Welcome to The Echo’s annual feature, Summer Soap, a daily fictional serial told over 12 episodes. The latest Soap, called Bleach, was written by Beau Williams, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC. You can catch up with previous episodes at echolive.ie. In this ninth episode, Matthew and Jordan kiss again and have a drunken day out in Cork, but he only has eyes for Orla...
WHEN Jordan finally spoke, it was as if she was able to float. “I… can’t believe you waited that long to kiss me.”
They stood there for a few seconds in the embrace. Matthew was proud of his spur-of-the-moment move. He hadn’t grabbed the keys but the kiss made him feel in control. “I was waiting for the right time.”
Jordan smirked. She put her hand to his chest and pushed him back a step. “Go get dressed, cowboy.”
Matthew ran up the stairs and into his room. He got dressed and threw on a rain jacket. He had been so close. Matthew knew what to do. He would do Jordan’s date night like she wanted and then grab the keys after she fell asleep.
Before he went down the stairs, he stopped at Orla’s door and pressed his open palm to it. “Tonight,” he whispered. “I promise I’ll see you tonight.”
He went down the stairs where Jordan was waiting at the door in her rain jacket, ox-blood red.
“Have you seen my keys? They were on the arm of the couch.”
Matthew knelt down to tie his shoes. “They fell into the couch when you got up to do the dishes.”
Jordan snapped her fingers. “Ah yes. You’re probably right.” She left and returned moments later with the keys. She tucked them into her purse.
“Ready to get wet?” She zipped up her coat.
“Let’s do it.” He placed his hand on the small of her back and they stepped into the rain.
Their trip around the first block was accompanied by a light drizzle. Jordan had wrapped both of her arms around his.
“So, Mr Confidence, was it everything you had imagined?”
It was then that the cloud above opened up and unleashed the rain. They flinched and began to run. Holding hands, they sprinted through the wet streets. Water splashed off of everything and heavied their clothes. It lashed down as they weaved through cars and down along the tiny footpaths of Holly Hill. The droplets came down in thick ropes from the sky. There was an overhang in front of a storefront at the bottom of the hill; she ducked into it and pulled Matthew in from the wet.
Now, it was her turn. She pulled his face to hers and kissed him deeply. Matthew was taller than her. Rain dripped down his hair and onto her face. Their mouths opened and closed together and they roughly handled one another’s bodies.
This felt wrong to Matthew. He should be with Orla but he had to play the game for now. That would keep Jordan happy and distracted for a while. He wished he could lock her out of the house and stay in Orla’s room. He could take care of her. He could tidy her room and light the candle. He could gently wash the girl and the floor with the bleach water. Isn’t that what Jordan had done? Did that actually work? It seemed to. God, and how would he tell her about Jordan?
The kiss came to its natural end. She grabbed the chest of his jacket in her fist and forced him back a step. This must be her special move.
“I’m hungry,” she said. “and I want another drink.”
“After you, love.”
They both grinned. She pushed him out into the rain and ran past.
They skirted up the street for a couple of blocks to the Hall of Fame and went inside. They dripped from head to toe all over the ’Welcome’ mat. Matthew removed his rain jacket and shook it out. Jordan did the same then they walked to the counter.
Matthew went first, “I’ll have two slices of pepperoni and... what do you want?”
She held his upper arm and put her head on his shoulder. She hissed into his ear: “Meat.”
“Make it four ’roni.”
“And two Tuborgs, Colm!” She slapped a 20 on the counter. “Keep the beers coming until this runs out. We’ll be at the back booth.”
The night was loud and full of alcohol. Their mouths opened wide and let loose hearty laughs. Drinks turned voices to honey and it dribbled down their chins. The room pulsed in that dark-artery-rouge light.
“...so, I juss told her that I was sick of the way she was treating me and that I was moving to Cork. Annyouknow my dad had cit’zenship an’ America was falling to bits anyway, so why not? Plus, all I ever wanted was to work inna bar in Ireland…” she held out her arms and offered the room to him, “...looka me now.”
The back of her head nudged the framed Dolores O’Riordan poster behind her and it fell to the floor with a crash. All the bar patrons began to applaud her; a few whistled and hooted.
“Shattered to bits!” Matthew slurred as he raised his glass with the others. Jordan stood up and took a bow, nearly slipping on the broken glass.
“If only you drunks coul’be so graceful!” she laughed as she stumbled behind the bar to grab the broom. Colm, the bartender, snatched the broom from her hand.
“It’s okay, Jordan. I can clean it. I think you’ve had enough.”
Jordan stopped and stared at him. “Oh, s’cuse me? You think I’ve had too much? Like maybe I can’t handle myself?” She poked a finger into him. Her pupils were large. “I can handle myself. Don’ you ever tell me I can’t.” She leaned in and put her lips to his ear: “I will bury you.” Jordan stepped back, applied a crumpled smile, and yanked the broom back. “Thanks, Colm!”
She collected the broken bits, poured them into the bin, and walked back to the table. She finished the rest of the pint with a gulp and grabbed Matthew by the elbow.
“Come on, Matthew. Les’ go back to mine.”