After the cremation, I felt I had to get away. I found a Perthshire country house hotel on the internet, situated in one of those mysterious winding glens that end abruptly in a wall of rock. The hotel advertised itself as ‘a mecca for hill-walkers,’ but that clearly only applied outside the shooting season, as was evidenced by the stags’ heads in the hallway, bar and library. More like an abattoir than a country house hotel, it seemed on arrival. Nevertheless, the staff were friendly and the weather was surprisingly dry for April, so I decided to stay on for a second week: I didn’t relish returning home to an empty house – her clothes in the wardrobe, her flowers in their pots on the kitchen window. And it wasn’t really until that second week that I got to know Willie Anderson.Continue reading “The Smoothing Stream by Michael Bloor”
On his twentieth wedding anniversary, and pondering various presents he might acquire for his wife Amanel, Viktor Drovnovich, a land manager in the eastern section of Pskov Province, scanned the offerings in Karpenko’s store front as he headed home from a three-week separation. The trip would take him two days, with a night spent at Madame Estelle’s Inn on the Tver road to halve the journey. He looked forward to that stop, for he left Madame Estelle always carrying good will and good spirits, warming him up for the return home.Continue reading “Midwife Legacy by Tom Sheehan”
Lost and found.
That’s where Kathleen would go if this had happened at a big box store, her carelessness broadcast over the loudspeaker. Instead, she lost something precious in the snow, in deep, cold, silent snow. Beautiful, but impossible to search — unlike the hard floors and ordered aisles of housewares and sports equipment, toiletries and toys.
The Year You Were Born:
Your mother leaned forward in an aluminum lawn chair, scrunched her toes into the grass as the hot wind blew waves through her summer dress. She took another fleshy bite of watermelon and let her eyes slide closed as she savored the cool sweetness that filled her mouth. Your dad sat at the picnic table drinking a can of beer. He cupped a match from the breeze and lit a cigarette, and when your mother leaned forward, he stole a glimpse of her swollen breasts through his exhale.
Tiny clots of tissue and intestine trailed down my driveway and snaked around to the backyard. Before the touch of day, I’d let Shiva out to run free from the house and I. Two hours later and still no sign of her. She’d usually come back to the front door scratching and whining to get back in; negative 42 degrees had a way of making animals panic. The cold couldn’t bother me anymore, but the sun still did—it was too bright. I grabbed a jacket anyway and headed out to look for her. She had no problem jumping the metal fence around the property. And when she didn’t feel like jumping, she’d dig her way to freedom.
It was a Monday morning. A village hen clucked at the assembly, looking for its youngling. The school principal, Mister Rakobo, went off with the hen, leaving the assembly divided into several assemblies. The Mocking Birds choral conductor raised a hand, calming the sopranos and tenors that were going this way and that. “Whose mother is that?” inquired some. “Someone must have stolen money or something,” speculated some. “A family death? A bullying case?” Some concluded that this was not the case.
Sirens blared nearby, but as James sat, they sounded distant. Distorted. Like a baby’s cry from a monitor. People rushed by, screaming, sobbing, but the world was silent and still. His heart slowed as emotion slipped from his body. All that remained where he sat were functioning organs under worthless skin.
It had happened again and bright-eyed, thick-chested Judd Farro, half clad in the yellow foul weather gear of his trade, couldn’t remember how many times it had happened over the years. The sea, obviously, has its own rules and regulations, he thought, its own machinations, and you don’t really count on them. But here, in its own great mystery, the lobster with the bold X on its backside was caught anew in one of his traps, big as life, healthy, and as if daring to say Here I am again. The X was indelible, unmistakable, and struck him with an awed intensity.
“All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God…”
“I was told I should report here. What do you need me to do?”
“Shovels are over there, buckets are behind you. Dig or help carry it away.”
“Each little flower that opens
Each little bird that sings…”
“I’m sorry Mrs Jones but you’ll have to move back. They’re going as fast as they can.”
“I just need to know if Tommy is OK. He is OK isn’t he? He said he was feeling sick this morning but you know what they are like on last day of school…”