Willsesden prize short-listed story Jolt now on audio, narrated exquisitely by Heber Rowan
A North of Ireland woman learns through her child’s tragedy how to face her prejudices while on a holiday in Turkey. Shortlisted for the Willesden Prize, Jolt is a story about perception and ingrained prejudices that we can carry around with us in our everyday lives. Sometimes it can take a journey to a strange place to waken us into a less intransigent way of seeing the world.
Standing in a soft cotton towel, the night air caressing him like a heating fan, he looks out through the open shutters of the veranda. He hears the waves breaking on the shore to the haunting chant of the muezzin echoing over the minarets and onion domes of the mosques. To the west a huge globe of sun is setting. He looks back at his wife sleeping, her head partly covered by the sheet, a sleeve of her white nightdress sticking out, revealing an arm as if dismembered. He listens for her breathing, not loud as it sometimes is, but gentle now, in harmony with the waves.
Is it sixteen or seventeen years now since they first met at the Galway literary festival? His love of books, her love of singing pubs and craic. She liked to give the impression she was a bit of a bohemian with her loose sweaters and jeans, or ‘off-duty’ denim skirt to replace her starchy nurse’s uniform. Bought him the Faber Book of Irish Verse, which he read to her, said he read beautifully, finding Yeats a turnon, he captured the emotion, the pathos of the poems in what she called his ‘mellow Dublin voice’. She was passionate, demonstrative in her lovemaking. ‘Oh a nurse, is she now?’ Flaherty in the bank had said, ‘they can make you come in thirty seconds flat. A slight puffiness around her knuckles now – she uses soap to remove her rings before going to bed.
They had no honeymoon. After the wedding it was back to Dublin. She nursed in the Maternity hospital in the Coombe; he worked in a Phibsboro bank. All their savings and energy were being put into the building of the new bungalow on the half acre of ground that Michael had perspicaciously bought some years previously in Meath.
Two years after they married they had a baby girl, Niamh, the darling of their lives. She grew tall (Michael’s long legs) with dark pigtails (her mother’s hair). During the Easter break of her first year in secondary school, Niamh went on a school trip to Belfast. A bomb exploded in a pub as the tour bus drove up the Grosvenor Road. The bus, its windscreen shattered, careened out of control knocking down a schoolboy before coming to a halt on the pavement. Niamh and two other girls, who were sitting on the pub side of the bus, and the boy who was knocked down, were pronounced dead on their admission to the Royal Victoria hospital.
Jolt is also translated into the following languages:
In Italian as Svolta
In Portuguese as Guinada
In French as Choc
In Spanish as Sobresalto