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The Iberian Horseshoe — A Journey

Part I. North West

On Spanish Radio

Steve Porter
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapOporto, Ponte Dom Luis
Governed by the bells on Va Norte
heavy with the sickness of a mild winter
I walk towards the silent nights of Christmas
where the air rings with childhood murmurs
and the thief of Christmas past
leaves another trail of oranges in the Highland snow.
Warm your hands by the baby flame
you can remove this sting of absence
can you hear me now on Spanish radio
talking Galician in the rain?

Lisa came through to the kitchen, and fed on a handful of dry cornflakes. She sighed a lot. Big heavy sighs. “How many days left in this hole?” She checked the calendar. We were marking off the days to Christmas. Six working days to go. She lit a cigarette and opened the window, blowing smoke into the morning gloom. The beer advert had been replaced by a supermarket ad showing roasted poultry and fresh fruit. Below the picture it said Feliz Navidad — Happy Christmas. Lisa sighed again.

“Spain. I cant believe I left Montpelier for this. Look at it.”

December clouds hovered above her mind. She took a few more dry cornflakes and washed them down with a glass of red wine.

“I cant take much more of this,” she said.

When Lisa came in the next afternoon her hair was dishevelled, her eyes were black with smudged make up and she stank of alcohol. She had been to see Kane after a night out. She told him about her ill mother, and said that she would need to see how things were at home over the holidays.

“I cant leave without a good reference,” she said. “I really need that for my next job.”

“I wouldnt bother holding on for that. Hes not trustworthy. Ive already told him I wont be back after Christmas. He employs inexperienced workers and expects them to perform like seasoned professionals right away. If he wants qualified and experienced teachers he should pay the going rate. Anyway, Im not going get into that just now. I have to get off to work.”

“Let me get my books, Im coming with you.”

“Are you sure about that? Maybe you should call in sick, take the night off?”

“No, please wait for me.”

The church bell on Va Norte struck four fifteen. We were late. We hurried past signs indicating the kilometres to Madrid and Portugal. The school stairway always had enough disinfectant to kill a plague of locusts. A cardboard cutout of a Scots Guard with a rifle kept watch. Lisa saluted to him on the way in.

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Copyright ©Steve Porter, 2004
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Date of publicationMay 2006
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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