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Writing

The Way

Short stories

A Quarter Yellow Sun | Published in literary journal The Battered Suitcase | Nominated for The Pushcart Prize

Christmas | Published by Ether Books

Changes | Published by Ether Books

Mr. Chen and the Nightingale | Published by Ether Books

Summer Stones | Published in literary journal The Snake Oil Cure

Window | Published in literary journal The Snake Oil Cure

The Fight | Published in literary journal The View from Here

Sisters | Published in literary journal The Snake Oil Cure

She will be my joy | First Published in literary journal The Penny Dreadful

The Lady in the Garden | Published in literary journal The Honest Ulsterman

The Cowboy | Published in literary journal Long Story, Short | Nominated for The Pushcart Prize

The Way | Published in literary journal The Lonely Crowd

Christmas Eve | Published in literary journal The Lonely Crowd

Sam Watson and the Penny World Cup | Published in literary journal The Lonely Crowd

Plays

The Couch | Published in literary journal The Incubator

Essays

Walking the Camino | Published in literary journal The Lonely Crowd

The Way

Audio

Christmas Eve

Novels

The Judgement of Moses Crowe | Completed

Anthologies

She will be my joy | Published in 'Sunset Drinking the Black Ocean' by Long Story, Short

Screenplays

Belfast Baby | Based on a true story of an orphaned elephant during the 1941 Belfast Blitz | Unoptioned

A Quarter Yellow Sun

On Sundays he had worn it with a certain pride. Saving the money had taken some time but eventually there was enough and when the new suit arrived, it gave him a lift. He walked with spirit and a smile drawn full, the Harris Tweed filtering positivity directly into his skin.

Now as he brushed, then hung it neatly by the bed, it remained his only suit, everything else packed up and ready.

It was January, cold and fresh. The frost always attacked his doorstep this time of year and he had risen early, salting it, for fear of the postman or milkman slipping.

Tomorrow would be the day, Wednesday. He had walked the two mile route last week, to observe the goings on at that time of the morning, who was around, who would know him.

The time was set, six o'clock. His mother had always insisted he rise at a decent hour, not to waste the day, and it stayed with him over the course of his life.

In the afternoon he visited Frank the barber for a trim and tidy. Frank had recalled some anecdote about two donkeys fighting in a field; it made everyone laugh at the time but didn't seem much funny anymore.

It was evening now, the darkness of winter settling in like sorrow. He walked to the old dresser and lifted a brown leather case, still in good condition. Flipping it open, he stared for sometime at the medal inside, awarded for bravery, to a dear friend lost during the war called Ticky Donohue.

They had mounted repeated attacks on an enemy bunker to no avail and lost many men. It seemed impermeable. No-one could get close enough and until the bunker was destroyed they were hemmed in. Ticky gathered the men. As the soldiers spread out onto the battlefield, darting and stopping, under fire, Ticky marched with a relentless vigour, straight towards it. Men fell around him, bullets splitting them like poisoned rain. Ticky kept going, steady and driving, marching; nothing would deter his stride. He tossed in two grenades and the explosion raged through the bunker. Ticky turned to the remaining men, smiling, and they cheered until a smite of bullets strafed his neck and he dropped to the mud.

All admitted they couldn't have made that fearless death march, right into the mouth of hell itself. Some lied unconvincingly, maybe if they had no family, maybe if they had nothing to lose like Ticky.

He set the leather case down again, ready for tomorrow.

Before supper both shoes were spit-shined to perfection and placed beneath the hanging suit.

Everything was prepared.

As he ate alone at the table, salt and pepper mills for company, hail pattered the window. He sighed. Rain was the one thing he did not want for tomorrow.

His meat was full of gristle, so he left most of it.

The clock sounded different. When he glanced, both hands wavered at four, twitching, trying to tick. He rustled around in the drawer of miscellany and found a couple of batteries. One was a dud, the other got it going again.

In bed he lay still, in the darkness, the sound of winter's fingertips tap-tapping at the window helped close his eyes.

He slept, he rose; and brushed the suit one last time before putting it on. As he crooked his tie into place and smoothed some wax into his greyed hair, he did the one thing that still remained. With pride, he pinned Ticky's medal for bravery onto his chest.

It was time.

At the front door he was greeted by winter's breath. No rain.

He loosened a handful of salt onto the frozen doorstep and made out into the fading darkness. It was below freezing, at least minus two or three. The iron gate groaned as he gently ushered it closed and for a moment he paused to listen.

Nothing.

He began to walk the route, passing widower Crowe's first. A light was on but blinds all drawn. He crossed the street to McKee's Timber Yard where a rusted, flaking warning of Guard Dog had engrained itself to the spike-topped gate. The streetlights still hummed but soon they would go off. He passed houses still in slumber. At the corner, the Cellar Pub welcomed him into the town, a line of frosted empty kegs sat outside waiting for morning collection.

He turned left and followed the route, puffs of breath lingering momentarily behind him. By now his ears numbed, his face a subtle crimson. He watched the breadman wheel a towering casket down from the lorry and into the shop. The wheels scraped and squealed, like the sharpening of bayonets.

He pressed on.

The bank was closed, everyone's money resting safely. Battered shutters of metal protected the shop rows, ready to be racketed up out of sight for another day.

Delicate pinches of ice clung to his shoes, he could not falter to clean them.

The church stood in morning gloom. He passed it unwavering, no thoughts, no memories of when he used to attend. Its spire gored the sky. More shops came upon him, bricked up windows and splintered doors. He passed waste ground where grass grew wild in patches alongside bare, pallid concrete. Some houses now, a wall sprayed with graffiti he could not decipher, then nothing but the road.

The streetlights were off, the morning light rising all around.

Pastel fields bordered the road, their unkempt edges protruding like iced lances. A papery mist hung in the distance so scant, it almost wasn't there. Rugged fences of barbed wire and gnarled timber accompanied him along the final stretch.

The road came to a junction, his heart locked in the rhythm of each stride. He thought of Ticky, marching relentlessly to the thump of a battleman's drum.

Bom. Bom. Bom-bom-bom. Bom-bom.

His stride was perpetual now and could not be stopped. He crossed the quiescent, sparkling road and onto the frigid grass without any shift in his step.

Ticky was inside him.

He marched onwards through the white grass getting taller and taller, crunching, creeping up around his knees.

He stamped hard and rhythmically, he could hear the drums now.

Bom. Bom. Bom-bom-bom. Bom-bom.

Bom. Bom. Bom-bom-bom. Bom-bom.

His face and body were flogged with winter's raw exhale. The rutted stones of the shore jabbed into his feet as he crossed the uneven ground and into the lake.

Men fell around him.

Bom. Bom. Bom-bom-bom. Bom-bom.

It was all on his shoulders as he marched that fearless march down into the icy, numbing water. In the distance, a quarter yellow sun straddled the horizon and somewhere birds began to sing.

THE END