The Exile

The plaster peeling off the walls in the Alfama looked like a weeping woman’s running mascara. Trams shunted past like the sound of endless rows of slot machines. From yawning windows old women peered outside like gargoyles, their skin as mat and tired as the faded azulejos. Joaquim drank his fourth shot of ginjinha and…

Sette Guigno

  7th June 1919   It was when he saw a man walking through Valletta with his intestines in his hand that Indri learned the meaning of happiness. The man’s blood, dripping like rain off a palm frond, looked even brighter against the white limestone pavement. In the sun, the red and white reminded Indri…

The Happiness Diaries

The flag bearing the fleur-de-lys waved dementedly over the still river. The muted buildings over the Arno were all painted in the uniform colours of sunrise. A kayak rowed past as if sailing through thin air. Where the sun rose over the hills there descended a veiling haze. It was Christopher’s last day in Florence….

Budapest Skies

  The whole city felt like it could fit in the palm of his hands. The darkness of night was interrupted by a honeycomb of lights. He recognised every street, every dome, every reflection in the river’s black mirror. The piercing spires of the parliament looked like burning stalagmites. St. Stephen’s Basilica wore a skirt…

After the Goring

  “Papa, why are we eating tacos on a bus?” “Have we ever done it before?” “No.” “That’s why.” From the windows of the bus the Puerta del Sol pupated into the Gran Via of Madrid. The line of trees came into view and the whiteness of the buildings gave them their architecture. It was…

The Tide At Our Feet

    “I’m not who I used to be.” “What does that even mean?” “I need to find myself.” “You never used to talk bullshit.” The couple were talking in a restaurant on the edge of a rocky bay. It was a dry summer day, the waves neither foaming nor rolling. They were drinking digestifs…

Devourer of Ashes

  She burned in the fires that consumed Greece like a red-fanged tide. She went there to see Athens and her Acropolis. I always used to call her my Cassandra. Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam of Troy, she was cursed with the gift of prophecy. Why is that a curse? Because the gods…

7 Stories, 7 Cities

“What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.”  Charles Baudelaire   Cities are sexy. They are man’s self-appointed eco-system. They overflow with life and no matter how much we complain about uneasy development and crane-clogged skylines, we have…

The Flowering of Cranes

  On the heights above the unending sprawl, a group of friends lay pillowed on the rocks. Five teenagers, aged between heaven and earth, watched the sunset with cloudy eyes. The waning sun shone over the horizon like a gem. The teenagers had wine and plastic cups in their bags. What could be better? A…

Before Emigration

  September 1964, a week before Independence     The summer was bright over the rocks and the sea. A seagull dived into the water. A young boy watched it and thought of German bombers diving over ships and cities during the war. He was young and he wanted to jump into the clear waves….