[Prose] An Act of Kindness

It was moments such as this that Rose found herself cursing her own habitual kindness. After all, who else could be to blame? Perhaps if she had complimented her flatmate’s new weave with just a little less enthusiasm, said flatmate wouldn’t have felt it necessary to bury her tear-streaked face in her lap in a possible bid to ensure the two could get further acquainted. She probably thinks most Irish people have never seen a weave before, Rose thought to herself. But to Sonny’s credit, anyone bearing witness to how Rose had bounded up and down the communal area of their flat upon spying her friend’s majestic mane would most likely have surmised the same thing.

And yet as Sonny continued to weep in violent convulsions, Rose reasoned that perhaps she was overthinking things. Maybe her friend was legitimately upset. It certainly wasn’t unheard of for Sonny to get a bit emotional after a few drinks. Indeed, by the time they found their Christmas holidays were approaching, it had been a task for anyone in Rose’s flat to recall a night out that didn’t end in an emotional breakdown for poor Sonny. But Rose had hoped this semester would be different. It was her first night back in Cardiff, and she had high hopes – although these were slowly being dowsed by the flash-flood of tears that lay before her. She hadn’t exactly enjoyed her time back in Ireland. As she began to tear up at the departure gate earlier that day, she hoped her father would interpret it as a sign of regret, that maybe Rose felt she had made a mistake in crossing the Irish sea. Not to the extent that she should be pained by this embryonic patriotism – Mr. O’Shea would never wish such turmoil upon his only daughter – but that maybe in four years time, with her degree wrapped up and thoughts of greener grass fading, she might come back home. She had never given him a particular reason to think this wouldn’t be the case, but the truth was she deplored her homeland. She walked the streets of Cork city like a tourist. When she caught up with her high school friends, it was as if they now spoke a different language. She should have been content knowing that those she cared about were perfectly happy to settle within a half a mile of where they all used to play hopscotch together. But throughout each coffee date, all Rose’s foggy mind could do was wonder how her friends could go each day without catching their reflection in the mirror and resenting both themselves and their brazen lack of ambition. While she walked through the airport’s duty free shops, Rose wiped one last tear from her eye, knowing this fit to be the closest she had ever come to vocalising these thoughts.

Rose decided to re-evaluate the situation. What she found curious was that Sonny’s episodes rarely struck during pre-drinks – she usually waited until they were on a dance floor entrenched with their sweaty, grinding peers to have her soul-crushing epiphanies – so why should tonight be any different? She felt it was worth investigating, so she patted Sonny on the head to get her attention. A few seconds had passed before Rose realised she hadn’t accounted for the newly applied blanket of Russian hair that was cushioning her impact. She tried again.

“Sonny? Babe…?” She attempted to sound as motherly as possible, putting her deep, syrupy timbre to good use. Sonny grunted drowsily. Rose propped her up next to her on the bed like a drunken ventriloquist doll. As she saw Sonny’s eyes wander from her own to the many French film posters that adorned her bedroom wall, she knew this interrogation could take a while. She caught Sonny by the shoulders and looked her straight in the eye.

“Sonny! Please. Tell me what’s wrong.” For a moment, Rose thought she had lost her for good. Her eye contact wavered. She winced her eyes shut and rested them on the heel of her palms. But this digression lasted only a moment. After a few seconds, Sonny had regained eye contact, and began to answer the question at hand.

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[Prose] Woman Waits, Seething, Blooming – Part II

Although a response to David Egger’s short story, this continuation has been written so as to be readable in isolation from the original text. 

She stormed into the hallway to catch the beams of her son’s headlights bringing life to the stained glass flowers embedded in her front door. Maria winced her eyes shut and began to mouth her argument with small, sputtering lips. She sighed hard and released the drunken spittle that had been clinging for dear life in between them. She watched it fly ahead of her before wiping her mouth with the sleeve of her nightgown. Yet she felt more moisture crawling and creeping down her body. She took a moment. Brian was still in the car. Was he afraid to come inside? He fucking should be, she thought to herself. She looked around. Ah! It was the drink, of course. She wiped her mouth against her right arm, failing to remember that she was still holding a tumbler of gin and red wine, which she had spilled on her cleavage and nightgown.

She knew that no matter what she had to say to her son, it would be more convincing if she wasn’t holding a still-sizable measure of alcohol. But it was too late: Brian’s key was in the door. It fit perfectly the first time. There was so scraping or dragging it across the vicinity of the lock. He must be sober. The door opened, squeaking comically, almost mockingly. His naturally pale face revealed itself in the light of the hallway. He pursed his dark red lips. His blue eyes shone with worry. He apologised immediately, but it wasn’t enough. Of course it wasn’t enough! She launched into her monologue. It was a lengthy, surprisingly verbose affair, with various peaks of hyperbolically-related misery, although Maria took care to maintain a consistently grim tone throughout. It was only halfway through a fiercely delivered anecdote about her unbearably bleak adolescence that she thought to ask Brian where he had actually been all this time.

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