Iain MacDonald

Winner 2017,  Winner, Isobel Lodge Award


Excerpt from 'The Gannet'

“If I went there a second time; it’d be as hopeless as the first.”

This was the thought in Torvald’s mind as he finished tying up his boat. The crab pots lay empty with mouths aghast showing hungry, netted bellies. A breath of exasperation came from the old fisherman’s lips - the cracked skin on his chin like a road map of some forgotten kingdom. Finishing the knot, he stood up straight and stretched out of the weight of the day. The sky was growing darker - night came and enveloped the day with an unstoppable lust. He took one last look at the sea - his provider - then turned his back and started walking up the hill. The sea sounded behind him, crashing against the shore like laughter.

The path was was straight and led directly to where Torvald wanted to go; The Shochad. He stuffed his hands into his wax coat pockets and lifted out his pipe. Once lit, the puffs of smoke became a fog around his head - a passerby would swear they had seen a ghost. As the small light appeared in the distance, he thought of the men inside and the smells and the sounds. George the crofter would be sat at the table to the right of the door reading a small book and occasionally you’d hear him scribbling down a note, as if his life and wife depended on it. What he wrote no one knew and he wasn’t one for sharing. Seamag would be sat at the end of the bar, his head raised with a pained smile.

“My woman will be wantin’ me home! This is my last one. Just one more for the ditch,” he’d say. His wife - a fiery redhead called Halla - was a hell of a woman. Stoney and ancient as if carved from ivory. Beautiful too, but that didn’t matter much to Torvald...