This week, The Kilkenny Observer welcomes Kilkenny student Keela Ayres as she presents episode five of a short story for our readers. As a newspaper, we attempt to cover as much news as possible on various topics. The inclusion of a young writer, such as Keela, with aspirations in that field, is something we are happy to promote
By: Keela Ayres
“Debbie is finally free from the confines of hospital but the fear consuming her is yet to follow. With seemingly no options left, the group hatch an escape plan but the results prove to be less than ideal”.
“Any colour they could’ve given me for the cast and they chose YELLOW?!” The group were gathered in Debbie’s room, with the afternoon sun spilling in eagerly through narrow slips of curtain.
Debbie sat upright in bed with the aid of Harriet’s ‘pillow mountain’ wearing a scowl that proved a sharp contrast to the giddy doodles tracing her arm.
Marky broke into a wide smirk at her expense, earning him a slap from Harriet.
The pair sat with barely an inch between them on the floor while James occupied the window sill and Frances perched awkwardly at the foot of the bed.
The warm glow of the room couldn’t distract them from the harsh reality they now faced.
“So your Mam still won’t talk to you?” Harriet decided to distract Debbie from her cast dilemma.
Weeks had passed since the infamous attack at the hurling match but rumours surrounding it remained rampant.
In school everyone now travelled in their own anxious packs, fuelled with the fear of being the next victim.
Debbie directed her gaze on her blanket;
“Not even a word since we left the hospital. Honestly I wish I never told her.”
Frances shook her head; “She’s just scared Debbie. So are we.” Before anyone could interject, Debbie pulled out a slip of paper from underneath her pillows.
A train ticket. She kept her voice steady but dared not to raise her head.
“I wanted you all to come here today because I wanted to tell you all properly. I’ll be leaving tomorrow morning. I know I can’t stay here anymore. I can’t risk putting anyone in danger. It’s my only option.”
The group watched in bewilderment as Debbie dashed outside, her inky curls disappearing behind the crack of the door.
Harriet and Marky exchanged a concerned glance before following in hot pursuit, leaving James and Frances rooted to the spot in shock. It wasn’t long before the faint sound of an argument began brewing outside as strained shouting rippled through the walls.
Frances let out a worried squeak; “I’ll check on them.” As she turned to get up, James caught the flash of colour falling out from Frances’ skirt pocket. Without hesitation he rose from the window sill and pinched the edge with a swift swipe. She whipped around, trying to claw at in a desperate frenzy. “Don’t James!”
He raised his head, his eyes contorted with confused anger.
“This is the car, isn’t it? Why did you hide this?”
“No one was supposed to see it,” Frances choked out. “Frances, you have to go to the Guards with this. They can catch that scumbag before he hurts Debbie again.”
Frances made another failed attempt to snatch it back. “Debbie’s suffering enough as it is. Anyway, it’s too big of a risk. You’ve seen what these people are like. You don’t cross them.” The pair locked eyes, both in refusal of backing down.
Frances fought desperately against the jitters that were itching her body.
Before Frances could make her final grab, Harriet reappeared.
She cleared her throat, her shoulders heavy with defeat.
Debbie’s mind wasn’t going to be changed. “Marky and I are going with Debbie to the station tomorrow.
Are ye coming?” James gave a quick nod. “Of course. I’m going to head off now, Mam’s probably waiting for me.” Frances followed him in horror as he slipped the Polaroid into his pocket going out the door. He had found his opportunity and taken it. “See you then!” Harriet called after him.
Marky came back in with Debbie, armed with a scuffed suitcase on the brink of spilling.
“You’re already packed?” Frances beady eyes blinked rapidly behind her wired frames.
“She threatened to break my arm so we’d have matching casts,” Marky snorted as he extended the handle towards Debbie.
As she tightened her grip around it, he placed a protective hand on her shoulder.
“We can still find another way to solve this Deb. You running away, is a mistake.” She gently patted his hand with her free one.
“If keeping my friends safe is a mistake, then it’s one I’ll gladly make.”
The train station was clouded in morning mist, the faint whirring of travelling trains hung in the air. Frances, Marky and Harriet stood in a tight little huddle on the cobbled platform, still secretly clinging onto the hope of Debbie changing her mind.
“Where’s James? He told me he’d be here first.” Marky turned to face the girls. Frances bit back her answer, knowing the damage the truth would cause if let loose.
The sound of rolling wheels greeted them as Debbie flung herself towards the group. She squeezed them all so hard, it rocked them to their bare bones. Only silence could sit with them since no one knew what to say.
The clock rang out seven chimes as the train crept towards the platform. She left as quick as she came, hurtling down to her only chance of escape. “DON’T LET THAT GIRL ON THE TRAIN!” an authoritative voice bellowed behind the ticket office.
The group, Debbie included, spun around in a dazed panic. Their eyes meet a dishevelled Garda with a photo held in her grasp. “Care to explain this little thing?”
Keela Ayres is from Kilkenny City and currently attends Presentation Secondary School.