Sitting in a doorway, twirling her silver bangle around and around, the wind in the sycamore leaves, the sun a lost sibling, painful to recall, impossible to enjoy in its absence. We loved. She told me in the shuttered doorway of the derelict house on the Rathmines Road, the steps littered with cigarette butts, shards of brown glass, and Juicy Fruit wrappers. At the time, I was a coward, afraid to let the words out, afraid I'd not be able to take them back and close the lid on them like I'd done many times before with different girls. In response to her “I love you” I managed an incomprehensible “Me too.” I fiddled with my socks, pulling at the frayed elastic, eyeing the cracked eggshell blue nail polish on her toes. I'd given up my friendship with the boys, Hughie and Paul, to spend time with her, spinning about her in orbit, like a lonely asteroid about a white dwarf. The lads hated my choice—a pretty girl over their cowboy selves—and told me I'd miss the nights out in the VW Golf kidnapping little kids from the green space we cruised around looking for trouble. Usually we'd grab a kid from his friends and pull him into the back seat, drive around the circle three or four times, and then jettison the victim before his pals alerted any adults who might think we were serious. She was more than the sum of their dangerous parts, in her floral dress, the navy blue one with the white and yellow flowers, the silver locket around her slender neck, the corn-colored hair that smelt of Silkience and Anais Anais. Fingering the zip under her tresses, I wished for the world to reverse its spin, take us back to the Good Friday we sat in the Bad Ass Cafe eating hamburgers and drinking Coke floats, and return her dead brother to the seat of his bicycle a moment before he was crushed by the coal lorry as it crossed the center line of the road to avoid a dog. Instead the clouds thickened even more, her eyes lost a little more of their shine, and I tried to decipher the many-colored graffiti on the corrugated iron sheet over the front door.
James Claffey hails from County Westmeath, Ireland, and lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA with his wife, the writer and artist, Maureen Foley, their daughter, Maisie, and occasionally, his son, Simon.
His debut story collection Blood a Cold Blue is being released by Press 53 on October 1st.
Photograph by Adam Lawrence.
Sun Glitters is the production work of Luxembourg's Victor Ferreira. "Only You" comes from his new album Scattered into Light which will be released via Mush Records on November 26th.