‘Hamilton Park.’ In New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing 11:3 (April 2014) and in Prayer at the End: Twenty-Three Stories (Bangor: Cockatrice, 2015).
For twenty years the shop on Hamilton Park had been run by a Turkish Cypriot and his wife. Ahmet Gül sold papers and lottery tickets during the morning and evening rush hours, tobacco and alcohol into the night. When he went to the wholesaler’s to re-stock or the bank to deposit their takings Emine would come down from the flat upstairs to sell bread and apples and Swiss rolls to the mothers with small children. So like the woman and man in a Bavarian weather clock, Emine was seen in fair conditions, Ahmet in foul.
They had a grown-up son, but Fazil had no time for his parents. Ahmet’s interests outside the shop included the lottery ticket he bought surreptitiously every week and the occasional glass of wine he drank with a friend from the Turkish restaurant; Emine’s included prayers and lessons at the mosque and matinées at the cinema, where she watched the films of the Hollywood Golden Age, the films she loved, time and again. On sunny Friday afternoons they would pull down the shutters and stroll down to the Mermaid Quay, sedately pacing the waterfront and flattering themselves that they were old. Soon she would begin to tut-tut at the godless atmosphere of the place (the drinking they saw in the restaurants, the immodesty of the women’s clothes) and he would know it was time they went home. Emine would take a nap before prayers and Ahmet would settle down in the shop to read the Olay Gazette or the Western Mail, or to stand at the window fingering his prayer beads and watching the goings-on in Hamilton Park.
‘The Electrician’s Daughter’ was first published in The Harbinger 1:1 (April 2013) online. It appears in Prayer at the End: Twenty-Three Stories, published by Cockatrice Books in 2015.
...The sign said, ‘Lakeside.’ A stone bungalow with a veranda looked down towards a pebble beach, and a rowing boat and a couple of pedalos were moored to a jetty. The windows of the house were dark, but they could see a head torch quivering under the trees where a battered Nissan truck was parked. A house light shone more distantly on the other side of the lake. They stopped behind a Ford Mondeo, and as Sara jumped down onto hard sand and thin turf and stonecrop she could hear the quiet muttering of the lake and the clucking of waterfowl. Her father took his toolkit from the van, standing by the open back door to buckle his utility belt round his hips, and a fat man with straggly grey hair climbed out of the truck and slouched across the lawn towards them.
‘Rhys Aled,’ he said. ‘I haven’t seen you for nearly ten years.’
‘It’s more than that, Denzil. I remember you weren’t at my wife’s funeral.’
He had used the intimate form of the verb, and her father had rebuffed him. He kept his hair tied back in a pig-tail, and a tee-shirt reading ‘Working Class Hero’ was stretched over a pendulous belly. He dropped his voice to a confidential tone, glancing towards the bungalow as though his guests might overhear or understand them. ‘The husband’s not happy,’ he said. ‘He’s demanding a refund. I had to get dressed and come straight to the house to stop him phoning his lawyer.’
‘You had to get dressed. I had to drag Sara out of bed for this.’
‘Hart’s reach,’ a short story by Rob Mimpriss, first published in Albawtaka Review 37 (January 2013) online and in Brush with Fate: Voices from Wales alongside Fflur Dafydd, Tristan Hughes, Nigel Jarrett, Rob Mimpriss, Rachel Trezise and others. Arabic translations by Hala Salah Eldin Hussein. Cairo: Albawtaka, 2014. Later published in Prayer at the End by Rob Mimpriss (Cockatrice, 2015).
The surgery had been a watermill in the days when coracles were still common on the river, and had housed captured SS officers for a time during the war. Touring Wales in the summer of 1957 Hart’s father had leant his bicycle against its ivyed gable wall, and glancing over the head of his companion had glimpsed the slick descent of an otter down the bank. The details solidified and settled in his mind: the pride of his recent graduation, a falconer launching his kestrel over distant fields, and the quiet fecundity of the river. Years later, as an orphaned and wealthy man, when his memories of that companion had blurred to an impression of white socks and a yellow dress, he had remembered the otter with perfect clarity, and had bought both the mill for his surgery, and the boathouse half a mile upstream on the other bank for his home.
What mattered, Walter Hart later explained to his schoolboy son, was that he had reached that moment when a life becomes clear – not with the girl, though her name was Miller, but with the otter and the kestrel and the ivyed wall: his world needing him, waiting for him to claim it. And Hart was expected to repeat these triumphs, to claim mastery of some girl, some wilderness, but the dying surgery must have been the wrong wilderness, Rita the wrong girl, and in the end his father had resented his willingness to help. He rowed with slow, patient strokes while the gors echoed to the sound of thunder and the hills disappeared behind rain. As he drew parallel with the surgery the man was sitting on the veranda with his map and the woman was trying its locked door, and Hart turned his blunt prow towards the bank and dragged the boat onto land.
Hala Salah Eldin Hussein has translated work by Dave Eggers, Nadine Gordimer, Kazuo Ishiguro, Edward P. Jones, Jhumpa Lahiri, Doris Lessing and others into Arabic, for publication by Albawtaka Review. This fourth print anthology by Albawtaka was published with the support of the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture.
‘Phoebe’s Party.’ In Blue Tattoo: A Short Story Magazine 9 (January 2012), 42-49 and in Prayer at the End: Twenty-Three Stories (Bangor: Cockatrice, 2015).
When she was eleven years old, and challenged by a friend in school to a dare, Phoebe Morris had approached a group of older girls and slapped one hard in the face. They were celebrities of the bullying world, popularly hated, and she had given them no choice but to act in defence of their reputation. Afraid to approach, but too fascinated to leave her, Ieuan had watched her endure restraint, indignities, punches, kicks, with an indifference that astonished him. She had been off-hand about it afterwards, had let him off his side of the dare as though its outcome were certain already, and Ieuan had finally dismissed her behaviour as something to be expected of Phoebe. In play she was bold, in naughtiness reckless, and he was too studious and too young to consider what reasons she might have for wilfully seeking out pain.
After she married Phil and started to cut herself off from her friends, Ieuan understood what was happening. Aged fourteen, and returning after an absence at school, she had mentioned to Ieuan that she had spent the week sitting with her mother in a home-made fallout shelter, while her father, it seemed, had looked after the house and brought them their meals. Her tone had implied that Ieuan would be incurious, that of course all mothers were Christadelphians who lived in fear of a nuclear holocaust. Two years later, entertaining Ieuan in her parents’ kitchen, she had remarked that her mother had gone into the bathroom to clean it, and ignoring Ieuan, her father had started beating his head against the wall. Phil had finally taught her fear, and in response she had learnt guile, provoking him when he was weakest so that the outburst would be more manageable, the quiet before the next one longer.
‘Mars, Bonfire, Mountain Ash.’ In New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing 2:6 (July 2009) 117-122, and in For His Warriors: Thirty Stories (Caernarfon: Bwthyn, 2010).
Walking their hosts’ dogs through woods near Criafolen, Meirion said to Rhonwen, ‘I love you.’
She had the tail end of bronchitis, so they were moving slowly. The two collies had raced back past them up the hill, and Meirion had dropped behind to give them room. As she plodded ahead of him down the track, stepping over tree roots and banks of rotting leaves, he saw how lightly the strands of black hair rested on the crimson wool of her scarf, and something inside him moved him to put his hands on her arms and speak.
Rhonwen heard his confession calmly, neither speaking nor pulling away. He remembered a year before, the first time he took her walking after a service at the church that she attended. When she mentioned past hurts and asked for his patience, her look and posture at that moment had been the same as at this: standing with her face upturned as if to be kissed, her hands hanging unused at her sides. He saw how her breath came in short, deep gasps, and how the retreating blood had left a plastic, unhealthy look to her cheeks. He kissed her forehead lightly and said, ‘Let’s get you home to the fire. The dogs have been walked long enough, I think.’
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My work has also appeared in Annexe Magazine, Cambrensis, Catharsis, East of the Web, The Interpreter’s House, New Welsh Review, Tears in the Fence, and elsewhere.
I am the author of three short story collections.
For His Warriors,
originally published by Gwasg y Bwthyn, Caernarfon, with Welsh Books Council support, now join
Prayer at the End
in revised editions at Cockatrice Books.
My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital Told by Leading Welsh Writers, including work by Gee and David Williams, Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, Simon Thirsk and others, was published by the North Wales Mental Health Research Project, October 2016. I was a contributor with Nigel Jarrett, Rachel Trezise, Tristan Hughes and others to Brush with Fate, an anthology of Welsh fiction translated by Hala Salah Eldin. I am a member by election of the Welsh Academy.
I am the translator of Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams (Cockatrice, 2015),
Hallowe’en in the Cwm: The Stories of Glasynys (Cockatrice, 2017), and
A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017). In addition, I have translated fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros.