I hope everybody has survived the excitement of three rugby games in one day. Time now to settle down for a read, courtesy of Kirsty Dunlop, a part-time MLitt student in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow who primarily writes in poetic prose. This piece first featured in ‘Departures Zine’ in June 2016.
Beginning – by Kirsty Dunlop
You are talking about the flowers and the garden when the
falls out. It falls out of you so suddenly that I almost can’t catch it. Snatch it. Hold its heavy, wide-eyed head in the palm of my open hands. Before it trickles through my fingers like grains of sand. Anyway, we are in the middle of something when
you say slow, we were on a train, you know,
Margaret and I. The train, the train, the train in rain. Taking the train to Glasgow. Big city. Grey and gritty. Too big really ‘cos we were wee country girls. Two girls. Two boys. The boys in kilts. Central station, you know the one. We knew it was going to be great fun. Oh, we were so young! Oh Margaret, she really knew how to dress. Always had. Oh yes.
And you stress that final yes, but nothing more comes out and the story has turned to mess.
are looking at the garden and we are looking at the roses glistening in the rain. I like the red in those ones, you say, or had said or maybe this is all in your head because…
Let’s begin again.
The eyebrows furrow and then we burrow. Through time. It’s a beginning because it’s the beginning of the you I never knew. You tap out rhymes with your hands on your knees and tell me more please.
The train, you smile. Chug, chug. I liked the sound, the gentle pound of the wheels on the track. So loud. And we. We were so proud. Dress, red. Gloves, black. Sat in the back. Going to the dance. And now your eyes gleam as you go into a trance.
In the middle of your trance, I become you at the dance. Little girls. Tall boys. Tapping out rhymes with your feet, almost as small as the hands on this seat. Swaying and gliding while beside me all your thoughts are colliding. Maybe it is a ceilidh. I blink and now cannot think
oh but I loved the dancing, you say, and I loved to sway and
to me, it’s like one of those scenes from books back in the day in which the world would sway and everyone would be oh so gay and happy.
Och but how is Glasgow? you say after a delay.
Oh it’s just the same, I say.
Then the next
tumbles out and its before the me and before the you I knew and before that other girl…
He was always on the ice, you say.
I want to ask who but this might delay….
That day he wore skates that were too big for his feet and then you say you were embarrassed about who you might meet with your father wearing skates too big for his feet. The rink was a pond, all muddy and black and when he fell through the hole, you thought he’d never come back.
And I say what happened and was he alright?
And you reply that of course and he barely fell at all. The water was low, only up to his knee.
You laugh a low laugh and then we both laugh over our tea. The tea is quite plain and now you complain and say the nurse should have brought sugar or put in something more. You say that some of them are very nice. Then you hold your back as you say it’s so sore. The alarms ring in the room of another old woman next door.
The nurse comes back in and sits down beside you and says that lunch will be served in five minutes or so. And you say, yes that’s fine, I’ll be ready to go.
As the green uniform leaves you say, yes, she’s my favourite you see. Some of the others don’t understand me or how to make tea. I smile back at you and we talk about the flowers some more. What would look best in the garden of the house next door. Although there isn’t really a house, there is just a room. But you want to go out and see more soon.
You say, they don’t understand that I need to buy things, that if they just let me down to the shop
but then you let the subject drop.
It was terrible when they bombed Clydebank. I remember my heart just sank. Poor Margaret in there and they thought she wouldn’t be able to speak. But she did. She survived. The noises so loud. From the school where I taught. I remember I thought they are all going to die. The noises. So loud. Like a train.
And did I ever tell you about taking the train to Glasgow for the dance?
I smile and say yes.
And then you say
I think it is time that I pay her a visit…and the rest of them too. Like my mother and father. I need to buy some cards to send to people you see. .
Then you say that they keep taking you to another place. It’s the same really but it looks different, the space. There are children and they all run about. They never sit quiet like us; they scream and they shout.
I tell you that there are no children here, and if you listen, there’s no screaming, and your eyes go all clear. I’m sure that you’re wrong, you reply absently. You look straight at me.
You tell me about the doors upstairs, how they’re always open and I say I will be fine getting out.
I don’t understand why you can’t stay for lunch, why they won’t serve you. It would be nice.
But I say it’s okay and you’re hugging me.
And in your eyes this smile begins. Around us all these beginnings spin. And your voice and your hands cut out more rhymes, as you wander away back to dream times.
They call me the next day and say not to worry but you left…they knew as someone saw you wearing a red dress. Dress, red. Gloves, black. Somehow you left and then you came back.