The Ghosts of Glaschoile

The London Magazine - - CONTENTS - Hi­lary O’Sul­li­van

There’s some­one in the pas­sage­way; the glimpse of a hem and white arms wrap­ping a shawl against the blast, as she col­lects a box of mack­erel from out­side the Trades­men’s Door.

Bluff talk, hearty with a good day’s sport, sleeps in the sofa cush­ions; and fire­side tales, whiskey soft­ened, have em­bed­ded in the beams and man­tle with the birch-smoke.

Scratched in the baths enamel, which no amount of scour­ing can whiten; the scent of sleepy chil­dren soak­ing off beach silt, honey and fish-scales into peat-brown wa­ter.

Remnants of raised voices sound in the whine and boil of pipework; squab­bles over an ea­gle feather, a wo­man’s shout to ‘not for­get the car­rots, from In­verie.’

And on the frayed fi­bres of brown and mus­tard car­pets; im­prints of evening heels, of damp wool and skin rubbed coarse by a day in du­binned leather stalk­ing on the hills.

In the lava­tory on the land­ing, thumbprints lurk in junk-shop stacks of mag­a­zines; where gen­er­a­tions of Gents have mused on taxes, and how to tie a fish­ing fly.

Oaths and gos­sip are lay­ered in the paint­work, slapped onto sills on short fine days by handy­men; who came by cart; by clapped-out Lan­drover, whistling along the Glaschoile Road.

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