Skip to main content

An Inish Carraig Christmas

I'm working on Inish Carraig 2 at the moment, and back with the characters and I wondered what a Christmas would be like in that world. And here's what it was.

I'm signing off now for a couple of weeks - for all those who are doing the same, have a lovely holiday. I hope 2018 is great for all, and many, many thanks for all the support through 2017, as ever.




John perched on the window-ledge of the house he, Josey and the kids had been allocated. Carter would have conniptions, but after a year in a house with no windows John found the centrally heated interior stuffy, almost nauseating. He stared over the flat, reclaimed loughshore to a snow-covered Belfast, its two giant cranes visible in the distance. Even the invasion hadn't seen to Samson and Goliath, although it had flattened much of the rest of the city.

“Penny for them?” said a voice behind him.

John jumped, giving a breath-taking moment of unbalance, and looked around to see Sergeant Peters approaching.

“And get off the bloody windowsill before Carter sees you. You're not a bird.”

He'd like to be a bird. Free from the ground and all the devastation. John twisted around and jumped down, landing lightly in the hall.

“I wondered if the wee ones would know anything about what Christmas used to be like,” he said. At 17, he remembered his parents, as would Josey. He remembered their old house on Christmas Eve night, where he'd lain awake, not daring to move as his ma and da thumped up and down the stairs with the presents. He'd known it was his da and not Santa by all the cursing about how much shite his ma had purchased instead of ho-ho-ho-ing.  “It's just, there's no tree, or lights, or presents. Nothing to say it's Christmas day.”

Peters jumped up onto the windowsill, but he kept his legs inside the hall. “Well, at least you have a house. And food. It's better than last year.”

“I know. You're right.” There were plenty of survivors who were still living in ruins. “I'm not ungrateful. I don't care about me. I'm not a kid. Or Josey. But the two wee ones – it would have been nice for them.”

A familiar voice called him: Carter, to talk about the trial, no doubt. The endless practice for whatever questions might come up bored John but he set off down the hall to the living room. Josey joined him, the two kids tailing her. They rarely let both her and John out of their sight, obviously worried that another shit storm would hit and they'd be left alone again. John opened the door to the living room, holding it to let his family past.

“Wow!” Stuart's voice was high and astonished.

“John, look!” Sophie grabbed his hand, pulling him into a room. “It's Christmas.”

It wasn't really. There was a tree – more of a branch, really – but no lights. In a city where electricity was hoarded and precious that would be an extravagance too far. There were no crackers but there was a table of food that even included a tray of cupcakes decorated in chocolate.

“Presents!” Josey lifted an awkwardly wrapped gift and opened it. A beanie hat fell out, red and chunky and probably hand made. She handed John an equally untidy present. “It's for you.”

“Me?” John opened his parcel and a rugby shirt fell out, obviously pre-invasion

“For when you start playing again,” said a voice, and he turned to see Carter. The cop smiled. “When things get back to normal. In the meantime – happy Christmas, John. It was the best we could do.”

The kids fell on the food, Stuart dragging a new sled behind him. Josey tried on the hat. It brought some colour into her cheeks, as if bringing a hope that had been hidden, wrapped up like Josey's beanie hat, and kept safe for the future. 

Copyright J Zebedee, 2017