There’s a small town in Ireland where this word exists: Quare.
It can be used interchangeably, in several contexts, in order to narrate a disaster. The word was only invented so you wouldn’t have to go too far to tell a story.
Quare (pr. kwair, rhyming with square)
- Adverb, meaning ‘very’ or ‘especially’
It was quare (1) dark in there, the lights all off. I was walking by the house, right, and there was nobody on the porch for once. That was a quare (2) thing in itself. But you remember I always liked the girl, and I thought I might call in when her mam wasn’t around. I never liked the mother. So I walked on up to the door, and I was going to knock on it – though I wasn’t sure what to say if she answered. I was sort of building up the courage. I was in two minds. And I was arguing amongst myself when I heard a rattle inside. It wasn’t the door; it was farther away than that. It sounded like it was very loud somewhere within the house, but maybe out at the back or in the basement, and then was a bit faded when it echoed all the way out to the front. I thought it was a bit off, so I knocked and I knocked again. And then, funny enough, the door was unlocked so I slipped inside. Just a bit curious.
- Adjective, meaning ‘strange’ or ‘unsettling’
She’s a quare (2) one, alright. Her mother is an odd one as well. Must be where she gets it. The mother sits in a chair by the door all day, and she knits. The funny thing is, she keeps knitting and knitting. She doesn’t ever finish anything. She could make a scarf, and then keep going until it’s a Doctor Who scarf – you know the one – and then keep going farther. She doesn’t realise what she’s doing. I think she’s not all there. I think her daughter takes it off her and gets a new one started every once in a while, otherwise the whole porch would be grey with wool. But the daughter is another story. A bit more pleasant. A bit more there. She has a cat though, and she brings the cat everywhere; on her left shoulder. Can’t tell me that’s normal. I went into the shop the other day for a tub of butter and there she was behind the counter, cat on her shoulder. Health and safety, that’s all I’ll say. That deli counter is probably covered in cat-hair. I’ll go there for milk and butter and a paper since it’s only next door, but I won’t be buying meat in a hurry. Oh, they’re both quare (2) ones. Runs in the family. But do you remember, the father left. He never struck me as an oddball. Heard some shouts from the house once in a while, and then you might think someone was throwing things, but he always waved to me in the street. Fixed my gutter one time, too. That one Winter, you know the one where it rained all that.
- Verb, meaning ‘to cause a problem’
You know, that lad has been missing for a while now. Young Frankie. He was always a nice fella, gave me a lift home from the shop a few weeks back since I had so many bags with me. Very good, he was. You wouldn’t think he’d go missing like that. His mam is awful worried he’s quared something up (3) and got himself in trouble. Hardly seems the type now, he’d hardly touch a drink and he’s friendly with the whole team. No girlfriend, he’s often been eyeing up the young one from the quare house (2) but that’s about it. No, he should make an appearance some time soon. Sure, we haven’t had anyone go missing in donkey’s years. Not since yer man from the quare house (2) but then he left of his own accord, presumably. Here one day, gone the next. Sure, the mother in that house would drive anyone out the door with them knitting needles clinking all the live-long day.
ROSE FORTUNE is from a small village in Ireland, which has survived every attempt at modernization to date. She has been published in several issues of irregular literary publication The Runt, and anthologies such as Fishing for Change and Where Dreams and Visions Live. Her writing can also be found here.