• Vol. 7
  • Chapter 01
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MÉNIE MURIAL DOWIE

Poppy fell first. A crash, then come dawn—seventy foot of land had collapsed into the sea, taking her remains and grave-marker (Ah carve them myself) with it. Beyond that, nowt save the water’s hoary chop.

      My Poppy were arithmetical. Ah’d say, Two plus two? And she’d go woof woof, woof woof. Eerie acumen, that, for a Jack Russell—and if you think Ah’m yarning, sod you. She passed last spring. Fourteen years, eight months. Ah miss her. She were last to die, so her plot were furthest from the house, meaning first to be swallowed. 

      Though not last.

Rufus fell soon after. A good boy, Rufus. The rare times Ah ventured out, he'd tremble at the window of the salt-flayed house, high up on the eroding crag. So Ah stopped venturing. Ah despised the island’s blether and snark anyhow, and they scorned me likewise. So it were for the best—Rufus knew afore Ah did. 

      Next, Cecil. For reasons better left unstated, the 1980s were a difficult time, though Ah found great solace in Cecil during my dark spells. 

      Tasha Ah only had three months. Poisoned by cowards. 

      Then Shep. Shep bit the Flett woman that once Ah took leave of my senses and invited her up. The Flett woman put it about Ah’d sicced Shep on her, but animals can sense the canker inside certain folk. And he were vindicated in the end, weren’t he? After what they found in the Flett woman’s root cellar. 

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MÉNIE MURIAL DOWIE

      Sputnik Ah saved from a sack in the surf, mewling and nareabouts snuft beneath his drownded kin, lost in blackness like the Soviet satellite. Ah knew who’d done it, too—that cunt Loughlin boy. Ah’ve never felt remorse for what Ah done to him, neither, though the island took against me on account of who his dead Da were, and who mine weren’t. 

      Anyhow, all are sea-bound now. 

      Except one.


* * *


Ah were still a pup myself when Ménie died. Da wielded the same spade Ah still use today. He lowered the cairn terrier into the hole by the back door, the first hole Ah’d ever seen purposed for death. It’d always been Da, Ménie and me. Now just two. Eleven years more, just me. 

      The marker read: Ménie Muriel Dowie.

      Funny name for a dog, Ah said.

      Da speared his spade. Weren’t me named her. 

      That were the closest he would ever come to discussing Mother, where she had gone. 

      He slapped Ménie’s basalt marker. Same basalt he’d built the house with. 

      Believe in this, he said.

      Aye, Da.

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MÉNIE MURIAL DOWIE

      His fist of loam so close to my face Ah could smell the aeons.

      And this.

      Aye.

      Life’s only two constants. Mind me.

      Ah will, Da.

      Ah still recall the spastic worm between his baccy-yellow fingers, reeling where the spade had split it. And the sea’s soft, distant shush, like a motherly whisper in my ear as a tot in my cot—both so remote then, both deafening now. 

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