It is cold. So cold I can see my breath. The engine
of my father's Volkswagen van turns over, but the
heater it is meant to drive has long since given up
the ghost. I pull my duffle coat tight around me,
rub my hands together, count to a hundred, then
from a hundred back to one, then to a hundred again.

In the winter dark, beyond the windscreen, beyond
the glistening frost-capped lawn revealed in the
headlights, there is a country house, or a house
in the countryside, or a house at the edge of a town,
and through the wooden doorframe we have just
delivered I can just about make out my father,
still talking, still shaking hands, all the while slowly
backing out.

Pat Boran

Heinrich Obermeyer pressed his right foot gently
on the spade and it slid obliquely through the soft
soil. He tugged at the shrunken stalk, uprooting it
and, scattering soil with the spade, disinterred the
potatoes. He picked one up and rubbed it on his
corduroy trousers and its skin emerged ochre from
the clay. "It is a good crop," he said aloud, as
though addressing a robin which, flaming in the
September sun, pecked worms from the fresh earth.
He began throwing potatoes into a wheelbarrow.

Heinrich had not always been such a contented
gardener. On the surface, he was just another
industialist attracted to the country by low-cost
labour and a facilitating government....

Seamus Dunne