Take a look at this extract from Moïra Fowley’s startling and irresistibly witty collection of short stories that explores our darkest impulses and deepest fears.
Having penned three critically acclaimed YA novels, half-Irish, half-French author Moïra Fowley has turned her hand to prose with this stunning collection of short stories.
Eyes Guts Throat Bones explores darkness deftly, and poses a multitude of questions.
What will the end of the world look like?
Will it be an old man slowly turned to gold, flowers raining from the sky, or a hole cut through the wire fencing that keeps the monsters out?
Is it someone you love wearing your face, or a good old fashioned inter-dimensional summoning?
Does it sound like a howl outside the window, or does it look like coming home?
Read an extract from the story entitled Playing House from Eyes Guts Throat Bones by Moïra Fowley below…
Before the kitchen was put in, we bought a car. The two of us in the used dealership, avoiding the pointed questions of the salesman in his stained striped shirt, his leering eyes. The car we bought was old, with dodgy electrics, but it was ours. It backed out of the driveway and we sped it far out of town, the windows stuck rolled all the way down and the sun halfway to set. Her hand on mine on the gear stick. Her hand on my thigh. Her hand pressing up under my skirt between my skin and the thin fabric of my underwear on the long, straight road. Her lip bit bloody, my mouth some open door, eyebrows drawn down like I was in pain. How hard it was to concentrate on the road with her hands right there, her mouth like that. Lips pressed against my neck, sucking.
I need a map. There is no one in the passenger seat to guide me. There is no passenger seat. No scruffy car with windows that won’t roll up once they are down. Perhaps there is a map inside the house, but the house is so deep in my gut I cannot reach it.
The kitchen was gutted to make way for new plumbing. The attic was scooped out for insulation. The bathroom became a cave of cables and pipes. We’d barely been in the house and already it was a shell of the home it presumably once had been.
Out with the old, she said gleefully as mallets hit through plaster walls. Dust crumbled on the scarf over her hair. In with the new.
We christened the shower, which still smelled of fresh rubber and cement, together, arms crossed at the crook of the elbow, her fingers making the same shape as mine in her.
One morning I wake again, my face in dry dirt again, and I am not alone on the red road. Before me is a fox. Sleek and scrawny, brush of fur the colour of wet rust.
Did I dream you up, I ask. My voice is dustier than the scrabble of trees, creaks in the breeze.
Don’t think so, the fox replies.
It sits in companionable silence as I stretch my limbs. Inside me, the house groans at each long movement. The sky is too covered in cloud for my shadow to show and for this I am relieved, and slightly sad. I had grown accustomed, as I walked, to the company of the house’s shadow.
Now, though, there is this fox.
Do you, I ask, also have a house inside you?
Eh? says the fox.
A house. I try to mime the shape of a redbrick terrace, two-up, two-down.
Oh. The fox flicks its tail. You mean a den.
A den, I repeat.
Yes, I say. Yes. A home.
Oh sure, the fox tells me. Yeah. Big hollow of earth deep in the guts of me. Sometimes I can feel it breathe.
Is it not uncomfortable?
We begin to walk together, shadowless, both. I try to imagine the house as empty space, a hole in the ground, but in truth, the house inside of me is as empty as the space around a fox’s den.
A bit, the fox admits. Got some earthworms wriggling around up in there. Gets fierce tickly.
I let maybe half a mile go by before I ask, What about your family?
Your family. I try to mime the shape of a couple with a baby on the way, the box room already kitted out in cribs and changing tables, twelve tiny onesies folded neatly in a drawer.
Oh, says the fox after a few minutes. You mean your skulk.
Your kin, says the fox.
Yes, I say. Yes. Your kin. Your skulk. Are they in the den inside of you?
The fox is silent a long time. Ahead of us under cloud, a new junction approaches. We are almost upon it when my companion speaks again.
No, says the fox. It stands on the crossroads. I kept the den, says the fox, but there is no one left there.
We fucked on the hard floor, on the flimsy kitchen table when the dust cleared, against the shining tiles of the shower, on the bare mattress and then on the soft bed with boxes covering the rug we’d laid down before the furniture.
In each room, the trace of our breath. In every corner, a weaving of the web of us. This, I thought, not bricks or plaster, rubber or cement, this is how we build a home.
I wake up alone, the taste of silt and salt on cracked lips. The sun is high in the red, dusty sky. There has been no rain.
The red road stretches in front and behind me. To either side, the cross of the junction. The trees are thin.
The fox is gone.
Inside me, the house grumbles. I can hear air in the pipes that sounds like the banging in the night we got used to, finally, each winter, the central heating firing up like some belligerent ghost.
My back cracks when I stand. Somewhere far inside me something crashes. There are broken things here that no one can see and only I can feel. Some of them are too deep for me to ever piece back together.
‘Eyes Guts Throat Bones’ by Moïra Fowley (W&N, approx €19), is out now.