Tag Archives: short story

Port D’Amour – A short story

Port D'Amour

Port D’Amour

It was another hot day as Richard left the villa and stepped into the strong sunlight. It was about eleven o’clock and over on the north side of the harbour a queue was already forming for the boat trip around the island. It usually left at mid-day, or whenever the captain thought that enough tourists had shown up, and the weather, as it was today, was calm and just right for a cruise.

The warm air seemed to cover him like a new skin. It wasn’t just on his neck or legs, it was everywhere. The first few weeks had been uncomfortable, but after getting into a routine of rising early to begin his writing, Richard swam before breakfast and then relaxed. Later, he strolled into town and enjoyed the atmosphere of the Bar Cappuccino, with all its character and flavour of a true Spanish cantina. It was the sort of place, Richard decided, where Ernest Hemingway, the famous writer and lover of all things Spanish, would have been at ease. There he chatted in Spanish, badly at first, with customers and staff while some, especially Consuela, asked him to, ‘Help me Inglish, pleeze!’ He always tried to help her and was very happy to notice that his drinks began to arrive a little quicker than before, and the measures somehow seemed to get a little bigger too. Bueno!

He was spending some time in Port D’Andratx, Mallorca, in an attempt to finish a book he was writing. He had accepted the invitation from a friend to stay in the villa and ‘get your head together.’ The town, that only twenty years before was a small, sleepy fishing village, was now one of the most desirable holiday centers in the Mediterranean. Picture-postcard houses clung precariously to steep cliffs, and below yachts and fishing boats dotted the blue water. It was easy on the eye and no surprise to Richard that so many people had made it their home. If peace and quiet were what you were after then this indeed was the place to spend time in. The smell of seaweed from one of the colorfully painted sloops stung Richard’s nose and brought him back to reality – it was hot, again.

He strolled under the shops’ canopies and paused at the tobacconists before going inside to buy a packet of cigarillos. He liked the smell in the shop, which like all the other smells about the town seemed so intense and raw. Whether it was from the bakers, florists or fishmongers they were always interesting and made Richard grin.

‘Hola!’ greeted Consuela, as Richard sat at his favourite table. It was on the pavement near the front door and afforded him a full view of the harbour in all its bright and colorful glory. The sound of boats at anchor, bobbing gently on the clear waters, was broken only by the chat and laughter of passersby. A light breeze blew at Richard’s fringe which he flicked away casually before running his fingers through his thinning, fair hair. He ordered his usual drink, sat back and lit a cigarillo. Smoke slowly drifted across the well-stained table before drifting into the blue sky.

The heat and languor of the place dulled Richard’s senses and he soon began thinking about her. He didn’t want to, but she still intruded into his thoughts like a cold finger sticking into his side. It nagged at him and disrupted his ideas for the book, while all the time, deep down in the pit of his stomach, the ugly question of what happened to them needed to be dealt with – if only to end the pain – once and for all. He took a long, slow mouthful of beer and then a drag on his cigarillo before exhaling the bluish-grey smoke in a perfect ring.

Ten months and it still hurt.

How could he have known that she’d say no? They had dated for nearly two years and enjoyed holidays, weekends away and conversations late into the night, and it seemed obvious to Richard, that they had a future. But the, ‘I don’t think so, Richard!’ had stunned him. It was a like a kick in the teeth. He changed after that in a way that he wasn’t quite sure of, but he was definitely different.

Tears, countless tears had been shed, but when no clear answer arrived the pain lingered, slowly eroding his confidence. He discussed it with friends in the pub and over endless dinners but nothing seemed to make any sense. He lost weight and tried to occupy himself in senseless activities until his friend Dave said that he should ‘finish that damn book.’ It didn’t seem possible at the start, but after a few weeks of intense, numbing effort, he was on his way. There was now light at the end of the tunnel and he was beginning to enjoy the experience. Finally, he felt that he was heading in the right direction. The weight had started to slip from his shoulders, and for the first time in a long time, he actually felt like smiling.

Keep going, he reminded himself a thousand times a day, and each day he focused a little easier and with more conviction.

It felt good.

‘Paella tonight?’ asked Consuela.

Richard was jolted out of his daydream and found himself looking directly into Consuela’s beautiful, big brown eyes. If ever a man got a pleasant surprise then this was it, he thought.

‘Gracias, mucho gracias,’ he answered with a smile. A warm feeling of anticipation crept up his spine, and he quivered with delight, as Consuela sashayed effortlessly between the tables before casting him a nonchalant glance over her shoulder. At the edge of the quay, tall palm fronds swayed lazily in the warm breeze. Richard blew another smoke ring, closed his eyes and was lost in the moment.

Time for reflection

Time for reflection

 

 

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Let’s Dance – A short story

Let's Dance

Let’s Dance

Five months and it still hurt, but not quite as much.

Jenny stepped from the shower and grabbed a towel. Last night was the first time that he hadn’t intruded on her dreams in weeks, but here he was again. Go away, she cried, and pulled the towel harder. He used to pop into her mind without warning, his presence a painful reminder of too many tears. She had to change her life, let go of the past, move on, and after a long conversation with Anna, an old school friend, she had packed a bag and driven to Baltimore.

The small west Cork town was quiet, a million miles away from the hurly-burly of life in Dublin, and working in Anna’s coffee shop was different, and it suited both women. Anna didn’t mention the break-up and Jenny didn’t want to talk about it. It was what Jenny needed, and soon one day became another, with the late spring sunshine promising better times to come.

*

Anna had a pot of tea on the table and slices of toast on a big plate. ‘Breakfast’s ready,’ she said out loud.

Jenny came down the stairs and, walking into the kitchen, took a deep breath. ‘Oh, that smells, lovely.’

Anna buttered her toast and reached for the marmalade. ‘Sleep well?’

Jenny stretched her arms high and yawned. ‘Hmmm, it was wonderful.’

Anna nodded, sipped her tea and turned the radio down. More bad news about the economy was not going to intrude. ‘I can see that.’

Jenny was looking over the edge of her cup. ‘Oh yeah.’

Anna put her cup down. ‘Definitely. To me you look like someone who has had a great weight lifted off their shoulders. Released, but I’m not sure if that is the right word. I’ll think of it later.’

The sharp trill of a trawler’s fog horn in the small harbour, about two hundred yards away, got their attention, momentarily.

Jenny smiled and held Anna’s gaze. ‘Thanks, that’s very kind of you.’

Anna held her hands up. ‘By the way, I’m not trying to pry, but you seem so much lighter today.’ She paused, picking up her cup and swirling it easily. ‘I felt I had to say it…that’s all.’ She took another sip.

In the six weeks since she arrived in Baltimore Jenny had said nothing about the break-up. She didn’t know what to expect when she arrived, but the change had certainly been good for her. Getting away from familiar, but painful, surroundings was what she needed, and the new, daily routine occupied her mind. She had made more cakes and apple tarts since she arrived than she could ever remember. They were popular, sold well, and Anna was delighted.

She had both hands wrapped around her cup, the heat making her fingertips tingle. ‘I appreciate what you’ve done for me, Anna, I really do. And yes, I do feel better today. I don’t know exactly what to put it down to, but being here has been very important. I won’t forget it.’

Anna nodded. ‘You’re welcome. I’m just happy to see you smile. It does so much for you.’

Jenny pursed her lips. ‘I know, Anna, I feel it too. For the first time in months I actually feel as though I have stepped through a doorway into a better place. A brighter place.’ She looked through the long window, out to the harbour that lay beneath a blue sky. She loved it and let the image itself burn itself into her mind. ‘Maybe we’ll talk tonight…over a bottle of wine.’

Anna smiled. ‘Good, and I’ll make dinner.’

‘Deal,’ Jenny said and they both laughed.

*

The day was fine; the sun bright and casting long shadows.

In the café a steady flow of customers kept the women busy. ‘I told you that those apple tarts were great, Jenny. I think that you should patent your recipe. You could make a fortune.’

‘There are three more in the freezer, if you need reinforcements.’ Jenny finished making another sandwich and passed it across to the customer. A cup of tea followed, and again the cash register popped open.

It was mid-afternoon when Anna leaned close to Jenny. ‘You may not have noticed but you’re getting some attention.’

Jenny turned, arms folded. ‘What are you talking about?’

Anna moved her head slightly, her eyes quickly taking in the man sitting at the window table. ‘That’s his second coffee. And he hasn’t taken his eyes off you since he sat down.’

Jenny felt her face flush, but she took a peek. He was reading a newspaper and his skin suggested Latin blood. His dark hair contrasted with a white shirt, and when he reached for a pen in his shirt pocket he looked up. Their eyes met, and he smiled.

Jenny felt her heart flutter. She was excited, but brought down to earth immediately when the doorbell rang and another customer walked to the counter. ‘A coffee and a slice of apple tart, please,’ she said reaching for her purse.

*

‘How long did you guys live together?’ Anna asked, pouring wine.

‘Two years six months….and three days. And I didn’t know that he was cheating until the very end. He said that he was working late, trying to climb the corporate ladder, and I believed him.’ Jenny shook her head at a memory and sipped her wine.

‘But..’

‘But he was climbing into his secretary’s bed. The bastard. He always came home, no matter how late, so as to keep me off guard. He was good, really bloody good. I didn’t see it coming Anna; it was such a surprise.’

Anna rested her elbows on the table. ‘I’m sorry for the poor bastard.’

‘What?’ Jenny snapped, a look of total surprise on her face.

Anna held up a hand. ‘I mean, any man who let you go is a poor bastard, because he doesn’t know what he’s missing. He’s a fool, that’s why.’

Jenny put her glass down and started to cry. Anna sat beside her and put an arm around her shoulder. ‘It’s his loss, darling. In the time you’ve been here I’ve seen you come from the darkness into the light. You’re like a beautiful butterfly.’

Jenny sobbed.

‘You deserve better, Jenny, much better. You have so much to give, so find someone who will appreciate you.’ She rubbed Jenny’s shoulder. ‘My mum used to say ‘Let go of what you can’t change, and be kind to yourself’. She knew what she was talking about.’

Moments later they sat arm in arm as Jenny dried her eyes. ‘Thanks, Anna, I needed that. You’re very good.’

‘I know, and that’s why I’m going to open another bottle.’

*

Two days later Anna and Jenny shut the café and walked down the quay to a Salsa Dancing class in the local school. It was the opening night and Anna was happy that Jenny had agreed to come. Since their late night talk Jenny felt much better, her mood reflecting the improving weather.

They joined the small queue, paid at the door and took in the chatter and growing buzz of excitement. There were about thirty people inside when the teacher turned off the music and introduced himself. He was Pablo, the man who had been in the café, and again he looked at Jenny, and smiled.

Anna playfully nudged her. ‘Best foot forward.’

Jenny didn’t take her eyes off Pablo. ‘I think it’s time to dance.’

‘Go girl,’ Anna said, taking a step back as the teacher purposefully made his way across the floor.

Dancing

 

 

 

 

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Radio interview and short story reading

I was invited onto the Creative Flow literary show on Dundalk FM that is presented by Jacinta Matthews. We discussed my short story Let’s Dance which I read; finding inspiration and what I was currently working on.

Click to listen: Creative Flow

Creative Flowing

Creative Flowing

 

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What a start to the year!

I must say that I was not expecting this, but I was certainly delighted to see it when I opened the envelope. The short story was published in LIANA, the quarterly magazine issued by Leopardstown Park Hospital, Dublin where my mother spent her last months. I am always happy to help the people there as they took great care of her and, having submitted a few stories, seeing this in the magazine is a real thrill, and a marvellous start to the year.

Thank you very much, and all the best for 2014!

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