CREATIVE Jen Campbell

NWR Issue 101


I remember it well, now. We read a book about Northern Ireland at school. A novel about a boy from one side and a girl from the other. About the fighting. We had one of those teachers who thought she could spread themselves right over the curriculum. She was called Ms Puce, a tall spindly woman made out of scarves. She made large sweeping statements just to see the looks on our faces. I remember giggling when she spat out rude words.

I knew everything about the war; knew all about the religious fighting with bricks and fists, and falling in love with girls on the other side. It was twenty years ago; I’d been young.

What the hell are they complaining about? It’s romantic, I said, as we walked the back passage to smokers’ lot. War’s like this whole fucking romantic thing. Those petrol bombs, you know. Burning love.

It’s all like football, man, George swiped his tongue on a roll up, nearly dropping it. We’re all sport. And he pointed his finger to the side of his temple and mimicked pulling a trigger. Bang said the gun, he said.

But guns don’t talk, I said, squinting at the smoke.

Neither do the dead, he said, and then grinned like he was mad.

I once walked past some kids sitting in trees on the way home. They were making parachutes out of orange plastic bags, letting them drop to the ground. Tutting old ladies walked past, said they were littering the streets. I stayed to watch for a while until one of them asked me what the hell I was looking at, throwing an empty bottle of water in my direction. I ran away...

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