I finished the 8-week writing course called Start Writing Fiction today. I thoroughly enjoyed it and this is my final piece of writing for it:
My brother. Poor Mike. He’s special, you know? And you know what happens to special kids, especially ones in an all-boys school. I wish mam had been able to get us into a mixed school, then I could have protected him some, like in primary school.
Honestly, a piece of string should not be called underwear.
‘Jesus Christ, how do you wear these things every day?’
Mel and I were standing in a doorway across the road from the off-license. She was leaning on the wall, with one heeled boot up against it, smoking a cigarette. I shuffled from one comfortable flat shoe to the other — the girls had ruled out heels for me after I had spectacularly floored both of them — Mel chuckled and flicked away the butt.
‘You get used to them, come on, Jenny’s coming,’ she nodded towards the girl crossing the street, holding a six-pack of cans.
We were all wearing the same outfit. I thought it was odd but Jenny said I think too much. My miniskirt was the longest, it stopped a couple of inches above my knee. I followed the two girls into an alleyway, trying to copy the way they walked. They had given me a crash course in how to seduce him earlier. I began to shiver, I knew it was no longer from the cold.
It was odd. I didn’t understand why they were helping me, but I was grateful. I beat them up in primary school for teasing Mike. I broke Mel’s nose, she still has the bump. My mam started me in a martial arts course after that. I couldn’t beat Mike’s bullies up anymore, it made the situation worse.
‘Okay Rosie, it tastes horrible, just gulp it back,’ Jenny held out a can to me. I couldn’t see what it was.
‘I’m scared,’ I said taking the can, it was very heavy.
‘Don’t be, we won’t leave you alone. All you have got to do is ignore him. It will drive him crazy. He’ll be dying to know who you are,’ Mel had thought up the plan when I came to them for help at school.
‘Yeah, but what if he doesn’t like me?’
They both laughed. My stomach was in knots, my hand was shaking, I could feel the liquid swishing from side to side inside the can.
‘You’re gorgeous, don’t you worry, he’ll be fighting the others to keep them away from you,’ Jenny said cupping my chin, her hands were surprisingly warm. How did she manage that? I was the one with the cardigan on, ‘now, drink up!’ She cracked her can open and swung it back.
Bringing the can up to my lips I tilted my head back and took a big swig. She was right. It was rank. I swallowed quickly, letting out a few choice curse words. They were both still gulping back their cans. I took a deep breath and joined them. I could feel my stomach expanding. It was hard to swallow the cold liquid, trying to ignore it, the taste and the bubbles. It took me a few tries to empty the can, but finally, I was done.
‘Why is Donal O’Connor asking about you?’ Mike barged into my room and sprawled on my bed.
Christ, so soon? I swiveled around to look at him, twirling a pencil between my fingers. He is skinny as a rake. We have the same curly nest of hair, that’s where the similarities end. Himself skinny and tall, while I’m small and round.
‘How would I know?’ Using the point of the pencil to clean out the dirt under my fingernails, ‘what happened?’
‘It was very strange,’ he propped himself up on his elbow and traced the floral pattern of my duvet with his finger, ‘I think we actually had a conversation. I was waiting for him to hit me but it never came.’
‘Here, will you get lost, I’ve homework to do, we are not all as smart as you,’ I turned back in my chair, beaming down at my French questions. The second I heard my door click shut, I grabbed my phone to text the girls.
‘You’re going out with him? After all he’s done to me!’
I jumped a mile.
‘Holy crap, you scared the life out of me!’ I said muting the TV.
‘What the hell Rosie? What is wrong with you?’ As per usual, his anger disappeared quickly and he slumped down beside me, shaking his head in disbelief. Oddly, this was the part that truly terrified me. Would he understand?
‘He’s stopped picking on you…’
‘Yeah, but sure how could you…’ He stopped, turning to look at me, ‘no. Rosie, why?’
‘I found the letter, you’ve only one more year in that place, this way you don’t have to live in terror of school, of him. This way you don’t have to do the thing you are planning to do.”