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Viva Caledonia: Fiction by Anne Donovan
 
'Millennium Dawn 2' 35' by
Peter de Moncey-Conegliano

'Brief Encounter Left'  2007 Calum Colvin
'Brief Encounter Left' by Calum Colvin
The Daughter

 

It’s weird, this way round. Ah don’t think we’d really thought it through. Seemed like the obvious idea. 2000 years on, try a different way. Last time a brown-skinned man in a hot country, this time a peelywally pink female wi red hair in a miserable northern climate. So far so good. But the difference is that he grew from a babbie, started as a wee egg and seed, grew in the womb, was born intae the world. He’d plenty time tae develop the normal way, the human way. So when it came his turn tae go public, dae what he came for, he was easy in his body, had years of watchin and knowin how folk spoke and worked and done things.

But me - parachuted intae this thirty-year-auld life. So much has already happened that ah need tae spend a bit of time readjustin. That’s no like me; ah’d rather dive right in-- what ah want ah want yesterday -- but that could blow it all. Naw .. caw canny for a bit, observe and take stock.

It helps that everybody expects me tae be a bit different efter the accident. Restin, no talkin much. Though it’s frustratin too. The mammy, rabbittin on and on and on aboot crap.

“Ah got you a video when ah was out.”

She put it on the table.

“Sleepless In Seattle.”

“Thanks, Ma.”

“The man in the shop said it’s got a happy endin.”

“OK.”

“A wee cuppa tea?”

“No thanks.”

“You sure?”

“Aye.”

“It'll only take a minute.”

“It's OK.”

“Are you needin anythin afore ah go?”

“Ah’m fine. Honest.”

She’s rummlin aboot, puttin the newspaper back in order, and ah see the split ends at the back of her hair, where it’s no been cut right. Ah reach out and stroke it, gently, and she jumps as though ah’ve tried tae stab her.

“Is there sumpn wrang wi ma hair?”

“Naw, you’re fine.”

“Oh well, better get on then. See you the morra, hen. Now just phone if you need anythin.”

“OK.”

She’s away in a whirlwind of poly bags and her footsteps echo down the close.

That’s the hard bit tae bein human; the dislocation, the difference between how it should be and how it really is, no the clearcut, good and evil stuff at all. It’s lovin somebody that drives you mad wi sniffin or talkin crap all the time, it’s knowin the love that went intae chosin a daft video for yer daughter instead of sittin doon and really talkin tae her. It’s hard enough for me tae deal with it and ah can see it all as clear as day. Noo she’s away ah can dae ma physiotherapy. When the body’s workin right the rest of the life can start. Standin up, slowly, haudin on tae a chair, liftin the right leg, then the left. Turn the ankle round, feel the cracks and creaks as it moves intae life. Wish ah could work a bit of a miracle here, just a wee one, just enough tae get this body back tae full strength without all this hassle. There ah go again, talkin aboot this body as if it wasnae me-- that’s the difference between bein human and not. They always talk aboot their bodies as though they were themselves. “Ah’m feelin sick. Ah broke ma ankle, ah’m hungry.” At least in this country, in this language they dae.

Ah’ve no quite got used tae this body of mine. Ah imagined it would be brilliant havin a body, like a toy, sumpn tae play with. Ah’d feel this surge of energy, dae cartwheels, run and jump and scream and sing. That was one of the things ah was maist lookin forward tae. But it’s no like that --there’s this gap between what’s in ma heid and what’s in ma body, and there’s all these weird aches and pains and funny feelins deep inside me.

Ah’m hopin that’s just because of the accident and that soon it’ll feel better. Ah want tae move, really move, get on wi whatever you’ve got planned for me.

Seems like a funny place tae send me but. First time round it made some sense -- the political upheaval, the fact that the Messiah had already been prophesied -- but here in this backwater, this funny wee grey country, there doesnae seem much for me tae dae. Nae big stuff. Nae point in miracles, who’d believe them? In fact the mair ah think aboot it, the less ah can figure it oot. Jesus cured the sick, raised Lazarus fae the dead. If ah tried that they’d think it was reality TV. Or science. And what could ah preach aboot that anyone would take any notice of? They’re that used tae bein bombarded wi preachin, fae politicians and journalists, that they’ve switched aff. Naebody listens.

But there must be a reason why ah’m here. Ah just need tae wait for you tae tell me. And that’s the hardest part, the waitin, the feelin of separation. After havin been wi you always, tae be separate is hard tae take. Even though ah know we’re no really separate, that it’s an illusion, ah feel the distance, the grey clouds that block the sunlight fae reachin us. It must be so hard for them, feelin like this. Ah know you’re there, ah know beyond doubt that you are but ah find it hard. How hard it is when you’ve never experienced it, only heard aboot it or glimpsed it in the waking fae a dream.

Tell me what ah’m supposed tae dae. Please.

 

Miss Made The Sky


Miss made the sky for us on Monday. It was huge. It filled up the whole room and we’d to squeeze into the corners to gie it mair space. It was soft to touch but some of the grey bits were wet and made your hands cold. The blue bits were nice but, and the fluffy clouds like a kitten’s tail. The sky is a lot heavier than you’d think.

On Tuesday she brought a giraffe to school. It sat on a chair and we had to ask it questions like “What do you eat?” and “What do you do with your neck when you go to sleep?” It had really long eyelashes. I thought it was a bit shy.

On Wednesday she got us to chase rainbows. They were everywhere, hiding in the corners of window panes or the bottom of a vase. There was even one in Maria’s eye. But when you tried to catch them they disappeared so you had to keep dead quiet and dead still, then they stayed and you could watch them. Richard of York Gained Battles In Vain. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. I like Indigo best. In di go.

On Thursday we went to the moon. It wasnae green like they say in the books – it was silver. It was hard to walk on the moon even with our spaceboots on. Your legs felt dead heavy as if you were walking in water. I was glad to come back.

On Friday when I pulled down my pants to go to the toilet, a star fell out of them. It must of been from when we went to the moon. I gave it to Miss and she put it on the wall.

Today Miss took off our sad faces and gied us happy ones to wear instead. I wore my happy face home and my daddy said “Wipe that silly smile off your Face”. And I took my hanky out and started to wipe my face and he said, “Who do you think you are? Go to your room.”

I sat on my bed for a while, then I went and opened the wardrobe, pushed the clothes aside and rummled into the very back of it, but I couldnae find the door that takes you away into another land like the one in the story. So I just sat in the wardrobe with my blue coat over my face. I must of lost my happy face somewhere in the wardrobe because when I brushed my teeth tonight I couldnae find it. Maybe Miss will give me another one tomorrow.

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last update: June 25, 2007