MIBs

Harriet rolled her eyes at her brother’s petulant bleating. She supposed this was about her beating him at real tennis after church. A man of nineteen years should know better! ‘Saints preserve us, Freddie!’ Mother called from the kitchen as she prepared water crust pastry. ‘Whatever this “flying cigar” was, I’m sure there’s an explantation…Did you see it, Harriet?’Harriet wandered …

Suffer the Children

Pigger pulled on his clothes like a zombie. These days he didn’t care what he wore; not since Ne—, not since the accident. That day, he’d walked through the chill five o’clock darkness to the abyssal yawn of Ollerenshaw’s No.8 as Chalky wittered on about Beeching’s Axe. Pigger didn’t care; he was more occupied trying to locate that wet rumble …

Return of the Women

Olenus waited as patient as time. Up and down the November beach was barren save for the stacks of mossy rocks. They weren’t much in the way of company – not even he could offer that, either – so he waited for the return of the women with those men already here, in sentinel silence. Would she ever return? Had …

The Release of Wonderful Things

Yes, I remember Luxor… Not the Luxor of limestone cliffs baked almost to glass, where summer nights are filled with the occasional crack! as heat escapes from stones into darkness; nor dry river-bottom throats leading to tombs of the cursed; not the Luxor where the restless, linen-wrapped hollow their mouths, sighing in their eternal sleep, and turn over for another …

Dead on Seven

Dead on seven o’clock, the curtains to the theatre rise. The orchestra’s bows await their cue in pregnant stillness. Marek Parell awaits his own, fixed under a simple spotlight. He’s not moved an inch, yet already grateful applause rolls over the footlights like loving surf. His first solo performance, and all he can think about is her: the smell of …

Beachcomber

Old Tom, hunched over in a seafront shelter of baby blue wood and stippled white concrete, stared over the salty flats. An ancient beachcomber, familiar, picks over the graph of flotsam hurled onto the dirty sand by a long-forgotten storm. In his solitude, Tom wonders; if I disappeared, would anyone miss me? A seagull offers a squeeee of mourning by …

Breaking the Seal

As Provost, I found myself in that agreeable position rare of antiquarian scholars in that my summer was unplanned. I (in those days of my earthbound hubris, a Prospero of the sciences man can measure) decided on the Purbecks, perhaps playing the links of Swyre Head. Rambles along the Suffolk beaches had lately bored me and I longed for the …

The Rime of the Brackish Mariner

The wind speaks in Roquebrun. A labyrinth pond there I once fished as a boy, where darting, infant mullet kissed a fallen mirror. Away, behind eyelashed dunes, mother languished and father malingered on a Martian beach. Ahead, a choppy fringe of mountains loomed and in between, and all around, the Mediterranean’s zephyr played and urged: This way, not that! And …

Owen Come Home

Sometimes in July, when the wind cries in the right direction, I hear a tremulous calliope sighing across the flats. As a child I would sit out there for hours listening and daydreaming; giving form to my mother’s words. It’s calling to them, Owen, calling to the ghosts of the past; telling them to come and entertain again. I can …

The Heredity of Memory

She hasn’t known me for years; instead of throwing hugs she just casts spears, her careworn face now lined with meanness. It’s hard believing things mother once told me: ‘I’ll love you evermore.’ It started with the bears she saw supping in the gloaming. ‘Four of them, as real as day, with teacups of bone china.’ She speaks of them …