Category: Issue 2

Interlitq is delighted to publish its fiction in English for 09.02.12, the short story “The Green Wings of Hope̶...

The Green Wings of Hope

Esperança does not live in hope, though her eyes are the same opaque green as the small winged beetle that is her namesake.  Hope involves looking forward, beyond the moment, into the future and Esperança no longer looks into the future.

Nor does she look to the past. When she first came here, to the great city, with the great Christ on top of the mountain raising his great arms to the sky, she was forever looking over her shoulder, casting quick green glances behind her, the way she had done as a child, trying to catch her shadow on the hop, skittering on dirt roads or ballooning against adobe walls, up to mischief.  

Here no shadow sticks to the non-slip soles of her ugly practical shoes. Esperança lives in a place lit 24/7, where the light casts no shadows.  She lives in a place that never sleeps and wall clocks tell the time across the globe.  Knowing the time in Tokyo or London makes her feel calm, connected. At the end of her shift, someone thousands of miles west, just like her, is starting her shift and someone else thousands of miles east is, if she’s lucky, already deep in sleep.

In her green nylon overall, Esperança trundles a cart stacked with toilet rolls and soap dispenser refills, with bleach and disinfectant, rags and  scrubbing brushes, rubber gloves. She is invisible to those she services: travellers with holdalls and backpacks, suitcases and handbags who just can’t wait to use the facilities to attend the calls of nature and freshen up, to apply their duty free lipstick and scoosh on some perfume from a glass bottle in the shape of a flower, a beautiful woman.

Esperança lives indoors, in a temperature-controlled environment, in perpetual artificial light. Oh, there are a few dark corners, broom cupboards, store rooms where she might take a catnap. When she’s brazen, she sleeps on the concourse, on the metal benches, alongside young travellers, on their way to discover the world or on their way home to sleep in a soft bed after having seen how others live.

Esperança might be brazen but she is not foolhardy.  In a toilet cubicle, she’ll strip off her uniform, rinse it in the hand basin, blow it dry under a roaring Dyson Air Blade which sounds like an emergency but does the job, then stow it in her bag.  In the morning, before the sun comes up, she might take advantage of the public showers to attend to other laundry and matters of personal hygiene. Sometime Esperança feels anxious. Sleeping on the premises is against the rules for staff but when she’s out of uniform her boss doesn’t recognise her, the rest of the cleaning squad have learned to leave her be and travellers don’t care what rules she is breaking as long as she’s quiet, as long as she doesn’t scream out and slash the air in her sleep, as long as the green wings of hope remain tucked away and she is content to remain in the perpetual moment.

 

About Dilys Rose:

Dilys Rose was born and brought up in Glasgow but has lived in Edinburgh for many years. She has published ten books of poetry and fiction, for which she has received various awards. Her most recent collaboration was as librettist for a new opera, Kaspar Hauser, Child of Europe (composer Rory Boyle, premier March 2010 (Glasgow). She is currently writing a novel about blasphemy and betrayal in a period of moral panic. She has contributed to Issue 2 of Interlitq and Issue 10 of Interlitq.

Interlitq is delighted to publish its fiction in English for 08.02.12, the short story “The Blue Beyond” by Sc...

 

The Blue Beyond

 

It’s a blue day. Soft blue. Blue water, sky, hills, aye the hills are bonny the day and the water’s still and flat as a clean sheet. Seamless. No that, on my shift,  I look at the view. I turn my back to the the view. And the visitors.

The boss disna like my attitude. Says I should get on wi my work in full view o the visitors, tip my cap, gie them  a wee smiley and carry on filletin salmon like I’m on piecework, while they consult the leaflet aboot how special the smokehouse is to this bonny wee neuk, how they shouldna mind payin over the odds for special quality and  supportin local industry, for the special flavour got by smokin fish ower the shavins o old whisky barrels. 

The shop does a fair enough trade. When folk have held their breath going roon a hundred blind bends on a single track road, they’re keen to stretch their legs and flash their debit cards at a retail outlet.  And watching me at the filletin is good for sales, the boss says, part o the package. But the boss is no here the day. He’s off to the lodge wi a special delivery for the huntin, shootin brigade, so I keep my back to the view. And the visitors.

Somebody chaps on the window, hopin I’ll turn and oblige wi a warm, Highland welcome but I keep my back to the viewin gallery,  keep on slicin through fish flesh, pink as coral, the knife skimmin a fan of bones, slick and quick and just like every other shift, the scales worryin  my skin and the smokehouse fumes worryin my respiratory tract.

Somebody chaps on the window –  hopin to catch a glimpse o the mannie that fillets the fish, slicin it from head to tail quick as a wink, hopin to  catch me on camera, happy at my work. So they can show their friends when the holiday’s over.

When I dinna oblige, they move on, snappin more scenes o the blue beyond – sea, sky, hills, islands, all tints o the same soft blue, and they sigh, maybe even get a wee bit weepy, mindin some soft blue view they turned their backs on long ago.

When my shift is finished, I’ll go home, in the blue gloamin, stinkin like a smoked fillet and Mhairi will wrinkle her nose and pack me off to the shower to scrub myself raw, afore she’ll let me near her.

About Dilys Rose:

 

Dilys Rose was born and brought up in Glasgow but has lived in Edinburgh for many years. She has published ten books of poetry and fiction, for which she has received various awards. Her most recent collaboration was as librettist for a new opera, Kaspar Hauser, Child of Europe (composer Rory Boyle, premier March 2010 (Glasgow). She is currently writing a novel about blasphemy and betrayal in a period of moral panic. She has contributed to Issue 2 of Interlitq and Issue 10 of Interlitq.