Instant Quantum

Seasickness/Cur na Mara – a story by Mairi Macleod (crossover)

Listen to 1000 Better Stories on your favourite podcast app or here.

In this crossover episode, Katie Revell, a podcast producer and a member of SCCAN’s Story Circle and the Storytellers Collective, shares a bonus episode from her Testing Ground podcast series.

It features an interview with Mairi Macleod, a Glasgow-based writer who works in both Gaelic and English, and her short story, “Seasickness”, or “Cur na mara”. Mairi’s story updates the traditional Scottish folktale, The Selkie Wife, for an age of climate crisis. 

Testing Grounds series focuses on the collaborative response to the climate crisis by the Nordic Alliance of Artists Residencies on Climate Action (NAARCA). Mairi’s work was commissioned by NAARCA.

Credits

Testing Grounds is produced and edited by Katie Revell and includes original music by Loris S. Sarid and artwork by Jagoda Sadowska. The short story was commissioned by NAARCA from Gaelic writer Mairi Macleod.

Transcript

Narration: My name’s Katie Revell. I’m a podcast producer and I’m also a member of SCCAN’s Story Circle and the Storytellers Collective.

This past year, I’ve been working on a podcast series together with the Nordic Alliance of Artists Residencies on Climate Action, or NAARCA for short. It’s a network of seven art institutions across the Nordic region and Scotland, and they’re all working together on their response to the climate crisis.

The series is called Testing Grounds  and it features conversations between artists, activists and researchers on a whole range of topics. Things like amplifying young people’s voices on the climate crisis, reducing waste in art installations, decolonizing the art world, rethinking urban design, and the role of Inuit values in democratizing decision making around climate action.

You can listen to the series by searching for Testing Grounds in whichever podcast app you use.  I also produced a bonus episode of Testing Grounds and we’re going to hear that shortly. It features Mairi MacLeod, a Glasgow based writer who works in both Gaelic and English.  Mairi’s going to be sharing the English and Gaelic versions of her short story, Seasickness, or Cur na mara.

It’s a piece that NAARCA commissioned her to create.  In Seasickness, Mairi draws on a traditional Scottish folktale, The Selkie Wife, and she updates it for an age of climate crisis.  You can find out more about NAARCA at NAARCA.art. I hope you enjoy the episode.

Mairi: My name is Mairi Macleod, and I am a writer from Glasgow, writing in both Gaelic and English.

Narration: Mairi was commissioned by NAARCA to create a short piece of fiction in Scottish Gaelic, with an English translation. Along with Scots, Gaelic is one of Scotland’s two indigenous languages. It used to be the most widely-spoken language in Scotland, but now only a small part of the population speaks it.

But there’s a growing interest in how Gaelic language and culture can help us build healthier relationships with the land, with ecosystems, and with each other. Mairi took inspiration for her writing commission from a well-known Scottish folk tale, the Selkie Wife…

Mairi: Which is a story that comes in many different forms, lots of different iterations across Scotland and across generations.

Narration: Selkies are mythical beings that can shapeshift. When they’re in the sea, they live as seals, but they can also come onto the land. By removing their seal skins, they can take on human form.

Mairi: I’ve always been really inspired by these folkloric aspects of storytelling, especially in Scotland. So I wanted to write a story that reimagined the tale of the selkie in a kind of context of changing seas, changing coastal environments for the, the current climate.

Katie: Are these stories that you grew up with?

Mairi: Definitely stories that I grew up with, but the selkie one in particular. When we were growing up, my sister and I had a book called Stories by Fireside, and it was a collection of different stories written by Shirley Hughes, famous children’s author, and it had these beautiful illustrations of it, and the selkie story just always really stood out to me ’cause it just made me really sad, but it was also quite scary.

The illustrations were quite dark, so I always kind of saw it as a dark, sad story. And yeah, that’s kind of where I first heard about the selkies. But then as you get older, you kind of realise that these stories are kind of everywhere in Scotland. But that’s where I first kind of got into them.

I wrote the story when I was at the Saari Residence in Finland, and I was there for two months, which was an absolutely magical, inspiring time, and I wrote that kind of being inspired by the natural environment around me. Even though we were in kind of the forest surrounded by trees, I was just thinking about these kind of stories that you tell around the fire.

Not that many of us do that nowadays, but that would have been told around a fire. And the time at Saari was just absolutely incredible. It’s a kind of place where you kind of lose all concept of time and space, and you’re just in a complete bubble away from the quote-unquote “real world”.

And you’re surrounded by interesting people, you’re surrounded by beautiful landscape, and we had snow for a good chunk of the time that we were there, probably about a month of snow. And I’ve never seen snow like it. Whenever anyone asks me, “How was your time?”, I just say “magical”, because it truly was.

Katie: And how did that actually come about that you went to Saari?

Mairi: So last year I took part in a residency at Cove Park, one of the other partners of NAARCA, and that was a young Gaelic writer’s residency. So I was at Cove Park in Argyll for two weeks, so very different from two months. So that was a kind of snapshot of what a residency is like, and post-Cove Park, I was given the opportunity to take part in the NAARCA exchange programme for creatives who kind of produce work that comments on climate-related issues. So that’s how I ended up at Saari.

At Saari, there were, I think, nine of us in total – nine artists, creatives. We built up a really strong community and we all kind of helped each other and I was really inspired by all the work that all the other artists were doing, and I think without having that contact with them, I probably wouldn’t have produced the amount or the kind of quality of work that I did produce. So I think that’s a really important aspect of residencies in general. But in particular, Saari’s done a really good job of kind of facilitating that.

Katie: And can you tell us about how you actually got to Saari?

Mairi: Yes. So rather than flying to Finland, which would’ve probably taken about three hours, I travelled via slow travel. I was very lucky to get funding for that from the Kone Foundation, which fund Saari. So how I travelled was via Glasgow to Edinburgh, down to London, Eurostar to Brussels, train to Hamburg, train to Copenhagen, train to Stockholm.

And then the final leg of the journey was the overnight ferry from Stockholm to Turku in Finland. So it took me about five days, I think, in total, and that was doing it as fast as I could do it. Even though it was slow travel, it still felt like it was all happening very fast. And before I knew it, I was at Saari in a little cabin.

So yeah, that was pretty cool. You just get little tasters of culture along the way, whereas when you travel by air, you get on a plane at point A, you come off at point B, and you’ve got no kind of concept of all the places that you’ve passed over in that time to get from point A to point B. So I think it’s just being able to get tasters of a city and of a place.

It makes sense, the kind of changes in culture along the way. Yeah, I would recommend for anyone to try and travel like that if it’s possible. I know it can be difficult in terms of money and also time, but it is a really kind of special way of travelling.

Katie: Why is it important to you that you work in both Gaelic and English?

Mairi: Writing in Gaelic I think is important for me in two ways. First, personally. Because it’s the language that my family have spoken, people that have come before me – like my Granddad, my Seanair in Gaelic – he wrote in Gaelic as well. And for me it’s kind of like keeping on that family legacy.

But then also there’s the, the kind of wider cultural legacy. And I think particularly when you’re writing about environmental issues, it’s important to understand that cultural sustainability is just as important as environmental sustainability, and that’s kind of a hot topic in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

And if I can contribute, even though I’m a Glasgow Gael, if I can still contribute to sustaining our language, then that’s really important to me, and I hope that I can continue to do that and really play a part in keeping the language, but also the culture alive.

Katie: And you mentioned a moment ago that NAARCA, were specifically commissioning artists, writers who are engaging with environmental issues, the climate crisis, whatever term we want to use. Why is that something you’re interested in? Why do you engage with that in your work?

Mairi: It’s kind of always been present for me, that kind of sense of justice for the planet, justice for animals and non-humans, but also justice for people in general. And I think growing up I’ve always had that and it kind of started from like a love of animals and really caring about endangered animals. And then as kind of as a teenager you kind of learn more about climate and global warming and stuff like that.

And it just kind of developed as an interest over the years. I went on to study geography, which kind of ties in the social and the natural sciences. So I did that at university and did a master’s in a course called Earth Futures. So it’s always kind of been something that’s interested me.

And I think that in terms of tackling these issues, to really get to people’s hearts, being creative and producing creative work and artistic work that does that is really, really important because technological solutions can always go so far, but if you really want people to change, then you need to pull at their heartstrings a little bit in my view.

Katie: Here’s Mairi reading her story, Seasickness – first in English and then in Gaelic. Even if, like me, you don’t speak Gaelic, I’d really encourage you to listen to both versions.

Mairi: Seasickness. Cur na Mara.

The pair walked hand-in-hand along the sand, their anoraks zipped up tightly. It was spring, and the sun was battling with the clouds and just about winning, but the wind from the sea was fierce and chilly. Ava, recently turned six years old, was restless and bouncy. It was the Easter holidays, which meant she was more excitable than usual as a week with her grandparents stretched out before her. The sea sighed in and out, breathing gently.

“Look, what’s that over there?” Ava shouted, letting go of her granddad’s hand and bounding over to the rock pools. He followed on slowly, the torment of a dodgy hip hindering him. It was becoming more and more difficult to keep up with her on their escapades, and he tried to push the reality of the inevitable to the back of his mind. These days were far too important to him.

“It’s a bird!” Ava shouted back at him, dropping her litter picker to the ground and crouching down. When he finally caught up with her, his heart dropped. It was a gannet, entangled in netting. “Stay back, Ava”, he said, knowing the birds could be aggressive. It was alive, thank God, but its wings and webbed feet were pulled tightly to its body, stopping it from moving, and it was failing its head around in distress.

A resourceful man, he took the pliers he kept in his jacket pocket and began to snip the netting, holding the bird’s bill shut with one hand to avoid injury. With every snip, the bird’s wings began to flap until eventually the netting came completely loose. 

Slowly, the man let go, and the bird took flight, disappearing up into the rock face. Ava grabbed the netting with her litter picker, examining it closely, then stuffed it into the black bag. “Seanair, if we didn’t find that bird, would it have died?” she asked. “It may well have”, he responded, “but luckily, you and your eagle eyes were on the case”.

Four years earlier, a sperm whale had been found on the beach in Seilebost. They said it had a hundred kilograms of litter in its stomach when it died – a big ball of human waste, just sitting inside its body. He’d had to hide the tear that streamed down his face when he saw it on the news for fear his wife would call him an old fool.

That was when he’d started doing the beach cleanups. When Ava was no longer wobbly on her feet, he’d started taking her with him. He didn’t like to get too sentimental, but it was difficult when she came along. Being a parent had been a minefield, learning what to say and what to do. But being a grandparent, it was different. He got to give her the best parts of himself, and in return, she gave him hers. But he couldn’t help but wonder what kind of world she’d live in long after he was committed to the ground.

When their bags were full, they laid a picnic rug on the sand and sat side by side, watching as the waves beyond advanced and retreated gently. They wolfed down the well-earned sandwiches made with the care of a wife and grandmother in the morning. “Will you tell me one of your stories? Please, please, please!” Ava exclaimed, licking the remnants of homemade raspberry jam from her fingers.

“Okay. Okay. Come and sit close to me”. The man gazed out to the sea and thought of all the stories it had to tell.

“Well, there was once a young fisherman who had heard the tales of the seal folk, the selkies, and how they came ashore and shed their skins. A man of logic, he considered himself too wise to believe such fairy stories. That was until he saw her dancing and singing on the beach one summer’s night, her song wistful and alluring. Her hair was as dark as the deepest corners of the ocean, her eyes as black as the night sky. Her seal skin was neatly folded on the rocks.

Enticed by its shine, he swiped it and hurried home with his treasure. Soon after, the young seal woman appeared on his doorstep. “Please sir, I can’t return to the sea without my skin” she pleaded. But he would not give her back her skin. Instead, he asked her to become his wife. Now, she had no desire to marry this strange man, but with the magnetic pull of her skin so strong, she was bewitched.

And so she accepted, knowing she would one day take back what was hers and leave him lonely and feeble. But the years passed, and she did not get her skin back. She scoured the house longingly, but her attempts were futile. The couple had a child, a girl, and she loved her dearly, but she missed her seal family in the sea.

She would sit at the window, gazing out at the ocean, thinking of them every day. The fisherman grew agitated and cruel as his yield of fish depleted and time bounded on. Men came from the South with their innovations and their noise, drowning out the soothing songs of the birds. Then, fish came aplenty, dragged en masse from the sea – and so did the money.

The seal woman’s husband brought her solid gold necklace, as though her obedience and her love could be bought. Two decades passed, and the seal woman’s sorrow grew stronger and stronger. One dark, autumn night, her daughter – herself now a gallus young woman – came to her. “Mother, I think I’ve found something that belongs to you” she said, carrying a large package wrapped tightly in plastic.

Knowing exactly what it was, the woman leapt up in joy. She unwrapped the package and the sweet, seaweedy smell of the skin enveloped her. She ran through the village barefooted, in her night dress, and down towards the sea, ready for its welcoming arms.

When she reached the sand, she turned back to see her daughter had followed her. She gave her a final kiss as tears fell down her daughter’s cheeks, the saltiness a blessing on the woman’s lips. She ripped the gold necklace from her neck and placed it in her daughter’s hands. “Sell it and get away from here”. She said, letting go of her child’s cold fingers. “Mother, please don’t go”. “I have to go, my child. I’m going to be with the sea, where I belong”.

She wrapped her skin around her as she walked slowly into the saltwater, awaiting the familiar metamorphosis. But her shape wouldn’t change. She swam out with the skin heavy and cold on her back, knowing the currents would soon embrace her. But the sea, it had changed. It was not as it had been before. It was warmer, emptier, lifeless.

Her skin wouldn’t mould to her body as it had done before. It blistered and began to wither, losing its elasticity. An angry wave came and lifted her, depositing her at the water’s edge, like scrap. She lost her grip on her decaying seal skin, and the currents whisked it away from her. She shivered as she watched it float like a carcass out the horizon, before disappearing out of view.

“Have mercy on me!” she bellowed to the waves. “Let me return home!” But the sea just roared back at her, ignoring her pleas. Birds cawed as they circled in the night sky, mocking her. She sang for her seal family, but heard nothing in response. They were gone.

And so she was sentenced to a life of misery on land, unable to return home. She made a shelter and a cave by the sea where she lived alone, vowing never to return to the man who had stolen her freedom so many moons ago. She watched on as the beaches were littered with debris, and rottenness took hold of the sea. Some say that on the wind, you can still hear her singing her tormented song, longing to return to the sea she once knew.

Ava turned to her granddad with a look of disapproval, narrowing her eyes. “That’s not how the story goes, Seanair. She gets to go back to the sea and lives happily ever after with the seals and brings her family on the land lots of fish. We learned about it in school”. “Well, sweetie, the thing about stories is they are always changing” the old man said, “just like the world around you. The story’s yours now, and you have the power to change it, and so will your grandchildren after you”.

“Well, I liked the one Ms McCauley told us better” she declared matter-of-factly. “Your one was too sad”. “You’re right” he said, with a laugh, “it probably was”. Ava rose to her feet, then danced across the sand in her wellies. She spun round and round, twirling her litter picker like a baton.

“Come on, the beach isn’t going to clean itself!” she said, offering her granddad her hand to hoist him up. On the horizon, a seal poked its head above the water and watched them intently.

Cur Na Mara. Seasickness.

Choisich an dithis aca còmhla air a’ ghainmhich, an seacaidean teann mum bodhaigean. ’S e an t-earrach a bh’ ann, is bha a’ ghrian a’ buannachadh anns a’ chonnspaid le na sgothan. Ach fhathast, bha gaoth na mara fiadhaich is fuar. Bha Ava, a bha dìreach beagan is sia bliadhna a dh’aois, a’ bocadaich mun cuairt. ’S e saor-làithean na Càisg a bh’ ann, is bha i toilichte gun robh fad seachdain aice còmhla ri a seanair. Bha a’ mhuir ag osnadh gu socair.

“Seall, dè tha siud?!” dh’èigh Ava, a’ leigeil às an t-inneal a bh’ aice airson sgudal a thogail is i a’ ruith a-null gu na creagan. Lean an seann duine i gu slaodach, pian a’ chruachainn ag obair air. Bha e a’ fàs nas duilghe is nas duilghe dha cumail suas rithe is lùths na h-òige aice.

“O mo chreach, ’s e eun a th’ ann!” dh’èigh Ava. ’S e sùlaire a bh’ ann, is bha e rocta ann an lìon air choireigin. “Gluais air ais,” thuirt e, làn fhios aige gum biodh na h-eòin a bha seo fiadhaich. Bha e beò, taing do Dhia, ach bha a sgiathan is a chasan glaiste ri bhodhaig. Bha e follaiseach gun robh e ann an èiginn is a cheann a’ dol bho thaobh gu taobh a’ feuchainn ri faighinn cuidhteas an lìn.

Thug an seann duine greimire às a phòcaid – mar dhuine làmhcharach, bha e an- còmhnaidh deiseil airson suidheachadh sam bith. Thòisich e a’ gearradh an lìn, a’ cumail grèim air gob an eòin gus nach bìdeadh e e. Mu dheireadh thall, thòisich sgiathan an eòin a’ clapadh is thuit an lìon air falbh uile gu lèir. Gu slaodach, leig an duine an t-eun às is dh’èirich e air iteig, a’ dol a-mach à sealladh air aodann na creige.

Rinn Ava grad-ghrèim air an lìon, ga sgrùdadh, is thilg i e dhan phoca mhòr dhubh a bh’ aice. “A Sheanair, mura biodh sinn air an t-eun sin a lorg, am biodh e air bàsachadh?” dh’fhaighnich i. “’S dòcha,” fhreagair a seanair. “Nach e a bhios taingeil gun robh thu ann.”

O chionn ceithir bliadhna, chaidh muc-mhara spùtach a lorg air an tràigh aig Seileabost. Thuirt iad gun robh 100kg sgudail am broinn a stamaig. Ball mòr truilleis, dìreach a’ suidhe na bhodhaig. Dh’fhalaich am bodach an deur a thuit sìos aodann nuair a chunnaic e sin air na naidheachdan. ’S ann aig an àm sin a thòisich e a’ cruinneachadh sgudail bhon tràigh faisg orra.

Nuair a bha Ava nas cinntiche air a casan, thoisich e ga toirt còmhla ris. On a rugadh i, bha e air fàs nas maoth-inntinniche. Nuair a bha a’ chlann aige fhèin òg, bha e air a bhith a’ feuchainn ri na riaghailtean ionnsachadh – dè a bu chòir dha a dhèanamh is dè nach bu chòir. Ach bha a bhith na do sheanair eadar-dhealaichte is abair gun robh làithean geala aige fhèin is Ava còmhla. Ach air cùil inntinn bha ceistean aige mun t-seòrsa saoghail anns am fàsadh ise suas, fada an dèidh dha fhèin a dhol dhan talamh.

Nuair a bha na bagannan aca làn, shuidh iad airson picnic air a’ ghainmhich. Dh’ith iad na ceapairean a bh’ aca, iad air an ullachadh le gaol mnà is seanmhair sa mhadainn. “A sheanair, an innis sibh dhomh fear dhe na sgeulachdan agad? Mas e do thoil e!” dh’èigh Ava, ag imlich silidh sùbhaige bho na corragan aice. “Trobhad ma tha a leididh, is trobhad nas fhaisge orm.”

Rinn Ava sin, a’ gabhail grèim air a seanair is ga socrachadh fhèin na ghàirdeanan. Dhian-amhairc an duine a-mach dhan mhuir, a’ smaoineachadh air na sgeulachdan a bh’ aige ri innse.

“Uaireigin, bha iasgaire òg ann a bha air sgeulachdan a chluinntinn mu mhuinntir nan ròn, na selkies, is mar a thigeadh iad chun a’ chladaich is mar a thilgeadh iad an craicnean dhiubh. Duine nach èisteadh ri stòiridhean sìtheanach, bha e fhèin fada ro ghlic airson na rudan sin a chreidsinn. Sin gus am faca e ise a’ dannsa air an tràigh aon oidhche shamhraidh. Bha i a’ seinn, a h-òran binn agus cumhach. Bha a falt cho dorch ri na h-àitichean as doimhne sa chuan, is a sùilean cho dubh ris an adhar a bha os an cionn. Air creig, bha an craiceann-ròin aice air a phasgadh gu cùramach. Ghabh e greim air, is dh’fhalbh e leis.

Cha bu luaithe a bha e air tilleadh dhachaigh leis a’ chraiceann na nochd am boireannach aig a dhoras. “Chan urrainn dhomh tilleadh dhan mhuir às aonais mo chraicinn,” dh’èigh i.

Ach cha toireadh e air ais dhi e. An àite sin, thug e tairgse-phòsaidh dhi. Nise, cha robh ise idir ag iarraidh an duine seo a phòsadh. Ach bha tarraing na craicinn cho làidir agus nam b’ e siud an dòigh as fhasa air fhaighinn air ais, dhèanadh i e. Thuirt i gum pòsadh i e, ach bha làn fhios aice gun teicheadh i dhachaigh cho luath ’s a b’ urrainn dhi, ga fhàgail aonranach agus lag.

Chaidh na bliadhnaichean seachad, is cha d’ fhuair a’ mhaighdeann-ròin grèim air a’ chraiceann aice. Choimhead i sa h-uile h-àite, ach cha robh e ann. Bha pàiste aig a’ chupal – nighean – agus bha am boireannach làn gràidh dhi. Thòisich i fiù ’s a bhith nas measaile air an duine aice. Ach cha robh an gaol riamh cho làidir ’s a bha e airson an teaghlach aice aig muir. Shuidheadh i aig an uinneig a’ sealltainn air a’ mhuir, a’ smaoineachadh mun deidhinn a h-uile latha.

Dh’fhàs an t-iasgair dìombach oir cha robh e a’ glacadh mòran èisg. Thigeadh e dhachaigh gruaimeach agus b’ e ise a dh’fheumadh dèiligeadh leis a chuid searbhadais. Chuir na h-iasgairean barrachd bhàtaichean a-mach gu muir. Thàinig fir bho dheas le innealan is fuaim, a’ bàthadh òrain ciùin nan eun. A-nis bha pailteas èisg ann, sguabta bho ghrunnd na mara, agus pailteas airgid. Thug an t-iasgair seud-muineil òir dha mhnaoi, is e an làn dùil gum b’urrainn dha a dìlseachd is a maitheanas a cheannachd.

Chaidh fichead bliadhna seachad, is bha bròn a’ mhaighdinn-ròin thar smuain. Ach aon oidhche fhoghair, thàinig an nighean aice thuice – i fhèin a-nis na boireannach òg neo-ghealtach. Na gàirdeanan, bha pacaid mhòr suainte ann am fiolm plastaig.

“A mhàthair, tha mi air rudeigin a lorg is tha mi a’ smaointinn gur ann leatsa a tha e.” Leum am boireannach, làn fhios aice dè bh’ ann. Shraic i am pacaid fosgailte is fhuair i am fàileadh saillte, milis.

Ruith i tron bhaile cas-rùisgte is sìos chun na mara. Bha i deiseil. Mhothaich i gun robh an nighean aice air a leantainn. Thug i pòg dhi is fhad ’s a thuit na deòir sìos a th’ aodann, bha an salainn mar beannachd air lipean a’ mhaighdinn-ròin. Reub i an seuna òir bho a h-amhaich is chuir i ann an làmhan na h-ighne e.

“Reic seo. Is teich às a seo.” “Chan eil mi ag iarraidh gum falbh thu, a Mham.” “Slàn leat, a ghràidh. Tha mi a’ tilleadh dhan mhuir far am buin mi.”

Chuir i an craiceann timcheall oirre is choisich i gu slaodach dhan uisge, a’ feitheamh airson an atharrachaidh. Ach a’ mhuir… bha sin air atharrachadh. Bha e nas blàithe, nas fhalaimhe. Cha ghabhadh an craiceann ris a bhodhaig aice. Thòisich e a’ builgneachadh is a’ seacadh, a’ call a shùbailteachd.

Thog tonn mòr i, ga tilgeil gu tìr. Chall i grèim air a’ chraiceann is ghlac na sruthan e, ga shlaodadh air falbh bhuaipe. Choimhead i air, air fleod mar chlosach, is e air fàire a’ dol a-mach à sealladh. “Dèan tròcair orm! Leig dhomh tilleadh dhachaigh!” dh’èigh a’ mhaighdeann-ròin. Bha a’ mhuir dìreach a’ beucail air ais gun a bhith gabhail feart dhith.

Is mar sin, fhuair i binn-beatha air tìr. Rinn i àite-fasgaidh dhi fhèin ann an geodha aig a’ chladach far an tigeadh an nighean aice a chèilidh oirre. Ach cha deach i dhachaigh chun duine aice tuilleadh, am fear a ghoid a cuid saorsa bliadhnaichean air ais. Chunnaic i na tràighean a’ lìonadh le sgudal is le sprùilleach, is loibheachas a’ gabhail thairis a’ chuain. Tha feadhainn ag ràdh gun cluinn thu a h-òrain fhathast air a’ ghaoith, is i ag ionndrainn mùirn na mara.”

Thionndaidh Ava is choimhead i air a seanair le sùilean geur. “Chan ann mar siud a tha an sgeulachd a’ dol, a Sheanair. Tha i a’ tilleadh dhan mhuir agus tha i toilichte le na ròin eile agus bidh i a’ toirt tòrr èisg don teaghlach aice air tìr. Dh’ionnsaich sinn mu dheidhinn san sgoil.”

“Uill, m’ eudail, tha sgeulachdan an-còmhnaidh ag atharrachadh,” fhreagair an duine. “Dìreach mar an saoghal mun cuairt ort…Faodaidh tu càil sam bith a dhèanamh leis an sgeulachd. ’S ann leatsa a tha i a-nis.” “Uill, as fheàrr leamsa an stòiridh a dh’innis Miss NicAmhlaigh dhuinn. Bha an tè agadsa ro bhrònach.”

Leig e a-mach gàire. “Tha thu ceart, a ghràidh,” a’ toirt pòg dhi air a ceann. “’S i a bha.” Dh’èirich Ava an uair sin is dhanns’ i thairis air a’ ghainmhich anns na bòtannan aice. “Trobhad, a Sheanair,” thuirt i. “Feumaidh sinn cumail oirnn.”

Chuir i a làmh a-mach thuige, is le a cuideachadh, sheas an seann duine. A-muigh aig muir nochd ceann ròin os cionn an uisge, a’ cumail sùil gheur orra.

Resources

Testing Grounds podcast: https://testinggrounds.buzzsprout.com/2113331 

NAARCA: https://naarca.art/ 

NAARCA blog about Mairi and her commission: https://naarca.art/2023/08/14/testing-grounds-bonus-episode-seasickness-cur-na-mara-a-short-story-by-mairi-macleod-now-available/