Valerie O'Riordan

Three Stories


I stole Mrs. Gavinchy’s car. I didn’t know it was hers, I robbed it from the multiplex carpark because Harvey Slade bought scrap metal and I thought if I gave it him for free maybe he’d take me out for a drink or whatever. But when Harv saw the car he was all, I can’t do shit with that, you mad bitch, that’s the fuckin Home Ec teacher’s ride. Oh yeah, I said, haha, and actually it did totally smell of rice pudding which was all Gavinchy ever did with the Year Tens: it was like all I could cook. So then I had to return the car, which was harder than actually nicking it, because everyone’s on the lookout, aren’t they? Harvey said to skip school and go at half eleven in the morning because the cops are all on break then. And because he was nearly twenty and had all the answers, I drove up just like that, foot down on the main road, the radio up loud like I didn’t give multiple shits who saw me. Only really I was pissing myself because I’d not got a license and I’d never even driven in daylight before and I should’ve been in Home Ec getting my rice on or whatever instead of stalling at the lights outside Shauna’s Sex Supplies. And then there was Harvey coming out of Shauna’s with a paper bag in one hand and the other arm wrapped around that posh bint from M&S with her hair pinned up the sides of her head like Krispy Kremes. Like Princess whatsherface. I mean who does she think she is? I’m the one taking risks here. They’re walking out in front of me like they’ve never looked left or right in their lives, so I budge the car on a bit, just thinking to sort of tap her, serve her right the sneaky heifer, give her a wobble, but she properly goes down and Harv starts shouting. He sees me and he drags me out, starts hitting me, going Janey what the fuck you cunt, and I’m letting him, there’s my blood all over his hand and I lick it, and then somebody’s yelling and hauling him off and there’s sirens and I’m shouting Harv wait, but then some toff I don’t know is holding my arm going Miss you’ll need to give a statement and I’m thinking like fuck I will, and the ambulance pulls up and there’s this massive fuss with machines and trolleys, and then suddenly nobody’s holding onto me. So I wipe myself off and walk quickish into Aldi and out by the loading bay and when I reach the school it’s the tail end of double Home Ec. I slip inside in time to help Gavinchy with the washing up. She looks knackered but she says Janey love are you all right? And I say I just really hate rice pudding, and she says honey I know exactly what you mean.

Dina’s a Tramp

Naomi the tattoo girl wants to know, who’s Dina? Nobody, I say. Nobody, she says, and I go, Jesus, all right, it’s my Ma, isn’t it, if you like have to know. Bloody hell, she says, that’s harsh. She’s already traced it out, but, so she can’t tell me to leave. I give her this don’t-fuck-with-me look and she shrugs and starts on the fill. Her fingernails are well grubby. If this goes septic I’m coming back and twatting her. Then I’m going to the place behind the chip shop and getting Naomi’s A Skank on the other arm. What’ll your Da say, she asks next. I dunno, I say, I have to work out which one he is, first, don’t I? How’s that, she says, and I go, well if Dina can’t tell herself, makes it tricky for me, don’t it? Oh, says Naomi, right. She looks at the lettering. She’s onto the S now. Won’t be much longer, she says. Whatever, I say. It’ll be all right, she says. Yeah, I say. Like, sure. And I look down at the ink. The D’s not right. The whole thing looks weird. Stupid. Wishy-washy. Seriously, she says, honey, are you okay? I swallow the sick that’s come up and I nod. But I still feel off by the time I get home. Da’s already there. I mean Steve. Steve’s already there. He opens the door. He says, Christ almighty, Janey. He’s looking at my sleeve where there’s blood soaking through the cotton because I peeled off the cling-film to look even after she warned me not to. He’s looking right at it but all he says is, where the fuck have you been? I say, nowhere. Nowhere, he says, and do they have clocks there? Your Ma’s been slaving. Get in the fucking kitchen! Okay, I say, but I run up the stairs instead. Oy! He’s shouting: Janey! You get back down here! For fuck’s sake! Now he’s thumping after me, only I’ve slammed the bedroom door and now I’m ripping off my cardigan and it’s like I’ve skinned myself. I’m going oh shit oh shit oh shit. Where the hell are your manners, he’s yelling, rattling the handle, you ungrateful little cow.

New Year’s Eve

I was texting Jason saying meet me in Burger King when the pram rolled down the hill and into the road. I put my phone away and ran after. A Honda Civic swerved and smashed into this mint new Merc. Everybody was like screaming. This woman at the lights was all the baby, Jesus God, the baby! So I pushed in and hauled the pram out and showed her there wasn’t a baby, it was just Jason’s fireworks for the New Year’s street party. He’d got them online from like Korea. And the Honda guy was getting sick on the footpath and the Merc guy was yelling at him. The lights woman said to me, what the fuck. I said hey look it’s not even my pram, I got it off Erica, so back off yeah? Erica’s my sister, the one who wants babies even though nothing down there’s working. It was her fella actually gave me the pram: he slipped me a tenner to ditch it on the sly so it wouldn’t keep setting her off bawling. I was on the sly ditching the fireworks too. Last year Jason set fire to the landlord’s hedge with a Catherine’s Wheel and got a final warning. He’s got warnings about all sorts. But now it’s time for starting over. The plan was I’d lob the rockets into the canal, pram and all, and tell Jason we’d been robbed. Then I’d cheer him up with lunch. A tenner in Burger King gets you a proper feast. Only here was the police pulling up, and the Honda guy and the lights woman were all over the fireworks, and the PC with the wonky eye was giving me this look like not you again and I was giving him back the same. Then I took off running. The police legged it after and the Honda man too, I was like the fucking Gingerbread Man tearing through Ancoats, and there was the canal. Well there was nothing else for it so I thought fuck it and I jumped in. Hit the water arse-first. Down then into quiet and cold like you’d never believe. Eyes wide open between one world and the next. For a bit there I didn’t have to worry at all about Jason or Erica. The trolley was there too, sinking, and the fireworks floating off like dead torpedoes. Then up I bobbed, thinking fuck’s sake, covered with green seaweedy party streamer shit, and the people were lined along the bank screaming pull her out, she’ll catch HIV off that filth, but did I see a single one of them diving in after me? I flipped onto my back. Well we’re all starting over.


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