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