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An excerpt from'The Dig'

The boy had not slept. he was gawky and awkward and had not grown into himself yet.

When his father came to rouse him he found the boy awake with expectation.

Warm, remember, said his father.

The boy nodded loosely in the way he had. The way was to have a minute hesitation before doing things. This came from trying to be eager and cautious at the same time around his father. he was long and thin and he could have looked languid without

this nervousness but instead he looked underdeveloped. When he got out of bed in his T-shirt and shorts it emphasized the awkward gangliness of him. he had the strange selection of muscles teenage boys’ bodies either grow or don’t but the skin on his face was a child’s.

he got dressed and went downstairs. in the kitchen he sat at the table with the kind of extra-awakeness not sleeping can give you and started automatically to spread paste onto the sliced bread. he had a

low-level excitement running through him. A day off school. he felt the same illicit closeness to his father as he did when they went lamping and in these times he was capable of forgetting that his father did other things.

his father put the tea on the table and filled the big flask and then they sat and blew on the tea and drank it. Then they went out.

They took the dogs from the run and got them in the car and drove off the estate. The boy found the smell of the sawdust and dog shit in the run hard to bear in the early morning. The smell of it was a strange note against the deodorant he enveloped himself with.

he had not been digging before and was trying to imagine it. he imagined it frenzied and was excited by this. he did not know it would be steady, unexciting procedural work and that it would not be like ratting at all.

he had broken his own dog to rats himself and this gave him pride. When they picked on him in school he kept his pride in this. he hung on to it.

The boy’s father parked up the car and they sat seeing the dog runs and the broken machinery and the boy was momentarily stupefied by the darkness and emptiness about the place. in the car lights he could see just beyond the runs the bodies of cars like some disassembled ghost train littering the field.

A little bit about Cynan Jones

Shortlist

Cynan Jones is a Welsh writer, who lives and works in Ceredigion. Jones published his first novel, The Long Dry, in 2006. He later published three novels between 2011 and 2014. His short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and publications such as Granta and New Welsh Review.


See the full Shortlist