At the back of my mind...My tremulous shoulders reveal an emotional outburst, but I hide my swollen face in a mascara stained paper towel clutched in my trembling hands. All around me I can feel my well-behaved relatives shooting glances in my direction, feeling sorry for me, but wishing I could get my act together and behave like the civilised human being I was brought up to be. Dressed appropriately in black, they feel they have a right to judge me, the rebel in jeans and t-shirt. Take a bow, Sheila. Youve earned your applause. Now drop the act. No, not today. Theres no acting today. A bit of hiding, but no acting. The valium I took earlier makes me feel detached, almost like Im floating underneath the ceiling. But Im still connected with my feelings. And with my memories. Im bringing all of that up there with me, staring down upon the rest of the people,
Shiny, shiny boots of leatherShe knows she's not being followed, yet she keeps walking steadily on. There's nothing or no one to be seen, and ahead of her and behind her the lanes stretch on for miles of visible road. Empty. She should be tired, but she's not. Her feet should ache, but she's too numb to feel it. She staggers on, in high heeled boots and torn stockings. Her right hand clutches a purse, its reins hanging towards the ground, swinging from side to side in sync with her movements. Her fingernails are painted red, but several of them are broken, and the polish is peeling off. Her index and middle fingers are scratched where she scrapes them against her teeth above the toilet bowl twice a day, after tying her hair in a pony tail at the back of her neck. The hair hangs in greasy, dirty blonde waves around her face now. Her age is hard to determine. She's dressed up to look older th
Red, chapter 4 I think shes Norwegian, Colin whispered as Brian and himself stumbled out of the three-bunk hostel room they had just checked into in rue La Fayette. It was called Peace & Love, but the hallway was hardly peaceful. It was evident that Brian hadnt heard him. Now she probably thinks were gay, he said. When did blokes start going to the bathroom together? Couldnt you have said Were going to jog up and down the stairs for a bit instead?" Because were normal, Colin retorted. Besides, shed notice thered be no sweat on us when we returned. Well, there better not be, now, Brian snapped.Colin ignored him. Did you hear me just now, though? he asked, telling him about the flag.
Red, Chapter 3Colin and Brian had met two years previously, at a university in Sydney, where they bonded instantly over a common desire to get away from the people they were expected to become. Brian was born and raised there, whereas Colin had arrived with his parents after his sister died from leukaemia at the age of 14. Colin had grown up in Dublin, and knew those streets like the back of his hand. After two years in Australia, a country strange to him, in a city bigger than Dublin in any way he thought possible, he kept thinking that there was something missing, although he couldn't grasp exactly what it was. He felt that the answer was waiting for him back in Ireland, and the only way he could feel whole again, and home again, was by returning to the streets where he grew up. Maybe all he needed was some sort of closure, but the only thing he knew for sure was that he had to get back there, and see what it was the city wanted to tell him.
Red, Chapter 2The train cut easily through the landscape, and the view from the windows changed almost cinematically from suburban towns to green fields and smaller country villages. Red was finally fast asleep, her head resting against the window and her hair a tangled mess around her face. Every now and then the movement of the train made her head bump gently against the cool glass, but she didnt wake up. Brian and Colin were both watching her carefully. It had taken them quite some time calming her down earlier, and when they finally got her convinced she was safe, she fell asleep in just a few minutes, obviously exhausted. Colin, who hadnt noticed the man on the platform, was taken aback by what he saw only as a second unprovoked outburst of emotion in a very short time, but was still the one who managed to cool her down, again by the use of his voice. Brian, on the other hand, wondering about the connection between the stranger and Red
Red, Chapter 1, Part 2Brian hoisted the girls backpack up onto the shelf above their seats, when something fell out of a side pocket and fluttered through the air before it landed on the fold-up table. Brian looked carefully in the direction of Colin and the girl, both staring out the window, before picking up what turned out to be a photo of a group of people, all seemingly dressed up for a fancy dress party, or maybe a carnival. There were around fifteen of them, and among them four men in robes, each in a different colour. They all looked serious and unaware of the photographer, except a young woman with red hair and a white, long dress, who looked playfully right into the camera. Brian didnt recognise her until the picture was ripped out of his hand, and the girl herself stared at him, furiously. She held the piece of paper so tightly in her hand that she crumpled it, and the intensity radiating from her made the skin on his back crawl. He apologized, and she sat back down, stuffing the phot