The Little Statue: Christmas at the Cross Part II

A victim of domestic violence copes with a difficult Christmas in London

Maeve Murphy’s The Little Statue is part two of Christmas at the Cross, which she has been given a  grant from Screen Ireland to adapt into a screenplay.

Maeve Murphy’s The Little Statue is part two of Christmas at the Cross, which she has been given a grant from Screen Ireland to adapt into a screenplay.

 

My Aunty Pat was avoided.

Everything around her was steeped in disapproval. When she rang up and spoke in her weird English Irish accent we all didn’t want to talk to her. When I was a bad child, I was warned that I would end up just like her: pregnant, unmarried, who then gave away her child, went to London and went AWOL.

As I was walking out of the hospital, Santa passed me on his way in, carrying a sack of wrapped presents for the sick kids. As I hobbled slowly down the Euston Road back to the sin bin of St Pancras it did seem to me that I was now the living embodiment of Aunty Pat. Liked sex too much. Ruined because of it.

I got back to the flat, changed into my nightie, wrapped myself in rugs and blankets and sat beside the gas heater that was wafting heady gassy homicidal heat, but heat nonetheless. I sat there, staring into space. My eye fell on the wee statue Aunty Pat had given me. A tiny lead serene cross- legged Buddha.

There was a knock at the door. I looked through the peep hole, terrified it might be Kieran. My now ex. It was in fact Nadina, laughing, holding up a bag of potatoes. Nadina, the prostitute from Kings Cross that I’d met just recently when she came begging at my door. She looked strange through the fish eye lens. I opened the door. Nadina thrust the bag into my hands.

“Thanks,” I replied.

“Irish people like potatoes don’t they?”

“We like blowing things up as well.”

She laughed at the cultural stereotyping. Being London Asian she understood it was like me saying something about Indians and curries. She came in and sat down and spotted the pills sitting on the side table.

“What have you got?”

“A miscarriage.”

She winced sympathetically.

“I’ve never had that.”

“The bad luck’s all mine.”

She laughed.

“Heard it’s woeful.”

“I’ll survive.” I went back in and rearranged my blankets and rugs around me, repositioning myself nearer the gas fire.

“Do you want some potatoes?” She asked.

I nodded. I started to painstakingly heave myself up from the chair.

“I’ll do it.”

I wondered if I could trust her in the kitchen, but there really wasn’t anything of value to nick, so I nodded. When the spuds were ready, she brought them in on two plates, all smashed up with a fork with a tiny bit of butter on top. In that moment, you know the spuds were actually the perfect thing. Totally delicious. Especially with the sprinkle of cumin and coriander on top. I was so happy, sitting with her, eating the spuds.

She saw Rory’s guitar in the corner, beside my bass and picked it up. She strummed it, then started to play and to sing softly. I was quite amazed. Her voice was so pure, so real, so deeply and honestly human, heart wrenching because of the level of anguish and love in her, it made me want to cry. She was singing about someone being a treasure. Simple but beautiful lyrics. With her black, wild and matted mane and her pale black skin, her eyes so tightly shut, with the guitar in hands, her head tilting, sinking into the music, it was awesome, primal. I started to realise that this was quite an extraordinary woman. When she finished, I clapped.

“That was brilliant.”

“Not bad for a slag,” she joked in her husky London accent, taking out her tobacco and skins and rolling herself a cigarette. She stared at the guitar.

“Rory, the guy whose flat this is, owns that; mine’s that one.” I nodded to the bass guitar.

“You can’t play for a while.” She looked at my bandaged hand. I nodded.

“We could start a band. Ladies of the night! What do ya think?” she said with playful glee.

It was a wild idea. But I liked it. “Great name!”

“Lots of creative people live here.”

I nodded. They did. Broke ones.

“Where do you live?” I asked.

“Here. Next block.” She laughed at what must have been my startled response.

“Who is the treasure you are talking about?” I asked, brushing this over.

“Me,” she replied, matter-of-factly.

I felt moved. I wanted to know more but didn’t want to pry. Instead she questioned me. “Your name means little flower in Gaelic.”

“How did you know that?”

“You announced it in Burger King when we was all trying to help bandage your bleeding hand.”

I laughed embarrassed remembering the chaos of the previous night.

“I was really drunk.” I said.

“You were really something, not sure if it was drunk, you were ragin’.”

She looked at me, creating the space for me to speak.

“I had met up with my ex.”

“Why ex?”

“Well he is now. He started behaving badly, like with other women, I sort of pretended it wasn’t happening. I thought maybe you shouldn’t put restrictions on people…

“Pleasing him, to win him over,” she said, smiling. I winced inside.

“And then, the other night, in Liverpool, he attacked me while I was sleeping.”

She sat up, now listened carefully, with real heart, not phoney or hypocritical heart, or patronising or arrogant heart, or even hard heart, but real heart. She really heard me, which was amazing cos no one else seemed remotely interested.

“Where was he from?”

“Liverpool. Liverpool Irish, parents on both sides from Ireland.”

“You thought familiar was safe.”

“Yep… I thought he was a bit of a hero, talking up for young kids who get into crime. I thought he was really inspiring. And of course the Irish thing…”

“Had he been in prison?”

“Yeah, as a getaway driver for an armed robbery when he was very young.”

“But turned bad in prison, a bit of a gangster?”

She was sharp.

“Not quite a gangster.”

“Mates with. Probably how he got through prison.”

I nodded. “Something like that.” I was really only just waking up to all this.

“Anyway, I went to meet him, for a drink, cos he’d said he was sorry.”

“Pleasing him.” Nadina interrupted. I winced internally again.

“But then it all kind of exploded. I accidentally cut my hand.” I continued.

She nodded taking it all in.

“What are you going to do in the New Year?”

“I dunno!” I shook my head laughing at the sudden topic change. “Do you know?”

“Probably the same. It’s not that bad, Blannie… I’m bidin’ my time, bidin’ my time, for Richard Gere to show up in his fancy car.”

We both laughed hard at that.

“Actually I’m wanna get a demo done. Get a record deal. I just have to save a bit of money, then I’m going to live in Greece.” She said everything with total confidence, totally convinced in her power. It was dazzling.

“But I dunno if I’d be able to handle the guys in suits, you know from record companies.”

“You know how to handle guys.”

She smiled, giving me her cheeky grin. “We could both go to Greece, write songs! Then get a demo done. Do it that way round. “

I loved her crazy enthusiasm. I told her, I didn’t really know what I wanted except some structure in my life.

“You’re a bit like the Buddha, left his palace on a quest.”

I laughed, truly amazed she saw me like that.

“I had a thirst for more life, I dunno, adventure, something to grab me, electrify me, but I grabbed the wrong thing, Nadina. I fell in love with the wrong guy and I dunno maybe now lost my fuckin’ mind.” I replied.

“This is spiritual,” she insisted. “Let’s see who gets enlightened first.”

To see the two of us in our predicament, as if on a spiritual quest, was kind of crazy but also brilliant. She gave it meaning. She gave me hope.

“Do you want to keep hurting yourself, Blathnaid?”

I was startled at her directness.

“He’s the one doing the hurting,” I replied. She listened, said nothing, lit her cigarette and inhaled. As she exhaled, the smoke floated through the silence. I caught her eye. There was something in it.

“Tell me about your job.” I said, while trying to shake off a growing sleepiness. I wanted to listen to her. I wanted to know more about her. I really did.

Then there was a knock on the door. I jumped, she observed this.

“I’ll get it.” She got up.

“Thanks.”

“I do it for the money,” she replied as she got up.

“I’ll help you hurt him if you want,” she said casually as she crossed the room to go and open the door.

I could hear Mike’s voice, my neighbour from downstairs.

“Is Blathnaid in? I was wonderin’ if I could borrow a cup of sugar from her.”

Rory had told me all about him in advance. Mike was from Dublin and a junkie.

But he was a good soul and someone not to be scared of. I had been a bit scared of him, but by now I knew Mike was alright.

“Yes, that’s fine,” I called out to him.

I got up from my seat and hobbled down the corridor to get the sugar for him.

“Are you okay?” Mike asked. “I saw you the other night.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I said. Making light of the ambulance that had come when I collapsed.

Mike stood there in his black canvas trousers, far too skinny, with his eyes peering out behind his strange pink tinted glasses. They made his eyes look a touch pink also. Made me think of a sick rabbit. He had jet black hair and a very strong Dublin accent. Mike handed me his cup for the sugar.

“Any news from Rory?”

“No, nothing, still travelling.”

Mike was on methadone. He must have been the only junkie in the world who had never stolen, hard to believe I know, but the God’s honest truth. He was so bloody soft, the only thing he had ever damaged was himself. He was also profoundly intelligent. Very curious about people. I had some quite interesting chats with him about Ulysses. There is no doubt the Dublin working class are the most cultured in the world. And so polite also, always so courteous. Well he was.

“This is Nadina,” I said.

As I went into the kitchen to get the sugar, I could hear him talking to Nadina about Hindu gods, Shiva and Krishna, and about how he’d read in Hindu mythology that life in the world was maintained by Krishna’s breathing. I liked the idea of the Earth being inside this nice-looking Asian guy’s lungs, expanding and contracting as he breathed in and out.

“What do you do? “ I could hear Mike ask Nadina.

“Hand jobs for a tenner.” He laughed, clearly liking her spirit.

“I heard you singing, I thought you were a singer.”

I joined them at the door and handed Mike the cup with sugar. I was now one of them. Outcasts, dregs of society. But in my eyes, in that moment, we were little urban shamans, not ruined or broken or even that hardened. People of humanity. Which as I increasingly realised was so fuckin’ rare, anywhere. In that moment, I loved them both.

“You not going home then for Christmas?” asked Mike.

“No.”

“Well Happy Christmas to you, Blathnaid.”

“Thanks, Happy Christmas to you Mike.”

“And to you Nadina.” Mike added.

Nadina laughed sardonically.

After they left I wondered what Nadina had meant about helping to hurt Kieran.

I made myself a cup of tea and sat down again by the heater. I could hear Mike downstairs playing Velvet Underground and then talking to his dad on the phone and crying. He was telling him he loved him over and over. It was God awful to hear. I put an Etta James tape to block it out and lay down on the sofa to rest. She was singing about a Merry Christmas and receiving a diamond ring and how she was in paradise. I thought about Kieran, meeting him, in the bar where they played trad Irish music, the instant attraction, the good-natured banter. The feeling for him hadn’t disappeared. It was shoved aside by the terror and confusion from his recent attack. I must have fallen asleep on the sofa.

I had a horrible dream about crawling around on my hands and knees searching for a baby in a room full of children. I was in a bathroom, watching fluid go down a plug hole. I didn’t want it to go down. Then there was the sound of really loud crashing in my dream.

I woke up, shocked to see Kieran standing in the doorway, staring at me. I screamed. But I also thought maybe I was still dreaming. But he was real.

“It’s okay. I just want to talk to you… get up and we’ll have a cup of tea and a chat.”

I nodded. His light chit chat felt surreal.

As I got up I saw that the front door had been kicked open and a guy with his back to me was standing at the unlit entrance. I turned to ask Kieran what was going on, when he suddenly hit me across the face with such force I went flying across the room, hitting the side of my cheek against the heavy wood junk table that the TV was on. Dazed, I tried to get up to run out of the already blocked exit. But he pushed me down again and then crouching, put his hands round my neck area, sort of throttling me, banging the back of my head against the solid table. His mouth a line thin and the whites of his eyes widened. He looked crazy. I thought this was definitely death.

“Don’t you f***in DARE speak to me like that in front of people… do you hear me? STUPID bitch.”

He got up to go, then turned to kick me one more time. I felt a surge of rage. Red hot rage streaming out of me. I didn’t need Nadina to help me hurt him. Adrenalin pumping I grabbed his ankle, jerked it. I heard myself roaring, screaming. He lost his balance, landed on the floor, crashing his head. It didn’t split or anything. I stared, shocked.

Suddenly male arms were grabbing me, yanking me backwards. Must have been the guy at the door. I was trying to resist, kicking. Kieran, whose eyes were shut, was breathing. I twisted my head, to see who was holding me. It was his friend Nick from Newry who used to be in the IRA. I had mostly only met Kieran with his trendy mates and only dipped into his other reality a few times.

More pounding noise, as two policemen came rushing into my sitting room. They asked what had happened? I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t speak. I should have but I just couldn’t. They saw the side of my face and the marks on my neck. Kieran got up from the floor.

“Whose flat is it?”

“Mine,” I replied.

“You two are coming with us.”

This was addressed to Kieran and Nick, who nodded strangely without protest. The policeman then told me to come down to the station in the morning to make a statement. Said I also needed to get the door fixed. Just like that it was all over.

I watched them out of the window, down on the street, with the blue light of the police car flashing, I could see them putting Kieran and Nick in the car.

I sat down on the sofa, dazed. I lit a cigarette and then another one, hands shaking. As the adrenalin started to wear off, I thought I might boke. I wondered who’d phoned the police. I looked at the broken open door. Anyone could come in. The tiny lead Buddha Aunty Pat had given me caught my eye again. I didn’t really like her the few times I met her but I thought the statue was beautiful. I put it in my pocket.

I crept down the stairwell in the dark and stopped outside David’s flat. David was a guy I’d just met in the church soup kitchen who had the most deep brown eyes. I’d gone to volunteer. Anyway, I knocked on his door, he didn’t answer. I knocked again, waited and was about to give up when the door opened.

“I’m on holiday abroad in a hot country.”

“Someone broke into my flat, they’ve been arrested. But the door is broken… could I stay the night?”

It wasn’t an easy thing to ask. His brown eyes were wary. It wasn’t an immediate yes. He looked at my face. He nodded and I followed him inside.

“Want a cup of tea?”

“Yes please.”

“Milk and sugar?”

“Yes, just one sugar. Actually two. “

“I can make it three if you like”

I sank down on the dark red sofa in his sitting room while David went into the kitchen. I was amazed how well he’d done up his flat. It was practically luxurious in comparison to mine. Wooden floor, white painted walls, wooden box used as a coffee table, with two huge comfy sofas in a right angle facing a television. There were also some beautiful photographs of Africa on the wall.

He handed me a mug of tea.

“You do have a thing with the emergency services. Ambulances. Police. Got plans for the fire brigade? “

I laughed.

“Course you’re used to that, what with the paras breaking down your door on a nightly basis. Living on the Falls Road, dodging the bullets. Standing in the rain at all those IRA funerals. In your black beret.”

“I didn’t live on the Falls Road.”

He smiled nodding. He’d sussed that.

“What’s going on? Is there some kind of axe murderer chasing you?”

“More like a psycho ex boyfriend,” I said as lightly as I could.

I noticed the poster of Leatherhead from slasher film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on his wall. He clearly saw violence with an unreal film lens. He got up and went into another room and came out with some tissues and a tube of Savlon.

“You need to get an injunction, or go to a woman’s refuge if you need a safe space.”

The term women’s refuge hit like a brick. I was in battered wife territory. F**k. That’s how he saw me. Fuck. That was a terrible place to be. Also this stay was clearly just for the evening. Emergency aid. Of course he was right, we didn’t know each other.

“I’m going to go back to Belfast day after Boxing Day. Banks are open then.”

“What, so you can rob one?” He was a sarky f***er, but this time I did smile.

“So a cheque will have cleared by then.”

“You’re welcome to stay till then.”

“Seriously thank you.”

“How seriously dangerous is this guy?”

I didn’t want to scare him. Truth is I didn’t know.

“He doesn’t know I’m here.”

“You’re welcome.”

I caught his eye. This was huge of him. I felt exhausted. I could also now feel a throbbing pain in my cheek.

“I’m knackered.”

He nodded.

“I’ll show you the spare room.”

I got up and followed him, as he pointed out the bathroom and toilet on the way.

“Feel free to use the towels. I’ve just done a wash. So all clean.”

He pointed to one towel in particular. I nodded. We carried on to the end of the passage. He opened the door. It was a little awkward and he was being formal to make it easier. I walked into his tiny spare room with a single bed and shelf with books on it. There were white walls and like a Mexican rug as a bed throw in vibrant bright yellow and red colour, a chair and a small mirror on the wall. He looked at me and smiled. He was still carrying the tissues and Savlon and handed them to me.

“Thanks. That rug Mexican?”

He nodded.

“Beautiful.”

He went to go but stopped at the door. “Are you okay?”

The compassionate gaze in his eyes pierced me, it was different to his earlier dry detached tone. I couldn’t really answer but I felt an overwhelming urge to nestle into him. It was purely instinctual as really he was practically a stranger.

He left. I closed the door. I looked at my face in the mirror. Jesus. I looked a fuckin’ wreck. My gelled-up hair, sort of fluffy punky look was all flat. The side of my face was red, bright red near my eye. My black eyeliner looked wrong with the redness. I put a bit of the Savlon on my cheek. I lay down on the bed. Incredibly I slept.

I dreamt of a woman. She was being attacked by a man. She called out and a raging pack of dogs appeared. The man who then somehow had a stag’s head on him fled, the dogs raced after him, hunting him. They caught up with him, attacking him viciously in a frenzy. Life went out of the man with the stag’s head. The woman appeared with a bow and arrow, the dogs gathered round her, smiling she shot an arrow into the sky.

The bedroom door opened. I woke, screamed. It was David, standing at the door in a red and white Santa hat. When I realised it was him, we both laughed in a kind of freaked out kind of way.

“Happy Christmas?!”

“Jesus Christ, you scared the shit out of me.”

“So I did.” He mimicked my accent.

“Shut up.” I said, not liking the mimicking. He laughed.

“I’m going round to my parents.”

“I’m going to the police to press charges.”

“Today? Christmas Day? “

I nodded.

“Well, help yourself to coffee and toast. There is a fresh pot. No turkey I’m afraid.”

“Coffee and toast is wonderful.” I smiled.

“Spare key is on the table. See you later.”

I nodded. “Thanks.”

After breakfast, I walked down the side alley on my way to the police. It was deadly quiet. A woman with SAVED hand-written on her forehead walked towards me. She was wearing a denim mini skirt, high heels and was drunk or off her face on something.

She walked past singing “Oh Happy Day.”

I was thinking of a witty quip.

“Blathanid.” It was a northern Irish accent.

I turned. Walking towards me, was Nick, the ex-IRA guy who’d broken into my flat with Kieran. I could smell a dirty rat coming. I felt like a really tight pressure against my skin as if it was stretched too tightly. He stopped in front of me.

“The peelers aren’t following this up.”

“What?”

“Kieran has decided not to press charges.”

“What? What are you talking about? “

“He’s not goin’ to press charges.”

I looked at him utterly incredulous.

“They’ve been let off with a police caution and the police have promised to keep a close eye on them. So you’re safe.”

“Keep a close eye on who?”

“That Paki brasser you’ve been hangin’ out with and her pimp fella.”

My jaw dropped. They were pinning this on Nadina and her pimp. How the hell did they make the connection between me and Nadina? So clearly their line was, Kieran had rescued me from King Cross scum who were breaking in and got roughed up in the process, but wasn’t pressing charges. Nadina and pimp would also know whatever they say will not be believed, that’s if they knew at all. An injunction needs police paperwork, and an intimidating “ex” IRA guy was telling me all this. Basically I was totally f***ing snookered.

Nick looked at the marks on my face.

“I didn’t realise they attacked you as well.”

“Wise up. Kieran did that.” I replied. “As you know.”

A stare between us. He took out some money.

“How much for the door.”

“F**k off.”

He kind of laughed. A hard dry laugh.

I walked off. This was getting really scary. I walked around the block a couple of times, my mind buzzing on overload. I carried on walking and walking quickly and even quicker, round the block a few times more and found myself in the next courtyard, walking up the steps to Yoichi’s flat. He was a local Japanese guy, who had spoken to me about karma. Now I had no appointment booked and it was Christmas Day. But I knocked anyway and Yoichi opened the door, more than a touch surprised when he saw me. Never the less he gestured to me to come in. I walked inside.

A woman in her late twenties was chanting to the scroll that Yoichi had hanging in his wooden cabinet. I sat down, a bit weirded out. I looked at the Buddhist scroll. It had bold black Chinese or Japanese characters written down the centre and smaller writing on either side. It was beautiful. Fresh.

“She’ll finish soon,” he told me.

Yoichi sat behind her and chanted with her. My squashed up mind, kind of expanded just listening to them. And then out of curiosity, I picked up the words and murmured the mantra with them. There was a lovely moment when the winter sun ray came in through the window and lit us all. It was like we were in deep harmony with all and each other.

After a while I felt my mind relax, the tight clench of anxiety, fear and hopeless rage loosened its grip. I felt space in my head that was free. I felt and found a state of happiness in my mind. Hard to explain. I had this happiness in me, tucked away, buried beneath the current relentless terror treadmill. It was a bit like being high on dope, like that little pocket of happiness you hit. But this was natural, legal.

I felt a loving feeling to everything. I could see me and what was happening and my heart opened to me. I felt a real compassion to me. I didn’t need Nadina to get someone to hurt Kieran. I didn’t have to hurt him either. I just felt I didn’t want my own life hurt anymore. This was a warm loving spacious feeling. Not tight. Goodness had not left my world. And I wanted to give that goodness also. It was class.

The woman finished chanting and turned round to look at me. She was smiling and had such an alive vibrant presence; I could feel her energy. She was Italian.

“I got here late to see Yoichi, maybe it meant we could meet on time!”

I laughed. “Divine timing!”

She smiled.

“I support the young women locally. What happened your face?”

“Psycho ex boyfriend,” I joked. I did a cartoon like mock punch to my face.

She laughed, liking my black humour.

“Did you walk into a door?” she asked. I realised she hadn’t quite taken it in.

“No. Actually him or his mate kicked the door in.”

She didn’t laugh this time. “I’m Rita.”

I nodded. I liked her Italian accent.

“What’s your name?”

“Blathnaid, means little flower.”

“Out of the muddy swamp the Lotus flower blooms.”

“So we can get out of the swamp of Kings Cross?” I said joking.

“We can get out of our lowest life state, bring out our Buddha state.”

“Yeah, I think I felt it… beautiful.”

I looked at Yoichi. He was putting mince pies on a plate. He had his silver Christmas tree with fairy lights on in the corner. It was bonkers; he had way more Christmas decorations than anyone else’s flat I’d been in.

“Happiness not Holiness.”

Yoichi clapped his hands in delight. I’d got it.

“Happiness in you, all time. And can get out of the Kings Cross, anytime!” Yoichi said this with a warm smile. He had such clear joyful eyes. He offered me a mince pie.

“What do you do Yoichi?”

“I work in a Sushi restaurant on Eversholt Street.”

I nodded. Yoichi could see my fascination.

In my mind, Buddhas were eastern male monks in orange robes who mediated in hilltop monasteries. I thanked them both and left. I felt a lot better. A lot clearer too. Outside it was snowing. Kind of magical Christmas Day stuff. But as I was walking through the courtyard, my heart seized up as through the falling snow I saw Kieran walking towards me. He stopped, casually blocking my path. There were some picnic tables in the courtyard, so I indicated we sit there. I wanted to stay in public. I could smell the booze off him.

“Your mate Mike told me you had a miscarriage.”

So it was Mike. He was the one who told Kieran about Nadina also. Probably rang the police as well.

“When did you speak to Mike?”

“Last night, I came back, to see if you were okay.”

I felt sick. This was enough. I’d had enough.

“You weren’t there.”

I shook my head. Careful not to say a word.

“I didn’t know you were pregnant. You didn’t tell me…why didn’t you tell me?”

“I wasn’t hundred percent aware of it myself. Very early on. But I thought I did say.”

He looked at me, with a hint of concern.

“I’m going to rent a place for the New Year in Brighton, you could come and stay for a few days. Rest.”

I shook my head. “It’s enough.”

I took out the little lead Buddha that Aunty Pat had given to me; it was still in my pocket from the previous night. I stared at it. I wanted that peace. I leant across and gave it to him. The attachment, the invisible chord whatever it was tying us, broke.

He picked it up, looked at it carelessly then got the seriousness of my gaze. Then I just got up and walked away. He called my name once, but not twice. Maybe he felt it was enough also, but to be honest I was still fearful I might hear his footsteps behind me.

I kept on walking. Kind of exhilarated. I looked round a few times, to check, but he wasn’t behind me. I felt strong. I’d changed. Maybe I’d even changed my karma. It was still snowing. But I didn’t feel any cold. I kept walking all the way to Covent Garden. No one was around. The shops were closed. I found myself a quiet spot in Neal’s Yard, under a droopy snowy tree. This had been a s**t Christmas but I forced myself to think about next year, the future.

On the way back, I was still mulling everything over, what I was going to do, how I would do it, until I reached the top of Midhope Street when I saw police and tape across the road and an ambulance outside the building I lived in. Someone was screaming. The girlfriend of the New Zealand artist appeared out of the building, hysterical. Horrified, I then watched as Mike was taken out. He looked dead.

But nothing prepared me for what I saw next. Everything went into slow motion as I witnessed Kieran carried out on a stretcher, bright red blood splattered across his white shirt. He looked dead also. I stared, not able to let what I saw, connect to the reality of what was there. I became vaguely aware of David coming running towards me. Everything was muffled. Kieran, he said, had been stabbed multiple times with a broken bottle.

David told the police I lived there and they let me through.

I went back to David’s in a daze. We sat, unable to speak. My mind was jangled, jumbled.

I looked at David; he was really jangled also.

“What thoughts are going on under that elusive surface?”

“Just glad it wasn’t the other way round.” He replied.

It was still snowing softly outside.

I thought about the little statue.

I thought about Aunty Pat. I wondered if maybe she wasn’t so bad.

There was a knock on the door. “Police.”

David opened the door. Two policemen walked inside. They interviewed us quickly and left. For some reason what Nadina had said about hurting Kieran flashed through my mind, but I said nothing. It came on the news as the police were going. A stabbing incident in Kings Cross. A man in intensive care. Another man dead from a drug overdose. The implication was that one had killed the other then killed himself. An argument, a brawl that had got out of control. But I knew it was more than that.

I cried;

I also felt a colossal relief,

I could breathe,

for now...Released.

David heated up some plum pudding he’d brought back from his mum’s.

We ate it silently and watched White Christmas with Bing Crosby on TV.
Maeve Murphy’s The Little Statue is published in Mulling it Over, a short story anthology (Bridge House Publishing 2020). It is part two of Christmas at the Cross, which Maeve has been given a screenplay grant from Screen Ireland to adapt into a screenplay.

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