The Counting-Up


1. I was clearing out the wardrobe while my sister lounged on the bed drinking the last of my fresh grapefruit juice. She said being her only brother is not enough. She doesn’t clean her own house and she’s damn well not cleaning mine. Clothes, shoes, boxes all came tumbling out. Shoved right to the back was Mark’s old album.

‘Vijay, she picture in there?’

I flopped down next to her and flipped through the pages until we found what I knew was there. The first time I saw Sophie’s photo – smiling, in front an open window – Mark said that’s a college friend.

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Everybody Live Uptown Now


Papa is on the lanai, drinkin’ in front of Caleb again. The man wouldn’t even touch a Red Stripe when we were growin’ up, so I don’t know why he would take up this habit in his old age. Then again, ever since that night – years ago – everybody change, including me. Caleb is only six, but I swear that little boy is going to be a journalist one day. He’s outside interviewing his Grandpa.

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He goes back home to lose his virginity: to the kind of sea town that is always disappointing on arrival, whether you come by train into the city centre, or by shuddering boat, dropping anchor under the gaze of sky-wheeling, grumpy seagulls. Whichever way, it’s always shades of brown and stained white walls, always a series of shops too graffitied, kicked and vomited-on to be special, and the smell of good fish in the air.

He was reminded, as everyone is, returning to a place like this, how unutterably small it was. It would be smaller each time he came back. Perhaps he wouldn’t return after this, so he could permanently avoid the feeling of being bigger than every building around him and every person here; avoid the suspicion that he smelled so much better, now.

But there was the matter of this virginity.

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Curry Duck



The ceremony at the Shore of Peace was beautiful. Lucy hoped Grace was free now. When the fire had stopped flaring and there was not much that could be distinguished between pyre and the shape under the white shroud, the family left.

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Leaving Island, If At All


The check-in lady at the counter has a way of not looking at anything other than her computer.   Her eyebrows are all pencil. She ignores the loud man next in line who is entertaining everyone about LIAT strikes holding the country to ransom. ‘But is de tax is de killer!’ he declares, spinning back around to his audience. ‘I don’ know why de governmens just don’ wipe off de tax – swoops—’, swiping his hand, ‘half de ticket price gone. In fact, mo’ dan half.’ He checks to see if it’s his turn yet and grimaces at the check-in lady’s downturned face. ‘But de worse t’ing is dat LIAT don’ even pressure govermens to do dat!’

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Any Card Can Play


She watched him put his boxes into his car. Walk back to the door, put the keys in her hand, get in the car, reverse, drive away. No goodbye. But no threats either. She no longer lived with anyone. Thank you, Jesus.

She locked the door and went to root up the avocado tree they had planted in the yard two or three years ago. The ground was dry and she couldn’t move it at all, she succeeded only in breaking the green trunk, but this was enough. It would die. She let the warm water in the yard pipe trickle over her smeared-with-green hands and dried her hands on a chamois cloth she kept in the car. Next door a child riding his tricycle stopped to wave goodbye. Alan. Or Adrian. She waved and drove away, through the dry-bush, baking hot roads of Portmore, across the causeway over the harbour into Kingston.

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