Caught by the River

Shadows and Reflections: Jessica Andrews

Jessica Andrews | 31st December 2019

It’s time once again for the annual series of postings we like to call Shadows and Reflections, in which our contributors and friends look back on the past twelve months. From Jessica Andrews:


L and I had a new year’s disco on our own in a cottage at the edge of Donegal. We danced around the kitchen to Le Tigre, drinking cheap cava from candle holders, dressed in our best sparkle.

We dived into the icy Atlantic day after day and ran around the beach naked afterwards.

I stewed apricots in Barcelona on my birthday. I lit black candles and fed whole tomatoes to my friends as they sat on the wooden floor. They brought so many plants that a forest sprung up while I slept.

We drove into the mountains where time falls differently and we saw the blue of distance with our naked bodies pressed as close together as bodies can possibly be.

We wore red velvet in vampiric bars, drinking thick red wine and talking about the future.

I danced, in dark clubs, in living rooms, on terraces, in kitchens, in gardens, in pubs.

I slept for months in a treehouse bed, with 2 siamese cats, 4 storeys up, above orange trees.

I ate a whole sardine with my fingers, grilled on a winter barbecue.

I learned about wanting and having and fear.

I spent a springtime leaving.

I swam in black water in the middle of the night.

I spent some months in London. My book was published and I had a big party and everything was shiny and electric.

I became afraid of things.

I drank beers on the canal with D and we felt ourselves growing older and our lives unspooling around us and we laughed until it didn’t matter.

I cycled around the summer streets and felt all the old magic caught up in them. I remembered that East End dirt is sticky on bare skin.

I slept in a tent in a forest by the sea. I woke in the night to the moon cutting silver and the whisper of the waves and L’s breath in my ear and felt safe.

I grew softer.

I ate ramen on my own in a restaurant in Manchester. I walked around the tall red buildings, feeling full in the dark.

I swam for days in a reservoir. The water was thick and strange, like blue milk.

I got louder.

I lived in a house built into a cliff in a small village by a harbour. Lightning tore holes in the night and in the morning there were puddles in the kitchen.

Time sped up.

I was stung twice by jellyfish.

I pierced my ear.

I ate salmon. 

I moved house again and again and again and again.

I learned how to speak in past tense.

I held onto love.

R said,

            ‘You have opened doors that can never be closed.’

I ate prawns beneath a fat fig tree.

I tried to find a new form.

I broke everything into pieces and then I looked for a thread.


You can follow Jessica on Twitter here.