The Toulmin Prize is open to amateur writers over the age of 16. The stories entered should have a north east focus, and may be written in Doric or English, or a mixture of the two. This week, we’ll be posting one story a day, including the four commended stories and the overall winner of the Toulmin Prize.
Below is a piece written by Mike Moir, the third runner-up.
He got oot o the car and started lookin doon tae the sea. He wis lookin ewer the tap o the sand dunes fae Fountainbleau an fit struck him richt awa wis that he cwid noo see the sea. He thocht back o the time fin he wis a loon and ye coodnae even see the watter because o the heicht o the dunes. Bit noo they were flatter and flatter ivery time he cam back.
Stanin at the turn aff tae Neeburgh, he minded back tae the first time he hid seen the dunes fae richt far he wis stanin. It wis aye a time o great excitement, fin he and his mither got on the bus in Elion. It wis the same driver ilky time he gid on the bus, Jimmy, an he seemed awfy big, but there wis a big smile on his face aa the time, and he lookit as if the bus wis his hame.
Eence on the bus, it wid crall up ewer the brig, past the aul een, then gyan by the pub and oot tae the ferms. It lookit different fin ye cam oot o Ellen, it bein’ doon in a halla bit grun, and the sky seemed bigger as the aul bus rowd alang the road. The bus stoppit at a fyow places
and there war aye a puckle folk got aff and on at Tipperty. Fae there, it wis jist a wee file till ye got aff the bus. Up the hill and there ye war – wi a “Cheerio” fae Jimmy, ye hitered doon the steps and watchit the bus traichle on its wye tae Aiberdeen.
Noo wis the bit he likit – walkin doon to his grunnie and granda’s wee hoose, far he kent his granda wid be witin for them. His auntie wid be there an aa, as she lookit efter grunnie an granda. Altho his grunnie wid be there as weel, he didnae really like her aa that muckle. She aye gid him a fricht, seein things climin up the wa so she said, bit he cwid niver see onything . Fit wye wis she able to see things that he cwidnae? He didnae reely ken his grunnie aa that weel cause she wis aye in her bed. He did ask his mither foo it wis that she didnae get up, bit aa his mither aye said wis that she wis an aal wife an she needed to bide in her bed. He minded the time fan he hid seen her in her bed in the livin room o the hoose – he wis a bit taen aback that onybody bid in their bed an it nae bein a bedroom. She wis a wee cratur, wi a scrauchy kin o voice, an a she seemd to dae wis ask for things – a fly-cup, sumhin tae aet or a hale hullock o ither things. Bit then she wid ging aff in a wild rant, fair makin him loup as she sa a different kin o beasties an pintin at the wa. He lookit across to his mither, but she jist shook her heid. He skedaddled outside and rither played in the byre than gyang back inside.
Onywye, his auntie hid a drink o lemonade and a biskit and that wis richt fine efter the wak doon aff the heid o the road. Efter a file, fin aa the big folk hid a bit o a blether, he wis hopin that fin his granda had drunk his tea and had pit the tobacco in his muckle great pipe, it wid be time for flt he likit best – a wak wi his granda. Richt eneuch, as seen as the pipe wis lit, Granda got cot o his seat and took his haun and said “Cmon ma chiel, time we were awa”
Oct they gid fae the hoose and set aboot gyan back the wye he hid come wi his mither, bit he didnae min this ava, because he kent it wid be the same as last time – Granda wid plonk his lang white stick doon on the road, tap it eence or twice and aff they’d gyang, heidin up the brae. Fit he aye winerrt aboot wis, hoc cwid his grandpa ken aa the things he did and yet hae yon blek glesses? He wid say “Keep in noo, there’s a car comin” lang afore he cwid hear it comin. Then he wid say, “That barley is jist aboot ready, ye can smell it ripenin”. He cwid niver smell that muckle bit fin he lookit, the barley seemed lang an yalla. An then he wid say “Can ye hear the wires hummin?” Richt again, the wires abeen their heids wid be makin an unca noise that he thocht meant that a lot o fowk were eesin phones, bit he’d niver seen ane in a hoose. Suddenly granda said, “Sit doon here an I’ll gie ye yer sweetie”. There richt aside him, wis a telegraph pole and there wis a seat lookin as if it hid jist been made for the baith o them . It wis a squar bit grun, withe gress flattened bi fowk sittin doon for a wee rest. So noo the twa o them sat doon an sookit on their sweeties. There wis niver that muckle said – it wis jist the twa o them sittin an enjoyin een anither’s company. Then they widget up an wanner back doon tae the hoose in time for some denner.
He wis hopin it wid be mince an tatties, cause his auntie wis awfy gweed at makin it. Fin he and his granda got back tae the hoose, he herd his mither an his auntie spikin aboot her gyan to New Zealand. Aa he kent aboot that wis it wis far awa and he winnert fit wye she wid be thinkin o gyan there. They stoppit spikin fin he got in the hoose, bit he kent that there hid been some kin o barney gyan on. The twa weemin wir noo harlie spikin at aa. Fin they hid sut doon tae aet their denner, New Zealand cam up eence mair, an it seemd that his auntie hid made up her min to gyang tae New Zealand. His mither didnae look verra happy bit there wisnae a lot she cwid dae. “I’ll hae toging an catch the bus, bit I’ll see ye aboot it later,” said his mither and wi that it wis time to wak back up the road tae catch Jimmy’s bus back tae Ellon.
Bit he kent aa this wis comin to a feenish. He wis gyan to the skweel next wik. Then he widna be able tae come and see his granda as afen as afore. He did think aboot his grunnie as weel, bit she wis jist an aal wumman that still frichtened him. Foo lang wid it be afore he cam back on the bus? He wisnae jist awfy sure, bit he kent that noo an again, his faither wid manage to get haud o a car fae far he workit, an it wis jist smashin tae ging onywye in a car. So he thocht it michtnae be that lang till he sa his granda again.
He cam back wi a stert an realised he’d been staunin at Fountainbleau for a fair file an then he turned an lookit at fit wis in the back o the car. The wee urn hid come aa the wye fae New Zealand an he wis takin it doon the same road he’d walkit wi his mither nearly saxty years ago – doon that road an turn richt oot tae the cemetery at Foveran. There he wid see far his granda wis beeried, an his grunnie and ither fowk in the femily an he’d been gied the job that day tae scatter the ashes that hid come aa the wye fae Auckland. His auntie had gin to New Zealand efter grannie and granda hid deid. His mither had written an sent the usual Christmas cairds, bit he hid niver seen his auntie again – an funnily eneuch, that day o the wak he hid minded on, wis the last time he’d seen his granda, an his grunnie niver scared him again.
It wis a circle – it hid aye meant a lot tae him, bit times hid changed an even the Ian that wid aye be the same fin he wis five, that hid changed an he thocht that if that eedjit Trump hid his wye, it wid change forever, an nae for the better. He cam tae the kirkyaird on a bonny, sunny day. There aneth a big tree wis the steen in reid granite, wi aa the names o the family, gyan back nearly twa hunner years. He even sa his ane name an realised that he wis cad efter his great-great-granfaither. He took the urn cot o the bag an he scattered the ashes ewer the family steen. He niver thocht there wid be sic an amount o stuff. The grey ash glistered in the sun, and the win aft the sea quickly blew it in aa the airts. It wis a funny kin o feelin, tae think this hid cum aa the wye fae the ither side o the warld and here he wis, jist shakin it cot an it blaain awa in the win. The ither feelin he hid, of coorse, wis aboot his mither as it wis only a couple o months since she hid deid, and the twa sisters were the last anes o that generation. Aa the ither aunties an uncles wir lang gyan on baith his mither and his faither’s side and he and his sisters and brithers were noo the aal generation. An yet as he lookit roon aboot, it didnae feel as if he wis aal eneuch to be thocht o as “the aaler generation”. He thocht aboot too aal his faither had lookit and hid still been workin, at the age he wis noo at, an syne he realised hoc lucky he hid been aa his life. The diffrence atween his generation and his faither’s wis aboot as big as it cwid be. His faither hid workit sax days a wik aa his life – half day on a Winsday and anither half on a Setterday, hid niver hid mair than twinty powns in his pey packet, hid twa wiks holidays if he wis lucky and afen hid to wark till eicht . Foo wid a that gyang doon the day? He lookit roon again in the graveyard at the generation that hid noo disappeared an winnert if they hid been the last o the real Buchan fowk.
Wi that, there wis anither puff o win an it wis deen: the ashes hid aa blaan awa.