Northwords Now Issue 37

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Nor Any Drop To Drink

by Olga Wotjas

Go away. I was here first. It took me ages to find the perfect spot. All right, you can stay for a minute, but don't get comfortable. Out here in the open, it's not like I'm planning to offer you a cup of tea or anything.

I get a great view over the wall, all the way to the sea. That's the main road down there. That green bit up at the back, that's the edge of the zoo. I saw three bears the other day. Funny how things come in threes, isn't it? Yesterday I saw three ships come sailing in. Then just this morning, I saw three guys wearing kilts and Prince Charlie jackets, off to a wedding or something. The next thing, this sailor popped up out of nowhere, must have come off one of the ships that came sailing in. Grabbed one of the guys by the arm.

Okay, sit down on that stone and listen. He wouldn't let the guy go, and the guy's mates just walked off without him. You know what I thought? I thought the sailor had come back to find his girlfriend had gone off with the guy and was going to give him a good kicking. I was quite excited. But no such luck. He was only talking. I was too far away to hear what he was saying, so I crawled over to the wall and hid at the foot of it.

 He had one of these really boring, monotonous voices, and I could only make out the occasional word. I say word, but it was mostly nonsense.

 "Uprist," he said.

 "Gossameres."

 "Clomb."

 I don't know, I must have snorted or something, because the next thing the guy he'd grabbed was looking over the wall at me.

 "Listen," he said to the sailor, "I'm sorry, but I've really got to go. What about this lady here, why don't you tell her what happened?"

 And the sailor jumped over the wall and grabbed me and started on about his uprist and his gossameres and his clomb while the other guy legged it. I told him this was my spot and he had to leave, but he wouldn't let go of my arm. He just kept wittering on and on and on.

 It took a while for me to sort things out. No, you just stay where you are. I'm going to tell you exactly what happened.