I wrote this a while ago. I just love the name Erin Flood. I don’t know where it came from. Then there is the name Eminy, not sure if I made that up or found it somewhere:

“Erin Flood” extracts from a work in progress

“I’ve just fallen out of love with you.”

“Nice…” I spat.

“In fact, I don’t know if I ever did love you.”

“It’s taken you long enough.”

“And there is someone else…”

“Just get out and leave me alone.”

So, two bags and three years quietly closed the door and that was that. I felt empty and returned to what I had been doing, marking essays. What bliss, my world could be collapsing, but I had work to do. So, I moved on, the story of my life.

***

I looked into the mirror and saw my panda eyes. I hadn’t realised I had been crying. Then it really hit me and the tears flowed as I watched in the reflection. Great big charcoal blobs running down my cheeks. Why was I sad? I hated him even though I thought I had loved him. I really hated him.

***

The classroom was emptying as she approached my desk.

“Miss Thomas?”

“Erin?”

“What happened here?”

“It was an A wasn’t it?”

“Yes, but look…”

The tears had spread like pools over her work, blotting out words and meanings as they merged with one another, just on the second page, but it was ruined just as my love life had been ruined last night.

“I am so sorry Erin.”

“Are these tears?”

I felt myself going red.

“Maybe, your work is so moving…” I suggested.

“Don’t be silly, but were you crying are you okay?”

I looked up into her riveting blue eyes and was stunned by how gorgeous she was; looking so concerned and sad for me. But who wants a student to be sad when you should be in control.

“It was nothing Erin, you’d best get on.”

She smiled. “If you say so.”

***

We stood by the bar, finishing our drinks. It was loud and sweaty. It would take my mind off whatever it was I was thinking.

“He’s gone and I’m glad.”

“Really Braith? But it’s been years, as long as I’ve known you.” Philly didn’t believe me.

“Three, wasted, all wasted years. I should have learnt…”

“But, how can you?”

“You know when it’s not right don’t you Philly? I fooled myself, but really I’ve known for a long time…”

“What now?”

“Move on,” I sipped my drink. “I must move on, I don’t need anyone else. I have my friends. I don’t need a man to make me whole.”

“No, none of us do.”

“It’s just that I know I could have done so much better.”

“That’s sad.”

“I know, it’s so disappointing to throw all my eggs into his one bloody basket, to give him everything when…”

“No point in sob stories Braith.”

“No, I promised I would not feel sorry for myself. I just feel a fool for being taken in for so long.”

“He must have…”

“He said not the bastard. He said he’d never loved me.”

“He’s a liar. How could he not?” Philly snarled

“You’re right. How could he not love me? Well his loss. My freedom. Let’s get dancing!”

So, we made it to the dance floor, ignored everyone else and just danced. Dissolving into the music and forgetting everything and everybody. I didn’t have a care and I didn’t give a damn about the world. It could pass me by and I would get back on when I thought the time was right. At the moment I didn’t need anything. The lights flashed and the music pumped in time to their strobe and I could see Philly flickering as she got caught in the rhythm of the strobe. Over her shoulder I recognised Erin Flood who was dancing on her own; she caught my eye and waved shyly. I waved. What was she doing out on a school night were my thoughts. What a prig you are I told myself and then floated off in to my own musical world.

***

Erin Flood was blissfully unaware of the effect she had on other people, or maybe she was only too aware. Naïve or worldly wise no one could be sure, but she never tried to be something she wasn’t. She stood in front of her mirror looking at her sparkling blue eyes and asking herself what did she actually see as she spent her days denying anyone the chance to get close to her. She was her own woman, needed no help from anyone. Woman? Seventeen, young woman? Girl? Person? How should she describe herself? She smiled at the mirror and saw her white teeth and flawless skin. She did like what she saw. Her hair tumbled over her face, auburn and rich and luxuriant, she scraped it up and fixed it into a bun, wrapping a ribbon around it to finish it off. Her make up followed, just a touch of mascara to highlight her eyes and a brush of scarlet on her lips. Her freckles danced as they caught the sun and she smiled once more.

***

Erin danced in the rain, holding her sisters’ hands as they span around getting quickly soaked to the skin. Her dress stuck to her body and she laughed out loud as the rain poured and drenched them both. Eminy, her sister was dizzy with excitement and from spinning round and as Erin let her go she span once more then tumbled to the floor giggling hysterically like the nine year old she was. She lay there on the grass, arms out wide welcoming the rain to cavort across her body and Erin sank by her side and they stared up into the blue grey sky and laughed at it daring it to do its worst.

“I’m a Rain Angel Erin!” Eminy squealed with joy, moving her arms up and down on the grass.

“Eminy, you’ll get filthy…”

“Don’t care!” she shrieked.

“Don’t care was made to care!” Erin reprimanded, but Eminy just jumped onto her big sister and hugged her, pinning her to the ground.

They rolled over in the mud and the rain laughing hysterically, getting soaked and dirtier by the minute. Erin could not understand what had come over her lying besides her maddening little sister who just rocketed about her life without a care in the world.

“Girls what are you doing?” a plaintive voice shouted.

“Playing!” they replied in unison.

“Getting filthy, come in now!” Their mother was cross.

Shamefaced, but happy they got up and hand in hand ran inside

“Erin what were you thinking?”

“Yea Erin what…” Eminy mimicked and only made her big sister laugh.

“Just having fun mum, a bit of fun…”

“Look at the mud on you both!” her mother was starting to laugh, “Get to the shower the pair of you!”

***

Eminy was singing and splashing in the bath. More mess to clean up thought Erin. She stood under the shower letting the water lavish over her body. She luxuriated in the warmth and the sensations it brought to her skin. She traced her form through the soap and enjoyed the feelings it gave her, ignoring her sister she dissolved with pleasure.

***

“Do we admire Owen?” I asked.

There was a bit of muttering and shuffling. They did irritate me when they couldn’t manage an opinion. How would they manage when they had to speak their own mind, let alone write it down for their exams?

“I adore Owen,” it was Erin, “he is beautiful…”

There were a few sniggers. I fixed the guilty with my eyes, “Why so Erin?”

“His words, his use of words just decorates the page…”

“In what way?” I asked.

“They flow, like blood from an open wound; they describe the pain, the fear, the panic…”

“But decorate?”

“They show us all the feelings we can imagine. They are displayed before us. Every emotion, every sense he puts in front of us. No matter how hard we try to escape the pain he keeps us there focussed. An ecstasy of fumbling he writes…”

“Yes in ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’”

“An ecstasy. How can death and fear be an ecstasy? Why choose that word, why lay bare his thoughts with such a sexual allusion?”

There were no giggles now; all were transfixed by her words.

“It’s all a controlled panic, we see men instantly awakened with heightened sensibility, men with just seconds to find a gas mask, seconds to avoid death. Then we see the tragedy as one man is too late and is seen only through the ‘green sea ‘of mustard gas, yelling… tumbling… drowning… guttering… choking. It’s horrific, but a beautiful horror.“

“But it is, isn’t it?” one of the boys said.

“Yea, the words set off feelings inside us that we don’t know are there.” His friend alongside him added.

“But are there all the time…” one of the girls who never contributed anything started.

Erin had certainly started something, unlike anything we had discussed before. She had used her words to open up the minds of the class.

***

I looked across at Erin Flood. I knew she was a bright girl, but her words had really moved me today. I was so proud of her. She glanced up from her work and our eyes met and I felt myself blush as I quickly looked away. But why did I have to be so defensive. I returned my gaze and Erin was looking intently at me, a half smile on what was a really beautiful face. I looked away again feeling embarrassed and only too pleased when one of the boys asked a question.

***

Erin looked on with wry amusement as the so called games began. She thought that by now boys knew better than to approach her. She had given them the cold shoulder often enough and they knew she didn’t want any type of relationship at the moment. Most took it with good grace; some were a bit pathetic and sneered as if she was undermining the whole fabric of society by not even considering their merits. To be honest she knew all of their merits or to be fair lack of them. She was not enamoured by the thought of any relationship with any boy at school or in the pubs and clubs she visited. She just seemed to prefer her own company. The boys scanned the room and chose their victims who either succumbed to their charms or ignored them. Some tolerated their company for just that moment too long and would make the face that showed the time had passed and they had missed their chance. Others were just flattered that a lad would talk to them and say anything at all. Desperate is as desperate does thought Erin as yet another crumbled and went off with her suitor. She smiled and sipped her drink. She felt as if she was a wise old owl looking down from her perch at the smaller less intellectual birds who could be convinced by any words or any arguments no matter how fallacious.

“Surprise to see you here Erin…” I said.

“Hi… I know Priti, she baby sat for my sister, Eminy.”

“Right…”

“How do you know her?”

“I don’t. I came with my friend Philly… don’t think I’ll stay though…”

“Oh why?”

“Bit embarrassing all you guys here and me your teacher.”

“Well not really, there’s not such an age difference.”

“I know, but wouldn’t want to cramp anyone’s style.”

“Do you think they have a style these lads?”

“Well, I suppose not, but all the same…”

“Can I come with you then?”

This was a surprise, I wasn’t sure.

“Only if you don’t mind, I don’t like parties like this, meat factories all the lads inspecting and trying it on and expecting something…”