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 started last Monday and runs till Saturday. Called Droid, this story is about a boy who builds a robot, and was written by Margaret Gillies, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC. Catch up with previous episodes at echolive.ie where you can also hear a podcast of the story. In the ninth episode, questions start to be asked about whether the robot is a good influence...
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Javier Grimes would never have become a model if his brother Lucca hadn’t become famous. He’s not a bad-looking boy but he’s not model material. He’s not quite six feet tall and he’s not at all posh. People like looking at rich kids in clothes because if they go and wear the same thing, they’ll feel rich too.
The people of Hollyhill are not as easily hoodwinked. Javier does not come from a place in the clouds, or from a land of riches. He is one of them. They all see past the illusion.
When Javier walks down the road, no-one stares at him in awe. They look the other way.
Javier has been given free gear by a new fashion label called So. He wears it walking down Hollyhill. It makes him look like an alien. When he’s near the piles of rubbish, it’s like worlds have collided.
Lucca and Eden are not impressed. It doesn’t look like Javier any more. He looks like a cardboard cut-out.
Antenna looks at the fashion pages of the supplement magazine with the Irish Independent. Lucca and Eden haven’t told him Javier has had a photo-shoot done for it. He’s wearing expensive clothes you’d only wear if you didn’t live in a place like Knocknaheeny. Cuban heels, flowing trousers, low-cut white shirts. Colours that look beautiful on the sheen of the page but horrific in the natural light of the real world.
Lucca sees Antenna looking at the magazine and hovers over to him to see what will happen. Antenna can tell there’s something familiar about the model. He squints his eyes and stares.
“What do you think?” says Lucca.
Antenna is not in a good mood. He looks up at Lucca and drops the magazine onto the floor.
“What the f**k is going on?” Antenna whispers.
“People look at us differently now,” says Lucca. “Things are changing.”
Things have never changed so much in Lucca’s life. Not since his father moved into the psychiatric hospital.
Antenna stares at him.
“That fecking robot will be the death of me,” he says.
Within twenty minutes of the last phone call finishing abruptly, CC phones back David Gleeson.
“Why should I help you?” says David.
“Look,” says CC eventually, “I’m sorry for what I said about Mallow.”
“You’re a fecking clown, Colin,” says David, “You know that? People are putting stuff up on Twitter and Snapchat and God knows what else about some woman from around here getting off with the guy from Trinity College. What business did Lucca Grimes have in sending Grim up to Dublin? That was meant to be a UCC thing.”
Maureen puts her head round the door and mouths something about nipping down Centra. Her mascara is smeared. She darts off down the stairs. CC barely notices her. He also notices her a lot.
“You’d want to find out where that bleddy robot is before someone sues ye,” David continues, “And then it’ll be all over before it’s started.”
CC finds himself thundering down the stairs after Maureen, the phone bouncing between his ear and shoulder. She’s already left the house but she’s left her own phone on the table.
“Colin!” David snaps, “Are you still there?”
Lucca is having a tentative conversation with Grim about his reasons for telling people about Trinny’s affair.
“But what is it to you, like?” says Lucca.
Grim looks at him. “It’s morally wrong.”
“But why would you care?”
“I have a strong moral compass.”
“How could you have a strong moral compass? You’re a robot.”
“I have a strong moral compass.”
Lucca stares at Grim. Grim has always made complete sense to him. That was why he liked Grim so much. He made more sense than Antenna or Aileen or Javier or Eden or Estevan. He was easier to deal with than real people.
Lucca’s phone vibrates in his pocket. It’s a call from CC. He knows this will have something to do with the Trinity College guy.
CC’s voice is shaking.
“Stay away from me, Lucca Grimes,” he crackles. “Stay away from me!”
Lucca looks at Grim. His robot has just stopped making sense.