Adulthood fiction Stories Writing

The Disagreement

Jane and Oliver knew that they were late for lunch at the new pub that opened in the village last night, but they couldn’t leave during the debate. Both of them were very excited to try the new menu and see how the place had been transformed from its old ragged self into a shiny new upmarket venue. Yet they also didn’t want the onlooking villagers to gossip over their table mannerisms showing quite opaquely the row that they had prior to arriving.

He’s certainly having an affair with the accountant, the rumours would begin, Jane knew the village too well. They had to settle it before leaving the house.

‘Look, all I’m saying is that he would be much better off in a care home. It’s for the best,’ Oliver said with the same irritatingly calming tone that he always used during arguments.

‘What if it was your father? Would you be happy just to lock him away?’

‘Jane, it’s not a case of locking him away. We will visit him all the time and some of the homes are luxury these days. To be honest I’d prefer to stay in them rather than a posh hotel.’

The playful shift in Oliver’s manner wasn’t reciprocated by Jane who merely stared at him disapprovingly.

‘I’d personally want to live my last years in my own space, my own home, without old folk making me feel twenty years older than I am. He’s not even ill!’

‘Jane, we’ve been through this.’


Holding back the tears, Jane soon realised that lunch was going to have to wait until another day.

fiction Stories Writing

Chapter 3, Erin

Of course, I worried a little initially about the horror stories I had heard. The trolls, the glamorous accounts of false lives to make me feel awful about my own, the mass of uneducated opinions, the dangerously fast addiction and everything else in between, but I never thought much about it all after a while. Besides being sixteen in 2019 meant that I had a firm grasp of what lay before me and felt strong enough to cope with life on social media.

At the beginning I tried to remain strong anyway. It was more to prove a point to my mum but a fraction of it was fear of the inevitable. I could feel instantly the addiction looming. After two days of having access to the virtual social world, my phone was the first thing I went to pick up in the morning and the last thing that I put down at night. I spent hours scrolling and still do, but I don’t know why because after doing so I have never gained anything more or lost anything – my life remains exactly as it was.

On days when I feel bad about my own image, Instagram strengthens this sad emotion when I witness the accounts not of celebrities but of my own friends looking like celebrities. Their accounts fill my newsfeed with perfection and no flaws. The perfect brunch, the most exotic holiday venues, the prettiest new haircuts that look better than I looked that time when I had my hair and all my makeup done by a professional for a family wedding back in Ireland.

At the weekend I see friends and acquaintances out having fun. I always think to myself how they are doing the things that I should be doing when I am visiting Mummy or at work. Friends who have gone to places without even asking me so of course I feel totally left out and forgotten. Acquaintances who I don’t even care about doing things that make my Saturday night look so boring and suddenly I am deeply involved with care for the comparison.

On a more distant level, I see opinions all the time that I completely disagree with or that make me so angry that I can feel my face going red. I see people being horrible openly in their statuses or indirect Tweets and I laugh a little inside in agreement, but never would I say it to their face. I don’t wish to be involved with that kind of negative behaviour, but it is too easy to get sucked in.

When it all began though, I didn’t and still don’t feel I got too involved. I always stayed back and never posted much on my own accounts. The last picture I posted on Instagram which I also posted onto my Facebook account was wishing Jack a Happy Birthday in May. I made a collage of photos of the two of us from when we were very little up until our holiday in Ireland last year.

I am finding it very hard to see how my involvement affected anything. I guess you never know what is happening behind somebody’s eyes. Their thoughts and feelings are totally invisible which is the danger when they don’t discuss anything going on inside their head. I have been over all our accounts since finding out, even hers which is hurtful to do, and nothing seems too awful, but it must have seemed awful to her.

fiction Writing

Chapter 2, February 1994

While the thoughts had been flowing around Mary’s head she realised that the silence had continued for the duration of their first drinks and that they had been sitting and enjoying the moment, gazing into each other’s eyes like a love scene from a film. Quickly snapping back into reality, Mary went to the toilet to check her makeup situation and to slightly lower her top to entice James to some drunken action later, or perhaps just a kiss. James went to the bar for another round.

‘She really likes you,’ uttered the barman with more experience in years than James had. ‘You can tell from the way she holds herself around you. I’ve been watching the pair of you, not to sound creepy like, but it’s cute.’

The barman was Geordie and had the strongest accent that James had heard since moving up north to university. He was short and bald so James wrongly judged and thought what does he know, but he remained polite despite his inner judgement.

‘I’m glad it looks that way,’ he replied and swiftly moved on to the ordering of more drinks. There was an offer on spirits and mixers meaning Mary had been getting two drinks each time, so James made sure that he had two as well so not to feel left out. He remained on pints and didn’t feel overly drunk yet, so he knew he couldn’t get the blame for taking advantage of her or not acting in a gentlemanly manner and forgetting to walk her home, thoughts coming from experience.

He sat back at the table feeling smug with their beverage layout as well as hearing the comments from the barman proving that he was doing a good job. He’d never been so nervous on a date before but so far he felt that his nerves were well hidden and the attraction between the two of them was there.

After chatting a while more and opening up with the alcohol kicking in, they realised that they had more in common than they had initially thought. Even though Mary was the least sporty person and James had no interest for English Literature and writing, they found lots of topics which meant something to them both and spent a good while comparing travel notes which was full of laughter.

Once they’d finished the round and stood up ready to move on, Mary built up the courage to lean in for a kiss. She had never thought that she would let her guard down enough to do that on a first date before, but her feelings and mild intoxication made it happen. It was a comfortable moment as she leant into James’ strong body. He held her hair back with one hand and grabbed her waist with the other, pinching it gently and affectionately tickling her on the ribs. She giggled and after that moment they decided against the pub crawl and bought beverages to consume back at his flat.

fiction Writing

Chapter 25, Dublin 2018 (an excerpt)

‘To us getting the outcome that we need tomorrow,’ I say, keeping my fingers crossed and wincing a little hoping that my suggestion goes down well.

Granted I am feeling a little tipsy, so I have built the confidence to say more than I would have at the beginning of our dinner, however these are things that need to be addressed so I am glad to be the one that is doing so.

‘Cheers.’ Comes my thankful response and I am both relieved and happy that I dedicated this glass to the event.

‘You know, it’s going to be seriously difficult to see his face again. I always thought him a lovely lad but now, obviously, my opinions have changed entirely and I just want to rip him apart. I never thought I could kill, but now I know that I could.’

It is after Sheila has finished her miniature rant that I realise she too is probably feeling a little drunk and that is why the truth is all coming out. Being so reserved at first I thought this dinner was going to exhaust me but now the conversation, and the correct conversation at that, is coming so smoothly.

‘Did you know anything about the way he treated Brannagh?’ I ask her, genuinely shocked at Brannagh not asking her mother for help but rather coming to a total stranger in a different country – me.

‘Nothing,’ she pauses, and something appears to be on her mind. ‘I suppose occasionally she seemed a little distressed after seeing him or she would shut me off and just retreat to her room, but I always assumed that was down to her being on her period or that they had had an argument. It was never clear that something was actually wrong.’

‘That’s so sad that she couldn’t speak to any of us. I mean, she tried to tell me and I guess it’s easier telling an almost stranger than your mother but even then I am convinced she wasn’t telling me truly how bad it was.’

The service in the restaurant is great and I glance at my watch to check the time once we finish our mains. I can’t believe it is only half past nine, it feels as though we have been here much longer than that. I suppose the intensity of the conversation has prolonged time but still, I would have expected it to be at least an hour later than it is. However, we’re all tired and with a big day tomorrow we decide to take ourselves off to our separate beds, despite Eileen offering Sheila a glass back at her house.

I am glad Sheila declined this offer because I am tired but also wanted to debrief with my aunt on my own before tomorrow. We both feel that our meeting with Sheila went as well as it could have gone and that we covered many bases of difficult conversational topics. As a reward to us both for getting through it and to temporarily lessen our dread for tomorrow, we open a bottle of Champagne, a staple ingredient to the contents of Eileen’s fridge.


Excerpt from Chapter 6, London 1988

She could see signs everywhere and arrows and exits. There were members of staff stood around not doing much at all and others who looked rushed off their feet, so she wondered why they didn’t get better at sharing the workload. The first bag came around the corner and a very happy couple grabbed it finding it hilarious that they didn’t have to wait and could beat the traffic queues. Mary hoped that the smug couple’s car battery had run down like it had on her mum’s car when they were due to go to her gran’s once or that they couldn’t find their keys. Then she silently had a word with herself for being so cynical as they were probably lovely people, she was just bored of walking then waiting then walking so much.

Once they had grabbed their bags and Séan had figured out taxi numbers and prices with the very helpful lady in the tourist information centre, they headed to the rank for another waiting episode during which Mary observed maturely the goings on around her. She often did this and anybody who she openly spoke to about what she perceived would tell her that she had an old head. She never knew what they meant by this expression but nodded and continued her inspections.

The taxi driver was very nice, but he too had that funny accent the same as the man on the passport desk. The taxi was also something new and one thing about England that she had seen photographed – the black cab. She couldn’t remember where she had seen it and gathered that tourist shops in Ireland wouldn’t be promoting very English memorabilia, but she had definitely seen a picture of the famous British feature. She thought it was surreal to be witnessing the reality of these vehicles and cooler still to be travelling inside one.

Mary had always felt that the traffic was bad in Dublin but London trumped Dublin’s busiest times. For the entire journey all Mary heard was the beeping of horns from angry drivers. She found it funny to watch the anger show all over their faces and in the dramatic hand gestures which were sometimes quite rude. What all the fuss was about she didn’t know, nor could she understand why people thought that making this commotion inside your car would help the traffic move more smoothly.

Luckily the two of them were in no rush so the traffic was ok. It will be different when her dad begins work, she noted. This train of thought entering her head made her wonder what her dad was planning to do for work over in London and whether he had sold McDintons or kept it in case they decided to move back home.

All of these questions she stored away for a later date because she felt it too soon to be bombarding her dad with them. Besides, for all she knew he could be feeling quite nervous too.

She couldn’t believe how absorbed in the goings on back home she had been not to notice conversations about the pub or her dad’s work. She was used to listening in on her parent’s conversations always wanting to know absolutely everything but without her mum she figured that no conversation was interesting enough for her to care about anymore.

The chat between her dad and the taxi driver was pretty boring in Mary’s opinion which was why her mind was focussed on other topics. She hadn’t been in many taxis in her lifetime because mostly they spent their free time in the city; if they had gone away it would have been with an auntie or her parents, so they would have taken the car. She did remember in the few taxi rides she’d had there were similarly dull discussions during them though. It was full of what she understood as being small talk. She’d never wanted to travel far if she was with her mother because she worried it would get awkward as her mum often ran out of things to say. Séan on the other hand never had this problem and was the king of this small talk which he was demonstrating in the current situation.

As they got closer to their destination which was unknown to Mary, the houses became larger and less cramped together. The tacky looking newsagents which were cropping up every other building before had vanished and the dirty streets had become much cleaner. Some of the fronts of the buildings looked more like palaces than people’s homes and Mary wondered which one the queen lived in. Perhaps it was one of those. Perhaps they were to be staying with a member of the royal family. She swiftly stopped those thoughts knowing with certainty that the Queen lived at Buckingham Palace and hoped that her dad would take her there quite soon.

Even though it had been drilled into her from a young age that she had Irish blood and the English were very much a separate entity, one thing she had always loved about England from the little that she knew was the royal family. She had watched Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding on her auntie’s television during the summer holidays. She sat there for the whole day being fed ice cream and fruit but not moving her eyes from the box. Her aunt was having a party which most certainly was not in aid of the wedding, but Mary removed herself from this and was utterly absorbed by Dianna’s beauty and the sheer Britishness of it all. She realised that this was going against all morals that her parents had taught her but, in that moment, she didn’t care at all.


These were all their words, he was all mine

Katie Melua’s cover of What a Wonderful World came out strongly from the speakers because James always saw the goodness in everything and everyone. I was overtaken by past memories that left out the horror of the final years. I was remembering the happy times when our family was one and the times before we had a family at all when we loved every aspect that life threw our way. I could hear Sally crying next to Jack who didn’t know how to react in the situation he was in. His first funeral and it was for his dad. How cruel life was sometimes.

Readings came from the reverend who reeled off all of our blurbs put together mixed in with religious connotations of what he felt that death was to him. Abide with Me was the chosen hymn but my voice box failed me due to my weakness and my tears, so I enjoyed the sound of the organ playing a favourite of mine. The committal was spoken, and the curtains closed giving us all closure to a long-suffering horrendous incident. The brain is such a powerful organ. At least our James suffers no more.

As we exited the building for the part of a funeral that any family member dreads, I took Erin and Jack by the hands to the bouquet that some minutes before lay rested where their father was.

‘Take a daisy each,’ I urged to them, both looking fearful at ruining a beautiful display of flowers. ‘Go on, you’re allowed to.’ They each took their favourite coloured bud and cautiously held it in their small hands. ‘Now whenever you’re missing Daddy, press on this for comfort. He is always going to be with you.’ Erin smiled and Jack remained looking confused as we edged our way to stand and be sent many condolences from everybody who loved James.

A true character. A lovely soul. Kind and thoughtful, always giving his everything. Wonderful. Brilliant. Charming. These were all their words, he was all mine.