CREATIVE Robert Minhinnick

NWR Issue 121

Nia

Skye regarded the goat. Its agate eye. Young nanny, not long from a kid. Then her beard, black lip and nubbins of horns. The goat was scattering pellets like seed over the straw. Quickly she photographed the face. Black and white, she thought. Yes, a beautiful child. Becoming a ruined god.

Meanwhile, Nia was dropping feed into the chute and now the goat was ravenous, trying to lick the grains before Big Mama came over and claimed her rights. Big Mama with her shitty arse and some kind of prolapse, Big Mama even now nudging the younger goat out of the straw around the trough.

Yes, here’s the greedy one, said Nia. Now, Ffrez, you do it, you feed the goats. And the child let her handful slip into the chute as the goats’ hooves skidded in the pen. Nia brushed hair over a mark on the child’s forehead.

That’s right, love.

Good, Ffresni, added Skye. Goats are greedy, aren’t they? You greedy goats!

The three had driven over to Hafn Bitw, now a petting zoo. Once a derelict farm, it had been leased to a family who were making the venture work. Prefabricated additions had been attached to the outbuildings.
The three had used Skye’s Mazda and parked where they could. Fine weather had made Hafn Bitw popular but Nia had been coughing in the field’s dust. She noted the buzzing in her head again. Could she have tinnitus in one ear?

Next were the pigs. There were two in a sty further up the field, two sows, like the goats, one younger, the other dominant, one capable of nipping the other, making it squeal.

Skye looked into the first pig’s eyes. Sly in the clefts, the mean creases. Cold cinders, those eyes. That yet might flare. What was buried there so deeply? In a pig’s eyes.

Fear, she guessed. And was it boredom? The boredom of being a pig? No, pigs in shit were happy pigs. With always a view to the main chance.

Ffresni was again allowed to throw a handful of food into the chute.

Ooh, Nia laughed. Like a strawberry in a sow’s belly. That’s what they used to say, isn’t it?
Who used to say? asked Skye.

Well, not you. The elders in Clwb y Môr, bless ’em. Means something...insubstantial.

Elders? Jeez.

Committee, then.

Codgers were they?

Trustees. That’s the word.

But Skye had put down her camera. The pigs’ eyes were buried in creases like coin slots. Old blackberries, she thought. That had lost their blush. Not goats’ eyes with their sulphuric gleam, where the intelligence shone through.

Not that she might trust a goat. A sphinx, that goat. Yet a god’s sacrificial throat...


This is a preview extract from Robert Minhinnick’s novel, Nia, published by Seren later this autumn.

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