The city was soaked in floodlights. I ran up the stairs that were mouldy at the edges to
find the doctors that I knew were there. They were surprised to learn of the earthquake
and I shepherded them off the fifteenth floor. Outside I found you. We fished a way
through the puddles left by the floodlights, away from the army coloured buildings to a
city of fabric. After the first day I wished we had brought a bigger tent. By the second
day someone had broken their neck falling over a guy rope in the dark, so one of the
others painted a white line to show where it was safe to walk at night. After that we
couldn’t move the tent. On the third day I began to forget it all and sometime after that
the buildings fell down. The old man said the rats had finally been allowed to eat what
they wanted, but I didn’t understand, because I didn’t know what the buildings were
made of. 

Listen to Isobel Cairns read ‘Proclamation’


Best Practice

The airport was closed again today. She rang him up and said she wasn’t coming. ‘It’s
the weather,’ she told him. ‘It’s unseasonable.’ She went outside through the kitchen
door. There were hailstones on the back lawn and they shaded the neighbour’s red
roof like a coloured pencil. She took the damp clothes off the washing line and carried
them inside. There were times when we worshipped the gods of the weather and read
the entrails of birds. I am descended from the women who inhaled the vapours and I,
too, wait for a sign. 


Isobel Cairns is an established philosopher and scholar with a lovely house, three attractive children and four dogs. No, wait. She is a scholarly established philosophy with four attractive houses and three childish dogs. No. Hold on. Isobel Cairns has an honours degree in philosophy and lives next to a park, which often contains children and dogs. The children fall over and sometimes the dogs chase each other.