271

It was raining again today and Alan didn’t go to work cos he was hungover. Last night he tried to scratch, ‘Man Utd,’ into my back with a corkscrew but he passed out before he could do any real damage. I fell asleep in the bath and it was warm and silky and red and felt nice against my skin. Marian said I looked shite when I got into work and I told her I was on my period. My old English teacher Mr O’Connor came in and had a few bets. He smelled of stale drink and shook a lot. He didn’t recognise me. Looking out at him through the dirty plastic glass, through the spit and squashed flies, his little head bobbing, I thought of all the times he’d banged his fist on the table and called us, ‘tragedies,’ or when he was really drunk, ‘thick fuckers.t’ I thought of him asleep on the desk and the lads putting chewing gum in his hair and him waking up and punching whoever was closest in the stomach; always the stomach, no marks then, a nice little trick he’d seen on the telly, he told us.

He didn’t win and I was glad.

Tonight we went to The Hill for a few. There was myself and Alan, Mick and his girlfriend, Camilla, and Marian and a friend of hers, Paula, who I’d never met before. We didn’t really do anything. Well everyone drank and the lads discussed the football. Paula works in a beauty salon and told me in the toilets that I could be alright looking with a haircut and some sleep.

I wasn’t feeling too well so I left with Camilla.

Alan and the others stayed on. I’ve just made a cup of tea and smoked two fags. I think I might be pregnant.

272

Alan and me went for a walk around town. Grafton Street was really busy and it was sunny but cold. The glare was bright and I was sorry I’d lost my sunglasses. The people were dressed lovely, walking fast, unsmiling, in long coats, smelling nice. I looked at the performers, at the children, at the dear clothes in the big shops; I saw my own reflection and touched the glass.

Alan got into an argument with a dark fella, I don’t know what happened but Alan was shouting and telling the man to fuck off home where he came from and the man grinned and Alan called him a ‘black nigger,’ and a bit of a crowd gathered to laugh at Alan and call him a, ‘eegit,’ and a ‘fuckin knacker.’

Went shopping in Dunnes on North Earl Street to buy things for the week but Alan got mad and went to buy hash. On my way home I bought a book, an old paperback, and went for a walk around Mountjoy Square park and watched the kids play football and skipping. One boy shouted, ‘ride,’ as I passed the fence.

273

He never came home again. I don’t really care though. To be honest I’m glad of the peace. I’m only worried that he’ll get some disease and give it on to me. I had a dream last night about being in a hotel foyer with all the people I saw yesterday. I was standing up on a chair and all these people were clapping and cheering my name. Then Alan came in selling his roses and the whole place started laughing at him, throwing coppers at his head and all the flowers went into the air and the petals came away and the place was filled with red moving and the people began to dance and a waiter threw Alan out. I didn’t do anything just stayed where I was staring at the chandelier watching it sparkle.

274

Marian was very down today. Her brother got a piece of his ear bitten off in a fight outside the Big Tree on Saturday. She said she was sick of it all and I agreed with her. Later she said they knew who’d done it and that he was gonna get got. My hair has started falling out. I was reading my book and feeling a bruise and a clump came away in my hand, there was some grey in it too. I wasn’t really reading. My period still hasn’t come.

When I was getting up off the floor last night I realised that this is how I lived. Rich people have rich people’s problems like achievement and identity. I don’t hate them or anything. We all have our crosses, this is mine, and I will bear it.

275

It was our anniversary today. Mam rang to congratulate me and to tell me that she and Da were fighting, that he was drinking too much and that Janet was having sex and smoking hash with a boy who’ll only eat Monster Munch. I hung up before I said something. Alan said he didn’t have any money so we just went to the cinema. I was crying but not too much cos Alan was there. We had a ride when we got home. After Alan fell asleep I went to the toilet to clean up and then in the front room I smoked six cigarettes and waited and smoked and watched the day begin over the rooftops.

276

Work today was shite. That bitch Marian said her friend Paula was with Alan in the Shakespeare last Friday and that he was a prick and that I should leave him. I went early and got my prescription filled then rang Alan. He said he’d never been to the Shakespeare and that that cunt Marian should shut her hole.
I thought about it again watching Friends but fell asleep before I could do anything.
I’ve just woken up and he’s already in bed.

Moire called round, it was her day off as well. Davie’s been hitting her again, she was raging and I told her that she should leave him, that she could do better, but she told me to fuck off and that at least she wasn’t going out with an eegit psychopath. After she left I had one of those double chocolate cookies you get in the Londis and two cups of coffee and smoked two fags. ln the afternoon I went for a walk along the quays. It was windy and grey but I like it that way cos the sound off the water is like voices dancing, like music. I watched the tall men in suits and the rushing young girls, their coloured bags chasing them up the path.

I had to get some meat for the dinner so I headed for Parnell Street but had to take a seat in a bus shelter, I was just tired and my back was hurting. A young one there blowing bubbles in her Mam’s high heels asked me where I was going and I had to tell her I didn’t know.

278

Dr Casey came into work today. He asked me how I was feeling and I told him I was grand but he told me to come in for a chat and I said I would and he said lunchtime would be fine. On my way to Dr Casey’s I passed five missing persons posters. I read each one and said a little prayer. An old man who was begging outside the SIPTU offices asked me was I scared and I told him I was. Dr Casey asked me again why I tried to kill myself and I said I didn’t know cos I don’t, but I told him I wouldn’t do it again. When he was examining my neck I could feel his thing pressing against my arse. I focused on a poster for hay fever. A little boy and little girl frozen, their cheeks puffed out, holding up a flower, big petals scattering everywhere. I left there quickly forgetting my scarf.

When I got back to work I got sick in the upstairs toilet and cursed out loud and wished I had someone to hold my hair back and I thought about the days, about how they just keep coming, and still on my knees I flushed the toilet and, resting my head on the seat, I traced a sign of the cross on it, let the cool water splash my face, said another prayer for my unborn child.