Henrietta (Translation from the Spanish of Rubén Darío’s ‘Enriqueta’)

(Dark Chapter)

I

The poor child’s dying, not far from me. Just yesterday I saw her at Sión College; dark among the fair-skinned, humble among the proud, restrained among the flamboyant. But she exuded a natural elegance, lively intelligence, and one of the good nuns spoke to me with love and feeling of her tender hope.

II

In the middle of a dream of paradise, the pale spirit of the tomb surprised her. Did God take her away because she was one of His elect? Pagan verse and Catholic belief come together in my mind. Death is so terrible when it arrives before the sacred innocent flowering of youth! The age of twelve is when the god Céfiro and the princess Psyche become known to a child. It’s the age when the lemon tree first buds. The bird that flies for the first time is a sister of the child who turns twelve.

III

The child is dying! Her mother weeps and cries out, “Oh, my little girl!” And her heart’s in pieces. I can’t write artificial phrases in a chapter like this.

I’ve no use for prose that doesn’t spring from the depths of my heart.

What I’m now writing is what I witness and feel. I suffer along with the unfortunate woman who has to see her daughter dying; I suffer with all those who see her dying; I suffer because of the capriciousness of death, which cuts down a new flower to throw it into a black river bound for who knows where.

IIII

But every poet – and if they don’t have it, they should steal it – is possessed of a sublime, admirable faith. And I, the last of all, when this innocent dies, place flowers of Hope on her tomb, flowers of Hope that sprouted for the first time in the place where Christ’s cross was planted.

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Personal Bests Journal Issue 4

Includes twenty-six stories from diverse writers, among them the author’s Philoctetes and Me. Available now at the usual suspects.

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Ebook Fair!

Stories that Inspire Ebook Fair (including my title From a Caregiver’s Point of View):

http://www.ebookfairs.com/Fair/Book?id=ohEyLBnNyUaiROHQ-UTlCQ 

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Non-Fiction Story Sharing Ebook Fair

https://www.ebookfairs.com/Fair/Book?id=3510cdd4-9131-41e1-9639-e6940bf654dd

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Book Trailer

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1w8AwSO0WyGHGZNoLARQh7GxVnFNDL0Zy/view

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Ebook Fair!

https://www.ebookfairs.com/Fair/Book?id=qg4KV9Scy0OxMnW-lOO-eQ

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Book Cover Award

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3rd Official Roundup Book Fair!

https://www.ebookfairs.com/Fair/Book?id=DWSQxExhC0GcGgdb8gLD2A

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‘New Year, New You’ Ebook Fair!

https://www.ebookfairs.com/Fair/Book?id=1l_OIZUrJk-Pesncp2sTcw

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Review of Displaced and Other Etudes

The format of this book is very unusual. It begins with 21 short stories ranging in length from about 800 to 6,450 words. These are followed by a 50,000 word novella. With such a diversity of material it would make little sense to attempt plot summaries, and Boyd would probably protest that “plot” in the conventional sense is not the prime focus of his interest, as well as which he has already provided within the book short introductions to each of the pieces.

I have known the author and been an admirer of his work for many years. As Prose Editor of Gold Dust Magazine for the whole 16 years of its existence I had the good fortune to become the first publisher of many of the stories in this collection.

One of the areas in which he excels is in creating characters that are so well realised, multi-faceted and afflicted with the same contradictions and uncertainties as ourselves that as soon as we meet them we feel that we have always known them. This is a rare gift and by itself would be enough to place him in the first rank of practitioners of this particular art. You can find examples in practically any of the stories – one that I would particularly recommend is “Intimidation”.

But he also has a facility for making us stop in our tracks after reading a tale of ordinary, often very flawed and marginalised people struggling through their ordinary lives, when we realise that we have been left with a question to ponder that is of almost cosmic significance. An outstanding example of this is the ending of “Walls” where we are shown the survival of some core of what we might think of as nobility in the most damaged and abused of our fellow creatures. Who, we ask ourselves, is the more admirable, Andrew Carnegie or the bruised protagonist of this story?

Regarding Boyd’s writing technique, his stories are mostly reflective pieces made up of the inner thoughts of the characters through whose eyes we see the world. His narrative is quietly compelling. The collection as a whole is nothing less than a master class for anyone wishing to study the craft of writing.

David Gardiner, editor Personal Bests Journal

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