Firbreac stared into the sky, and felt their heads touching, his and hers, as they lay on their backs near the river. The warmth of a thick layer of moss embraced him from behind; his feet cooled by the waters of the silently flowing river. He blinked watching the sun’s rays flit through the leaves above them, first with his left eye then his right, watching the rhythm as it coincided with his heart’s fluttering. The children played beside them, giggling like little birds, when he asked her, as if they understood what it was being asked, the reason for his heart’s flutter. As he waited for her answer his cheeks turned red, seconds seemed like minutes, he started to anticipate a possible no. Then she whispered, “Yes” just loud enough for him to be able to hear her, ‘Yes, I will be your wife.’
Wednesday, 11 April 1798
Her words warmed my feet and her low scraping voice caressed me as if she touched my back: as if her fingers walked over my vertebrae, softly touching each one separately for a second or two. I shivered.
‘Are you cold?’ she asked.
I smiled and whispered, ‘No.’
‘It all started in the north,’ she continued, ‘where Firbreac, the king of the forest, lived. He fell in love with Tadhg’s beautiful daughter, and after winning the annual jousting championships, Firbreac chose her to be his wife.’
The chair creaked as she cuddled into it, pulling her shawl closer. She slowly started to rock a crib at her side; in it lay her sleeping baby. She looked at the child so tenderly and then at your empty chair with the exact same expression about the eyes, with that look she always gives you, full of pleasure and affection. I think she loves you like her own. But I shall not say another word about the matter for I know you do not like me to mention it. I hear your hushing breath already, so I shall quickly continue with the story.
I climb the North Wall of the mountain like a spider, clasping my rope on shiny pitons left behind by older expeditions. The sun warms my neck; a breeze softly laps my face. The air is thin, but the atmosphere is wonderful. I suck it in, loving it. ‘As if in paradise,’ I keep repeating to myself.
The sky is starting to turn orangey red, and a beautiful blue: ultramarine blue. I’ll need to start hurrying; it will be dark soon and at this altitude the weather might change for the worse. But that seems unimaginable. As I climb I stick my foot into a crevice. It turns a bit, but the thick rubber sole of my climbing boot stays put. I clasp my rope on a hook, but it breaks off completely. I lean dangerously back. The adrenaline shoots through my veins and in a reflex I throw myself back against the mountain, and try to grip on to anything that sticks out.
I notice that the piton above me has a rusty patch. Then I notice that all the pitons above me are rusty.
‘Fuck,’ some amateur must have left them, using amateur gear. Why didn’t I take my own pitons, ‘… the fecking eejit I am. And, only to save that bit of extra weight?’ Continue reading
She wiped the tears from her cheeks using the flat of her hand, wiping them to the sides of her face. She shuddered, then started to giggle. She sniffed, blew her nose in a paper napkin, straightened her back and said, “I’m amazing.”
Two women sitting at the same table with her looked up curiously. One sitting to her left wore a red pullover, her lipstick in the exactly same color. She smiled and leaned over to her giving her all her attention.
The girl continued in a high, scratchy voice, “I must be the only person in the world who would get this right.” Continue reading
Those flowers bloom like blossoming teenagers, he thought as one of his pupils from his English class walked into his hospital room, her arms filled with a large bouquet spreading a sensual perfume on the draft coming in from the open window, her cheeks the same pink as the roses, her lipstick red lips saying she was really sorry for misinterpreting his suggestion to study for the upcoming exam at his home, ‘I really shouldn’t have pushed you,’ she said solemnly, looking down her flowery dress: pink with beige flowers; her tanned legs, her fat calves and her narrow ankles, black shoes, no tights, no socks, knee-highs, high heels, a little bruise just above the knee, in a kind of smiley shape; he could feel it, in him, her, the bruise, the smiley, he moaned; ‘Are you in pain?’ she asked, ‘No… yes but, oh, maybe, he thought, I will try again, to win her over, ‘I only wanted to help you get…’ he could see she understood, she understood, ‘Yes,’ she whispered, ‘Maybe,’ she said leaving the flowers on his bed, later when the flowers started to wilt a ladybird crawled out over the flabby pink petals of the roses; it spread its tiny wings and flew away.
I wore a yellow corduroy suit with red rain boots, really modern ones sent over from the continent by my grandmother, the shiny rubber reflected the sky and there was a piece of fake leather sewn on the top, from it dangled a shoelace. I could tie it in a bow if I wanted to; but, I liked it swinging about my legs freely as I walked. I knew that I stood out in those fashionable clothes; the other children wore brown and black. My mother said that the Seventies hadn’t started here yet.
There was an older boy in my class who was about sixteen. Everybody called him Frank, and at first I thought that that was his real name. Only much later I found out that it was short for Frankenstein. Children said he was behind, called him ‘retarded’. They told me that when Frank was six he was knocked down on the road. After that his body still grew but his mind didn’t. We were both tall, but as far as I was concerned the comparison stopped there. I didn’t want to be tall like him but most of all I didn’t want to be taller than the other normal children. Continue reading