I've recently joined a writing group called Electric Tomatoes.
Each week there is a warm up prompt - to which we write for ten minutes or so and then share. Then a main prompt, for a longer write - about an hour. This week's main prompt was as the title of the post - In the beginning there was Kevin. This is what I wrote:
In the beginning it was the way the sun rose behind the mountains.
I watch the horizon as the sky brightens. You can smell the changes of light. The curlews call more at this time of day too. You can hear them across the water. Maybe they call all day but it is the mornings when I hear them most. Me, down on the foreshore with my first cup. Sipping black heat into the morning fug in my head. Caffeine coursing through my thin limbs.
Yes that's what attracted me to the place first – the sunrise. Although...
Well, no, of course it wasn't really because I wouldn't have known about the sunrise if I hadn't been here already anyway. So I suppose to be most truthful – and God knows I've learned that I need to be truthful – to be most truthful I was first attracted to the place because it was cheap. The only one I could afford actually so the choice was made for me.
God knows I did not expect to be spending Dad's inheritance convalescing. But thank God it was there. That sounds awful doesn't it? Like I'm saying 'Thank God Dad's dead.' And of course I don't mean that. I miss him every day. Every day. Sometimes it seems it's getting worse – the missing him.
I still hear him behind me sometimes. When I'm in the kitchen usually – at home that is, not here. I haven't heard him here. But at home, and the house is quiet he comes into the kitchen while I'm washing up and just stands there. I don't turn around because I know he isn't there really – and I like the feeling. It's comforting.
So yes it was the cheapness of the place that first attracted me. Because to be honest, the brochure listing didn't do it any favours. Really they just needed a photo of this sunrise over the lough to sell it.
And of course it wasn't really choosing this place that was the start of it. You have to go back a bit further – before Dad had died really. Back to my diagnosis. Dad had been brilliant of course, running me back and forth. He knew the score by then. Knew the route in his sleep. But Mum's had been so short – we were still shocked that she was ill at all when she passed. And I suppose it was that shock that hit me so hard. Was I going to go as quickly?
So I suppose, looking back, you'd have to say it was Mum's illness that triggered it all. My... well my 'wobbly' as I like to call it.
She'd have loved this place. Mum.
We used to come to Ireland when we were kids. Not here but South – Kerry.
'We're going home!' she'd say, 'and I'll hear no complaints!'
Of course we did complain.
'Awh, Mum! Not again! There's never anything to do!'
'There's plenty to do,' she says 'you know you love it when we get there!'
'No we don't!'
Looking back, Trish was the loudest. She was older. Always looking for something more.
'Why can't we go where there are people!' she said. By which she meant boys of course.
'You'll have quite enough to do with 'people' when you're older, young lady!' said Mum.
I still think that sending Trish to the Convent to school was perhaps what actually started the 'problems' with 'people' that seemed to punctuate her life after that. Still do, as it goes.
'God you'll be the death of me, young lady,' Mum said once after the third visit to the school.
So maybe that was when it started. Back then.
Dad couldn't handle her at all – not in those wild years. She would be at it with Mum, rowing in the kitchen, and he'd be sat at the table in the dining room,with his hook box, listening – taking it all in while he finished his fly hooks – damsel, mayfly.
'They don't look like flies to me,' I told him.
'But if you're a trout,' he says, 'Down there looking up into the bright sun through the water and this plops onto the surface, then away, then back again, then away. Then when it comes back yet again, then, my boy, then you'd snap at it with your murderous, hungry jaws. Believe me, you'd think that all your birthdays... believe me! You come with me!' he said, 'next time, you come. You'll see.'
I never went.
He'd have loved this place. Especially up by the beck.
You'd have loved it here, Dad.
So he'd sit there taking it all in and then there'd be a pause and he'd casually drop something in. Like a stone in a well.
'But Nan – I think you're being a bit harsh, darling. Look, how about if I go and get her afterwards, you know. Or we could like set a time – ten o'clock or something. How would that be?'
That was the stone.
It falls silently. Stones do.
They only make a noise when they land.
This well was deep.
The stone fell through the dark silence until...
But not water – glass – panes of glass wedged into the walls. So that one by one the stone smashed through them – shattering them into the most violent, cacophonous explosion of Irish expletives ever listed. Counterpointed with shrieks of horror and disgust from my sister, as my father's attempts to cauterise the wounds my mother had inflicted upon her proved more painful than the wounds themselves.
'Shut yer feckin' mouth, you feckin' eejit! I not having no daughter of mine out all night with that good-for-nothing excuse for a lump of shite!' bawled the mother.
Backed by Trish's 'Oh my God, no way are you coming to get me! God I'd rather stay here and dag my eyes with knitting needles than have you come and get me. At ten o'clock. For fuck sake, I'm not six!'
'Don't talk to your feckin' father like that. How feckin' dare you speak to him like that. You'll get to your room this instant, young lady, and you'll stay there till you've learned some feckin' manners!'
But Trish was already out the door and slamming her feet on the treads of the stairs.
'You're fucking bastards and I hate you. Both!'
So was it then that the trouble started? I don't think so. She was young.
She'd hate this place.
'There are no fucking shops!'
No! There are no shops! There's this amazing sunrise. There's the tide coming in up the lough. The seals drifting up with the current and then just bottling heads up, checking me out on the shingle.
No there are no shops. No fucking shops!
And yet there was something about him that made her crazy. She was never like it with her other boyfriends. But this one was a screwball – kicking against everything.
I hated him. He treated me like an ally. I hated it.
He'd drop Trish home and she'd be off rowing with Mum in the kitchen. He'd come up to my room, me in bed. He'd sit on the chest of drawers.
'Hey kidder, you awake. Kidder?'
'Fuck! You should have seen the new barmaid at the Nag's... All tits and teeth. You could open a beer bottle in her ass!'
He sits on the chest of drawers. Farts.
'Fuckin' hell, mate! I think that one left a mark!'
He strikes a match to burn away the noxious gas.
Yes. Maybe it was him, that started all the trouble.