Aislinn, a short story by Karina Tynan

IMG_6321“What’s happening?”

“Is the train shaking?”

“Oh dear God we’re going into the sea!”

“No we’re not.”

“Well what was that jolt then.”

“We’re stopped, that’s all.”

Well we’re nowhere near the platform but the view is fabulous. We’re looking down at the sea and we’re higher than the seagulls and it’s a kind enough day, only a few clouds. There’s a couple of fishing boats in between the yachts. You can see them from here. The birds are after the fishing boats. They’ve no interest in yachts. I’d say yachters don’t know a thing about fish. They just turn left and right with the weather. It’s like they play with the wind same as the birds except not as good at it.

Yer man up there at the end fo the carriage; we’ll call him Peter for the craic isn’t as drunk as he’d like to be and the other fellow; his compadre, I’ll call him Paul, – is a bit of a half man trying to be Jack the lad but he hasn’t a clue so he hasn’t. I’ve seen Peter before and all he’s going to do is get ossified and vomit and there’ll be no craic to be had for poor old Paul who thinks he’s a great lad on the dart with the worst of all the Skangers.

We’re stuck. The train hasn’t moved now for about ten minutes. It was a bit of an abrupt stop I’ll give it that and there’s a young one, over there shivering to herself. She hasn’t gotten up to wonder or look at the sea or nothing. I think she’s mumbling. She has a few bags and she keeps rooting and distracting herself, checking she has everything she brought. Her hair is dyed as black as you can get it and it’s frizzy at the ends but she’s a good looking enough young one in a swotty kind of a way. You’d imagine her reading books and hiding behind them. I’d say she thinks the other two are right eejits, the same as I do. I’m calling her Kate.

There’s been no talking out on the intercom at all which is very unusual. Everything seems to be broken. An electrical fault I’d say but I’m not a bit scared or put out, sure it’s a lovely day and I was just going out for the view anyway. I’m kind of spiritual these days having found myself and all. I was suffering terrible and then I got the bit of help and I’m on a kind of high ever since. It’s God working in his mysterious ways so it is. I’m not being all preachy though nor talking about being in some religion, no, it’s nothing like that.

The two women in the next seat to Peter and Paul would like to move away from the intimidating feelings you get around the likes of them but they’re afraid we could be here for a while. If they take offence at them moving, well it might be, lets say, not the right move. Personally I think things could get messy if this train doesn’t start up again soon. The women are holding on to their handbags. What’s that all about? Women and handbags? It’s like women are carrying eggs around in bags. I suppose it’s money and they’re afraid of being robbed. Sure no-one has much these days and they know the likes of Peter and Paul are not the May West at getting what they want through honest labour. Sure they’re only women. I’m not meaning anything by that, except for, if one of the lads went to rob them, even if they were stoned, they’d still be stronger because of the fact that they’re men. It’s not fair really. No wonder women hold on tight to their bags. Imagine if women had the same amount of strength as men. God that’d be a laugh.

The beer and the giving out is keeping them quiet for the now, thank God. The fun wont start till that runs out.

There’s always one who takes control in a crises. Charles there has his head half out the window even though it hasn’t a hope of fitting through. He’s trying his best to look up and down. I’m calling him Charles because there’s something in all Charles’ in my experience to date that have a bit of a swing to them. Now what do I mean by swing when I’m at home? I’m talking from my intuition. I never knew I had an intuition till I got the bit of help. I was a drinker. Found myself rightly in the dirt. Rock bottom they call it. I was even starting to tip away at the drugs to get me right and by God, that stuff’ll get you right, but by God it’ll get you wrong too when you’re not able to get enough of it. Dire it was until this lovely Aislinn* found me on the street one night crying for my mother. Now what I was doing crying for her is one of the great mysteries yet to be solved in this world. I still think they must have taken two fellows in that night. One who was crying for his mother and the other one cursing her to hell and then they got us mixed up. Though that story doesn’t fit either because as far as I’m concerned she’s dead to me. I’ll never know now because I don’t remember a thing about that night, only Aislinn. She was used to lads from the street like me and I’m not joking but she took me and my life, as it was, so serious. It was like it was a no brainer to her that I was important. She saw me the same as the ones with the money and the jobs and the suits. That never happened before in my whole life. She’s like a saint. And when I told her so she just laughed and when she laughed she was surrounded in a white light like the way you’d imagine the Holy Virgin Mary, except for her spiky hair and the ring in her nose. She has one on her tongue and all. I think that’s why I’m on a high ever since. It’s like being born again and now the world is exactly the opposite to how it was. I’m a bit of martian now, seeing things I never saw and feeling sorry for everyone who isn’t.

Charles is still looking up and down to see if there’s any help coming. One of the women has her phone out and she’s ringing all the relevant authorities or maybe it’s her husband she’s ringing, I’m not sure.

There’s another lad, I’ll call him Jamie. He has a briefcase and he’s opened it a few times while he’s been on the phone. It’s like he’s late for something important and trying to stay calm and trying to phone whoever’s waiting for him. I feel sorry for Jamie. He’s a big lad with one of those little suits you see on young fellows these days. He looks like he’s going to burst out of the trousers, his legs are that big and full of muscles like rugby players but he’s in the fashion with the pointy shoes and all. I’d say his hair is hard with stuff in it too but I’m not sure that look is the right look for Jamie. He tried a few times to speak into the few holes there by the red button but he got embarrassed and sat down again.

I wonder has the driver died. Maybe he had a heart attack and his head hit the button that turns off all the electricity when he fell. Maybe there is no such thing as electricity anymore and it was all imagined like all the things I imagined in my old life; that I was a nothing person with nothing to live for, with no one caring for me, ever, until I met a saint who treated me like a man and I couldn’t believe it so I couldn’t, the way she talked to me, asking me all about myself, asking me who I fancied. What was I like as a teenager.

“Drunk” was all I could say.

“Where did you get the drink?” she said.

You know I haven’t a clue where I got drink back then. The old lad would have killed me for sure if he caught me with his stash but I managed to find it or find the people who had it. Now all I have to deal with is who I fancy and that is, so far, a secret. I’ve had urges for men and I don’t like it one bit and I’m not telling Aislinn about it either. I’m sure she’d still be nice but maybe she wouldn’t shine still because I’d be imagining I’d changed in her eyes. I wouldn’t like the thoughts that would be in my head then and sure everything is so grand and so bright like a whole new world. I think I’ll leave it so for the now.

Poor Charles is after hitting his nose on the window so the two women have found an excuse at last to get away from Peter and Paul. Their cans are empty and they’re giving out about the Dart and how terrible it is. The tension is starting to mount as I predicted.

I’m calling the two women Breda and Josephine. Breda’s a big woman, smothery mother and I’d say she’s going to smother poor Charles with the gratitude for him hitting his nose and giving her the excuse to get up. She has loads of tissues in the bag and she’s firing them at him. Josephine is kind of egging her on. Josephine is younger and nearly as big. They look a little bit like each other. Maybe she’s her daughter. I’d say Breda had her very young.

Now Kate has started crying saying she can’t stand the blood and she’s shaking all over. She’s having a panic attack and I know what they’re like. You think you’re going to die. I’m going over to hold her hand.

“It’s going to be alright love, just try and breathe, keep breathing.”

“I can’t” – and she’s even finding that hard to say and the tears are flowing down her eyes and the snots are coming out of her nose.

“Hey Mrs can you throw me over one of those tissues.”

Over comes Breda like a big nurse shaking the train with tissues and all the advise in the world. “Now love my niece had those attacks” then she gets an idea “Has anyone got a bag?”

Over comes Peter with a plastic bag.

“No not a plastic one, you’ll smother the child” says Breda.

I think Kate is going to faint and that’s going to be awful because it’s all I know how to do is hold her hand. That’s what Aislinn did and it was enough for me at the time but it’s not making a blind bit of difference to poor Kate.

The train is starting to move now.

“You’re going to be alright now love, the train is moving, it’s not far at all now, we won’t be long” I say.

She’s starting to calm down.

“Thanks” she says.

“Not a bother” I say, “Here we are now.”

There’s still no sign of an apology from the intercom but I suppose we’ll find out soon enough what’s after happening. There’s about twenty fellows in yellow and a few in green. Ambulance drivers I suppose, even a couple in white. An young man who must be a doctor even though he looks about fifteen to me. They’re asking us to stay where we are until they take the driver away on a stretcher.  That’s fair enough. I’d say he’s dead alright.


The retellings on this site (though true to the myths them selves) are my own work and copyrighted to me so please ask before using elsewhere.

*Aislinn – an Irish woman’s name – means dream

Photograph – a view of Killiney Bay Co Dublin which can be seen from the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit)

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