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TITLE
'Instead of Beauty' (2)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_CYNTHIA_ROGERSON_03
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Cynthia Rogerson
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1276
KEYWORDS
audio
literary landscapes

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'Instead of Beauty' is a short story written by Cynthia Rogerson. It was first published in 2007 in 'Riptide: New Writing from the Highlands and Islands', edited by Sharon Blackie. It is read here by the author.

'One day, a few weeks later, Joe spots Addie, standing alone by the quay in the torrential rain without a jacket. She is so strange! Looking at the sea and sky, which the rain has joined seamlessly in a tableau of a depressing summer. It's been a menopausal summer altogether; too hot then too cold; moody and intense. When she begins to turn in his direction, he quickly turns as well, and walks briskly away.

Three weeks later, early in the morning, the sun remembers its own point and sizzles. The light explodes over Lochinellie like a luminous blessing, and nothing looks dull or ordinary. Not even the rusty petrol pumps. Not even the Co-op sign with the missing letters. The whole place steams away, and Addie pulls on her favourite dress - red cotton with tiny white stars. She bounds down the road to Joe's cottage, enjoying the air on her skin, and thinks what an extraordinarily fine thing it is, some days, to be above ground and not in it. Joe is walking to his lorry, all muffled up in a fleece, as if he hasn't really noticed the day yet.

'Joe!'

He greets her by tilting his head and smiling closed-mouthed.

'Joe! What a fine day!'

He makes a noise of assent and then opens the door to his lorry and swings one leg up. She tells him this is the day they can make a baby.

'It's the best day, Joe. What time are you back tonight?'

He freezes, half-way into the cab. 'I'll be gone for three days.' He pulls himself the rest of the way in, and shuts his door. Starts up the engine. Sudden glimpse of Addie in her faded red and white dress, and anxious pale face, lips red as if she's been nibbling them, with the sun giving her a halo.
He salutes her goodbye, and while he checks his rear view mirror, she swings open the passenger door and heaves herself in. He stares at her, but she keeps her face forward, and is so still it is like she is willing herself into invisibility. He pauses for a moment, then pulls out into the road. She looks out the window at the boats in the harbour; notices the way they never rock the same way and the masts are always at odds. Then Joe shifts down to make the steep brae out of Lochinellie.

An hour later, after the sun slinks away in yet another huff, he offers her his jumper. She pulls it on. It's rough against her skin, and way too big, but there is a sense of relief in the roughness and bigness. She feels safe. They are still not looking at each other, as if there is danger in acknowledgment.

'Thank you Joe,' she whispers, soft as Marilyn Monroe, soft as astonishment. 'Thanks, I was freezing.' After a minute she lays her hand on his knee, and she keeps it there all the way to Carlisle. Like a piece of luck, or unexpected sun on an overcast day.'

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'Instead of Beauty' (2)

2000s

audio; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: Cynthia Rogerson

'Instead of Beauty' is a short story written by Cynthia Rogerson. It was first published in 2007 in 'Riptide: New Writing from the Highlands and Islands', edited by Sharon Blackie. It is read here by the author.<br /> <br /> 'One day, a few weeks later, Joe spots Addie, standing alone by the quay in the torrential rain without a jacket. She is so strange! Looking at the sea and sky, which the rain has joined seamlessly in a tableau of a depressing summer. It's been a menopausal summer altogether; too hot then too cold; moody and intense. When she begins to turn in his direction, he quickly turns as well, and walks briskly away. <br /> <br /> Three weeks later, early in the morning, the sun remembers its own point and sizzles. The light explodes over Lochinellie like a luminous blessing, and nothing looks dull or ordinary. Not even the rusty petrol pumps. Not even the Co-op sign with the missing letters. The whole place steams away, and Addie pulls on her favourite dress - red cotton with tiny white stars. She bounds down the road to Joe's cottage, enjoying the air on her skin, and thinks what an extraordinarily fine thing it is, some days, to be above ground and not in it. Joe is walking to his lorry, all muffled up in a fleece, as if he hasn't really noticed the day yet.<br /> <br /> 'Joe!'<br /> <br /> He greets her by tilting his head and smiling closed-mouthed. <br /> <br /> 'Joe! What a fine day!' <br /> <br /> He makes a noise of assent and then opens the door to his lorry and swings one leg up. She tells him this is the day they can make a baby. <br /> <br /> 'It's the best day, Joe. What time are you back tonight?'<br /> <br /> He freezes, half-way into the cab. 'I'll be gone for three days.' He pulls himself the rest of the way in, and shuts his door. Starts up the engine. Sudden glimpse of Addie in her faded red and white dress, and anxious pale face, lips red as if she's been nibbling them, with the sun giving her a halo. <br /> He salutes her goodbye, and while he checks his rear view mirror, she swings open the passenger door and heaves herself in. He stares at her, but she keeps her face forward, and is so still it is like she is willing herself into invisibility. He pauses for a moment, then pulls out into the road. She looks out the window at the boats in the harbour; notices the way they never rock the same way and the masts are always at odds. Then Joe shifts down to make the steep brae out of Lochinellie. <br /> <br /> An hour later, after the sun slinks away in yet another huff, he offers her his jumper. She pulls it on. It's rough against her skin, and way too big, but there is a sense of relief in the roughness and bigness. She feels safe. They are still not looking at each other, as if there is danger in acknowledgment.<br /> <br /> 'Thank you Joe,' she whispers, soft as Marilyn Monroe, soft as astonishment. 'Thanks, I was freezing.' After a minute she lays her hand on his knee, and she keeps it there all the way to Carlisle. Like a piece of luck, or unexpected sun on an overcast day.'