"Meniscus" of Corbally

by Michael Kemp

Malachi Clarke awoke in the bottom bunk of his friend’s bed, eyes swimming and head whoozy from the night before. He trundled out of bed and wandered fully clothed in to the kitchen of Tim’s mobile home, its small kitchenette having the facilities needed for Malachi to make his breakfast. 

Tim himself was dozing in eyesight of Malachi, hours after burying himself under a mountain of coats as a make-shift duvet. He had made his bed on the two cushioned sofa that sat under the wide sill of the bay-facing win- dow. The curtains were splayed to the side and so the reflected sun from the green sea outside reminded Malachi of dancing coins, the shine off it flecking at the side of his vision as he grilled bacon in a pan dolloped with butter. White horses, he thought, the name he was taught in childhood for the crashing white that arouse from the tumultuous turning of waves, the same that railed the amateur body boarders as they paddled forward towards Wales. The sun was still so low that he couldn’t figure if the day was clear enough to see the ridges of the dragon’s back. 

The stretches of pork in his pan began to sizzle and Malachi then cluttered through the drawers trying to find a plastic spatula to flip them over on to the other side, leaving their dark bellies facing up. 

Soon done, he flicked them on to a plate and dosed them in maple syrup, then lapped them up while planning the next few parts of his day. 

He would now walk from here out of The Nook- the mobile home site that sat on the southern cup of the town’s “C” shaped bay- and on to the main southern road that lead to the winding centre of town. He would pop in to one of the cornershops for honey Lockets or a hot caff- whichever he felt would work best for him. Then break on to the pier to waken himself with the wind before cutting back in to town for the uphill walk to home or the pitches. 

“Giizzzusssumma-dat-ya-fecker”, slurred Tim, his head no longer propped on the sofa but lolling itself loose in to air, beckoning conscience. “I only sed youcoouldve two” 

“Yeah mae”, Malachi replied his mouth full, “Ah cooked de las bunch and lef de res for yo on a plae.” 

“Sound buudzz,” muttered Tim as he rested his head back on to its perch and gained his composure, “I’ll see you by the Colours match later. Not that we’ll watch it- bit a green might be free elsewhere and I’ll bring my ’05 Finale for a bit of a kick.” 

“Sounds good to me,” Malachi responded before clacking his lips together as he finished off a glass of water “the only thing you can do on a day like this.” 

“Yeah man,” said Tim as he nuzzled the pillow and trailed off “only thing you can do.” 

Malachi looked at his watch then rose from the narrow boothseat in the kitchen, leaving sleeping Tim by the door as he walked along the hard ground and dry shrub of the estate, weaving through the mobiles in their myriad lots. 

Along the winding and grass-edged road now, the advent of pavement to walk on announced the impending arrival of the town itself, those layered and crowded streets of clashing architectures and buildings of unknown purpose. The jumble of its old redbrick and brutal concrete began to loom around him and he saw it all with the acute perception afforded by a hangover... 

The posh kids from the old monastery school were walking down in to the town. With black gowns folded and tucked under arm, their voices unbroken but already rolling their vowels, they marched in line, black leather shoes stuck out and walking at an affected 90 degree angle. The frayed wool of their white socks caught Malachi’s eye. 

Some of the kids veered off in to Sherry’s gym, the old stable that Polly Sheridan had fitted with free weights and a treadmill to catch some local inter- est. Malachi already heard a few giggles and strained clanks soon after the lot went in. He was already well down the road when he heard a loud “Fuck off, Cecil!” from Sherry himself, soon followed up by a more muttered “Get fucking real, you chancers” as they trotted out, surely to come back tomorrow. 

Malachi felt uneasy at the rate his hot coffee was melting the Locket in his mouth and how numbingly sweet it had all become, his tongue swishing from side to side amid the sweet froth. He spit a bit in to a bush like it was a spittoon before he was walking on the sandy pier that gave the town its name, Meniscus. 

However it came to be, the town’s “C”-shaped bay was often pummelled by the tide to an extent that water often swelled at level or above the pier and its wooden boards, only a strong Western wind keeping the spillage at bay, the water piling up like an overfilled glass. Any other time though, the water at high tide could swamp in to the bay-side shops and pool around children queuing up for Maoam and strawberry drinks. 

Swallowing the liquid gunk, Malachi opened his mouth and let the salt of the air ease the tang that assailed his tongue and tonsils. No more Lockets for the next while. He sipped at the nourishing bitter of his coffee as he started to feel the air’s chill as a lone cloud veiled the sun, and made for the uphill walk towards home for a change of clothes. 

Up to the lofty north of Meniscus, on top of the rougher hills whose crags separated her estate from the pitches, she sat dosing herself with eggs heavily salted. The “Heiress” looked out at the town, the concrete labyrinth below her that could be seen between the gorse of the lower garden, observing the future ruins that she would make fall. She noted the change of wind and thought already of how the water would run up and swallow everything up to the hills.