Welcome to The Echo’s annual feature — Summer Soap. Now in its sixth year, Summer Soap is a daily fictional serial run over 12 parts, which starts today and runs till Saturday week. Called Droid, this story is about a boy who designs a robot, and was written by Margaret Gillies, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC. In the first episode, we meet an intriguing Cork boy...
As read by Anna O'Donoghue.
If you cannot see the sound file above listen here
Lucca Grimes is a very smart boy. He has built a robot.
Sometimes Lucca skateboards in the Boole basement. The wheels skitter across the brown tiles, making a sexy tut-tut sound. This is when he doesn’t have anywhere to be, which is most of the time. Though also when he’s waiting for Eden Mackessy to come out of a History of Art lecture. He goes tut-tut-tut over the floor and when he sees Eden among the people bleeding out, his board goes skit. He could be sat beside her in that muggy theatre with its warm armpit air, but he isn’t. He’s never there. But he is still a very smart boy.
Eden gives Lucca a look. He picks up his skateboard and runs after her.
Eden spits out her gum. “No. It was fine.”
They punt-punt up the stairs from the Boole basement into the outside world. They walk side-by-side through the cold air. Lucca puts an arm round Eden and pulls her close. They’re going home, back to his house up Hollyhill. It’s not quite among the very broken area, but it’s close to it. It’s far enough up the hill so that, when they look down at night, they can see all the twinkly lights of Cork city, though most of the time it’s foggy. It’s nice when they can see it.
They’ve both had a long day at uni. Eden has had a long day attending lectures and sitting in the library, poring over her essays. Lucca has had a long day milling around. He hasn’t been to a lecture since orientation.
Lucca has lived in Hollyhill with his mother and brother ever since he can remember. Javier (Hav-ee-air) Grimes is his brother. He is 16 months younger than Lucca and in the year below him at university. Nothing ever goes right for Javier. He is an English and Sociology student.
Since 19 months ago, Antaine ‘Antenna’ Ó Súilleabháin has also been living with them. He comes from Mayfield, The Land of Roy Keane. He can speak as Gaeilge (Irish). Not Daithí Ó Sé Irish. Pure madman, farmer-on-the-wall Irish. Antenna thinks it makes him sound more educated than he actually is.
Lucca was exempt from Irish at school. When he was in Leaving Cert, he’d asked Mrs O’Hara if he could take the Irish Leaving Cert exams for the lols. Mrs O’Hara said he should do Foundation Level. So Lucca went full slog and did Ordinary Level with an oral exam. Mrs O’Hara said he’d fail. He passed.
Almost two years ago, Lucca and Antenna were in the living room watching a Trinity College professor talk about the brand new Masters degree in Advanced Robotics.
“It’s a fantastic achievement for Trinity College and for Ireland,” said Professor Tracy Eppinger, his eyes bursting out of his head towards the reporter, “We were the first third-level institution in the world to welcome a course like this.”
“What does he know about Ireland?” Antenna had said, sprawled over the couch as he attacked his takeaway. “F**k off back to your own country, ya blaggard.”
“We’re delighted that Trinity College remains the pinnacle of success for students both in Ireland and abroad,” Eppinger continued. “F**king idiot,” Antenna had spat through a hail of mushy chips.
“They’re rolling that thing out at UCC next year,” Lucca said.
“Jaysus Christ, Luc’, I don’t want you turning out like that Trinny yoke on the news.”
“I could do that, like.”
“No, you couldn’t. Hanging out with muppets like that?”
“He’s from Trinity though, I’m talking about UCC.”
“Ah, look at him Lucca, Jaysus. The f**king clown.”
“I could get into it.”
So Lucca Grimes applied for the first year of the Advanced Robotics MA at UCC. He was accepted.