google-site-verification: google18b85c3d83af5bea.html Myra Jago I Writings

I invited Brendan McLoughlin to write a second short story to accompany my exhibition Learning to Fly , 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                      Daytime is tedious to Penelope. The awful glare of the grey sky when she leaves her house in the morning gives her a headache. She detests the smells on the bus to work, the mixture of sweat and tiredness and stale breath that comes from the strangers around her. She sits at her desk and inputs data, all the while thinking of the sweet release she will get from this mundane world once she falls asleep. Then her day is over and she goes home.

She lies in the middle of the bed, her arms and legs outstretched like the Vitruvian Man. Her eyes are closed. She likes to prepare herself for the dreams that will surely come. They are so vivid, these dreams, that she sometimes wonders what is real and what is imagined. She wakes up thinking she is sleeping, and when she wanders through the hanging gardens of her mind she feels free, released from the shackles of life.

A tap drips in the bathroom. She listens to it echo off the tiled walls. The sound evokes in her mind the image of the water she will soon be above, once sleep takes its hold over her, the water that feels so pure against her toes when she dips them in to test the temperature. She does not swim in the hanging gardens, she likes to stay suspended above the water and watch on as countless others fly and swim and dance among themselves, because she is not the only soul who seeks solace in the night.

She thinks about the phone message she received earlier from her mother. ‘Come home,’ it said. ‘Your brother is sick and you need to come home.’ She doesn’t think she can go back, she has been away for too long, but her mother’s voice sounded so urgent that she hesitated, just for a moment, before pressing the delete button.

The sound of the tap soon fades away and Penelope opens her eyes. She is no longer lying on her bed. She sits on a wooden swing above the water. The ropes of the swing are connected to a soft, wispy cloud and a gentle breeze hits her face. She smiles. Below her, two swimmers move along the surface in unison, their own harnesses wrapped around their waists. Everyone is harnessed in the hanging gardens.
She kicks her legs forward and then pulls them back under the swing, building momentum like a clock pendulum. Then she leaps off the swing and a new harness appears from nowhere and wraps itself around her shoulders and under her arms. She has never left the swing before, has never had the courage. She imagines this is what birds must feel when they learn to fly, the first timid attempt at leaving the nest. Her work briefcase is in her left hand, she feels dizzy and then she throws the briefcase and watches it fall down towards the water, documents spilling out everywhere.

A structure in the distance seems to call out to Penelope. She feels a pull on her harness and knows that she must fly towards it. She passes a group of dancing dreamers, but they are not dancing together. Each of them has their eyes closed and they move their arms above their heads to the beat of some unheard song. She feels like she is trespassing on them, a witness to this, their most private of moments, so she propels herself upwards and flies over the tops of their clouds. Every time she comes here there are more and more people.

As she nears the structure, fear takes hold of her, but when she tries to change direction the harness pulls her back on course. It is a small shed-like building, just a single door. She can hear a noise coming from inside it, a noise like the tap in her bathroom, but even louder and more intense. Thump Thump, it goes.

The door opens and she lands on the wooden floor. Her harness disappears. It is dark and she can’t see, but a faint light glows over by the corner. She turns to leave but something stops her. She doesn’t know how to get out, she is still only learning her way around this world and although she wants to fly again she knows that she is in this room for a reason. She takes a step towards the light and the door behind her closes.

‘I knew you’d come,’ says a voice. It is a voice she knows from her past.
‘Yes, I came.’
‘I’ve been waiting for you, but I knew you’d come once you learnt to fly.’
The light grows, pushes outwards and illuminates the room. It is bright, but does not hurt her eyes like

the glare from the clouds in the real world.
There is a bed in the corner surrounded by a curtain, like the kind you see in hospital wards. She can

make out the shadow of a body on the other side. ‘You’ve come to say goodbye?’
By the time she reaches the curtain and pulls it back to reveal the person on the other side she already

knows that it is her brother. He has grown up, no longer the six her old boy that she hugged on the doorstep of their home many years ago.

‘You got the message?’ he asks.
‘Yes.’
She sits on a chair beside the bed and holds his hand. She kisses him on the cheek and feels a tear roll

off her face and fall onto his. She closes her eyes and when she opens them again to tell him that she loves him, he is gone, the room is gone, and she is no longer in the hanging gardens. She is lying on her bed staring at the beige ceiling listening to the sound of a dripping tap.

Then the phone rings.

 

About Brendan McLoughlin, writer

Brendan McLoughlin was born in 1991 and grew up in Howth, Co. Dublin. He holds a BA in Economics, Politics and Law from Dublin City University and an MA in Creative Writing: Prose from the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, where he is currently a PhD student. His main area of focus is sexuality in contemporary Irish literary fiction.

His work has appeared in The Irish Independent, The Honest Ulsterman, and The Bohemyth.
In April, he was named the 2014 Hennessy 'New Irish Writer' at the 43rd annual Hennessy Literary Awards for his

short story 'Last Breath'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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AG FOGHLAIM CONAS EITILT Brendán MacLoughlin 

Tagann an leamhthuirse ar Penelope i gcaitheamh an lae. Tugann dallrú gránna an spéir liath tinneas cinn di nuair a fhágann sí an teach ar maidin. Is fuath léí boladh braon na faillí ar an mbus chun na hoibre, meascán d'allas, den tuirse, den anáil lofa a chuireann na stráinséirí ina timpeall uatha. Nuair a shuionn sí ag a deasc ag ionchur na sonraí, smaoiníonn sí faoin bhfuascailt a gheobhaidh sí ón domhan leadránach seo a luaithe is a dtiteann sí ina codladh. Leis sin, tá an lá caite agus filleann sí abhaile.

Luíonn sí i lár an leaba, a géaga sínte cosúil leis an bhfear Vitruvian. Tá a súile dúnta. Is maith léí í féin a ullmhú do na brionglóidí atá cinnte le teacht. Tá siad chomh beoga, na brionglóidí céanna, gur deacair léí a thuiscint uaireanta cibé an í an réaltacht nó an samhlaíocht atá i gceist. Dúisíonn sí, cé go gceapann sí go bhfuil sí fós ina codladh, agus nuair atá sí ar fán agus ar fuaidreamh i ngarraithe crochta a hintinn airíonn sí saor, fuascailte ó cheangail an tsaoil.

Tá sconna ag déanamh uisce sa seomra folctha. Éisteann sí leis an bhfuaim atá ag baint macalla as na tíleanna. Dúisíonn an fhuaim an íomha ina cloigeann den uisce a bheidh sí os a chionn a luaithe is a dtiteann sí ina codladh, an t-usice atá chomh íon sin nuair a chuireann sí a barraicíní isteach ann leis an teocht a thástáil. Ní bhíonn sí ag snámh sna garraithe crochta, baineann sí sult as a bheith crochta os cionn an uisce ag breathnú ar na sluaite ag eitilt, ag snámh agus ag damhsa, ní hí féin an t-aon duine amháin atá ag lorg sólais i gcaitheamh na hoíche.

Déanann sí machnamh ar an teachtaireacht fóin a fuair sí óna máthar ar ball. "Tar abhaile" a dúirt sí. "Tá do dheartháir breoite agus ní mór duit bheith sa bhaile." Ní mheasann sí gur féidir léi filleadh, tá sí imithe ón áit ró-fhada, ach bhí glór a máthair chomh práinneach sin go raibh sí idir dhá chomhairle ar feadh nóiméid sular scrios sí an teachtaireacht.

Imíonn fuaim an sconna as gan mhoill agus osclaíonn Penelope a súile. Ní ina luí ar a leaba atá sí a thuilleadh. Tá sí ina suí ar chrochtín adhmaid os cionn an uisce. Tá súgáin an chrochtín nasctha le scamall bog ribeogach agus tá beochán gaoithe ar a haghaidh. Tagann an gháire ar a béal. Fúithi tá beirt snámhaithe ag snámh trasna an dromchla i gcomhar a chéile, a n-úim féin casta timpeall a gcom. Tá úim ar gach éinne sna garraithe crochta. Tugann sí cic ar aghaidh dá cosa agus tarraingíonn sí siar iad faoin gcrochtín, ag cur leis an móimintean ar nós luascadáin an chloig. Léimeann sí den chrochtín agus nochtann úim nua os a comhair amach agus casann sé thairsti, faoina gualainne agus a lámha. Níor fhág sí an crochtín roimhe seo, is ar éigin a raibh an chrógacht aici. Samhlaíonn sí gurb é seo an mothú atá ag na héanacha agus iad ag tabhairt faoin eitilt, an chéad iarracht fhaiteach an nead a thréagadh. Tá a mála oibre sa chiotóg aici, tá meadhrán ina ceann agus caitheann sí an mála uaithi ag ligean dó titim chun an uisce, na doiciméid scaipthe i ngach aon treo.

Meallann struchtúr amach uaithi Penelope. Airíonn sí brú tarraingteach ar a úim agus tá fhios aici go gcaithfidh sí eitilt ina threo. Gabhann sí thar grúpa aislingeach agus iad ag damhsa, ach níl siad ag damhsa le chéile. Tá a súile dúnta ag gach duine acu agus croitheann siad a lámha anonn is anall os cionn a gcloigeannacha le comhbuaileadh amhrán nach bhfuil ag seinm. Airíonn sí go bhfuil sí ag déanamh mínóis orthu, finné, le linn an nóiméid is príobháidí, foléimeann sí in uachtar agus eitlíonn sí thar a scamaill. Gach uair a thagann sí anseo téann an slua i méid.

Agus í ag druidim leis an struchtúr tagann imní uirthi agus cé go ndéanann sí iarracht dul ar mhalairt treo cuireann an úim siar ar a cúrsa í. Is bothán beag atá ann, gan ann ach an t-aon doras amháin. Cloiseann sí fuaim ón taobh istigh, fuaim cosúil leis an sconna in a seomra folctha, ach mar sin féin fuaim atá níos airde agus níos déine. Trost, trost, arís is arís.

Osclaíonn an doras agus tuirlingíonn sí ar an úrlár adhmaid. Imíonn a úim as radharc. Ní féidir léí aon rud a fhecieáil sa dorchadas ach tá meathsholas ag breo sa choirnéal. Casann sí ar tí imeacht ach cuireann rud bac uirthi. Níl fhios aici conas éalú, is ag foghlaim a bealach timpeall an domhain seo atá sí agus cé go bhfuil fonn eitilte uirthi arís tá fhios aici go bhfuil cúis ann go bhfuil sí sa seomra seo. Druideann sí coiscéim ar aghaidh i dtreo an tsolais agus dúnann an doras taobh thiar di.

"Bhí fhios agam go dtiocfadh tú", a dúirt guth. Guth a d'aithin sí ón am a bhí caite. "Tháinig mé."

"Bhí mé ag fanacht ort, ach bhí fhios agam go dtiocfadh tú a luaithe is a bhí an eitilt foghlamtha agat."

Tagann méadú ar an solas, pléascann sé amach, an seomra soilsithe anois. Tá sé geal ach ní ghortaíonn sé na súile mar a dhéanfadh dallrú na scamall i réaltacht an domhain.

Tá leaba sa chúinne atá timpeallaithe ag cuirtín, amhail na cuirtíní i mbarda an oispidéil. Tá sí in ann scáth coirp a bhrath sa choirnéal. "Tá tú tagtha le slán a rá?"

Faoin am go dtarraingíonn sí siar an cuirtín chun céannacht an duine ar an taobh eile a nochtadh tá fhios aici cheana féin gur a deartháir atá ann. Tá sé imithe i méid, an buachaill sé bliana d'aois a bhreith sí barróg air ar thairseach an tí na blianta ó shin imithe.

"Fuair tú an teachtaireacht?" fiafraíonn sé di.
"Fuair."
Suíonn sí ar chathaoir taobh leis an leaba, greim aici ar a lámh. Tugann sí póg dó ar an leiceann agus

airíonn sí deoir ag titim óna haghaidh ar a aghaidh. Dúnann sí a súile agus nuair a osclaíonn sí arís iad chun a rá leis go bhfuil sí i ngrá leis, tá sé imithe, tá an seomra imithe, agus ní sna garraithe crochta atá sí níos mó. Tá sí ina luí ar a leaba ag stánadh ar an síleáil bhéasa, sileadh an sconna ina cluas.

Buaileann an fón.

Learning To Fly ・ Ag Foghlaim Conas Eitilt

 

Brendan McLoughlin  Hennessy Award 'New Irish Writer' 2014        

As Gaeilge agus Béarla  |  In Irish and English