Western Mail - - WM2 | AGENDA - By Alys Con­ran

IT was fol­lowed by an­other word. He’d col­lected it years ago. Cut it out of one of Efa’s news­pa­pers. Dis­pos­sessed.

He said the word. Dis­pos­sessed. And again. Dis­pos­sessed. It was the shed. It was the gun. It was the Cen­tre.

There were two parts of him. One part that had done it, and was proud, and could take the con­se­quences. One part that was an­gry, had lost, was in mourn­ing. There was a word for that part of him. Dis­pos­sessed.

It was not know­ing the words any­more. It was gulp­ing for the words, like a fish out of wa­ter, or like a bird sub­merged.


I NEED to talk, to sew my­self back to­gether with words. I leave Efa out­side the chapel and go down the path by the river, along the road and through the wood, to meet Cher.

In the old bar­racks there’s Cher sit­ting. She’s sit­ting so still, Cher. She’d have waited for­ever.

“Hi, Iola,” she says. “What’s up?” look­ing at me like she’s try­ing to read a book. “Noth­ing.”

“Shall we go up to the quarry then?” Cher asks.

We walk up the dusty road to the quarry, the quarry that’s still work­ing, where there are still trucks load­ing and re­vers­ing and a few men who’ve kept their jobs there. There’s a big rail­ing and a sign. DAN­GER it says, KEEP OUT. We hang over the rail­ing and watch the trucks driv­ing up the road that goes up the slate tips to the top of the moun­tain. From here you can see down to the lake that’s been made of one of the quarry holes. The wa­ter’s blue green. There’s some­thing flu­o­res­cent in the wa­ter. There’s some dead trees stick­ing out of it, they’re bleached white as bone.

“Iola,” Cher says then. The way she says it makes me turn to look at her, and when I do, Cher’s ragged and empty like old clothes. Cher’s think­ing about say­ing some­thing again. Her mouth be­gins to say it over and over, that small breath in when she’s about to speak, and then she stops her­self.

“What’s up, Cher?” I have a feel­ing again in my stom­ach, ris­ing up into my throat.

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

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