Ton­sil­li­tis

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - HENNESSY NEW IRISH WRITING | JANUARY’SWINNINGEN­TRI - by AMY GAFFNEY

He’s net­work­ing. Hand­shakes, head shakes, my legs shake. I watch his se­ri­ous face; he’ll smile at me next. I love that shirt he’s wear­ing. Re­minds me of when we met. Re­minds me of what is yet to come. I pressed it for him. He isn’t into PDA; but he is into pri­vate dis­plays of af­fec­tion when the cur­tains are drawn. Or the blinds pulled. Or the lights are out. He’s pri­vate like that. I like the stormy sea stomach I get th­ese days. He likes when we share those ‘do I know you?’ smiles across spa­ces that are full of peo­ple who are ac­quain­tances of us both; and he likes quiet spa­ces where we can hear each other talk – where we tell about grow­ing up dif­fer­ently: like, he had a dog who was killed in an ac­ci­dent with the toaster; I couldn’t top that. My gold­fish lived for twenty years, up­grad­ing from tank to tank to tank. He got that scar from try­ing to fly when he was five. I bet he was such a cute lit­tle boy­child. I fell head first down that hill where the tourists all go now. I picked the stones from my knees for an hour. I’ve no scars to show. He’s never had the chicken pox. I al­ways get ton­sil­li­tis, still. I don’t know if he’s ever had ton­sil­li­tis – he’s al­ways suck­ing mints – does this stop sore throats? He likes to bring me to restau­rants in the next town, good re­views, no in­ter­rup­tions. He likes to have some pri­vacy. He likes dark places where no one can see us, when the cur­tains are drawn. Bars where we can chat, be­ing strangers to each other in com­pany. He likes go­ing to the movies, and the the­atre, and to empty car parks, and go­ing home. Home. Hm­m­m­m­m­m­mmm. He likes be­ing be­side a fire with a de­cent whiskey. Earthy. He likes to bring me a bot­tle duty free. It’s so tempt­ing to drink alone. But I don’t. That’s one long slip­pery slope and we all know where that goes. He likes that I Clean Up be­fore he ar­rives, just call me Lucy. He loves Lucy. He likes that I know that I will sell what I sold: His WLTM. Funny; Kind; Sexy; Good Lis­tener. I will be Per­fect; per­fumed, non-com­plain­ing, made up with that bed-head he likes, that Li­brar­ian-let-loose-look that screams… Screams! Avail­able never tired witty Spon­ta­neously… *insert sigh

…in stock­ings, thigh high boots, heel wear­ing – not him. Me. Al­ways me. He stays clean shaven, af­ter-shave sweet, show­ered, fresh col­lared. The lies gave me ton­sil­li­tis; say­ing noth­ing hurts like hell and closes up my throat so hard, like that time he held my neck tight and I came like never be­fore…I…I… ** insert moan be­cause sweet Je­sus this will be the un­do­ing of me. I have never done that with any­one, ev-er. I don’t know if I ever will do it again… I dunno if I wanted it, what I want. What I would ever want. It felt good though to have the pain out­side in­stead of in. I’ll moan for him to do it again. He likes to make me beg. This is why he likes me. She doesn’t do this, does she? I’ve met her and she’s too lovely. She likes me too. I have ton­sil­li­tis again. I should have them re­moved.

Amy Gaffney came to writ­ing and univer­sity later than she would have liked to. She is from Kil­dare and is a re­cent grad­u­ate of UCD’s Cre­ative Writ­ing MA where she was co-ed­i­tor in chief of the HCE Re­view. Her po­etry has been pub­lishedin Po­etry Ire­land Re­view. Amy’s cur­rent re­search topic ex­plores how the hu­man con­di­tion has been af­fected by the force of the in­ter­net. She is also in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing the no­tion of the Ir­ish Mammy and what qual­i­fies a woman to be con­sid­ered such an en­tity

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