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CREATIVE Nicola Daly

NWR Issue 116

The Night Where You No Longer Live


We had to take matters into our hands; when I say we, I mean my brother and I. Suddenly within those moments the universe opened up and our world – the one Papa had held in his huge span for so long – was careering off its axis. All the decrees he had barked at us daily and for so long might as well have been ash. For we were two children floundering. We were flailing like goldfish on their way home from the fair.

All we knew as we stood amongst the dustsheets and debris of Papa’s workshop was that there was something unholy afoot. I don’t like to call it hoodoo, which was Papa’s word for it, but there was a foul stink stinging my nostrils that Alfonso felt sure was the singeing of souls. I am afraid my brother was delusional; that’s what happens when you have attended one too many black masses. I later discovered the smell to be nothing more than sulphur left burning on the stove.

It was all very bemusing, actually. However, there were only two things we could be certain of: the first one was that our father was dead. The second was that we were his children.

I wrote that statement down exactly as above so that Alfonso could see it because in the hours of us waking and my brother playing tennis with two dead rats and eating a raw onion, I had come to the conclusion that he was every bit the dolt Papa described him to be. He was in fact as Papa always used to say: less use than the horse and thicker than pig slurry, so it was for this reason that his reports couldn’t be trusted.

This is what happened.

My brother woke first because he had slept in the hollow tree stump with the dog since Mama left. He claimed to prefer it out there on a grassy bed under fronds of stars but the truth was Papa didn’t want
him in the house because his snoring upset the delicate balance of our father’s mind.

Nicola Daly’s entry, ‘The Night Where You No Longer Live’ (extracted here) in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella, won third prize this summer. She was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in 1974, but for most of her life she has lived in Chester. Her short stories, nonfiction work and poetry have been widely published by a variety of publications including Honno women’s press, North West Arts Council anthologies, Mslexia and The Rialto.

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