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16 October 2014
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Emma Walsh

My name is Emma Walsh, and am currently failing my GCSEs...I mean...studying for my GCSEs, with the intention of staying on at school (What get a real job? Are you crazy?!). This fear of a hard days work is the greatest reason why I want to go into writing. I'd love to finish something worth publishing and my greatest ambition is to go into stand up comedy - anyone who's seen Dylan Moran live will understand.

Danny Griffith by Emma Walsh

Christmas in Dublin was magic.
A black sky, dancing with a million stars. A hazy, gentle rain glided gracefully to ground, raindrops sliding down decorated shop windows. Colourful lights sparkled all around; the crowds shuffling past each other in their festive bubbles chatting on mobiles, hauling bags of all sizes behind them.
I drifted past them, their lives brushing through mine for a few seconds before being forgotten. That's all; lives simply drifting through each other for a time, some longer than others, eventually all forgotten.
It's hard to be alone at Christmas, which is why I was walking towards O'Brien's. Who needed family fights and undercooked turkey when you could have a cider and a cigarette in peace?
Tomorrow I would miss him and cry, I'd curse him, call my mum, she'd invite me home for Christmas, everything would be fine. But now, I needed to be numb, and drunk.
It was almost eleven; by now his stuff would be packed and in the back of a taxi destined northwards to who ever she was. She would be from the northside, she'd have that background.
As I sat before my cider, lighting a cigarette, I pictured her.
Blonde, they're always blonde, dyed, blonde all the same; short, big bust. She'd wear too much makeup, not enough clothes, her eyes would be blue, or green, or some futile shade in between. She'd live in the flats, work behind the counter in a petrol station and claim to be waiting for some skinhead who was serving time.
I felt bad, I didn't know the girl, I couldn't blame her for Lee being so male after all. She'd learn.

I nursed six and half ciders before one of them called me by name.
"Cora Maguire" it said in a familiar voice, "Is that you?"
I looked at the steamed glass, it didn't look like the kind of pint who spoke to you, I looked to my cigarette in puzzlement and decided it was not the owner of the voice either.
"Jesus girl you haven't changed" I turned and dropped the cigarette out of shock, relieved that the pint glass still stood on the bar, half empty, or half full, I hadn't decided yet.
"Danny boy!" I cried, throwing my arms around him.
"It's been too long" he smiled, still with the boyish good looks and the charming glint in his big blue eyes. "How are you?"
"Ah…" I paused.
"Who was he?" Danny asked with sympathy.
"Not worth talking about" I muttered, "And yourself, still sleeping your way across the continent?"
"I'm doing my best! There's not enough of me to go round"
"Well all I want is your shoulder to cry on" I sighed.

Danny Griffith was just one of those boys you loved to hate and hated to love, but it was very hard not to.
We had been friends since school; he was a joker, a rogue.
He was ridiculously handsome, and spent too much time on his hair.
He used and abused women, spent all his money on drink, and gave out to me for smoking. He hadn't changed.

"You're still on the fags?" he tutted as I replaced the one he had so rudely stunned from my hand just before.

When we turned fourteen, Danny suddenly became irresistible to every young female in our town. I noticed the change in him, a new arrogance, confidence, playboy attitude. It didn't matter, he was still Danny. He still carried me home after a night out by the canal drinking cheap cider and played cards with me down the back of Spanish class.
I remembered a day when he was too hung over to come to school. I was suffering myself but my mother had thrown me out the door with a painkiller.

I sat through classes alone, the other girls hesitating to talk to me, eventually Lisa Carlin did.
"Where's your other half?" she asked sitting down beside me.
"Hung over" I replied, "Like myself"
She said nothing for a moment.
"What's the story between you two anyway?" she asked. "Don't you mind him going with other girls?"
I looked at her blankly, "Not particularly, considering I'm not going with him"
"Yeah" she shrugged, "But he's tried it on"
I shook my head.
"Never?" her head popped off her shoulders. "Are you serious? Danny Griffith's never tried it on with you, ever?"
I shook my head.
"You must be the only girl in our class he hasn't gone with"
I looked around the class; they were all shadows of Danny's past; I had heard all about their sexual sagas.
"Me and Danny are just friends"
"Danny isn't just friends with girls" Lisa laughed. "You know the way he talks about girls, we're objects, we're not people"
"You know that?" I asked in surprise, Lisa flirted round Danny at every chance. "Then why do you fall at his feet?"
Lisa smiled to herself.
"Because it's Danny, just look at him!"

I did. I looked at him like never before. I saw the charisma, charm, luring smile, sparkling eyes, appeal. It struck me, not once in the years since our hormones and primal urges had kicked in had Danny once looked at me like that, or had he done so, he had seen nothing of interest.
I suddenly resented him. I found him repulsive. I grew to hate him with an energy that scared me.

As I sat opposite him now, listening to how easy Dutch women were, I suddenly saw how beautiful he was, and I remembered the kiss.

We had finished our exams, everyone went crazy. Danny and I got hammered.
We stumbled home at closing time, still in our uniforms, singing 'Bohemian Rhapsody" and doing the monkey walk.
"Cora" he slurred. "I love you" and he kissed me gently on the forehead.
"I love you too Danny" I replied, awaiting the inevitable kiss on the lips, his hand on my hip, the heavy breathing, the drunken fumbling, the quick goodnight, the forgotten name. I saw it happen every weekend.
I prayed he wouldn't kiss me again, that he would walk me home and leave it at that, for the sake of everything he meant to me, I didn't want to be just another shadow of Danny Griffith's past.
He did kiss me again.
He kissed me on the hand with such tenderness that I felt my soul melt.
"Goodnight sweetheart."
He walked away, he didn't look back.
He was a gentleman.
And I loved him.

"You know Cora" Danny muttered as he took my cigarette from between my teeth and stubbed it out, "They'll kill you one day"
"Yeah, and I'll kill you if you waste another of my cigarettes! Anyway, we're all going to die, I'm not special"
"You can't die" he smiled, his eyes sparkling. "I'd miss you too much"
"You'd would! I retorted, taking another cigarette.
"I would! You know I love you"
"You do!" I retorted again, bringing the flame to the tip.
"I do, always have" he muttered becoming reserved.
He smiled and I fell.
"I love you too"
He leaned across and kissed me on the forehead, his hand on my neck.
He hesitated and leaned in further.
Our friendship flashed before me. I remembered every shadow of his past, those forgotten, nameless, pretty faces.
I gave him a peck on the lips.
"You're drinks running low Danny boy" I said, grabbing the barman's attention.
Danny looked at me with a satisfied smirk.
"Why darling, I do believe your right" he said with charm, "And it's your round, yeh stingy lout!"

Danny Griffith was just one of those boys you loved to hate and hated to love, but it was very hard not to.

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