Put yourself in her shoes

It was the deceiving smile she paraded around in school and home that drained her the most

“Taking a backseat behind the chaos and a back track to the reason behind it all, we take a deep dive into the mind of Debbie Brennan and how she ended up being a drug mule at only seventeen.”
We, at The Kilkenny Observer are delighted to kick off 2023 with part four of the trials of fictional character Debbie Brennan, created by Presentation secondary student Keela Ayres.
The Kilkenny Observer – supporting new writing in Kilkenny

By: Keela Ayres

For the last few months Debbie had tried to convince herself that her life had been some elaborate dream. Only it was one that she couldn’t wake up from. It still seemed ridiculous to say out loud let alone believe. Seventeen year olds are a lot of things but they’re not drug dealers. But despite what people may say, she did not fall into that life without good reason.

It started out as a once off job. Drop off the package, don’t get caught and get paid. It was laughably simple. That’s where it should’ve ended. The Boss knew exactly how to reel her in like everyone else on his team, with the promise of easy money. The first handful of deliveries went smoothly. As long as she found the address of the customer, she could walk away with a guaranteed wad in her pocket. It wasn’t until she was forced to travel across town into the deep hours of night that she truly realised the dangers of her new job.

The incident that should’ve driven her to quit was when one ungrateful customer let his thoughts ring clear through a black eye after she delivered less than what he was promised. It wouldn’t be the last time she would face violence during a delivery either. They didn’t care about how old the mule was, but rather what they brought in the package they desperately craved for. Her main worry then was fooling her mother, who she managed to fool into believing she had gotten a job, which was met with unexpected delight. It would be the only reasonable explanation to her late hours and increasing eyebags. It was the deceiving smile she paraded around in school and home that drained her the most. Up until this week’s events, she had become masterful in balancing her double life. The only surprise was her not being caught out sooner. It was a secret relief telling the group that day, it proved she didn’t have to carry around that bearing weight anymore.

She had always been a private person. She never felt it necessary to share every passing thought or feeling she had. Her head was her own private domain over which she ruled but it was one she could never escape. She also never admitted to the group the real reason for not cracking sooner. Debbie loved Harriet, Marky, Frances and James as if they were her own family but deep down, she always had the inkling feeling that she was merely the object of pity.

There was a painfully obvious economic divide between her and them. Her mother worked a “full-time dead-end job” to keep a crumbling roof above them while her friends lived freely in their cosy family sets. She was aware of the things people in their year had said about her and her ‘scruff of a mother’. Insecurity eventually gnawed away at her, leading her to believe that even though she was a part of the group, she would never be able to fit in with them. It was why despite knowing the effects of being a mule, it never stopped the gleeful wave that filled her every time she was paid. It made every minute worth it knowing not only was her mother free of financial burden but the worry of sticking out also began to fade. Over time though it became bigger than just making extra money. She was putting her life at risk.

One ungrateful customer let his thoughts ring clear through a black eye after she delivered less than what he was promised

It wouldn’t take long for everything to spiral downward as the dream she worked endlessly for was broken as easily as it was made.

She was hit with a sinking guilt one night of a delivery when she noticed a child’s swing set in the garden of a regular customer. By fuelling this stranger’s addiction, she was inevitably responsible for the pain and deception that followed as a result. She couldn’t bear to even look in the mirror as she saw a face she no longer recognised. She wanted out. So, the day of the hurling match, Debbie tried to chance her way out of another delivery only to find the Boss had already beaten her to the school gate.

No matter how hard she tried, her mind still couldn’t escape his car. The sound his head made after she slammed it into the windscreen, the piercing wail he let out as a jagged crack crept up the glass. The burn of the blade piercing her skin before clambering out the door. How his threats still echoed around her head. “Your life is in my hands and I can take it away from you.”

To get out of that world, your only option was in a coffin. But Debbie decided she would fight to be the exception.

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