Welcome to The Echo’s annual feature — Summer Soap, a daily fictional serial which runs over 12 parts, which began last Monday and runs for a fortnight. Called Moving Along, this story, set in Cork city, was written by Nejla Gaylen, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC. In this penultimate episode, How will Kate react to the news she is dead? Catch up on previous episodes at echolive.ie
Episode Eleven - Saoirse
“The name’s Saoirse,” the little woman said, sticking her hand out to Kate.
“I don’t think it’s right of you to come push your way into where I live and imply something as horrible as that. I’ve had a really bad day.”
Kate felt a flare of anger mixed with an uneasiness. She hesitated before shaking the offered hand. It was damp like the woman. And cold.
“A bad day is an understatement. Truth be told now, it couldn’t get any worse. But I’m just here to do my job, like.”
“Your job is to tell people they’re dead?”
“Girl,” Saoirse answered. “Isn’t always so shocking though. People wander off like you did all the time and get stuck. When they’re not expecting it.
“The sick ones they come on grand like, delighted to be rid of the sickness and the pains. The really old ones, they’re giving out, ‘What kept ya so long? I wouldn’t want to be in a hurry’. People like you are lost and fighting to go back.”
She had walked past Kate, into the apartment and almost to the windows. She turned and said, “There’s no going back, ya know.”
“But I’m not dead. A little shaken up and I probably got a few scratches on me from falling off the bike, but I’m not dead. That’s ridiculous.”
“You were hit by a Cork city bus, not a Toyota Starlet. And a double decker, like.”
Saoirse stood facing Kate, trying to make her understand.
“Created a fierce commotion and it happened so fast, most of the people who saw it weren’t even sure what had happened. They saw it right in front of their eyes and still couldn’t tell it right.”
“I can remember feeling the wind from the bus as it went by. It didn’t hit me though. It dashed by, close, and the wind kind of unsteadied me and blew me over onto the walkway. I was frozen in fear for just a moment, but then it passed.”
“Banjaxed you were! Tossed into the heavens. That was the wind you felt, flying through the skies above. The impact, it threw you a far way. It wasn’t the moment that passed. You understand?”
“But I don’t feel any different. I feel fine. A person would know if they died. Stuff happens when you die. White lights, angels singing, skies opening up. There was nothing. My life didn’t even flash before my eyes.”
“Jonathan pooping in the corner of your bedroom. The poor little neighbour boy having to get his spleen removed after you and your sister convinced him he was a BMX superstar. The speckled booty spider, the wine bath, the near drowning with the stingray, your life. That was your life you were seeing.”
Kate moved to the sofa and sat down. She could hear the bells ringing in the distance. Still ringing. She looked around the apartment trying to see if anything was different, trying to feel if anything was different.
“And that’s why I couldn’t find the Bertha’s Revenge?
“Mary, Mother of God and His divine mercy! You have an affection for the Bertha’s, like. But no, that wasn’t the reason. You finished the Bertha’s off on Saturday, right and proper. Everything else is whatever it is and you’re just dead.”
“But my sister... does she know...,” Kate couldn’t finish the sentence as she looked at the phone in her hand.
“You haven’t been talking to your sister there. And you don’t even know yourself. Not yet. Not really. You wouldn’t still be here in this apartment if you did.
“But no bothers, girl. I’m going to get you all sorted.”
Saoirse placed her hand on Kate’s shoulder. “Let’s just crack on now.”
Kate didn’t stand up initially, but she didn’t resist when Saoirse helped her to her feet and said: “Maybe we can find a bottle of Bertha’s for ya along the way.”