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Authors: Kevin Barry

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viii

The summer deepened, and our days became toned with sadness, and other, unnameable things. I sat up in bed one morning, smoking. I tapped the ash into an empty pils bottle. Silvija squatted on her heels on the couch, in her underwear, battering the laptop – she had a wide circle of acquaintance, 80 per cent of which she was feuding with at any given time. The light poured in from the climbing sun, and caught her bare, brown muscles. The windfall from the Americans and the passports was long since consumed and we were again in the depths of poverty, but we looked pretty good poor. The Wedding scene was slow, due to the season and the usual inclemence of luck that afflicted the fashion people: the arrests, the random plagues, the near-death experiences. This particular morning, there was something like shyness between us. Briefly, in the night, Silvija’s strict no-penetration dictat had been lifted. I knew even at the moment it was a mistake, despite the luxuriousness of the sensation. I could feel the scaredness in her. I knew that it would never happen again. And I knew in my heart that I just wasn’t working out as a lesbian. I was too clumsy and knuckly.

Not that she didn’t walk with me the hot summer streets of noon, and not that she didn’t teach me, and not that she
didn’t
give me something, just a tiny sustaining something, of her great aura.

I believe it was that same day, in the beer garden on Kastanienallee, that she turned the camera on me, there beneath the chestnut trees in full leaf, and I was shy of the lens and awkward but she told me what to do.

‘You don’t look at it,’ she said. ‘You look through it.’

I have the photograph still and it is sacred to me. On the wooden bench between us, in the amber of a stein glass, she is reflected, with her camera raised. She is there, blurrily, and it’s just a shade, but it is all that I have left of her.

ix

The end came sharply. I woke one morning to find Silvija packing her stuff. That holdall of hers had seen plenty. I tried to sound casual but there was boy-fear in my tone.

‘So this is it?’ I croaked.

‘You knew it was coming,’ she said.

The studio had had its time, she said. She was going to stay with a girlfriend in Kreuzberg. It was time that I stood on my own two feet.

‘You need to go find your own life, Patrick,’ she said.

‘Yeah and you need to go to a fucking doctor!’

I was so angry to be cast aside and I was lost in the city without her. I became depressed. I stayed with some other people for a while, in Mitte – artists, of course – but they all by contrast with Silvija seemed to be acting parts, and I have forgotten all their names. I knew that the sweet days of the summer had passed and it was time to fly away. Reluctantly, she came to the station on the morning I was
to
leave for the airport. She hugged me on the platform but so awkwardly; she fled instantly from the hug. She said she would email and that I could phone but six years have passed and never once did she reply to an email, never once did she answer her phone, and after a few months, the line was dead.

Which signifies nothing, necessarily, because Silvija changed phones all the time. And anyway I must believe that she is out there, somewhere among the dreaming cities of Europe, maybe in Trieste, or in Zagreb, or in Belgrade again. I must believe that she is out there, still beautiful, foul-mouthed and inviolate.

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Version 1.0

Epub ISBN 9781407086149

www.randomhouse.co.uk

Published by Jonathan Cape 2012

2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1

Copyright © Kevin Barry 2012

Kevin Barry has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

Portions of this work have appeared in the following:
‘Fjord of Killary’ appeared in the
New Yorker
; ‘Beer Trip to Llandudno’ appeared in
New Irish Short Stories
(Faber & Faber); ‘Ernestine and Kit’ appeared in
Columbia
; ‘Doctor Sot’ appeared in
Best European Fiction 2011
(Dalkey Archive Press); ‘The Girls and the Dogs’ appeared in
Sharp Sticks, Driven Nails
(Stinging Fly Press); ‘White Hitachi’ appeared in the
John McGahen Yearbook
, vol. 2 (National University of Ireland, Galway)

First published in Great Britain in 2012 by
Jonathan Cape
Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,
London SW1V 2SA

www.vintage-books.co.uk

Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at:
www.randomhouse.co.uk/offices.htm

The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 9780224090582

BOOK: Dark Lies the Island
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