Western Mail - - AGENDA -

“NO,” I say. I’m cross with Cher again, and push her off.

Cher won’t let it go. She wants to know about Pi­geon’s trial. All about Pi­geon, like as if I could re­ally tell her Pi­geon’s story, or like I re­ally know any­thing ex­cept for that I miss him, and that with­out him noth­ing ever hap­pens, and noth­ing ever mat­ters, like Cher.

“Lets go and see him,” says Cher then. “Lets go and see him.”

“No,” I say, and I stand up. “Why?” asks Cher, and her eyes are big and brown and soft, like feath­ers and cush­ions and cot­ton wool.

“We don’t know where he is.” “He’s in Liver­pool,” says Cher.

I stop. In Eng­land? Pi­geon? “How d’you know?”

“I saw it on a let­ter. They wrote and said we could visit.” “Well you can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Cher! He killed your dad!” I say it. And it’s then it hurts me. The feel­ing like panic up my body and in my chest. I can’t breathe. What’s wrong? What’s wrong with me?

I can hear sounds in my head, can hear peo­ple shout­ing in my head. It’s all ter­ri­ble, big, dark. And then I’m just stood here on the grass again with Cher. Cher’s watch­ing me. She just watches me and watches me un­til I go back to nor­mal. Cher picks up a stone, and plays with it in her hand.

“So?” she says.

“What do you mean, so?” “He was a b ***** d,” she says then. And then she laughs. Cher laughs.

Under the curls, there’s a spot on Cher’s fore­head I just want to squeeze.

“He’s gone any­ways, Iola,” she says. And her voice is kind. As if she un­der­stands. And it feels like some of that pres­sure lifts, just like a tiny bit of a breeze on a heavy day.

But there’s no way of get­ting rid of him, Pi­geon. Not for good. He’ll be back. And there’s part of me can’t wait, and part of me that’d rather wait for­ever.

> Pi­geon is the win­ner of the Wales Book of the Year and the Rhys Davies Fic­tion Prize. Pub­lished by Parthian


Pi­geon by Alys Con­ran

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