Down in Dunny Cove

by Miriam Moreno Perez

We were at the very beginning of year 2001 and the feeling of the coming of the new era was still quite vivid in people’s mind - even though we were already in it, and everything remained the same. The biggest New Year’s party had taken place in Sidney , and Tina, my half German half Greek partner at the time, and I, had gladly missed it while hiding away in Dunny Cove.

I was back home, in Ireland, after years of voluntary exile in Berlin, where I never got to really improve my German; but where I spent some of the best years of my long and perpetual adolescence, as it somehow strangely felt despite having abandoned my teens’ days so many years before.

Times were different now, and for some reason I began to think it was the time to stop wandering about and start getting down to something more financially productive and stable in the long run. My mind was not entirely content and convinced about facing the new changes in my life though, and it had been two years since I had a place to start my studies in engineering at one of the best universities in the country, but however uneasiness kept holding me back.

I guess for almost anyone else my next step would have been nothing but an easy decision, an unquestionable move, but not for me. Apparently and unquestionably, it definitely wasn’t going to be that easy for me. I was certain about how much I wanted to continue my academic quest, but not so much about turning my life upside down by adopting a conventional life style, which I had almost forgotten during the years that I had spent abroad, not just in Berlin , but travelling the world as I wished.

That was easy. All I had to do was to find a construction job in the city for a couple of months; then, with the money I made, buy a ticket to India , Africa or South America for about a year. That was a deal that never worried me. Also the only deal I was willing to accept during the last years of my life; which, at the same time, left me with the fear that I was letting the trout slip out of my hands. I had to make a decision; make up my mind; think how Tina and I could put our lives together in the new world that, I felt, I was about to create.

Tina wasn’t very different to me; the only difference was that she had already started college in Berlin before we met, and quitted by the time we met and got enough cash to go to India . Yet, she could still go back and finish her studies, and I was certain about that being in her future plans, what really tortured my fragile and indecisive state of mind was the question: “Will she leave me and go back home to continue with her life?” I feared to ask myself. “Will she swap all we have done together for a degree and, no doubts, some excellent academic references?”

These were basically the doubts and fears that corroded my mind without mercy along those early days of spring. I had made clear to college that this year, finally, I was determined to start the course; but that exactly had been the case the two previous years, and I had not.

So, here we were, down In Dunny Cove, West Cork , in my parent’s country house, where I grew up during the only time I was really free; with my girlfriend still by my side, safe, although as if dancing on the tight wire while observing how the days were again approaching their end - How hopelessly they had to.

One early and bright evening, Tina was fiddling away in the living room next to the apparently useless chimney. It is amazing how Ireland awakes in foreigners the gusto for Irish instruments and music. There she was, as usual, applying all of her musical knowledge to the strings of the second-hand, old Irish fiddle, which didn’t sound too strident at all. She was skilful with her well-educated fingers, which had been trained to play the violin and classic European pieces rather than the usual Irish folk music; nevertheless she belonged to it; she either had the cadence, her ears simply loved it, or both.

I still remember her long reddish, straight but bushy and reactionary hair on her shoulders. I can still see her making that swift movement that as a tic she made with her left shoulder to get rid of her hair while she was immersed in her own musicality. She appeared quite Germanic, but the truth, as I have already mentioned, is that she and her both parents happened to be Greek. I guess this falls in the sack of the old story of wrong stereotypes. She had lived in Hamburg since an early age and moved to Berlin at a later. Her figure and shape couldn’t be more westerner - or maybe Greco Latin? Long and narrow as a vertical line; average size; rather pale skin with a slightly pinky touch in it, and a Southern one too, you could tell she grew up doing frequent visits to her family in Athens . Her pastel, pale eyes were pretty big and the opposite of mine from the front, but they strangely gave the opposite impression when seen from the side.

I still remember those eyes so well… I think no other eyes have ever touched or captured me as those did; though that is another story. That evening, as I very often did, I tried to join Tina’s fiddle with my acoustic guitar. We used to sound quite good together, and had a good time too; however that day I was not in the mood to spend the whole evening banging my guitar’s strings, so I decided to go out.

“Are you going fishing?” Tina asked stopping the music for a moment after observing through the large windows that the tide was in.

‘No, I’m just going for a smoke outside,’ I said as I was quickly getting out of the way through the door.

‘Sound,’ she said - a word that she had really got fond of; then, she carried on with her practice starting the same tune again.

Outside the sea had covered the cove and looked quite calm. It was a good moment to catch some Mackerel, or maybe Pollack, although I was having a lazy day and I was only up to getting back in and grab a beer after having my cigarette. The rabbits had run away as soon as I had steeped out, but this time there was one still about the adventurer, the bold or lost one; you could see dozens of them through the window, get out and not even see a single one of them vanishing.

The house was right next to a small cove, it was so close to the water that Tina found maddening the hypnotic sound of the waves at night before sleep. There were no trees around and therefore not many birds to be seen or heard. Some crops lay at the back of the house, and rough grass covered all hilly plains over the cliffs either side of the house, engulfed in a wild and picturesque huge bay, where there were no houses, no lights at night and not people – It was really just one of the very few idyllic places left on hearth.

Outside I sat on the bench that my father had made when he and my mother bought the house. There was a rainbow on the wall of the house right behind the bench, beneath the living room’s window, which I had painted myself being just a kid. The beauty of the bay from there was immeasurable.

My cigarette was brief; and as if expecting something else from the day, I decided to get out of the property’s garden and walk down the cove and up the hill towards the only tower that remained from an ancient castle, perfectly visible from the house. The original position or base of the castle was as unthinkable as improbable. The tower was still standing there on the supposed walls of the small fortification; but the only space left for the rest of it was the just fall of the cliff. In other words, it looked as if most of the castle had simply and unquestionably fallen into the sea. Some of its remaining walls were just another feature of the cliff site covered in rough grass and Sea Campions.

This wild flower is the only one that grows up there among the very few old stones. The white part of the flower that holds the petals has what looks like veins going through it. This is something that gives it a sort of human look. I used to think that the people who possibly died there had turned into the seeds which would give this fleshy wild flower; this being the only reason why this species was the only one to grow in this so peculiar place.

Every time I sat there I was overcome by a kind of yearning, as if whatever that had laid there in the past was calling us from beyond and we couldn’t hear it. Maybe that was the reason why the flowers had to be half human; maybe, in my mind, they were being part of that call; maybe that was the reason why they were coming out of the rock and stretching towards me; maybe that was the only reason for their beauty and attraction; maybe, the solitude they denounced was the reason why for as long as I stayed there, I would accompany them, as they would accompany me.

This thought always stayed with me when I sat on top of the tower’s rendered stones. I was certainly a very superstitious person, the type with the imagination to read the crows’ movements in a whimsical way, as if they were nothing less than omens.

On my way back I began to descent the hill covered by the overgrown wild grass, which felt very fresh and almost velvety on my bare feet. As my eyes could already reach the small landing down the hill, I, at once, saw a couple of strange floating craft disembarking by the shore.

As I approached the bottom of the hill, the image began to elucidate. The two craft that managed to someway float in the water gave me the impression of being the huge and well-polished skull and skeleton of a mature mammoth. I got to the bottom of the hill, and, since my parents’ house was literally above the small pier, I couldn’t understand how Tina had not noticed anybody hanging around at some point and how these people had not caught her attention.

My eyes kept disappointing my expectations, and the more I looked for my parents’ house the more frustrated I got for I couldn’t find it where it was meant to be. Despite the confusion I was seduced by an impending curiosity which dragged me towards the craft in the water forgetting Tina and my parents’ house for a moment.

I was about to go down the small path that led to the stone platform, or old pier, when I discerned people surrounding the odd ships, which they seemed to be loading and preparing to sail somewhere – Assuming, of course, that such craft could ever be sailed, which I seriously doubted. From a bit up the small hill and not far from the seashore, my mind finally drifted for an instance while my head was thinking: “Those boats, as these people seem to see those two huge floatable sculls, maybe float but there’s no way they could ever be sailed, let alone successfully cross the ocean,” I looked towards the southwest while I said this to myself, “because that’s the direction they are going, right towards the American continent.”

True, that if they were lucky to survive, the tide would eventually lead them to the very south of the American continent, to Mapuches’ Land of Fire . But that idea was simple preposterous, I thought to myself, and I suddenly paniced realising that they were going to die.

Then, before rushing and going to speak to them, I quickly observed the sort of people that I was about to deal with.

They were dressing as if commemorating the Stone Age, the Viking perhaps, or who knows what. They were dressing up in the skins of some similar mammoth to the one they were using as a boat. Women’s hair was braided and dark. There were only two or three adults, the rest were all children. I could only see a mature man, the rest were very young in comparison. They were probably a family celebrating some sort of strange private carnival.

Something about them however told me that they were seriously planning to cross the ocean on those fancy boats; that they were so alien to the world I knew that they thought they could survive and find a better life on another, not far, seashore. Their shoes were made of the same skin which covered their well formed sturdy bodies and everything the shoes and clothes clung to their bodies with ropes. I began to feel a very severe anxiety which began sweeping through my body, and I could not hold my fear back any longer. I knew I had to warn them somehow.

I rushed into my intention coming to understand that I could not carry out such task, that there was an almost imperceptible wall between us that did not allow us to interact with each other. I started to shout with all my strength; some of the kids have already got onboard, and their father would soon release the shaggy ropes which retained the eccentric boats. Then, after a few minutes, they would be gone for good.

I shouted and twisted my body between spasms in my agitated mind, but they did not even look my way. Then, the tall and stout man, who had managed to cut his dark hair with probably a sharp stone - I suppose, because of the way it looked like – walked a bit backwards up the hill approaching where I was – where I was standing sweating and staring at him totally out of control. He got so close to me that the most unbelievable thing after all was not what my eyes beheld, but the fact that he really could not see me or hear me.

Slowly the man started to turn around himself as if he had heard something in the distance; or maybe as if he could feel true eagerness and wanted to have the last look at the land that he had probably inhabited for a long time, and that now he was just about to leave. He turned around showing me his face, a countenance I will never be able to forget. What I saw was not entirely human. My whole body stopped and shivered from fear. The kind of man’s forehead was exaggeratedly protuberant, making his eyes look as frightening, deep and dark cavities in his face, where he had like two big lumps either side of it. The face had, although less than the body, a significant amount of hair as well. He looked so inhuman in a way, that all I felt down my very guts was the deepest fear I had ever sensed.

“Honey?” I heard Tina shout. “Is that you?” Tina’s voice broke my sudden silence. “I thought I’d heard you screaming. Are you alright?” She continued shouting trusting her sixth sense and knowing that I was close enough to hear her.

I looked back in the direction of the same house I could not find only a moment ago. I, then, saw that it was almost dark. I quickly turned around again to look at the man one more time, determined to not give up, but the man was gone. The darkness had swallowed the extraordinary mammoth craft and the entire “troglodyte family”.

“Say something, will you?” Tina shouted. “You’re scaring the hell out of me! What are you up to, may I know? Ho – nn- ney…?” she stuttered with trembling voice from the entrance of the house, as if she would have been the victim of such an atrocious experience and had just seen an entire family drowning in the sea.

I am an imaginative person; I have always been a kid with more than just imagination - I guess, special. And all I have ever lived, as much as all I have ever imagined has always been full of mystery - An unsolvable or unlockable mystery which would hold its own key for good. I suppose that is life, an unsolvable mystery.

Was Tina going to go away or was she going to stay with me? Who on earth knew the answer to that mystery which almost drove me crazy? Whichever was the right answer, I had to let it go – I had to let it go and then let it happen. I had no choice, so what was the point in me not being able to decide if I was going to eventually breath the very air that went through my very nostrils whatever happened, when it wasn’t even up to me or even her?

I still remember her huge but almond eyes. I will never forget them; I found them immense, unlike mine, nevertheless kind of similar.

© 2010 by Miriam Moreno Perez


About the Author

Miriam Moreno Perez is an author, as well as a journalism, photography and modern languages teacher. She also writes for Suite101 online and for theWest Briton, the newspaper of South West Cornwall, England. She has produced & presented a radio programme also in Cornwall , The Literary Show, exclusively dedicated to the fiction short story. She has written several collections of contemporary, experimental and historical fiction short stories and a non-fiction collection of essays, "El Mundo del Subconsciente". Miriam's literary work has recently been published by Danse Macabre, Breadcrumb Sins, The Scrambler, Shalla Magazine, Cránnog Magazine, Ygdrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts, Is Greater Than and soon by Static Movement, Caveat Lector and Sage of Consciousness.



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