July 30th 2015 – Armagh
This room is haunted by the ghost of a mobile disco, long since shuffled on to a more lucrative venue. Each night this week I have fallen asleep to the Top Twenty Sounds of the Sixties filtered through my bedroom carpet. It is almost impossible to choose sleep over the possibility of a thumping bass line or a snare drum sniffing beneath my feet. My legs, inside their pyjamas, underneath their duvet, are twitching like a trapped sneeze. My body does not want to be in bed, or sleeping, or even thinking about sleeping. It is Hell bent on disco.
I have asked the hotel for a new room and they say there are forms to fill in, procedures etc. And rooms can only be exchanged if damp has been found or there is something like a bad smell present. They do not have a procedure for being haunted by a mobile disco. My eyes cry. They are dried out from not sleeping. My feet and legs and dancing hands do not cry. Actually, they could not be happier.
July 31st 2015 – Belfast
Pete and Cathryn Blair
The man sitting opposite us in Boojum is approaching his chicken burrito with such obvious and untempered enthusiasm that long lines of sour cream have escaped from his mouth and are dripping down his cheeks like those limp jowl mustaches occasionally worn by Mexicans. Watching him eat we are all of a sudden rendered without appetite. It is impossible to tell whether the sight of him slobbering has turned our collective stomachs or if in observing his unchecked appetite we feel inadequate somehow; incapable of experiencing such primal joy in something as low as meat and cheese and mushed up avocado.
August 1st 2015 – Ikea, Belfast
I left my father in Ikea. He was too old to go on. When I showed him the living room department –all those armchairs in lines and grids like a street map, and right next door, the same again in beds- he looked straight into my eyes and I could see the tiredness had settled into him. It was too much to expect him to make it to kitchens or bathrooms, the lighting department was already well beyond him.
“Sit down here,” I said, lowering him into a brown, leather armchair, a kind of Scandinavian take on Eames. “You have done well,” I said, “so well, to make it this far.
I could see he was glad of the rest, glad to have the expectation lifted from him. I turned away from my father and progressed on to bedrooms and kitchens. I did not come back. There is, after all, only one route through Ikea.
August 2nd 2015 – Ormeau Road, Belfast
“Where are you in that photo?” asks the man with the video camera.
She takes the photo in her hands, holds it close to her face. She finds her husband in a blue coat, two sons and a daughter. She does not have the words for any of them but traces each individually with a blue nailed finger.
“Where are you in that photo?” repeats the man.
She says, “I am not,” even though she clearly is and the photo is from the days before she stopped feeling present, started slipping the words for husband and love and family, still remembered the difference between home and a place briefly visited on holidays. The man with the video camera is asking her to think about this past time and her words are not the right words, but somehow better, “I don’t know how to say it. The air was very good.”
August 3rd 2015 – East Belfast
I gave the decorator no such instructions but when I returned to inspect my room, discovered that he’d painted over the area of wall beside my bed where I had woken from an inspired dream and, with no paper or pad to hand, scrawled the opening lines of my novel directly on to the wall.
“Do you remember what was there before the paint?” I asked him, pointing to the exact spot where the words had been.
“More paint,” he replied.
“No words?” I asked and he shrugged and said he was not used to noticing words and was there some sort of problem here?
“No problem at all,” I replied.
It was unlikely that the dream words would have caught properly in the morning. It was even possible that I’d dreamt the act of writing. But, I did consider for hours thereafter, the strange way we see only what interests us and glance quickly past the rest.
August 4th 2015 – East Belfast
That winter she decided to close the door and remain inside her apartment for four straight months. It was to be a kind of experiment. She kept a pot plant with her and every day at three used an old-fashioned ruler to measure how much she’d grown and how much the plant had grown under similar conditions. By February first she had not grown one inch taller but her waist was perceivably wider. (This did not even require proving with a ruler). The pot plant was dead. She did not know what to make of these results but wrote them down anyway and was thankful that it was not her dead and the pot plant expanding. In April she left her apartment for the first time in four months. There still a coldness in the air outside and her skin glowed like milk in the sunlight. She went straight to the store and bought herself another pot plant.
August 5th 2015 – East Belfast
Patrick and Lee Henry
When the new rabbits lined up to choose their super powers Mark was miles away, thinking about a detective show he’d seen on television last night. Chloe chose speed and Richard chose speech, (which was always good for confusing the humans). Sarah, who was the smallest of all the new rabbits, chose flight for she felt this might give her something of an advantage if faced with a much larger adversary.
“And what would you like for your superpower, Mark?” asked the Spirit Animal.
Mark, without proper consideration, chose to become luminous. This was the first available super power on the list but really only intended for underwater creatures. Each night, while all the other new rabbits roamed the streets of East Belfast growing into their powers, Mark was forced to stay home in the burrow, watching CSI repeats. It was too dangerous to be out in the dark where his glowing fur made him a soft target for every speeding car, every urban fox.