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WHEN he's finished, and the house straightens, he looks at me, his face going cold again.

"God, Iola. You really don't get it do you?" There's a silence and then, "I need to fix things here. Can't be thinking about going anywhere else can I?" I think about this. Then I nod. He is fixing it slowly, fixing his house, fixing his mother, fixing his mother tongue.

I think of the story of the 'The Little Mermaid', which Pigeon still keeps in his house, and which I can't bring myself to take back. I remember Efa reading the story, so much more ugly and painful than the Disney version, but so much more real. How the mermaid lost her tongue when she turned against her home in the water, but how, in the end, what she needed was to go back home, beneath the water, find her voice again. Pigeon, he's the same. He just needs to get this house in order, piece by piece, find his way to a home to call his own, and the words and words of him will come slowly to the tip of his tongue.

I buy myself a train ticket. It's easy. You just go to the counter, and ask. I wait, on the narrow platform, for the train. There are people saying goodbye to each other. And people with big suitcases, going somewhere far. I have nothing with me except for some money, and no one to say goodbye to this time.

Eventually, the train pokes through the tunnel like an eel, and rolls dead slow into the station.

I'm going to see Dad. I decided it last night. I want to know him. I want to know what he means in his own story, instead of just in ours. I'm going to see the man who packeted the chicken, and wove the statues in the garden out of wire, and left us.

I sit on the train, watching the green, irregular fields passing, and then the towns as they get bigger and bigger on the way out of Wales.

No one sits next to me the whole way. At Chester, you have to change. I get off my train and stare at all the screens. There are the names of so many towns going down them, arrival times, departures. Liverpool? Liverpool? > Pigeon is the winner of the Wales Book of the Year and the Rhys Davies Fiction Prize. Published by Parthian CONTINUES TOMORROW


Pigeon by Alys Conran

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 27, 2018
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