid staan up an reel it aff: “‘I to the hills will lift mine eyes, from whence doth come mine aid; my safety cometh from the Lord who heav’n and earth hath made’. Psalm 121, verses 1 and 2. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift – sir!” “Richt, sit doon! Grant, fit dis Micah tell us?” An Herbert wid haud on till his desk an warsle his wey throw, “‘What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?’ Micah, chapter 6 verse 8. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift – sir!” “Richt, an min’ ye dae it!”

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Glaikit Andra “Low, fit is the beginning o wisdom?” An Geordie wid loup til his feet wi, “‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.’ Proverbs, chapter 9, verse 10. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift – sir!” Weel, the fear o the Lord micht or michtna be the beginnin o wisdom, bit the fear o Mackenzie wis certainly the beginnin o a good memory. Noo, ma faimly werena Kirk fowk at aa; they were fit Mackenzie wid hae caad pagans. Ma faither hid seen bad times durin the Depression; an that hid made him a caird-cairryin communist. Fan Ah telt him Ah wis gaan tae be a missionary he jist laached and said: “‘The parson tells his tale of wonder, To gull the mob, And keep them under.’ Nivver min’, son, ye’ll grow oot o’t!” We nivver even hid a Bible in the hoose, an of course Ah wisna sent near a Sunday School. Ah kent nae mair aboot David and Goliath, an Jonah an the Whale, nor Ah did aboot Riemann’s Hypothesis o Prime Numbers. Sae fan Mr Mackenzie stairted in wi his stories Ah fairly lent ma lugs. But afore he feenished them he wid ayewis stop at the maist excitin bit, an look roon at us like he wis lookin at a cairtload o neeps. An he wis richt sarcastic. “Noo,” he wid say, “noo, ma clivver loons, fit div ye think happened?” An quick as a flash wee Andra’s haan wid shoot up, an he’d be oot wi the unswer – or at least fit he thocht wid be the unswer. Ma troubles stairted ae Friday fan Mr Mackenzie telt us aboot Sodom an Gomorrah (an ye winna be surprised tae hear he didna hae a good word at aa for the fowk o Sodom) fan Lot an faimly were rinnin awa fae Sodom, cos God wis gaan tae destroy it, an Lot’s wife his looked back – though she hid been telt nae till. “Noo, ma clivver loons, fit div ye think happened?” An up gied Andra’s haan: “Please sir, she bumped her heid against a lumppost!” An we aa roared. Peer Andra, he didna ken fit wey we wis laachin. Noo, of course, hid it been onybody else that said it, Mr Mackenzie wid hae lowsed the verra hounds o hell. Bit he kent Andra hid difficulties an he jist glowered at us an shook his heid, an said, “Na, Andra, ye daftie, there wis nae lumpposts in thon days. Na, na, she wis… turned intae… a pillar o saat!” An I burst oot laachin. “Oh, that’s a good ane, sir,” Ah said, “a pillar o saat.” Bit Mr Mackenzie wisna laachin; naebody wis laachin. An I wisna laachin fan Mr Mackenzie said, “Oot here Cruikshank. Ah’ll lern ye tae laach at the Word o God.” An shakin lik a leaf Ah left ma desk an shuffled doon tae the front. “Fit dis Psaum 137 say, ma clivver loon?” says Mackenzie, takin oot the tawse, the sarcasm fair drippin fae his moo. “Please, sir, Ah dinna ken, sir,” says I.

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Glaikit Andra

“It says – verse sivven, laddie – ‘Thou shalt stretch forth thy hand’. Dae it, laddie!” An doon cam the tawse sax times. The neist time it wis Moses leadin the Children o Israel oot o Egypt, chased bi Pharaoh’s airmy til they couldna ging nae further cos the Red Sea wis afore them. “Noo, ma clivver loons,” said Mackenzie, wi a curl o his lip, “foo div ye think they got oot o that pickle?” An Andra hid his haan in the air, wavin for aa he wis worth. “Mr Mackenzie, wis it a big sumbarine that cam alang an took Moses an his children awa an fired its gun at the Egyptians an killed them aa?” An we aa howled. “Andra, ye saftie, there wis nae ‘sumbarines’ in thon days. Na, na,” said Mackenzie, “the waters… divided! An they aa walked ower… on dry land!” An afore Ah could check masel Ah let oot sic a hoot (an fit wis Mackenzie tae think bit that Ah wis mockin the Word o God again). An he crooked his finger – an oot Ah went – an got ma licks. Ah sometimes walked hame wi Andra, for he bade in a hoose nae far fae ma mine. “Fit wid ye like tae be fan ye grow up, Andra?” Ah speirt at him ae day, “Ah’m gaan tae be a missionary.” “Fit’s a missionary?” says he. An Ah telt him (weel, fit Ah thocht wis a missionary ony road). He wis affa impressed bi fit Ah telt him aboot maneatin tigers, an snakes, an giant spiders, an savages wi spears, an cannibals, an pith helmets. “Ah’m gaan tae be a Spitfire pilot,” said Andra. “Ah’ve seen picters o them in ma big brither’s comics.” Ah tried tae let him doon gently, explainin that there wisna ony Spitfires noo. He looked affa disappynted. Syne he brichtens up a bit, an says tae me: “If there’s nae Spitfires, can I come an be a missionary wi you, Chairlie?” An I said, “Ay, ye can that, Andra.” Bit bi the next day he’d forgot aa aboot it. The Book o Joshua brocht me muckle grief. Nivver min’ the day Mackenzie stairted readin oot the story o the twa spies: “’And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly…’” We aa got belted for snicherin that day. Bit the next Friday the lesson wis aboot the Children o Israel mairchin roon an roon the waas o Jericho, day efter day, wi the priests blaain their trumpets o rams’ horns. An efter sivven days… “Weel, ma clivver loons, efter sivven days fit div ye think happened?” An wee Andra, haan up, cried, “Please sir, an aal wifie cam oot and telt them tae stop their din an get the hell oot o’t, jist like Mrs Watson dis fan me an ma brithers is playin ootside her windae!” Mr Mackenzie gied him a glower, an wi aa laached. “Na, na, Andra, ye tattie, na, na. Fit happened wis… the Children o Israel gied a great shout… an… the waas o Jericho… fell doon flat!” An the hale class wis dumfoonert; except me. Ye see, Andra wisna the anely tattie – gype that Ah wis, Ah laached. “Cruikshank!” The finger beckoned.

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Glaikit Andra

Cam anither Friday efterneen an Mr Mackenzie wis on aboot Joshua an the Israelites fechtin agin the Amorites in the Valley of Ajalon. “So aa day they focht… An it wis a lang, lang day… langer nor ony day that hid ivver been… cos it nivver got dark! Noo, ma clivver loons, fit wey div ye think that wis?” An Andra’s haan wis up an he wis sayin, “Please sir, ma big brither telt me the days are langer in summer cos somebody chynges the clock. Did somebody chynge Joshua’s clock?” An Mr Mackenzie gied a groan, and said, “Na, na, Andra, ye gomeril, there were nae clocks in thon days. Na, the day wis lang because… because… the sun… stood still!” An for eence Ah didna laach, bit Ah nudged Hinry that wis sittin next tae me, “That’s nae true. He’s pullin wir legs. Aabody kens the sun gings doon ivvry day. It disna staan still.” Bit Mackenzie hid lugs shairper nor a barn hoolet’s. An eence mair, wi a crookin of the finger, he pronoonced ma doom: “Doot the Word o God, wid ye, Cruikshank. Oot here, laddie.” An sae it gied on, wik efter wik. Ilka Friday for me wis a blaik day, an ma fowk eesed tae winner fit wye Ah wisna gled fan the laist efterneen o the skweel wik cam roon, fan Ah the ither bairns wis sae blithe an canty. Cam Christmas, the time o peace an good will. Of course Mackenzie, the staunch Free Presbyterian, didna celebrate Christmas, bit he wisna sweir tae tell us the story o the wise men an the shepherds an the baby in a manger. It wis the word o God efter aa. An Mackenzie wis in graan form, pintin a picter as dramatic as ony Christmas caird (though he widna hae liked the comparison). “An the shepherds fell on their knees, an they looked up at the sky… An they saa… Weel, ma clivver loons, fit did they see?” An Andra wis beside hissel, “Please sir, please sir, Ah ken ess ane. Ma big brither telt me. There wis a mannie in a big balloon wi a peashooter, pluffin split peas, an cryin, ‘Peas on earth, pigswill tae men!’” Mackenzie looked at him, an shook his heid. “Yer big brither telt ye that, did he, Andra? Ah’ll mebbe hae a wordie wi him. Na, na, the shepherds looked up an they saa… a ‘choir o angels’… singin in the sky!” “’A choir o angels?’” Ah thocht, an near choked. It wis a richt caal day, an snaain ootside, an Mackenzie, wi a sarcastic smirk, said, “Come oot, Cruikshank, an Ah’ll gie ye something tae het yer haans.” “’… and what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak and of Samson and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets.’” (Mackenzie sometimes feenished the lesson wi that quote fae the Letter tae the Hebrews, afore sailin oot the door, draain his goon aroon him.) Ay, Ah’ll spare ye the tale o the lave o ma trials; bit Ah’ll tell ye this: ma haans still tingle fan Ah think o the miracles o Jesus.

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Glaikit Andra Later on Ah heard fowk spik o the American Bible Belt, an Ah used tae winner if it wis waur nor Mackenzie’s Bible Belt. Sae in the eyn Ah couldna mak up ma min’ fa wis the bigger feel – wee Andra or Mr Mackenzie. Bit it gied me a richt scunner o religion (though, tae gie Mackenzie his due, Ah nivver forgot his Bible stories). The years passed, an Ah grew up an mairrit, and Mackenzie retired, an Ah dinna ken fit becam o wee Andra. Bit ae day Ah bumped intae Mr Mackenzie in the street. He hidna chynged a bit. Freenly eneuch he wis, bit sarcastic as ivver. “Weel, Cruikshank, Miss Gavin telt me ye eence hid the notion o comin oot tae be a missionary bit Ah hear ye’re workin for the Corporation Lighting Department noo.” “Ay, Mr Mackenzie,” Ah said, lookin at the grun. “It didna work oot.” “Weel, Cruikshank,” says he, “if it’s ony consolation tae ye, that’s missionary work o a kin. Ye’re still helpin fowk tae see the licht.” An awa he wint, laachin his heid aff. Ah looked efter him, mi een lik twa daggers. An then it happened. He wis that taen up wi his joke he didna watch far he was gaan, and he pit his fit doon – squish! – on something … an he fair skited intae the gutter. An for eence his langwidge wisna biblical. The Scots leid has mony bra words tae describe fit it wis he trumped on, bit Ah’ll jist ca it ‘somethin a dog left ahin it’. An aa o a sudden there cam tae ma min’ a verse that Mackenzie hid dinned intae wir heids aa thon years ago, an Ah baaled oot efter him: “‘Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, saith the Lord.’ Joshua, chapter 1 verse 3. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift – sir!” An for me it wis fit the mediaeval mystics wid hae caad ‘a moment of holy joy’. Stephen Pacitti

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Peninsula?

Gerrard Lindley

acrylic

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19


What Every Islander Knows Every islander has seen a trail of sparks leaving by the door. Every man who has pulled on a cigarette has sat and watched the smoke being drawn away into some invisible vent. Every islander has scraped the dirt from beneath his nails, and at least once found enough to plant a grain of mustard under it. And every man who has stripped apart an engine knows that all the smears cannot be washed away and that sometimes oil will get under the skin. And everyone knows you can’t wash under the skin. And that a man gathering limpets shall be judged by his swiftness rather than his strength. And though a feast marks the end of a harvest there may still be some tidying up to do. And that the trail of sparks does not disappear into the night, but keeps on going, just as the bearer of sparks must keep on going. And who knows what trouble it may cause? And all of us have some idea of where the sparks are going and of why the oil does not disappear with the layers of skin that are slowly unpeeling. And every islander knows that nothing ever really disappears, for it is under your nails or inside a mouth you’ve previously ignored that seems to be breathing your exhaled smoke at the other end of the corridor.

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Waiting for the Call 5am in the kitchen, waiting for the phone to ring, in jeans and his old tartan shirt, ripped under the arms, with a cup of tea in front of him, reluctant to work through a nagging thought. The grey town in his eyes: no glittery charm of the sea. One who lacks will, or feels he might drown. Milk in tea, hours that swirl about, labour’s harm, lives rinsed out and heading for the drain. Thoughts of his wife, who loves to sleep, departed in dreams of another name. Living without him, cushioned on the brink her precious face his gaze would keep locked away, he’d cried enough to think. The soft depart, the tiniest click awakens another voice, calling through empty streets. Sip by sip his anger comes, all organised his bag, his boots, the pills to sleep. He turns to the window, sees undisguised some shadowy creature swinging from a hook trying to take and not be stopped with a cry. Jonathan Wonham

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Bennachie

Rosa Alba MacDonald

photograph

Sunday Papers

Tez Watson 22

digital photograph Pushing Out the Boat 10


The Iguana, the Scientist and the Hamburger

I

used to have a colleague, a fellow scientist, who was so clever that no-one could understand him. His name was Damien Jones. When he was seconded to work in Ecuador, the local scientists called him Queco behind his back.

“Why Queco?” I asked. “Que co-jones!” was the reply, accompanied by much hilarity. “What balls!” Unless they knew something I didn’t, they were referring to the quality of his scientific lectures. They didn’t understand a word he said, although his Spanish was excellent. This was their way of getting back at him for making them feel stupid. But he had the last laugh, he married the sexiest girl in the Institute, Mercedes Pantalonés, whose flashing eyes and seductive walk turned every male head. When the weather in Guayaquil was cool, which was rare, she would come to the Institute in leather trousers. “Ay, ay, ay!” She drove the men mad with lust. No-one could understand: why had she chosen Queco? We discussed it over lunch-break one day in my colleagues’ favourite café, a scruffy dive off Letamendi. “Maybe it is his cojones.” Adolfo joked through his droopy moustache, his bony hands held in front of him as if each held a large melon. “Or his chorizo,” suggested Jesus, the plankton expert, making an unfeasibly wide space between his palms. “No, no, I have a better hypothesis,” said Humberto, who was as round as he was tall and sweating profusely in the noonday heat. “It must be the leather. They’re both leather fetishistas. Haven’t you noticed how Queco often comes to work in a leather coat?” “You mean that long black one that almost touches the ground? Makes him look like one of Hitler’s side-kicks, if you ask me!” said Adolfo. “That’s rich coming from someone with a name like yours,” said Jesus, grinning slyly. “How can you talk to me about silly names?” Adolfo replied sharply. Then, stroking his moustache, he turned to me. “What do you think, Bill, you’re a fellow Gringo, maybe you have the answer?” I reflected for a moment, trying to ignore the rank smell wafting up from the river. I was no different from them, I too had lusted after Mercedes, was jealous and perplexed at Damien’s success. “Well,” I said, “He’s not as smart as Victor!”

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The Iguana, the Scientist and the Hamburger They looked at me, and then at each other, their Amerindian features puzzled. “Victor? But there is no-one in the Instituto by that name!” I grinned. “I know, I’m talking about Victor the iguana. He lives in the Parque Bolivar. His name is painted along his side in big white letters.” After a pause, Humberto, deliberate as ever, said, “Yes I have seen that iguana. Sometimes an old man, a loco, comes to feed it on old lettuces. He coaxes it down from the trees then talks to it like an old friend.” “Only Gringos and locos go to that park,” said Adolfo. “Well, this Gringo here,” I jerked my thumb towards my chest, “was in that very park yesterday with Damien. We were sitting on a bench under a tree…” “Sitting under a tree? Coño, what kind of fools are they sending us from Britain? Have you never seen an iguana crap? I’m telling you, you don’t want to be there!” “’dolfo, why not let our friend finish his story?” “We were talking science,” I resumed. “Damien was trying to explain some new variant of Virtual Population Analysis.” I made a gesture of incomprehension. “Ah, you see,” Adolfo was triumphant, “not even the other gringos understand Queco!” “Damien kept waving his hamburger in the air as he explained the finer points of VPA to me. That’s when I noticed Victor up a nearby tree. He was watching us, apparently listening to the lecture in rapt attention. I tried to point him out to Damien, but he was in full flow.” My friends began to laugh; they could already see the dénouement. “I never realized how fast they can run!” I continued. “I swear Victor, all half-metre of him, was down the tree, across the ground, up Damien’s leg and back triumphantly in his tree, the hamburger securely locked in his jaws, before you could say…” “Mercedes Pantalonés!” Jesus interjected decisively. As we walked back to the Institute, Humberto said gravely, “Queco may be a smart-ass but even a smart-ass can be outwitted by an iguana.” Martin Walsh

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element (three)

Ann Craig

burnt paper

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Cult Poem Late autumn and driving the wreathing leaves, the crunching roads, Japanese poems no longer sticking to our ribs. We’ve changed. ‘that did not linger, not at the time nor in memory’ where is that from, is it from anything at all... and there was only one person there that she remotely liked – /No don’t stop here/Why/Just keep going please/ but wondering if the coffee would still be bad there, if the fat, cruel waitress could still possibly be serving stale breath and the drabness of old men’s hair. Go to college, make good, go to college – that town has passed and that’s good, a little more woken now Sunday church bells ringing on whisky-soda heads a frog burned to death by the sun and how did all this happen hiding our eyes from each other again swishing my hand to keep away the flies hot flashes, panic attacks, I’ll die in the night. We all think that we’ll die in the night. We don’t. /Here, pull in here/Here?/Yes here/It’s a church?/Kind of, and the restaurant’s right over there...see?/ And the wind has stopped and the sun has gone insane again like July, like August choking, broiling, – and wearing a pioneer dress, a frown and a pony-tail on a waist-coated man is it true that the only thing they get to keep is their tips but you’re too shy to ask this pretty little girl, a pony-tail, a frown... the old bitches of that town used to say that this cult drugged their tea to make one join so I contemplate having another so I could be them all, have them all but when asked,

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Cult Poem a slight blush a shy refusal because of such a thought. Because it’s not our truth – we’re full, so we leave rolling down the windows for the stagnant air, the hatred, pulling away from their Lodge, the hatred smelling the scent of sex knots in the back of hair complain about the summer heat, complain about the winter’s cold, he does I do ‘this season of blood that we have made not God’ (the red trees) but how, how can the wind start again but this time bring even more heat. How far removed from the deer (we are) delicate or crashing through the forest. The highway squeals, porcupines flattened on the roads as close as you could stand to get to nature anyway as we take our place with those old gossips growing older by ourselves the cult of the lone. Here on this peninsula, water is only something you drink not dream, not breathe – YOU! Just try to breathe the waves up off the asphalt. Mark Farrel

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Nautical Sign

David Pettigrew

watercolour

Tyre

Pauline Thomas 28

acrylic on canvas Pushing Out the Boat 10


The Lord Was My Shepherd

I

didn’t know Father Daniel well. In fact I only learned his last name – Smooten – on Friday, two days after he disappeared. My name’s Rick. I would consider myself a dime store novelist except for two things: I’ve never been paid a dime for my work and I’ve never had my novels in any store. I earn my living, for now, as an exterminator for Bug-A-Boo pest control. My head was swirling around a new project I’m calling The Lord Was My Shepherd, a murder-mystery involving a female musician, a priest, and an arsonist. I had a good feeling about this one but I needed background on my characters. Not a religious person, I was least familiar with the workings of a priest. Fortunately St Brendan’s Church was part of my route so I figured I’d mix business with business. It was a hot, stifling hot, September day. The kind you only experience in Florida; southern Florida to be exact; Carol City to be precise. I liked spraying St Brendan’s. It was a plain structure with open concrete halls that allowed the ceiling fans to do their thing majestically and unencumbered. I sprayed my way down the hall, through the church and to the small office which was Father Daniel’s. I knocked as usual. No answer as usual. I entered as usual. Squirting the poison along the baseboard I studied Father Daniel’s office more carefully than normal as part of my research. A cranky A/C chugging along, a wood slated window and, behind his orderly desk, three pictures. One was of the Father, maybe a decade ago in front of the Taj Mahal with a group of similarly dressed priests. Next to it a picture of Father Daniel and a pretty Japanese woman together in a busy restaurant. The woman had her hand in front of her mouth as if she was hiding her chewing or hiding her identity. The location appeared to be Tokyo and her Carnaby Street look gave it a late 60s timeframe. The third picture, a clipping actually, was of Father Daniel, known in the caption as ‘Dan-Elated’, tossing a football and scoring a victory for Boston High School. It had to be around 50 years old, judging by the crude helmet covering his head. The only other object of interest in the dark paneled office was a small bookshelf. I looked over the books. They included the usual mish-mash of self-help books and popular fiction. The exceptions were The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Conner, Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, and The Essential Akutagawa. I opened the latter, having studied him a bit in college, to a bookmarked page where the line ‘Isn’t there anyone to come and quietly strangle me in my sleep?’ was pencil marked. The good father has a dark side. Perfect. Other than that the room was nondescript. In fact if it wasn’t for the cross on the door and the church directory on the desk this could have been an upholstery salesman’s or a school principal’s office.

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The Lord Was My Shepherd I replaced the book and wanted to open his desk drawers but thought better of it, which turned out to be a good decision, because he walked in about ten seconds later. “Oh, I’m sorry,” Father Daniel said. “Would you like me to step out?” I made a mental note of his physical features without, I hoped, being too obvious. Slight, but not frail body; warm, make that very warm eyes with obvious bags; short gray hair (though for my story it may be blonde); an easy smile and a New England accent with a shot of something? Asian? I’ll probably drop that. All in all he exuded what I will probably call ‘the divine self-actualization.’ “Not at all,” I said. “I’m just finishing up.” I placed my canister down and took out my receipt pad. “Janice usually signs off on that, doesn’t she?” He sat and rifled through a drawer. I peeped in hoping to find a liqour bottle or something but it was the usual nothing. He pulled out an envelope and began addressing it. “How long have you been a priest?” I asked, trying to gather more info. “Since 1972,” he said, without looking up and between pen strokes. “How long have you been in the exterminator business?” I ignored the question, watching him address the envelope to a ‘Luella Corraliza.’ That name’s usable, I thought. “You’ve traveled quite a bit, Father?” “Yes,” still not looking up. I handed him the receipt which he signed. Again the warm smile and back to his business. “Isn’t there anyone to come and quietly strangle me in my sleep?” I asked. He stopped the business. “Are you familiar with Akutagawa or just my book shelf?” “I studied the author some, but truthfully I got it from your book.” He cupped his hands to his chin and cocked his head slightly out of kilter. “I’m writing a book and I’d like to talk to a priest.” “Regarding your writing or your sins?” “Some people say my writing’s a sin,” making a mental note to use the lines somewhere. “I was hoping you could give me background info on a priest.”

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The Lord Was My Shepherd “Murder-mystery?” “How’d you know?” I pulled out my memo pad. “You don’t seem the type for a gay-exposé and the only other thing a priest is good for is a who-done-it.” He motioned for me to sit on the folding chair facing his desk. “Do you indulge the spirit?” He opened another drawer. “I’m agnostic,” I said. “I’m a drinker.” I scribbled the lines down and thought if I use anymore I’ll to have to make him co-author. He pulled two shot glasses and a bottle of something called Connemara Irish Whiskey from the drawer. “Now what can I help you with?” He tipped the contents into our glasses. “Why does someone become a priest?” “To serve others through God.” He sniffed the glass but didn’t drink. “How do you know you want to serve God?” I smelled the almond-apple scented liquor and swallowed. Smooth. “How do you know you’re hungry?” “My stomach tells me so.” “There you go,” he said. “You were a football player?” I took another sip. “Damn good one too, though too small by today’s standards.” He glanced at the wall clock. I figured I’d better cut to the chase. “My priest breaks his celibacy vows and pursues a female musician.” “What kind of musician?” “Bass player.”

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The Lord Was My Shepherd He thought for a second. “Figures.” “Have you known anyone to do something like that?” “What does that mean?” he asked rather sternly, and I got the impression he thought I was accusing him personally. “Has anyone in your profession, you know, ever done anything like that?” “I wouldn’t reveal that if they did.” He took a swallow of his whiskey. “Have I seen any of your written work?” “Plenty of my short stories are published in literary magazines, and I have lots online. My current novel looks like a sure thing, according to my agent.” “You must be good.” I smiled. “Suppose we pretend a priest has broken his celibacy vows for a female musician. Would that be okay?” He stood and extended his hand. “I’ll look for you on Amazon.” I stared at his palm, without moving. He raised his eyebrows as if to say “Well?” I glanced down at my canister lying beside me. I was sick of its acrid odor, and the sour sweat of my cloths at the end of the day. I looked up at Father Daniel. “I’ve had one short story published in a now defunct magazine, and one online. I think the novel I’m writing is my best work to date and my priest is the most important character in the story… and I don’t have an agent.” He shrugged, and sat back down. “I suppose we could pretend.” I took a grateful sip from my glass. “Supposing someone broke their vows for any female. Why would a priest do something like that?” “Is it love or sex? That makes a difference.” “It’s love but he’s sexually charged up over her.” He tapped his fingertips together in a manner that looked like a spider and its mirror image bouncing on a wall. “Does he forgo the priesthood or does he see her on the sly?” “On the sly.”

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The Lord Was My Shepherd “Who’s murdered?” “The girl. The priest is accused when it comes out he’s having an affair. He goes on the lam and eventually finds the real killer, an arsonist.” “So he gives up the priesthood?” “Yes, but I’d like it to be a continuing series.” “The fightin’ former father, huh?” he asked. “Something like that.” Hokey, but I jotted it down. Father Daniel once again picked up his drink and waggled (thank-you Raymond Carver) the golden liquid as if waiting for something. “There’s only one reason a priest, a true priest, would give up the priesthood -” he downed it in one gulp “ – he found a greater love than God.” ‘… love than God,’ I scribbled. “How would that play on his mind?” “Like torture.” Father Daniel blushed. At the time I chalked it up to the alcohol. In retrospect, I believe it was the thought behind his words that ruddied his cheeks. “Yes, but God still loves him, right?” “Which in a way makes it worse,” he said. “Turning your back on God is heady stuff for a priest.” “So how does one fight the temptation?” “Personal prayer, the Eucharist, game shows and liquor.” He refilled his glass, stood and turned to the pictures behind us. “What’s your bass player’s name?” “Jolene.” “From the Dolly Parton song?” he asked, his back still to me. “It’s not locked in stone.” “I like the name, and the song.” His hand lingered on the picture of the Japanese woman with her hand in front of her mouth. “Does your priest regret loving Jolene?” “No.”

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The Lord Was My Shepherd “Does your story have a happy ending?” “I don’t think so. He loses the girl and the priesthood.” “So he loses his faith?” “Hmmm… I’ll let him keep that, so maybe the ending’ll have a glimmer of hope. What do you think?” “I’d like it better if he kept his faith and got the girl,” he said. “That’s too easy. My priest needs to accept his penance for his transgression. It’s part of his arc.” Father Daniel turned back around and looked at me. “So the priest leaves the church for the girl but he isn’t sorry.” “Does it ring true?” “You’re asking the wrong person. I’m still sitting here.” I thought that was odd. “If you weren’t sitting here where would you be?” “Where would I be?” He sipped from his glass. “Yeah.” “Tokyo. Eating.” He took a heavy and, it seemed to me, a somber breath. “I noticed your picture,” nodding my head to the photo at the restaurant. “Friend of yours?” He nodded, staring into his glass. “Her name Jolene?” “Nice try.” He laughed heartily. Too heartily, maybe. I wanted to jot something down but couldn’t think of anything. I waited for him to calm down. “Your priest has got big ones.” He wiped his eyes. “Damn, he’s got big ones.”

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The Lord Was My Shepherd For the moment the clanking A/C was the only sound, and the orange between the slated window the only light. “You wouldn’t do the same?” I said to break the silence. He closed the slats and turned on the light. “Faith is sort of like that bug spray of yours. It overpowers everything in its path.” “Even love?” “Everything.” I don’t know why I wanted to challenge him but I think it had something to do with genuinely liking Father Daniel, or because he was giving me a break by talking to me about my novel. “The spray doesn’t overpower everything. I think God intended it that way. If He didn’t, I’d be out of a job.” “A glimmer of hope,” he said. “I’ll sleep on it.” We shook hands. I thanked him, grabbed my canister and thought of one more question. “Would you really want someone to come and quietly strangle you in your sleep?” He smiled. “Ask me tomorrow.” With that Father Daniel clapped my back and escorted me to the door. A few days later I read in the paper that a Father Daniel S Smooten had vanished. According to the report, his car was found in the parking lot of Miami International Airport. Foul play is not suspected. If anyone knows of his whereabouts they are to contact St Brendan’s Church. Another story is swirling in my head. It involves a young priest who, many years ago, ended up in Tokyo and fell in love with a beautiful woman. They had an affair, but guiltridden over his commitment to God, he breaks it off and serves a sad but rewarding life in a southern church somewhere. Years later, someone or something comes along and reawakens his past. He begins to regret his decision to leave the woman behind, even to the sake of giving up his priesthood. Despite all obstacles, he decides to return to his old flame. Rather preposterous, I thought, but what the heck, God is supposed to work in peculiar ways. I flipped up my notepad, took out my pencil and started scribbling.

Louis K Lowy

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Enlightenment is Ordinary

Hana Horack

36

j-clothes, quink, nappy liners, pins, thread, silk thread, hung from wood using drawing pins

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wame-mates after ‘Having Twins’, a drawing by Tracy Emin, in the Scottish National Gallery

ablow her doon-hingin breists a wumman sits like a human pyramid she is twa thirds wame, a vertical camel, hatchin in her stappit uterus twa siblins warssle fur space moored bi leevin towes tae her raxxed placenta inbye their amniotic sacs they cercle each ither wee astronauts safe in their mither ship

Le Temps Menaçant after the painting ‘Le Temps Menaçant’, by René Magritte, in the Scottish National Gallery

the sea is haaein a widdendreme: she is breengin an birlin, wirkin hersel up tae a lather her dwaum is o a fite torso sailin the lift a heidless figureheid aywis she hears a dowie note like the hinmaist tuba on the Eirde she langs for a teem cheer tae rest her tides on the sea fa canna bide still ruggit back and fore like a quine atween twa lovers Sheena Blackhall

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Peninsula 004

Gerrard Lindley

38

acrylic

Pushing Out the Boat 10


Spit and Promise

I

t was sweltering. Father Christmas sat sweating, legs akimbo, showing his navy drill shorts and bare legs under the long red robe. He wore huge white plimsolls. His legs were damp and covered with ginger swirls of hair and his white beard had slipped sideways so you could see his stubbled chin and the spray of freckles beneath. I noticed that his hands were huge: not, I was sure, the size of hands the real Father Christmas would have. In my third year in Malta I knew that the RN Verdala Christmas Party did not feature the real Father Christmas but a volunteer naval rating who received an extra rum ration for his trouble. The real Father Christmas would be busy in England so this was a pretence for the benefit of the younger children. I was nine and didn’t require such charades. However, the false Father Christmas had just called my name and did have a parcel for me in those lumpy hands, so I stepped forward to take it. He straightened his beard and tapped his now-covered knees. “Hello, Margaret,” he said, glancing quickly at the writing on the parcel. “Have you been a good girl this year?” Oh my goodness, the other Father Christmases hadn’t asked questions. They just handed over the parcel and said “Happy Christmas”. This one was hanging on to my parcel waiting for me to sit on his knee. Other children, further on in the alphabet than me, were starting to nudge me forward, impatient for their own presents from the sack. I took a deep breath and mounted the platform. His knees were open and the red robe sagged between them, so I perched on one knee, holding out my hand. “I didn’t hear your answer, lovey. Have you been a good girl?” he repeated, and starting a mild jiggle of the knee I was sitting on, which meant I had to put my hand on his shoulder to steady myself. He kept looking at me. His breath was minty: I could taste it through his smile. “Same as usual,” I muttered. “Is that good or bad then?” He was just being friendly, I was sure, but I was starting to feel uncomfortable. There was a warmth coming to my upper legs from his lap which I didn’t like. “Can I have my present now?” I asked him, already sliding off his knee and almost prepared to go without it. “Course you can. And a Happy Christmas to you. Gonna give Santa a kiss?”

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Spit and Promise I snatched the parcel and moved away quickly. Standing just out of his reach I said “Thank you, Father Christmas.” He was already calling the next name which was my sister’s. Best of luck trying to get her to kiss him, I thought, she’s more likely to slap him one. My sister was definitely beyond Father Christmas and hadn’t wanted to come to the party at all, which, she said, was for kids. She was 12, after all. A No 2 John Bull Printing Set: two strips of wobbly rubber letters, a wooden carrier, a stamp, an inkpad and a pair of metal tweezers beside a stubby bottle of black ink. I already had one at home but I was pleased enough. It was good messy fun. I found my gym bag among all the others, distinguished by its scarlet cord. We always wore our plimsolls in the drill hall just like the naval ratings so we had to bring our gym bags to the party. I shoved the printing set in beside my sandals and went back to my favourite corner, the Christmas Obstacle Course, to see if I could have another go. It didn’t really have anything to do with Christmas except that someone had twisted bits of tinsel round the thick ropes of the climbing net. It was supervised by a pair of ratings in dwarves’ outfits whose main job was to catch children who tumbled off its precarious heights onto the rather hard ‘soft’ landing of the coir gym mats. They were labelled ‘Happy’ and ‘Grumpy’ and sometimes they remembered who they were supposed to be. Most of the time they were gruff naval ratings watching over a roomful of overexcited children, some already at the vomiting stage either from an excess of jelly and blancmange or from too many turns around the Obstacle Course. There was a mop and bucket in disinfectant behind them, its sick-room smell making me feel nauseous. They had spent all morning building the Obstacle Course; it was frightening and magnificent. They looked secretly very proud of their work. Just like our climbing frame at school, it was constructed from naval training equipment, man-scale ropes and nets, vaulting horses and ladders. There were chasms to cross holding onto a thick coarse rope slung from iron rings in the ceiling; a ladder rose to the ceiling itself where a net full of balloons teased with their string tails waving just in reach of a child stretching with one trembling arm; close-fitting see-through cylinders linked into a dark maze to wriggle through; at least one section led to a tipping into a cold bath just seen after the first slipping sensation. I had only avoided the shock of cold water by bracing my skidding feet against the sides and slowly inching back up to the horizontal junction. The dwarf called Grumpy had wagged his finger at me and mouthed ‘nearly’ and I had pressed my face flat against the opaque cylinder making a monster face at him. He’d laughed. “Can I go again?” I asked Grumpy. “How many times is that, now? You’ll be sick,” he warned. 40

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Spit and Promise “No, I won’t. I really like it and I’m never sick. You can ask my sister,” I reassured him, knowing she was at the opposite side of the hall, well out of earshot. “You’re a keen one, all right – how about a dare then?” he grinned at me. He looked up at the top of the construction and back at me, calculating. “You a good jumper?” he asked, his voice soft and just for me. I followed his gaze and swallowed heavily. “Do you mean jump from up there?” my voice wavered. The top was higher than the climbing frame at school. “I’ll make it easy. I’ll catch you.” He was smiling now, persuasive. I looked to see what Happy was making of our conversation but he was blowing up a balloon for a small snot-smeared boy who had burst his special Christmas balloon. I thought Happy seemed the more serious of the two ratings. Something about Grumpy’s nearwhispering unsettled me. “I dare you,” he said. Then he spat on his hand and offered it to me. I could see the small slime patch on his palm. Even the rough boys at school didn’t do that. No-one had ever done that, not even in a film. My mother was fond of saying pride would be my downfall. Whenever I got in what she called ‘a mood’ she would accuse me of pride and say “just wait…” I wasn’t sure what pride was exactly, but it was true I didn’t like to back down from arguments or dares, especially physical ones. So, though I knew I shouldn’t, I spat on my own palm, slapped it on his hand and started to climb, feeling the mixed spit drying as I went and knowing as surely as I knew anything that it sealed a promise that couldn’t be broken. I was going to jump off the very top of the Obstacle Course. Getting to the top was easy. I was never giddy even in our wildest games of spinning and whirling so a straightforward climb posed no difficulties. Standing on the topmost beam, my hair brushing the ceiling, with the dizzying pile of ropes and nets spiralling down to the floor, my mouth suddenly dried. Grumpy seemed a very small target. When he lifted his arms and nodded his head, I almost backed out but then I noticed that the small circle of children around him was growing by the minute and the white ovals of their upturned faces were expectant. I also saw that, from the other side of the hall, an officer was following my sister’s arm which was pointing right at me. She looked white in the face and he started to stride at speed towards the Obstacle Course. I looked down at Grumpy, standing on a pair of coir mats, mouthing something that looked suspiciously like ‘coward’ - so I jumped.

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Spit and Promise I had done rope-to-rope jumps before, letting one go before catching the other, and knew the stomach-heaving moment when neither rope was in my hand and only my momentum held me in the air. I also knew the elation of feeling my grip on the second rope hold, but nothing had ever been like the rush of air through my hair and on my skin as my dress rose up and I flew, arms and legs ready to grip, towards Grumpy who stood firmly braced beneath me. He knew enough to roll backwards as I landed and we both sensed enough to hold onto to each other, my spindly arms and legs round his neck and middle and his bear-hugging arms across my back. The coir mat felt like concrete. It was strange. I heard and felt the air leave his body in a series of explosions. He coughed, then belched and farted at the same time, even as his grip on me loosened and he laid me, so gently, on my side whilst he rolled the other way. I was startled but completely unhurt apart from a rawness in my palms from the ropes, so I stood up not sure what to do next. I felt a surge of elation. A dark formal figure swept by me. “Able Seaman Martin! Attention!” the officer barked. Grumpy, already on his way to his feet, turned his natural rising motion into something stiff and unnatural. He locked his eyes on the distant wall and impersonated a plank. The officer turned to me. “Are you all right? Want to see the MO?” he asked, looking me over for blood or signs of madness. “What’s the MO?” I asked, hopeful of another party game. “Doctor,” he replied. “Better get you checked out.” He collared Happy and told him to take me to the MO. As Happy led me away I could hear the officer speaking far too close to Grumpy’s face, ordering him to somewhere called The Brig where he might stay for a fortnight. I hoped it was somewhere nice but I suspected that Grumpy was in a heap of trouble. The last I saw of him he was marching in that strange stiff way towards the exit. I waved and I think he caught the motion and smiled, but it’s hard to detect a smile that must be a secret, a smile that could get him into even more trouble. It was like being cheeky after you’re caught at school. Not a good idea. The MO was nice, gave me and the nursing WREN that had to be there a sweetie after feeling my arms and legs and middle and looking into my eyes for so long that I laughed. “Not a mark,” he said to himself.

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Spit and Promise While we waited for my mother to come and collect me he asked about school but I could see he wasn’t really interested, just passing the time. As a growing awkwardness set in, he had a brainwave. “You’re a bit grubby, Margaret,” he said. “Would you like to use the hospital shower?“ “But I don’t have a towel, or clean clothes.” My mother was very particular about clean clothes after a shower. “Just this once, it won’t matter. Nurse Collins, find a towel and take Margaret to the showers. Nice to meet you, young lady.” The MO stood up abruptly and shook my hand. He looked at his own palm and pulled a small face. I could feel my hand was sticky still and there were little threads of orange coir stuck to the grubby smears. I guessed that some of the grubby smears were Grumpy’s spit. I wondered if he had some on his hand too. One thing for sure, I wasn’t going to be able to tell my mother all the best bits of the party. I would show her my No 2 John Bull Printing Kit and tell her how many colours of jelly there had been. Since I wasn’t hurt I didn’t think that anyone would make a fuss about the jumping bit, not even my sister who was kind at Christmas. I stood under the man-scale shower head, eyes closed under the water streaming down on me from a great, white-tiled height. The water pounded me into a trance but though I felt my body sway I was very careful to hold my spit-and-promise hand clear of the water. Vivien Jones

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heading out

Dolleen MacLennan

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Field Systems ffffffffffff iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeee lllllllllllllll dddddddddddd ssssssssssss ffffffffffff iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeee lllllllllllllll dddddddddddd ssssssssssss ffffffffffff iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeee lllllllllllllll dddddddddddd ssssssssssss ffffffffffff iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeee lllllllllllllll dddddddddddd ssssssssssss ffffffffffff iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeee lllllllllllllll dddddddddddd ssssssssssss ffffffffffff iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeee lllllllllllllll dddddddddddd ssssssssssss ffffffffffff iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeee lllllllllllllll dddddddddddd ssssssssssss ffffffffffff iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeee lllllllllllllll dddddddddddd ssssssssssss ffffffffffff iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeee lllllllllllllll dddddddddddd ssssssssssss ffffffffffff iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeee lllllllllllllll dddddddddddd ssssssssssss ffffffffffff iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeee lllllllllllllll dddddddddddd ssssssssssss ffffffffffff iiiiiiiiiiiiii eeeeeeeeeeee lllllllllllllll dddddddddddd ssssssssssss yyyyyyyy ssssssssss ttttttttttttttttttt eeeeeeeee mmmmmmmm ssssssssssss yyyyyyyy ssssssssss ttttttttttttttttttt eeeeeeeee mmmmmmmm ssssssssssss yyyyyyyy ssssssssss ttttttttttttttttttt eeeeeeeee mmmmmmmm ssssssssssss yyyyyyyy ssssssssss ttttttttttttttttttt eeeeeeeee mmmmmmmm ssssssssssss yyyyyyyy ssssssssss ttttttttttttttttttt eeeeeeeee mmmmmmmm ssssssssssss yyyyyyyy ssssssssss ttttttttttttttttttt eeeeeeeee mmmmmmmm ssssssssssss yyyyyyyy ssssssssss ttttttttttttttttttt eeeeeeeee mmmmmmmm ssssssssssss yyyyyyyy ssssssssss ttttttttttttttttttt eeeeeeeee mmmmmmmm ssssssssssss yyyyyyyy ssssssssss ttttttttttttttttttt eeeeeeeee mmmmmmmm ssssssssssss yyyyyyyy ssssssssss ttttttttttttttttttt eeeeeeeee mmmmmmmm ssssssssssss yyyyyyyy ssssssssss ttttttttttttttttttt eeeeeeeee mmmmmmmm ssssssssssss yyyyyyyy ssssssssss ttttttttttttttttttt eeeeeeeee mmmmmmmm ssssssssssss Neil Russell

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First Disobedience

T

hey had only a small parcel of land. Produce from apple, peach and pear trees, along with seasonal flowers, vegetables and chicken eggs, had provided a modest income at the weekly farmer-market during the 24 years of their marriage. For extra money she taught science at the local high school part-time and he did welding and mechanical repairs in his shed. Since his diagnosis in January he had been spending longer hours in the shed. Tucked away on the most infertile land, at the base of the granite hillside, their fibro home was warm and comfortable. She had seen to that. In the sitting room, four deep armchairs, a basket of percussion instruments and an old guitar edged the second hand rug. A coffee table laden with scientific and garden magazines squatted in the centre of the room. Shelves filled with books flanked the walls. This room opened into the kitchen with its scrubbed pine table, wood fire and the constant smell of baking. It was the hub of the house in winter. In summer they sat on the bullnose veranda in the cool shade. They had married late. Too late for children. He had wanted to give her everything. Old fashioned he knew, as she was capable of not only giving to herself but to him too. She was his perfect partner. They had agreed on almost everything, as they planted and harvested, played music and discussed the latest ideas in science and technology. There was just one thing that he had wanted her to have - an extravagance that she would not countenance - and it had been a disagreement between them from the first days of their marriage. And now there was not much time left. She noticed his absence from the house, and the lights burning later than usual in the shed, at about the same time that she noticed his shrinking frame, his gaunt cheeks and his growing desire for only bland food. The night they talked she cooked lamb shanks, mashed potato and peas. Six tea light candles adorned the table and the advertisement for LifeStone, which he had cut out of New Technology and carefully hidden in the book he was reading, was sitting at his place at the table. When he pushed open the back door, he heard Mozart’s Lacrimosa playing and saw the table setting. He smiled at her. From the sitting room bookshelves he selected a Shiraz that they were keeping for a special occasion. Among the many things they talked about that night was his plea to be allowed his first disobedience in their 24 years together. She yielded. They raised their glasses of red wine in agreement. ~~~ Two months later, when she collected his cremated remains, she took 100grams of ash, packaged and sent it to the address that he had given her for LifeStone. The remainder she dug into the soil under the pear tree, one evening at sunset.

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First Disobedience In early spring, a small parcel arrived in the letterbox. It was postmarked Philadelphia, a discrete blue logo on the corner. The following morning, as the sun’s rays filtered through her kitchen window, she sat at the pine table breathing in the aroma of fresh coffee mingled with the sweetness of freesias. As the smell of baking bread cheered her, she fashioned the one-carat diamond into the cavity he had left on the sterling silver ring, the one he had made in his shed. She held the finished ring in her forefingers and raised it to the light. She lowered it. Turned it around. Finally, she slipped it onto her finger and stared. Outside the chickens were scraping the ground and cackling. She bent for the bucket of scraps and turned towards the door. Halfway across the room, fondling the unfamiliar ring with her left thumb, she stopped. “You rest,” she said. ”I’ll do it. She twisted her ring off and placed it in a ceramic dish by the back door. Judy Pinn

all fall down

Ann Craig

digital print

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Fàilte gu Alba This depressing, dissolving, deadening, Scottish rain pours doune and lochs up my mind under a blanket of Braemar grey, buried beneath haar and snow. They say these clouds are rimmed with Stirling silver… If you can see the edges… But I cannae. Camille Conner Winner of the Young Writer Award

By Dounreay

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David Pettigrew

ink and watercolour

White Door, Fittie


The Paper Bag

W

hy couldn’t she use her frigging mobile on the ward, anyway? What was that stupid nurse’s problem? All she wanted to do was send a text message, for crying out loud, not have a big long conversation that would wake up the old bat in the corner. She looked like she was nearly dead, anyway. Except when she yelled out and banged the side of her bed; that was pretty weird and even slightly scary. Becka sighed sulkily and turned over onto her side, plugged her earphones into her manystudded ears and switched her iPod onto shuffle mode. She pulled her grey Abercrombie & Fitch hoodie over her head and closed her eyes, wishing her wrist didn’t throb quite so much. Those painkillers they’d given her in the middle of the night seemed to have worn off already. The five other beds on the ward were all occupied. Everyone else was at least three, if not five times, Becka’s age. At least they were all women. Jodie had been on a mixed ward that time she had her operation, how gross was that? She tried not to breathe in too much; the smell of antiseptic, overcooked cabbage and pee was really disgusting. Slyly, she brought the cuff of her hoodie up to her face so that the faint comforting remnants of fabric softener could mask it. “Tea, dear?” She was just dozing off to Hallelujah, the original Jeff Buckley version, when the trolley came round. “No thanks. Have you got any coke?” “There’s a machine just along the corridor there, love.” “I haven’t got any money with me,” Becka felt idiotic tears well up. “Never mind, you just have a nice cup of tea with plenty sugar in it; here you go. It can’t be that bad.” Why the hell did people say that? How could that stupid old bag know that? Of course it was that bad. It was worse than bad, couldn’t possibly be any worse in fact. When they’d done that blood test in A&E and asked her all those questions, she’d finally had to face up to what she’d been hiding at the back of her head for the last eight weeks. And she had to have an x-ray soon; they would ask her stuff then, as well. She’d probably have to wear one of those naff lead aprons like Mum did that time when she hurt her ankle when she was expecting Sam. How come they get to ask you all these personal questions? How is it any of their business? Maybe if she didn’t say anything, the x-rays would zap her insides and everything would be alright again. Back to normal. Like nothing had happened. She accepted the proffered cup of tea silently, dunking the rich tea biscuits into the pale blue, thick china cup. Normally she hated rich teas. They were so dull. Somehow they seemed OK today. She even remembered to put the cup back on the saucer. They never had cups and

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The Paper Bag saucers at home; it was always mugs. Violet had cups and saucers; beautiful porcelain, handpainted ones from the olden days, with deep purple pansies on them. Her friends thought it strange that she called her Mum’s mum Violet, instead of granny, or gran, or nan, but it seemed right, somehow, seeing as she wasn’t Mum’s real mum. Dad’s mum was Grandma; there was no way you could call her by her first name. How was she going to text Darren, to warn him, without being seen? In any case, what could she say that would make him understand, without spelling it out? She couldn’t say ‘I’m pregnant, you’re the father, what will we do?’ or even ‘preg’t. ur the dad. wot now?’ She knew how nosy his mum was, always stalking him on Facebook and picking up his phone if he left it lying around. ~~~ “Righto; ready for a spin to x-ray?” A jovial porter appeared out of nowhere, complete with straight-backed, vinyl-seated wheelchair and annoying grin. “What, now?” “Well they can’t figure out how to fix your arm if they don’t know what bit’s broken now, can they?” “I guess not. Can I just go to the loo first?” “Course you can, I’ll just get a cuppa from Betty. Don’t take all day, will you?” In the stark, blue-lit toilet, she stared at her reflection. What was she going to do? Becka wished again that she had thought to bring her makeup bag with her, but there hadn’t been time. They’d just carted her out of the party, stuck her into Dave’s car and dumped her off at Accident and Emergency. None of them had even stayed to see if she was OK. So much for real friends. She looked dreadful; even more dreadful than usual. Panda eyes, spots emerging on her forehead and chin. Her eyes weren’t too bad; brownish green with a hazel edge and just about the right size. Pale golden eyebrows contrasted startlingly with her dyed black hair. Maybe they did look a bit strange; funny how she’d never noticed that before. She splashed her face with tepid water - why was water in big buildings never properly cold, like at home? - blew her nose on a piece of blue paper towel and fronded her fringe back down over her face. She knew how to handle Darren. Her parents were another matter. Dad would start shouting and Mum would burst into tears. Like that would help. Not. She would worry about Darren’s mum later; there was already too much crap confusing her brain right now without trying to think about that as well.

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The Paper Bag Becka rapidly sent three text messages, to her Mum, Darren and Violet in that order. Luckily there was reception in the toilet cubicle: ‘Pls bring washbag, pjs + makeup. Ward 22. Poss broken wrist. Am OK, don’t worry.’ ’Bad news. no-one dead. opposite in fact. c u at 5. tell u then B x’ ‘Would love a visit. 3pm? Ward 22. Don’t tell Mum. Becka xx’ ~~~ Violet arrived at 3 o’clock sharp, as Becka had known she would. She brought mint humbugs in a paper bag and a copy of Vogue. She perched, bird-like, in her moss-green tweed coat on the chair by the bed and waited for Becka to speak. She didn’t ask endless questions; didn’t ask any questions, in fact, except regarding humbugs. Her wise grey eyes observed Becka occasionally from behind the gold-rimmed bifocals. One puff of wind and she’d blow away, Becka thought, absently. How come thin looked good on girls her own age, but made old people look like skeletons wrapped in tissue-paper? Becka spilled her mind; hesitantly at first and then in a massive rushing flood that she felt would never stop. Violet neither interrupted her, nor asked her to omit the word ‘like’ as her mother would have done. Silence fell: not a horrible sweat-making one like when a teacher asks you a question in class and you haven’t a clue what he’s on about ‘cos you’re busy watching the sky changing, but a comfy one. The paper bag was rustled, the magazine pages turned. “So, what do you want to do now?” Violet turned the page to reveal a photograph of Paris in springtime, complete with models lounging decorously by the Seine. “I don’t know. I thought maybe you could help me decide?” Her voice was thin and uncertain. She drank from a plastic cup of water that sat on the bedside cupboard; her hand shook a little, like Violet’s did sometimes when she was tired. “Bringing up a child is a hard thing to do, but it’s also a special thing. You have to be very sure that’s what you want to do.” Violet dropped the last humbug into her mouth. Becka’s gaze was caught by the image on the next page of the magazine. Her mind sidestepped to her portfolio of artwork, sitting in the corner of her bedroom at home. Her pastel sketches, her precious black and white photographs that she had developed herself in the darkroom at school and the watercolour paintings that she had put hours and hours of work into. She brought into her head the images that she saw every day which made her feel alive and ready to take on the world. A means of escape from the boring life that she felt was expected of her. “Can I come and stay with you for a while?” “Yes, of course, if that’s what you would like.” Violet crumpled the empty paper bag and popped it into her handbag.

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The Paper Bag “It is. Thank you. I just need to text Darren to tell him there’s been a false alarm.” “What about your Mum and Dad?” “They’ll be too concerned about whether I’ll be able to sit my exams with a broken wrist to be thinking about anything else. It’s better this way.” Violet gathered up her coat, scarf, leather gloves and handbag. She laid the copy of Vogue, open at the Paris page, on Becka’s lap and set off home to make up the spare room with crisp white linen that smelt faintly of lavender. Becka lay back on the pillow with the blue initials stamped on the corner, and fell fast asleep. Jenny Watson

Paul Smith offers

Sarah Ellen Taylor watercolour, gouache, acrylic and graphite on paper with paladium leaf Pushing Out the Boat 10

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a right hook off some whipper Ross County in the final auld ladies in Dingwall arms folded every cat up a tree Donnie’s heid trapped in a fence firestation deserted abdy at the match we’re talking a month’s wages in one fell swoop even a dog eared tenner woulda done if only I’d been less keen on the reek of fresh lino throughout what I fondly recall of my youth rarely attending to all eternity destined to become some whinger a bit like my faither shoulda been mair supportive of the auld stomping ground and kept my mooth shut at his excuse for a comment except this wee lassie stuck ahin that counter me still in my workboots getting starving four hours since my last shift finished shoulda swerved that twister auld Mr McEwan his obsession wi forgetting the most basic of facts like how every young runt does his hunting in packs yet sure in my mind he’d never make a McGuigan I jabbed his beak swiftly blindness might lead to manners plus a thousand other things I coulda maybe shoulda then again maybe no Mark Edwards

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Aberdeen Towerblocks

Rapunzel Wizard

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Prowler in Urquhart Street

Tez Watson

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My Shrinking Future

I

answered on the third ring. “Hello.”

“Doc, the body in the park; it’s Jack Brechin. He was murdered.” Glancing in my hall mirror, I watched an old man tighten his grip on the phone. “Good day for the Festival,” said Bert. “See you in the pub.” At the Clachan, Bert was in the window seat, where we people-watched most days. A curmudgeonly old bastard in his permanent flat cap and wellington boots, Bert kept me sane. “Typical,” he said. “You could put your money on it raining today.” I looked out. The rain was dampening the spirit as well as the bunting round the square. “How’d they know it was Jack?” I asked, lifting the Gazette. For days the mystery had captivated those with nothing else to do. Bert looked up to the ceiling to clear his mind, a habit he’d got into, which annoyed the hell out of me. “The JB signet ring got them started.” Jack Brechin, long time missing, was back. A pile of remains, true, but alive and well in the collective pensioner memory. In the Gazette, the revelation covered four pages, big news in a wee town. “His reputation’s blossomed,” I said pointing to page three. “Jack’s now a rogue, a mix of Dennis the Menace and Errol Flynn.” “Listen, Doc,” said Bert looking about for somewhere to spit. “The man was a drinking, womanising thug.” “He did have one redeeming feature.” Bert followed my gaze to the Trophy, a bit tarnished now in its secluded corner above the door to the Gents: The Clachan, Scottish Pub Darts Champions, 1970. There was no need to say anything. We’d plundered the pinnacle of our sporting lives long since. The opposition were poised on double-sixteen when the last member of our team strolled up. After a deep draw from his cigarette, Jack Brechin swallowed his dark rum and completed a three dart finish from 167. Triple-Twenty, Triple-Nineteen, Bull. The memory still lit a fire. In the spotlight until last summer, the Trophy made way for a big TV when the Clachan’s new owners decided televised sport was king. Other changes included pub lunches and a Family Area. Walls fell as the bar and lounge became one, a tartan carpet now covered the magnificent gnarled floor and an espresso machine gurgled away. I’d launched a campaign to save the darts alley, and won. The 40th anniversary re-match was due and the announcement was there, in the Gazette. Pushing Out the Boat 10

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My Shrinking Future “They don’t say what killed him,” I said. “A brute like Jack? Stabbed from behind.” Bert was right and wrong. The knitting needle entered Jack from the front. When the rain stopped, a few intrepid souls ventured out to throw things at stacked tin cans. A brave goalie appeared and sons and dads paid for the privilege of kicking a ball in his direction. When the rain returned, six pipers and two drummers beat ‘The Retreat from Culloden’, to the retreating townspeople. “Today’s the day then, Doc?” “Aye, Bert. It’s today.” Saying my intentions aloud started a tremor. It was almost six o’clock when Dougie the Fiddler entered with the gait of a man carrying a sack. Every year the sack got heavier. Parking his cap on a hook, Dougie sorted what little hair he had left, ignored me and ordered a cider. The three participants in Jack Brechin’s demise often convened in the Clachan. As Dougie and I waited for the last member of our trio, I fumbled with my angina pills. On cue, Grace made her entrance in a tweed suit and pearls, with a radiant smile for all. The champion of good causes strode to the bar acknowledging the familiar faces clearing the way through. The barman stopped pouring the glass in his hand and sprinted to the bottle of Bombay Sapphire. After holding court for a time, Grace took her leave with a wave here and a smile there. My back to the proceedings, I followed the episode in the window’s reflection. Our eyes met. No acknowledgement, no greeting passed between Grace and me. Dougie the Fiddler stepped forward to open the door and receive his reward. “Thank you, Douglas,” said Grace with a gracious smile. Was there an edge to Grace and Dougie’s weekly exchange? Jack Brechin’s shadow? Bert turned to me. “Grace was right there. What happened, Doc?” “Sorry, I’ll ask her next week.” As we settled into our routine silence, my thoughts drifted back 40 years. The smaller the place the more work secrets are. I’d ring-fenced this one and tended it. ~~~ Our Darts’ victory celebrations crashed into the early hours and, waltzing home through the park, I’d slipped through a gap in the rhododendrons to answer a call of nature. Finding a murder victim tends to crystallize the memory. I placed the before and after alongside the night I lost my virginity to Morag McColl.

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My Shrinking Future

The young apprenticed Dougie was out cold and bleeding. Sprawled across a half naked, unconscious Grace was Jack Brechin. He had a number 2 knitting needle centred through his right eye. After examining Grace, nothing broken, I stemmed the flow from the Fiddler. I’ve analysed my next move a thousand times, always with the same answer. As a newly crowned Darts Champion, euphoria and alcohol combined to light the way. Leaping the fence to the nearby allotments, I found a shovel and buried Jack before carrying Grace home. Apart from the dirt and ripped clothing, outwardly Grace looked fine. A closer examination revealed more extensive trauma. When she stirred, I made her take a few painkillers and settled her down, promising to come back in the morning. I returned to the park for the Fiddler. Dougie can’t play the fiddle. He’s a slater and spends his working day skipping along the roofs of the town. He was 14 when his crush on Grace first overwhelmed him. He’d carry her messages, repair any punctures and gave her cigarettes when she was old enough to try one. A simple soul, people got used to Dougie’s loitering and Grace treated him kindly. “What’s going to happen, Doc?” asked the Fiddler through his broken nose. We were in my surgery and I was busy putting a few stitches in Dougie’s face. Jack Brechin had given him quite a beating. “With Jack… em, there’s bound to be an investigation,” I said. “Will Grace get into trouble?” The Fiddler only played one tune. “You need to go away, Dougie,” I said, “for a while.” “How long, Doc?” “A year, eh, maybe two.” Meet a girl, I thought, meet a couple of girls. “You think that would be best, for Grace?” “Aye, Dougie. That would be best.” “When?” “Now, Dougie. Leave now.” He did, catching the 6.15am to Dumfries. With the Fiddler on his way to the station, I lay down exhausted in my grave-digging, mud-caked boots. I shot up when a shaking Grace appeared at my surgery door. She managed, “I tried to... he was...” before collapsing. When she came round, I gave her some tea, her knitting bag and a small bottle. Pushing Out the Boat 10

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My Shrinking Future “To prevent any future, em… consequences.” With the precipice no longer pending, a relieved Grace gathered herself. At the door, she looked back. “Why are you doing all this, for me?” I tried to remain expressionless with my eyes fixed on her youth and lost innocence. “Don’t visit your own doctor, for a while.” Without the scandal which 40 years ago tarnished a rape victim, Grace recovered to lead a good and productive life. Three years went by before Dougie returned, with a pregnant wife in tow. His ‘Grace need’ is satisfied by the Saturday night door opening ceremony at the Clachan. ~~~ I was hauled back to the present when Bert mentioned the Inspector. “Glegg had an off day, took six to get out of the bunker on the 17th. It’s a tricky bugger, especially…” “Did he say anything about Jack?” I asked, interrupting another of Bert’s interminable golf sagas. “Em…” he began, looking up (my instinct was to throttle it out of him),“the Police are going to interview everyone over 55.” I wasn’t worried about Grace; she’d put the Inquisition in their place, but the Fiddler? Inspector Glegg wasn’t the sharpest but he’d tie Dougie in knots. “When?” Bert scoured the ceiling once more. “In a week. Glegg said something about having to complete preliminary enquiries.” I don’t have much to lose. My days are spent swapping tittle-tattle with fellow ancient, Bert, as we cling together, caught in the headlights of our shrinking future. During the sleepless nights, I meander through memories of my dear wife, dead some eight years now. We said goodbye to our only son in ’79 when he left for New Zealand. I get a mundane email on my birthday and replying gets harder every year. When the time came, it wouldn’t take much, slip something into my whisky. I’d go quickly, thinking of ways to ram a three-iron down Bert’s throat. On Monday morning, Inspector Glegg phoned. I was a ‘preliminary enquiry’. At lunchtime, I answered the doorbell to an excited Glegg. A murder, any murder, even a forty-yearold murder was better than the consistent fare of drunken brawls, kids thieving sweeties and the odd poacher. “Tea?” I asked, leading the Inspector into the kitchen. I have a proper kitchen with armchairs on either side of Senga, the prehistoric range I care for like a collie dog, long past her sheep herding days.

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My Shrinking Future Glegg dithered. His dithering was understandable. He was a fresh-faced Constable when Mrs Glegg came to see me with, “I have a friend, Doctor and her husband...” “Okay,” I said, adopting my professional posture. “How can I help you?” When we reached the nub, the sweat came. I would have turned Senga off but the old girl took three days to cool down. “There you have it, Doctor. The lab results are conclusive. Jack Brechin was murdered.” The last word carried a good dollop of relish. I’d buried Jack in peat, a substance capable of insulating human flesh from the ravages of time and nature. Jack was almost intact. Not in a photographic sense but enough for the forensic people to ascertain the cause of death and other important clues. “What do you need from me?” I asked. “Jack’s clothes have blood on them, not his and there’s lots of it.” The Fiddler’s nose could have released a pint or two. “Think back, Doctor. Did anyone need patching up?” “Isn’t any of the blood Jack’s?” “Whatever punctured the brain killed him instantly. There are no other cuts or abrasions and no trail from the face to the body.” Euphoria and alcohol’s combined weakness was poor night vision. I missed Dougie’s blood, and the bloody signet ring. When I confessed to no memory of patching up a patient, Glegg sat forward. “Can you remember a female patient coming to you with...?” (Any discussion with me involving the nether regions was going to freak Glegg.) “The Lab reported signs of other blood around the...” the Inspector squirmed. “There were rumours about Jack. Incidents... He accosted women when he was drunk.” “I’d remember a violated patient.” The Inspector’s ‘preliminary enquiry’ petered out and I led a disappointed Glegg to the door. “Your records are still at your old surgery?” Glegg had his teeth in a juicy one and suspected I was on the wrong side of doddery with memory lapses. “Yes. But you won’t find anything there.” I’d made sure.

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My Shrinking Future The doctor wasn’t in when I called. I pop in now and again, another retired old duffer visiting their last place of work. Removing the Fiddler’s beating from the record was easy; Dougie wasn’t much for doctors; a very thin file. Confidence high, I checked on Inspector Glegg’s little problem. No change there then. At home, among my wife’s correspondence, I found envelopes, paper and used her nib pen. Remembering an old TV detective, Columbo, I think, I aged the ink in the oven. At my solicitors, I slipped the confession in with the deeds and other flotsam of a life. Here’s the gist of it. When I arrived, Jack Brechin was raping a teenage girl after beating up her boyfriend. During my struggle with Jack, both young tourists ran away. I panicked and buried the body. The murder weapon? My old Parker pen is the same diameter as a number 2 knitting needle. When Saturday arrived, the sun was out and the town was a different place. “The Festival should have been today,” said Bert, his tone blaming the authorities. “You got a diversion worked out then?” “Aye.” Bert winked. “Grace’ll be free for a bit.” Dougie the Fiddler lurked in his corner. It was time. When Grace entered, Bert rose, slipped and poured his pint of lager over a hill-walker. In the commotion, I took Grace’s hand. “It’ll be over soon,” I said. “Don’t worry, I’ve made the arrangements.” In our bubble of silence her eyes screamed at me and my heart stopped. Not good in my condition. “Thank you, again, Doctor.” She knew, Grace knew. “So, will Grace do the Trophy presentation?” asked Bert. “She said no.” “What’s wrong with the woman? Anyone would think she didn’t want to celebrate the 40th anniversary.” After returning home, I settled Senga down with a load of peat. As she gurgled and spat her contentment, I placed a measure of white powder next to a glass of malt whisky, an Islay. I planned to go out in style after finishing this account and emailing it to my son. He should know his dad was innocent. Settling back, I drifted off to the memory of my one night with Morag McColl, Grace’s mother. Calum Stewart

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Rookery

Neil Russell

collage mixed media

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Edgar Allen Poe in Suburbia The fucking dog barked all day and all night, and the kid just kept shouting at it, “Pluto, hey, Pluto!” like he was fucking Mickey Mouse or something. I tried throwing things, I tried bribery, I even tried violence, but nothing worked. Damn kid and damn dog just yapped all god-damned night and day. Eventually, I took matters into my own hands. I dug a huge pit in the yard and I threw the dog into it and, when the kid yelled at me, I threw him in too. Then I filled it in and concreted over the top of it. Peace at last. Or that’s what I thought. The damn dog just kept on barking under the ground and I could hear the kid still ineffectually yelling at him. All night and day. Echoing in my head. There was only one thing left for me to do. Move. Max Scratchmann

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The Last Witch The young have long since given up on her. Her world is dying in their heads. Linguists and anthropologists come to record her failing clucks and fricatives, remnants of a word-horde whistled through rotten teeth. In her gasps for breath they hear the whir of an endangered bird. They want to know what language-games empowered her to brew physics, predict storms, aid in childbirth, read the stars. But she is old, deaf and tired of questions.   The plants and creatures for which she had names blur in their particularity as her voice trails off toward a stump of trees. As she lifts a crosshatched hand to either bless or dismiss them, they can’t tell if it’s cataracts that film her eyes or if she’s seeing the sky through the rise of woodsmoke.

Naming the Moon The moon is watching with its single eye, watching a dead rat in the ditch at the field’s edge, watching a dog rose sleep beneath the hedgerow, how the world forgets itself; watching someone drown again in the White Loch, lovers undressing in the cinquefoil, bodies shivering like reflections of the moon in the shallows; watching a child kneel by the shoreline and poke a knife into the entrails of a pike; watching a witch mix potions of pennyroyal and purple sage. Once, when I was young, I severed a fox’s head and hung it from a fence post. The fox gazed at me in wonder, while I looked up and tried to name the moon. Andrew McCallum Pushing Out the Boat 10

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The History Woman The small cottage stood near to the bigger house where she’d lived before and where she would live again, oh yes, she was sure of that, she would live there again. Her two fine sons, now that she was widowed, had made the cottage habitable and she’d just have to endure it. As winter made way to spring, she cast off one of her overdresses and a petticoat, so cumbersome, but kept on her mop-cap, as she went about her chores. On washing days, she’d trample the clothes underfoot in the old zinc bath, then hang them to dry. She made her own tallow candles, prepared her garden vegetables and made bannocks or porridge. There were berries to preserve and apples to bake as autumn followed summer. She’d lie in her box-bed, the mattress stuffed with straw or heather, and think of easier days, her body aching with the unaccustomed physical work. Winter came again with a vengeance bringing snow and ice. It was back-breaking to trudge out and bring in logs and sticks for the fire. By candle-light, she’d write her letters and diaries with quill pen and ink. But soon she’d be celebrating with family and friends.  Just before midnight on Hogmanay she’d change into her jeans, then join the others.  She’d completed her year of living in the 18th century and, just as she’d planned, her book would be written and articles published.  They’d toast her - the History Woman.    Joan Christie  

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Shifting Sands

Jenny Watt Colbeck

acrylic, ink and pen

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He Showed Me That if I placed the sole of my foot on the sawn off end of a log one here, one there then I could make a path across. That taking one rung at a time and holding on as my muscles flexed would enable me to reach the next and then the next. That if I bent my knees, leant back and pushed with all I had the slat of wood and chains would carry me and sweep my hair from my shoulders. That taking in the view then simply letting go and trusting that the metal would not crumble would release in me the shrill joy of the ride. That weaving through the trees running side by side and feeding me his laughter would then let me catch up with what my heart was chasing after.

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Paper Chain Family He made me, danced me, we laughed and we smiled. Then, it seemed, he grew tired. Something, in his view, wasn’t quite right. He lifted me, considered me, then he began to rip. I saw his eyes sharpening as the first small parts of me drifted to the floor. Some of my tatters stuck to his hands: hands he’d used to swing me by round the lounge or the garden lawn singing about the mulberry bush to thrill my ears. Next, to my feet torn into five little pieces and sprinkled feathery as snow down, down below. It might have been a leg next maybe an arm I can’t remember because each tear loosened my head and I would fall crooked, first on one side and then the other. His thumbs and forefingers worked harder to right me but soon my head hung so low I looked like nothing but shame which offended him. So it was off with my head and it flew to the floor to join in with Peter Pointer and Ruby Ring, and the piggies he’d counted, and the body he’d cradled. They all angered him now, that confusion of pieces, making him feel small. So he left, slamming the door with just enough gust to send those pieces skyward once more. Elaine Reid

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Pictured Here, we laugh as the surf dips your camera case. The sunlight’s not direct. Diffuse meridian haze, it still saturates our faces. I’m slightly out of focus but you – you’re clear, lithe forearm hovering off-frame, holding us in place behind a lens. A long, blotted shore, brown waves, the tin boat’s chop, lurch, little motor fending monsoon debris in four-stroke – our bodies absorb the smell. Feeling too light for ballast, we bob along. The boatman slows, lets fly two herons from a broken tyre, a makeshift island in the squall. River crocs and mudfish mine the slurry banks, barely sighted in sweep and spray. The winds keep our eyes half-closed, half teary. We’re nearing land, a rough return to hostel bed, a twin we doubled, and damp clothes with an old feeling. Isbel Moira Keir Cameron

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Peninsula

Gerrard Lindley

acrylic

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Sinnerella

E

ence upon a time, there were twa fowk caa’d Jean an Jimmy fa fell in love at first sicht. Syne they got mairret, an were affa happy thegither, an syne a dochter cam alang tae mak their happiness complete, an tho she wisnae blest wi the greatest byowty, Jean an Jimmy thocht her the finest dochter in aa the land. An the dochter, fa they caa’d Bella, wis me. We were kent as the Duncans o Dockenhill, or Dockies as it wis mair affectionately caa’d, bein a weel kent landmark at the back o Hadda Hoose. An the three o’s wid aa bidden happily iver aifter, hid it nae been for Faither’s accident. He gaed oot ae day tae see tae the beasts an nivver cam hame again. He wis fun face doon inna i burn, an it took twa muckle chiels tae pu him oot ower. Bit it wis nae eese... an oh it fair gaars me greet ti spik aboot it!

Sinsyne there’s jist been me an Mither. Until ae day she waaket in file I wis makkin broth, an she scried, Bella, a’m gettin mairret again! Ma haun jist went on steerin i soup, an for a filie I wis jist gowpin like a feel. Mither, fit aboot FAITHER? I cried soorly. She looket at me hard, an she said, Yer daddy’s deid quine... an life’s for the livvin! Mither! I said, MITHER! Fit are ye sayin? Weel, she couldnae quite meet ma een, an she looket awa. Bella, she said, Bella... Yer daddy left me weel eneuch geddert, but... an syne she looket doon at her waddin ring, an she gied it a twist, an syne she looket up again an she said, Ye ken quine, a weemin’s got ither needs forbye siller. I jist gapet at her open-moo’d. Mither, I cried, ye’ve nivver said aa this afore! Weel, she said, a’m sayin’t noo! An wi that she turned on her heel an maircht oot. At the scullery door she cam tae a haalt, lookit ower her shooder, an said, Bella, will ye bake? We’re haein veesitors. Weel, tho I did ma best tae be ceevil, me an the Hardups didnae get aff tae a gweed start. Aye-aye Wullie, I’m affa pleased tae meet ye, I said cantily, as I passed roon ma bannocks an hame-made straaberry jam, bit he jist gaed ma a fushonless haunshake an said, gie heichheidit like, that he didnae like tae be caa’d Wullie an wid I mak sure that I caa’d him Will in i future. An then there wis the dochter – a sly, sleekit spek o a quine if ivver ye saa een. Weel, she jist looket at ma aneath thon slatted een, an telt ma through a moofu o marbles that she wis caa’d Sinnerella. SINNERELLA? I scorned. SINNERELLA? Noo a ken a’m nae fit ye wid ca subtle, an I could see Mither warnin ma wi her een. But I couldna help it. Fit ona name’s that tae gie a quine? I said. Sinnerella’s facie went a bonnie bricht reid. It’s the name my dear mother chose! she rebatted. Oh! I said. Is that so?! I dinna think I kent yer Mither. Fit wis her name an faar did she come fae? Weel, the quine chunnered something unnernaith her braith that I didna catch. Syne I wint on tae say that I kent o a faimly o tinkies caa’d Hardup, an speirt if they were ony relashin. Weel, Wullie Hardup gie near chokit on his bannock. Then the quine let licht aboot foo I wis misca’in her faimly. An peer Mither’s een were desperate an pleedin, an wi a swak cheenge o subjeck, she said, My, bit it’s affa wither the day.

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Sinnerella Weel, it came tae pass that Mither an Wullie Hardup mairret, an Wullie an Sinnerella cam tae bide at Dockies. Noo, despite fit some fowk’ll say, I didnae hae an ull-wull tiwards the quine. It’s jist that, weel, she wis a bittie thinskinnt, an an affa een tae get kittlet up aboot things. An she wis jailous ower the heids o me bein better at hoosework than her, for she’d been affa spilet by her faither. Weel, there wis ae day she’d a wint tae scrub i scullery fleer, bit it wisnae up tae my stannard, an I telt her straucht, fir shairly the quine hid tae lairn. Syne the wee besom sat doon amin i cinders an the ashes, an skirled that she wis bidden tae dae the foolest wark o the hoose file her step-sister lay on a feather bed, an syne her faither cam ben i hoose an gart her ging an lie doon on HER feather bed. An syne it wis ME that wis left amin i cinders an the ashes tae redd up. Noo it happened that ivery year the Laird o Hadda wid hud a baal for aa the fowk o the neeborhood. Aabody looket forrard tae the Hadda baal, an it was a cause fir great excitement. An oh fit fun me an Mither hid spikkin aboot fit we’d weir. Ye ken Bella, said Mither, I think I’ll weir ma reid velvet suit wi the gowden trimmin. Weel Mither, I said, nae bein een fir funcy claes, I think I’ll jist pit on ma aul floory frock, bit tae mak up for it I’ll pit on a bonnie shaal, an that’ll dae me. On the nicht o the baal, me an Mither were fair cockit up in wer funcy claes, an lachin like bairns. Sinnerella, hooivver, gaed aboot wi a face like a flittin, fir she hidna been invited. Well I suppose I’LL be expected to help you both dress, she glumphed. Oh that wid be affa gweed o ye Sinnerella, said Mither, for she wis divelopin a soft spot fir the quine. Ye micht help tae zeep us baith up. As we gaed tae leave for the baal, Mither looket doon at ma sheen. Oh BELLA! she cried, Ye canna ging tae the baal in yer broon lace-ups! An awa she gaed tae the kist an cam back wi a pair o the bonniest silver satin sheen I’d ivver seen in aa ma life. An wi a tenner look in her een she said, Bella, I wis gan tae gie ye these sheen on yer waddin day, bit I think ye deserve them noo. Weel, I stepped intae them an felt gie near bonnie. As we turned tae say cheerio tae Sinnerella, Mither said, It’s jist a peety ye werenae comin wi’s quine, bit a’m glade yer grunny’s comin roon tae keep ye company. Weel, the quine jist smiled til ersel, an there wis an ill-tricket look in thon een. But I thocht nae mair aboot it, sae excited wis a wi ma new silver sheen. The Great Hall at Hadda wis looking richt bonny wi silver caunlesticks an flooers aawye. An afore I kent it I’d been swept ontae the fleer for a Gay Gordon’s wi Jock Robertson, the Heid Gairdener at Hadda. Michty me Bella, he said. Ye’r looking affa weel the nicht, an ye can fairly dunce! Aifter a fair few dunces, Jock siggested we find a quiet neuk tae hae a news. Ye ken Bella, he said, yer maybe nae the bonniest quine bit ye’r an affa fine quine. I’d even ging as far as tae say ye’r the finest quine here at Hadda the nicht! Weel I wis jist glowin wi happiness. An then he looket hard intae ma een, took a deep braith an said, Bella, I’d affa like ta... But he got nae further. His een werenae lookin at me ony mair, bit ahin me. I turned tae see fit Pushing Out the Boat 10

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The Girl in a Red Field

Christopher Woods

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photograph

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Sinnerella he wis lookin at tae find Sinnerella standin there lookin like butter wouldna melt, in a goon o the purest fite. An she wis smilin at Jock Robertson, tho I kent that the coorse glint in her een wis for me. Weel, ye coulda heard a peen draap, sae attentive wis aabody, wonnerin fa the unkent face wis. Naethin wis heard bit a confused noise o Faa’s aat an oh fit a bonnie quine. As for Jock Robertson, weel he jist couldna keep his eyes aff her. Syne, as if in a trunce, he took her haun an led her tae the fleer. There they dunced, chik tae chik, lookin intae ane anither’s een. Weel, tho a’m nae byowty, a’ve a hairt an feelins like aabody else, an I could watch nae mair. Humiliated an hairtbroken, I ran fae the Great Hall as the Hadda clock chimed midnicht. It wis dark oot in the gruns o’ Hadda, bit I kent far I wis gan for I’d been troddin the Hadda roddies syne I wis a bairn. Feenally, I sat masel doon on a stane by the Hadda loch an hid a richt good greet. Oh Bella, I telt masel, fit a foolish quine ye’ve been. Through ma tears I looket doon at ma bonnie new sheen, an I mynded on Mither’s tenner facie, an that gar ma greet even mair. Weel, I thocht, I’ll nae be sikkin yon again. An wi that I pu’ed aff ma bonnie new sheen, an threw them hine awa intae the Hadda loch. An tho I trod on barefit through the Hadda roddies, it wis wi sair hairt, nae sair feet that I win hame an grat masel tae sleep thon nicht. The next day, things at the hoose cairried on jist as they aye did. Mither wis quaet, fir she wis keepin the peace. Wullie Hardup wis skoukin aboot the place, an if we did rin intae ane anither, he’d stairt habberin wi a wee bit nervous lach, an syne he’d scurry awa like a feart rubbit. An as for Sinnerella, weel she jist gaed aboot like the brazen hizzie she’d been the nicht afore. An ulkie time I caught her een, she wis like the cattie wi the crame. Syne there wis a chap-chap-chappin at the door that wid gar the deid tae waak. Sinnerella jumpet up an ran tiwards it as if she wis expectin a veesitor. It wis Jock Robertson. Sinnerella smiled up at him. Hello Jock, she wheedled. I knew you’d come. Jock shoogled es heid. A’m nae sikkin ye Sinnerella, g’wa wi ye. Sinnerella jist gapet at him. But Jock… she wint on. Get oota ma sicht weemin, he skirled. Sinnerella wis stooket intae seelence. I looket at Jock, an saa that he wis greetin. BELLA! he walloched fin he saa me stannin there. Oh Bella! I thocht ye were deid - droont in the Hadda loch! Oh Bella, I couldnae thole it! I jist gapet at him, open-moo’d. Och Bella, he said, fit a feel a’ve been. Can ye forgie ma, quine? Syne he cam in aboot an I saa that he cairried ma bonnie new sheen in his airms like a bairn. He set them doon gently at ma feet. Tho they were a bittie war the ware fir their dicht in the Hadda loch, they were still as bonnie. Oh Jock, I said, these were tae be ma waddin sheen. Weel Bella, he said, ye’d better pit them on. I steppet intae them. An this time I did feel bonnie. Weel Bella Duncan, he said, a doot we’ll hae tae get mairret noo. If ye’ll hae me that is? Aye Jock Robertson I said. Aye. An syne, I wis in his bosie. Alison M Green

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Island Scrolling down button-sized photographs each a spirit level of land and sky, the sand like living skin, the land a plaster skim of grey rock with a brush of grass and a tangle of pale seed heads – your eye catches, abseils to where dots become hands, a beached boat, amber-eyed sheep, and memories seed like mussels lined with mother of pearl.

Tide What he remembered was the sound of her skirt dragging pebbles as she walked along the beach – each little polished oval trundled sideways for a change; dislocated, troubled, left behind as another took up the momentum of the roll. Now, of course, he considered the fabric – what was it that draped so gracefully yet had the strength to create such disturbance? Was it damaged, torn, damp and heavy at the end of the walk? That he did not remember, just the musical bubbling and the sense of an incoming tide. Kate Percival

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Snap the going is so complicated the buying of the tickets the waiting for the doors but the looking back the pictures of difference the sunshine on the streets that is child’s play Rachel Fox

Primary Landscape

Hilary de Vries

acrylic and watercolour

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Forgotten Dreams

I

don’t know if you can help me, but I was wondering what I should do. You see, I’ve no idea how to deal with it when the man I married over 50 years ago insists on telling me about his ‘other woman’. He tells me all about her: all her little idiosyncrasies; all her attractions; and he tells me without shame because he has been left with no inhibitions and no recollection of who I am. I sit with him for hours and listen to him recounting our past. Briefly I am flattered to hear him tell of all the feelings he had for me, those feelings he could so rarely articulate. He tells me how he met a young girl, beautiful in his eyes, and how he wooed her. He tells of all the good times he had with this woman and of the child they had together. Then he looks at me with no expression in his eyes, apologises for boring me, and goes back to his paper, though he has already read it through. I find myself feeling jealous, a ridiculous emotion to have at my age, especially when I am the subject of my own scorn. I never minded getting older, of changing from girl to wife; from wife to mother; then to grandmother. I relished becoming older and wiser, having a role. I didn’t even mind the grey streaks and laughter lines, until I woke up one day with the realisation that the man beside me was no longer my husband. Granted, he had the name of the man I married, but he had gradually drifted back in time and I had not followed him, at least not yet. So he started flirting with the notion of a younger woman, the younger me. We all have our stories to tell, and we tell them even when we know they’ve been heard before. Johnnie’s favourite at all the family gatherings was about the accumulator that would have made us rich, if the last horse hadn’t been pipped at the post. He didn’t care that we all mouthed the last few sentences; and we didn’t find the story any less exciting for knowing the ending. My stories are becoming repetitive too as I look for reassurance that I have done the right thing.

It makes him so happy to reminisce and I don’t know how I can stop him, but it makes me so sad to know that we have no more memories to make together. I continue to live in the present, watching with pain as my grandchildren’s eyes glaze over when he starts to talk. They must think that I was mad to marry such a muddled man, for they cannot connect the past with the present, just as he cannot connect the present with the past. They giggle when he reveals his every thought without a filter: “Nice arse.” “She’s fat”. “I need a shit.” I try to tell them that this isn’t him, that the stroke and the dementia have altered his brain and his personality. I’ve even had to take the young nurse with the DD cups aside to tell her please not to be offended. She smiled and feigned understanding, but I know that she just sees him as a dirty old man, not a man that you would trust your life with.

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Forgotten Dreams Sometimes I intrude into his memories, correcting his distorted facts; rearranged not by old age but long before into his version of the truth. He is shocked when I try to reach back through the years. “We didn’t go to Blackpool that year, it was Skegness.” “You weren’t there. How can you know?” Then there are occasions when he can be just Johnnie, when he can reach out his hand and touch his wife. But more often than not he is left with a sense of abandonment: for where has she gone, this woman who promised to love him until the end of time? He can trace the progress of life with this idealised woman as they appear in photographs at weddings and christenings, then suddenly she disappears and I appear in her place: me the stranger who sits by his side. I wonder sometimes why his memory cannot progress any further forward, when it seems to go back almost to the cradle. He has erased the aged version of me. Almost 20 years gone from his mind, since my hair went grey and I lost my figure; 20 years that had been vibrant and exciting for me, forgotten and discarded as if they were a bookie’s losing line. I berate myself for this foolishness. We have survived; we are still together. I dress him when I once undressed him; wash him now without passion. I tend to his needs as I always did. Even when nothing else is left, there is love, love for a person who no longer seems to exist. But sometimes he describes the past so vividly that I am drawn back with him, and for a while I can enjoy what we once had. Then a cancerous cough brings me back to the present, and I despair at the selfishness of memories. “Where’s the boy?” He looked straight into my eyes yesterday, and demanded an answer. “He’s never been to see me.” I swallowed hard. We have had this conversation many times, but the retelling doesn’t make it easier. “He passed on,” I say, quietly, hoping that he will not hear. “No? When? How did it happen?” I give the facts, trying not to catch the sympathetic eye of the wife at the next bed. I cry sometimes when I tell him, and other times I feel so detached that I am ashamed. He cries every time I tell him and it breaks my heart to hurt him so. I know that you’ve told me to lie. Just say that he was here yesterday, or that he’ll be here tomorrow. But I never could. I prided myself in telling the truth, no matter how unpalatable it was: “We couldn’t have children of our own, and there was this girl we knew who was in a fix. So, you see it all worked out for the best.” 80

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Forgotten Dreams In quiet moments, when he is sleeping, or I am back home alone, I allow myself to revisit my own thoughts from the past. I remember clearly the first time we met (although I think the colour of my hat was blue but Johnnie recalls it as being green). I remember the challenge of finding out about him, of making connections and becoming part of one another’s lives. I remember how I longed for him to love me, and then, when I thought he did, of how I waited for him to tell me. The same is happening now: I feel the same desire to be loved for who I am, unconditionally and irrationally. I want to be part of this man again, to hear him say he loves me, when all he does is tells me that he loves her. The strong hands that used to engulf mugs of builders’ tea now shake as he lifts the plastic beaker to his mouth. There is bruised blood beneath one of his nails; and more liver spots each time I see him. I worry that they might disguise melanoma contracted from a lifetime outdoors, but the little nurse who pops her head around the door says there is little point in checking. She would check if they were her husband’s hands. When we finish our tea, I put the cups on the table and take his hands in mine. Some days he struggles and fights me off; other times, if I take it slowly, he lets me do do a careful examination following the instructions I got from the internet. “I had a girl once,” he would say, “lovely hands she had: dainty fingers but long fingernails. She used to sit at night with a metal file and shape them to perfection. Coral pink they were. I slipped a ring on those fingers, maybe even two.” Yes, two, he was right, but I’d sold the diamond a few years back to help pay for a walk-in bath. Now only the gold band remained, turning and slipping with nothing to anchor it down. The fancy nails are long gone too. Probably the same lack of calcium that makes my teeth feel loose and my bones brittle. “She was a bonny lassie,” he said, as he drifted once more into his twilight sleep. He was smiling at least, thinking about the good times with her. He wasn’t always smiling though, that is why he ended up in here. In the early stages he would rage and fight as his shortterm memory faded: ‘I did not have my tea already, you stupid woman. Now go and make it for me.’ Or ‘Why have you brought me tea? You know it’s a struggle to get to the toilet, and you’re filling me with tea. What kind of a wife are you?’ Then, as things got worse we became prisoners together: him not able to be left alone; and me, too proud to ask for help. He would content himself with daytime TV, or with jigsaws that he’d never had the patience to do before, while I longed to be out and about in the world again, meeting people and getting their news. He looked sad today when I came in. He had in his hand a framed photo that he held close to his chest. Pushing Out the Boat 10

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Forgotten Dreams “Your daughter-in-law was here earlier,” the auxiliary said as she came to change his water jug. “She brought in some things she’d found in the attic. “Brought you a nice photo, didn’t she Johnnie? Will you show it to Jean?” “Jean’s not here anymore. She must have left me. She was always threatening to, you know.” “Jean’s right here, aren’t you Jean?” She looked at me with a changed expression. All she had heard for months was how wonderful Jean was. Now there was an unexpected change. “Who is in the photo, Johnnie?” I asked, stretching my hand out to take it, should he decide to offer it up. He cast his eyes down to it, angling it out from his body just far enough for me to see that it was of a man and a woman. After some hesitation, he passed it over. It was an old black and white taken on the prom of some seaside resort. There was Johnnie, large as life, and next to him, clutching his arm and laughing, was Betty Anderson. People always said that we looked quite alike, and I can understand how my daughter-in-law might have given it a quick glance and thought that it was me. “Do you remember that day, Betty?” he asked me. “You were wearing that green hat you wore the day we met. We went for a walk along the prom at Ayr before the races. I had an accumulator on that day, was ready to make a lot of money, enough to get out of my marriage and to start afresh with you. You wouldn’t see me after that. Had your mother hand over the boy. You said I wasn’t a man of my word. But I couldn’t leave, you see, it wouldn’t have been respectable to leave her penniless. Then that last damn horse lost it by a nose. What was that horse called again?” “Forgotten Dreams,” I said, then handed back the photo and walked away. Colette Coen

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Looking down to Crivie

Jane Pettigrew

ink and watercolour

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Ironing a Sari   This hand-dyed cotton unfolding on and on until its face and colour are young again.   Such length is like a path down to the river, which morning and evening feels the feet of women who wander from the village to the washing place and laugh about their men beside the drying  stones.   The cloth has no one now to fold around: one brown shoulder covered, the other bare, breasts shaping a tease of bodice, the crucial tucking-in around the waist.   And I am wrapped within this task, breathing warmth from what has touched your skin.

Three  

Using both hands you carry water in a glass across the room to me.   Meniscus your world, step by step the carpet is a mile in your mind. Mother hovers near.   I reach out, take the glass and steady you. I drink with aplomb. We all clap. You clap too.   You will have rivers to cross, advancing like a soldier keeping her powder dry with a gesture of surrender.   Close is the brink, bright the triumph. The long aisle waits. Gerard Rochford 84

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Eastbound, 2003 Queen St to Waverley, a fine day we walked the Royal Mile, went for an Elephant Bagel I won’t be having again. Roast dinner at the family home, you and your parents, first time I’d met them, the meat rarer than I’m used to. In the nice kitchen I offered, but she had a dishwasher. I’ve always hated Edinburgh. She didn’t say much, your dad I liked, at eighty, losing his mind you kept saying, but he still loved table tennis. I was ready to clear the chairs, but through to the table tennis room filled with antiques, your parents’ job, the game was all set up. I knew it would never work, running all over the place, little balls firing everywhere, scared of breaking something. We missed the train back, went to an arcade, you said it’s all a con, at 20p I just fancied a teddy. On the beach at Prestonpans, I took pictures of you mid-cartwheel, the sky all pink behind and all I could see. Karin Slater Pushing Out the Boat 10

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The Park

W

e’re at the park with Mum. I’m six and keen to show just how high I can go on the swings. Kick and kick and up and up I go and the trees are rushing under my new trainers. If I go higher I can kick the sky which is grey. My legs look funny as if they’re just stuck on to my body when I kick them out, like my sister Kathleen’s drawing of my Mum. On the next swing there’s a girl with blonde hair who’s trying to get as high as me, but I’m always up before her. I’ve never spoken to her but I know she’s often here with her mum. After a time I want to go down again but it always takes longer than you want. You tug one chain and you wobble a bit and it slows you. Sometimes I’ll shout to Mum and she’ll try to stop me, but she grabbed the chain once and I fell off and grazed my knee. She says I should just be patient and stop by myself. There aren’t many kids here today. It’s not raining yet but Mum said it would rain later so we should go to the park early. My best friend Charlie has gone to see his gran in Scarborough but maybe Eric my second best friend will come soon and we can explore in the bushes. We made a hut here last time with some sticks we found and nobody could see us. It was great to be in there and watch people passing on the path. They didn’t know we were there but a little dog found us and Eric put up his finger and told it to be quiet. It just looked at him and then dashed back out. I think we scared it. Mum’s talking to that tall woman with the funny boots. She likes her. She says she’s a kindled spirit but I don’t know what she means. I suppose she likes her boots or something. They seem to be looking at the seats by the sandpit. There are some little ones in there throwing sand about. There’ll be tears before bedtime: that’s what Mum says when you start having a good time. I’m going on the chute which is always sticky and spoils the slide. Some kids try to run up it and Mum says that’s why it loses its shine. I climb up but it’s not very high. When I try to push myself off I don’t move. You feel stupid just stuck there and then you have to push yourself down bit by bit while other kids are behind you shouting at you to get off. Mum’s gone over to the seats and is standing near the man. I’ve seen him here before, I think. He doesn’t have a dog or anything so I suppose he just likes the park. Maybe he’d really like to go on the swings but he knows he’s too old. Mum’s gone over to talk to Mrs Boots again. Oh, she’s calling me over. I want to go on the rocking swing now. I love it when they get going but you have to push quite hard to get started. She’s calling me and I go over to her. Mrs Boots looks at me and smiles. She’s very pretty but not as nice as Mum. Mum takes my hand and bends down to me. She tells me to keep away from the benches. I kind of look at her and she lifts her hand in that way that means DON’T ARGUE, so I say OK. Back to the rocking swing I go and then I see Eric running across the grass. He comes to the swing and plonks himself on the opposite side and we start it going. We don’t say anything really but I’m glad he’s there. He’s bigger than me because he’s in Primary Two with Miss Parker. I like playing with bigger boys because they do better things than little ones. Mum says I’ve really grown up this year and I feel really happy when she says that.

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The Park That man’s still on the seat but the other two benches are empty. He’s just kicked that girl’s ball away. It isn’t a very good kick. He’s turning to talk to her. Perhaps he’s her grandpa and he’s joking with her. It’s funny because the women usually get fed up standing and go and sit. They can still keep an eye out because the benches are right next to the swings. Mum’s moved along by the sandpit and is talking to another couple of women. Mrs Boots is going across there too. Ben is really pumping hard today and we’re going backwards and forwards quite quickly now. He’s standing up to get a better push but I’m not going to stand. I tell him to slow down but he’s not looking at me and he keeps going. I’m OK though, I’m not too scared. Just when we’re really high and it’s squeaking and shaking Mum comes across and tells me we’re going home. I’m quite glad really because Ben seems in a funny mood today as if he doesn’t want to play. Mum takes my hand and we pass in front of the benches on the way out. We’re pushing Kathleen who’s asleep as usual in her pushchair. I see the man has sunglasses on but there isn’t any sun. He’s got a funny straw hat on too. He doesn’t turn to say hello or anything as we pass close but just stares straight ahead. He’s probably thinking about something the way Dad does sometimes when he goes quiet. Mrs Boots catches up with us, pushing her kid in her pushchair. It’s bigger than ours and has huge wheels. She says something to Mum and they both turn to look at the man. She says she’ll speak to someone. She says it’s just not on and they both look at me in a funny way. As we go out of the park the woman who’s our lolly-pop lady comes along with her husband. I think she’s called Sheena. It’s funny because she’s really fat and he’s long and thin. Mum says something to her and points over her shoulder. The lolly-pop lady shakes her head and laughs. She says that’s Harry Mason and he’s blind. Just likes to hear kids having a good time that’s all. Mum says he’s got no stick and Mrs Lolly-pop says he’s got a fold-away one. I ask Mum who’s Harry Mason and she says nobody darling, just my mistake. Sometimes I think adults live on a different planet. How can a man be a mistake? Maurice Gartshore

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Invisible Cities

Neil Russell

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Fog-born These words of doubt in the mind and silence, looking out of the train window at the marshland mantled in familiar, grey blankness, a silhouetted world the heart mimics in self-defence. Barges in the shallows, in the still swarm of dots, stuck in their outlines of seaweeds and slime; a seagull’s slowly beating wings soon swallowed by the sky, you hear a cackling call and rest for an instant in its wake and think – in this way I would like to pass, in a silence broken and reaffirmed, I would like to last for a full long howl with nothing to insert. Not these words, threads that spill over on the silvery damp and linger undone, in their maze, having to start all over again, not these words when your turn comes, these lines leaving lines unsaid, not these words consumed in the curls of their own utterance, but just this sky-swarm in silence and, in the strength of blindness, a cry that doesn’t need a why, like out of the womb’s. Davide Trame Pushing Out the Boat 10

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Back Nine Narrative

Par 4: 413 Yards It was weird golfing with Grandpa again after his throat surgery. He couldn’t offer any advice, so it was three hours of silence. Chopped ice cubes crunching against teeth – the only evidence of his existence besides the wild swings, the pink Lacoste shirt with purple knickers like Payne Stewart, and the white Titleist golf ball crashing through the brush. He flew me out first class to see him after his cancer surgery. He slams his seven iron into the barrel cactus and the ball drifts off toward the sand trap protecting the front of the green. Grandpa was a border patrol agent and sometimes his imagination makes him see Mexicans hiding in the desert fairways. My approach shot lands on the green, sets me up for an easy two-putt bogey. Grandpa scores a double bogey. Par 3: 241 Yards Grandpa’s sweat smells like mothballs. I can almost taste them in my backswing. I drive my orange ball over the artificial lake with a Big Bertha driver. He points to the green alligator on his heart, pounds his chest as he jumps into the golf cart and we drive down the emerald fairway toward the green. We both make par. I can almost hear him laughing – he’s dancing like a gorilla. flag stick in one hand, golf glove in the other – but it’s the fountain spewing water and the feathers of the ducks. Not sure whether we are angels or merely spiritual men on a mission, the iceberg melts in his mouth as the sun breaks free from the clouds. Pulling his tiny yellow pencil and score sheet from his pocket, he circles his ‘3’ and then turns it into a ‘2’; we smile as the wind blows off the lagoon. Par 5: 551 Yards Grandpa tees off, drives the Titleist straight down the fairway. He doesn’t know I’m gay, but slaps me on the backside and smiles. There’s nothing to say. We play in silence because words are nothing compared to what we’ve been through together: secrets I’ll never tell him, things I saw Grandma doing with the gardener, words he’ll never again speak; but I slice the orange Wilson into the desert and he smiles and that’s all that matters. Double bogey for me but Grandpa plays that hole like he was 30. Yearning for more he sinks his birdie and swallows the worry; everything will be fine – surgery was a success. Par 3: 230 Yards Washing balls in majestic green machine beside the tees, we dry them with the towel hanging on the chain. I tighten the Velcro on my golf glove, blisters bubbling between crusty fingers; Grandpa takes a dozen practice swings in the tee box. He points to the hole – like he always has. He studies the wind, picks up a piece of grass and watches it fall between his cleats, takes his stance and lines up the ball with the meticulous precision of a surgeon lining up lasers on a cluster of throat tumors. He strikes it and immediately I can hear the sweet spot – into the air it goes, higher until it gets lost in the whiteness of the sun and my vision gets hazy as I wait for it to land on the green. When next I catch sight

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of the Titleist it pounds the green, bounces a few yards in front of the cup and strikes the pin like a ballistic missile. We listen to the clank – but can’t tell if it went in. Grandpa is dancing. We hug. Minutes pass. The foursome on the 17th ignore us and focus on their putts. I take a practice swing. Another. Line up my orange ball, shake my hips, ass, and strike it with the Big Bertha. Again I lose it in the clouds; a few seconds later Grandpa points it out on the corner of the green. We speed down the slope – madmen chasing a dream, that great final dream, the wildest of all. Grandpa hits the brakes and skids the golf cart onto the embankment leading up to the green – where we’re not permitted to drive. He chases butterflies toward the pin; he didn’t even bring a putter. Sunk it. White Titleist in his hand – he rubs it and jumps like an acrobat. 19th Hole: Club House I run my spikes with enchantment against the enthralling black-spiked brushes: those ethereal revolutions, fairies in my memories, the center of the universe. Grandpa tosses his scorecard in the air like a madman and kisses the ball. His few buddies still alive and everyone else splattered with excitement like a rogue wave of happiness-soaking tourists sipping exotic drinks on a beach. Grandpa gets toasted, hoisted above tables; kissing his ball, he sticks it in his mouth and they laugh and Grandpa grabs his throat and it looks like a snake swallowing a birdie in the wild. They put him down on a glass table which breaks and he sinks to the pavement. They pick him up again and doctors suggest the Heimlich: 30 seconds of red-faced horror on shards of blue glass. He’s still wearing his Wilson golf glove, purple veins on his neck turning a strange hue of turquoise that strangely completes the rainbow of his golf attire. Women are crying; Grandpa, gasping for air, is dying, seconds away from riding the rainbow. Wet Titleist flies from his mouth and strikes me between the eyes. Grandpa falls to his knees and wheezes: “I can breathe!” Matthew B Dexter

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There’s no such thing as bad weather‌ Your smile darts towards me, so like the first swallow of the season promising

... cirrus streamers in the azure sky, tender morning breezes amongst long whiskers of golden bearded wheat, breathless heat on dew moistened skin and a big bellied sun, sweet cherry ripe ...

Your smile flits straight past me. The swallow settles in another field. Beate Allerton

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Contributor Information Beate Allerton is a writer, photographer & digital artist. Her articles have been published in national magazines & her poems have featured in POTB and There’s a Bairn in my Soup. www.beateallerton.co.uk

Maurice Gartshore, a former Principal Teacher of English at Aboyne Academy, won the William Soutar Prize in 2010. His work has featured on Radio Scotland & at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

Jean Atkin’s collection The Treeless Region (Ravenglass Poetry Press) was published in 2010 after winning a competition judged by John Burnside. She has a forthcoming pamphlet Lost At Sea (Roncadora Press).

Alison M Green, brought up in Aberdeen, now lives in Pitmedden. She attends a creative writing class in Udny Green, and works in the oil industry. This is her first published piece.

Sheena Blackhall, poet, short story writer, novelist and illustrator, is also a traditional ballad singe & registered storyteller. Current Makar of the North East, she lives in Aberdeen. www.sheenablackhall.blogspot.com

Hana Horack has shown at the RA Summer Exhibition & ING Discerning Eye. One of her silk paintings was presented to HRH Prince Charles at Spirituality in Action Day, Old Trafford.

Joan Christie is aye a bit bemused to be described as an author but hopes to continue writing until she is called home by the great Makar in the sky. Colette Coen, recent student of Faber Academy, just completed her first novel - hoorah. Short stories in Cutting Teeth, Second Tide, Scribble, and Pygmy Giant. Follow on Facebook and www.colettecoen.wordpress.com Jenny Watt Colbeck works in a distinctive graphic style creating images of harmony and solitude. At home in her Auchenblae studio she enjoys being wife, mum, artist and tutor. www.jennywattcolbeck.co.uk Camille Conner is originally from Louisiana, USA, but has been living in Scotland for four years. She is 16 years old and enjoys writing poetry in her free time.

Isbel Moira Keir James has published poetry in Canada and Britain. She lives in Edinburgh Vivien Jones published her first poetry collection About Time,Too and won the Poetry London Prize in 2010. She is working on a fiction collection women amongst warriors with a Creative Scotland Bursary Gerrard Lindley is a freelance graphic artist living and working in North Devon. His work revolves around love, music, performance, the sea, boats, and the journey through life. Louis K. Lowy, a former firefighter, lives in Miami Lakes, Florida. His sci-fi novel Die Laughing is scheduled for release in April 20011. Contact him at his website www.louisklowy.com Andrew McCallum, from Biggar, writes poetry which he publishes sparingly, preferring to let it fester in the dark so he can pick at the scab in defiance of his grandmother.

Ann Craig uses a wide range of media to make thoughtful comments on life and our world. A printmaking graduate, she has exhibited in Scotland and in London.  www.annsart.co.uk

Rosa Alba Macdonald (Barbara Mathie) works as a teacher in Aberdeen and writes mainly poetry, as well as pursuing an interest in photography and graphic design.

Matthew B Dexter is an American writer living in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He survives on fish tacos, cold cervezas, and warm sunshine.

Dolleen MacLennan has an interest in photography and painting and in finding new ways of combining the two. She lives in Aberdeen

Mark Edwards lives and works in Aberdeen. Clearout Sale, his first collection of poems and stories, was published by Andromache Books at the beginning of 2009.

Stephen Pacitti, an Aberdonian, lectured for many years in Taiwan. His Doric short stories, touching on the flaws and foibles of ordinary people, have featured in Lallans, POTB & Aberdeen University Review

Mark Farrell teaches at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. His work has appeared most recently in Square (Cardiff) and Muscle & Blood (Youngstown, Ohio, USA). Rachel Fox, originally from the north of England, now lives in Angus. She has a book of poems More about the song (2008) and a website at www.crowd-pleasers.net

Kate Percival lives in Aberdeenshire; writes poetry and short prose and loves seeing selected work in print whilst also hoarding acres of also loved also-rans. Somebody’s got to do it! David Pettigrew, born Meikle Wartle, Aberdeenshire, is a Post Graduate (Drawing and Painting) of Gray’s School of Art, and a Professional Member of Aberdeen Artists Society. www.masterpieceartstudio.com

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Contributor Information Jane Pettigrew, born Aberdeen, is a Post Graduate of Gray’s (Drawing and Painting), and a Professional Member of Aberdeen Artists Society.  She is an Art Specialist teaching in in Banchory area schools. www. masterpieceartstudio.com

Pauline Thomas produces unique artwork. Finalist of the UK Liberte d’Expression and International Art Competition ‘Hands Off’, as well as work assigned a level of distinction in the Americas Biennial.

Judy Pinn lives in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, Australia. When not writing short stories or memoir, she sings with three community choirs and wanders through the bush with her camera. Elaine Reid writes to expand both her creativity and her understanding of her counselling role.  In 2010 she launched writing workshops entitled Searching The Soul with fellow writer, Janis Louden. Kevin Reid lives and works as a librarian in Angus. Originally fromAyrshire, he has been living in the North East for the last 20 years. Heather Reid lives in Perthshire where she is a member of Soutar Writers. Her short stories and poems have been widely published & broadcast on radio. www.soutarwriters.co.uk/heatherreid Gerard Rochford’s publications include: Figures of Stone (Koo Press, 2009); Failing Light (Embers Handpress, 2010); & in Best 20 Scottish Poems-2006 (Scottish Poetry Library). Makar for the Scottish Review. Neil Russell’s work is mostly concerned with the visual aspect of text. Although purely graphic work and the influence of landscape persist, the nature of words themselves are often subject enough. Max Scratchmann is a well-known illustrator and humorist. His numerous books include the autobiographical Chucking It All and Bad Girls, a collection ‘noir’ crime short stories. Marga Schnell went during her retirement to Grays School of Art & qualified in Fine Art Printmaking in 2005. She is a member of NEOS and exhibits throughout GB. Karin Slater is a creative writing graduate whose publication credits include Northwords Now and New Writing Scotland.  She was shortlisted for a Scottish Book Trust New Writers’ Award in 2010. Calum Stewart, after years in the Merchant Navy, worked in engineering & now runs a one-man business. Married with three children & two motorbikes, this is his first published story. Sarah Ellen Taylor is an established artist, working in Cumbria. Kadampa World Peace Temples display her commercial painting/gilding work.  Her next solo exhibition is at Augen Gallery in October.   www.augengallery.com

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Davide Trame is an Italian teacher of English. He lives in Venice. His work has appeared in around five hundred magazines. His poetry collection Re-emerging was published in 2006 Hilary de Vries is a graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone, working primarily in acrylic and watercolour. Her art draws heavily on the landscape, stained glass and printmaking for inspiration.

Martin Walsh, Kent-born marine biologist, is thrilled to be included in another POTB, with a focus-switch to Ecuador and an incident in Guayaquil’s El Parque de los Iguanas. Jenny Watson is originally from Edinburgh and lives in Aberdeen. She recently succumbed to a lifelong itch to be more creative and is now a member of Deeside Writers. Tez Watson lives in Forres and has been taking landscape photographs since he was about 10; in recent years he’s become captivated by foggy/misty shots as they portray such atmosphere. www.iolaire.co.uk Rapunzel Wizard normally pens shouty performance poems, but occasionally writes strange ones. This one is particularly strange. Tim Winters lives in regional Australia and his artworks are closely connected to the visual exploration of landscape. Tim was a visiting and exhibiting artist at Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen in 2008. www.timwinters.com.au Jonathan Wonham was born in Glasgow in 1965. He works as a geologist in Norway. His first book of poetry Steel Horizon will be published by Incline Press in 2011. Christopher Woods is a writer, teacher and photographer who lives in Texas. He shares a gallery with his wife Linda at Moonbird Hill Arts - www.moonbirdhill.exposuremanager.com

Printer: Stephen & George Print Group. Copyright @ Pushing Out the Boat (POTB) 2011: the contents may not be used or reproduced without crediting POTB and the author/artist; any commercial re-use or reproduction of a contribution requires prior permission from the editor’s representative and the particular contributor.

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PUSHING OUT THE BOAT - Issue 10

Pushing Out the Boat 10 is entirely managed and produced by a dedicated team of volunteers, with financial support from Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council, and mailing facilities provided by Aberdeen Arts Centre. This year’s Team comprised: Managing Editor Judith Taylor Treasurer Richard Anderson Secretary/Admin Freda Hasler Consulting Editor Graeme Roberts Publicity/Sales Martin Walsh Art Panel Michael Waight [Convenor], Ruth Maxwell, David Henderson Poetry Panel Sheila Reid [Convenor], Bernard Briggs, Guest Panelist Ian Crockatt Prose Panel Rapunzel Wizard [Convenor], Stuart Hannabuss, Gillian Phillips, Graeme Roberts Scots/Doric Editor Derrick McClure Copy Editors Freda Hasler [Convenor], Moira Brown, Stuart Hannabuss, Dolleen MacLennan, Max Roach Sheila Reid, Judith Taylor Covers Ruth Maxwell Design & Layout Sue Simpson, Freda Hasler, Martin Walsh Website Maintenance Haworth Hodgkinson (via North-East Writers) Angus Representative Eleanor Fordyce We would also like to thank all our present and past contributors, and those - individuals and organisations - who have contributed their time and effort, as well as money, advice or facilities, over the past 10 years.We are very grateful to you all.

Email: info@pushingouttheboat.co.uk Post: Pushing Out the Boat, c/o Aberdeen Arts Centre, 33 King St, Aberdeen AB24 5AA Copies of the magazine can be ordered via our email/postal address (above), price £6 per copy including delivery. Or purchased from our regular outlets, whose continued support we gratefully acknowledge. These include: Aberdeenshire Main Libraries Aberdeen Central Library Aberdeen Art Gallery Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen Milton of Crathes Gallery Better Read Books, Ellon Bookends, Old Aberdeen Junction Art, Holburn St, Aberdeen Waterstones, Union Bridge, Aberdeen Aberdeen Journals, Union St, Aberdeen Hammerton Stores, Gt Western Rd, Aberdeen Woodend Barn, Banchory Newtondee Village Stores, Bieldside

Camphill Bookshop, Bieldside The Coffee House, Aberdeen Books and Beans, Aberdeen Lewis Grassic Gibbon Centre, Arbuthnott Morgan McVeigh, Huntly Orb’s Bookshop, Huntly Better Read Books, Ellon Yeadon’s Bookshop, Banchory Marywell Gallery, Marywell Mill of Benholm, Johnshaven Duffhouse, Macduff Kirriemuir Gallery, Kirriemuir

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Pushing Out the Boat Issue 10