A work in progress: North Road by Eoin McNamee

A few years ago I was driving out of Kilmarnock at midday I was on a piece of dual carriageway between roundabouts on the outskirts of town.  I met a woman in a yellow dressing gown walking down the white line between the lanes. She looked as if she had wandered out of some dream she was having about herself. This story, not yet finished,  from which this extract is taken is called The North Road.

The North Road

   The woman was walking down the middle of the road outside Kilmarnock. It was midday and she was walking between the two lanes, going north. She was wearing a yellow towelling dressing gown and slippers.  She had a lit cigarette in her left hand. There was a bruise on her cheekbone. She walked with her head back and her grey eyes looked north. Cars moved out of her way. She was haughty in her despair. If there was a realm of bad choices she would be queen.

Ellie  had been adopted and had been looking for her birth mother for some years. She wrote to social workers and adoption agencies. She had been led to believe the process would be straightforward but it wasn`t. There were aspects of herself that had to be unearthed, fragile papers. She thought  boy princes entombed. There would be papyri, inscriptions in lost languages.

Ken and Sandra  had brought her up. They were like people who had seen a film of parenthood a long time ago and had tried to re-create it from memory. Whole passages were missing. No-one knew what came next.

An adoption agency sent her the address of a an aunt in Craigmullar on the outskirts of Edinburgh. She wrote to it and a cousin answered.

Your letter has come as a shock to my mother who you call your aunt. She says that what is in the past stays in the past. It would be best for you to keep away and not be digging at things. She says that it is all water under the bridge and anyway her sister has moved away and is not in good health and it would not be good for her if you are who you say you are 

  Yr cousin Kyle

Eoin McNamee will be reading with Glenn Patterson on Saturday, 17th September at 7.30pm in The Ballroom, Metropole Hotel, Cork.

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