NORTH OF THE LIFFEY IN THE AUTUMN OF '17 - Stephen O'Donnell
The river water moving fast and everything on the quays Saturday morning still. Not a soul on the streets. Cars in still rows and such stillness, the air like the calm before the hurricane makes land. The streets will teem with the thirsty Saturday masses, shouting, falling, laughing, clacking of hen party heels and Welshmen full of beer chanting some old miners drinking songs from broken glass main streets across the water. Drinking until the ferry sloshes them back to their valleys. And all of it happening four floors below.
And the apartment all lit with fairy lights that run like foxfire around the doorway and another bundle in the fireplace and a playlist, heavily curated to suit all tastes and merry times ahead, the guests will be arriving soon. Slinging packs of canned beer or holding tight to dark bottles of rioja and ready for a good time and a little nervous after pleasantries, the boys talking softly at the kitchen table while the women’s laughter rings from the make up room, really the bedroom, and coming in ones and twos into the kitchen to chill wine and collect lime slices, trading jokes with the men as they greet them and have you any plastic cups and how’s work and where’s so and so and how was your trip away and did you hear they broke up and then leaving again for the disco music that comes from the girls room and soon there will be good hearted arguments over the next song and spilled beer and dancing but not so loud for security to be called tonight and take off your fucking shoes and everyone merry and anticipating a great night like all the others and now drinking games and howls of laughter and divisions draw up and tactical movements underway and jeering as a villain escapes his fate at the last second and passes his poison to the girl next him and now cheers as the birthday girl must drain her glass and clapping and stomping of feet and the music, music everywhere, Bicep and Bey, The Pogues and MK, Todd Terje, the riverdance theme, if you can name it someone’ll play it and men leaving to smoke on the narrow balcony with an ear to window as their name is called and the mayhem general now as people leave to piss or else collect in small numbers in the kitchen and the hallway to joke and laugh with the people moving to and fro and knocks on the bathroom door and hang on just a sec and great laughter all through the rooms of the place and now another song an old classic all know and love or despise with a tolerant hatred almost like love and now it’s taxi time and step out into the autumn night air and slurring and stumbling and hidden cans and wicked giggling and ready to take it all with us to the dancefloor wherever we find it.
And these are the nights to be remembered.
To remember in funeral parlours.
And to remember in asylum ward corridors.
And to remember by hospital beds.
To remember in the silence.
Stephen O'Donnell's fiction has appeared in various publications including Five on the Fifth, Gambling the Aisle, Solidago and the Avalon Literary Review amongst others. He is currently working on his second novel. A complete list of his work can be found at stephenmodonnell.wixsite.com/steodo