The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne – a retelling

Everybody knows what a great warrior king Fionn MacCumhaill was and if they don’t they should find out but not from me today they won’t!

I’m going to tell you how like many a man he got a bit cantankerous and stubborn as he aged and being a King, for perhaps too long, his pride caused heartache and mayhem to all and to two young lovers in particular. No one should remain in power too long, if you remember nothing from this story, remember that. 

The story goes that old Fionn lost his wife Maigneis and the grief he had was so great that his aging band of Fianna thought they better do something about it and rather than listening to him or telling him to cry and let it all out these old men came up with the bright idea of replacing the love of his life with a young girl called Gráinne.

Of course that wasn’t going to end well he being ancient and she being young but that was their solution.  

Gráinne was the daughter of High King Cormac mac Airt and a worthy match in all the men’s eyes but not in Gráinne’s.

At their betrothal feast which went on for days and nights as was the custom Gráinne noticed the handsome warrior Diarmuid whose “lovespot” in the middle of his forehead made him irresistible to all.

Gráinne was trained in the art of magic and potions so when she got the chance she slipped a sleeping potion in the drinks of all but Diarmuid and tried to get him to run away with her.

Now Diarmaid was a loyal warrior of the Fianna and loved Fionn so he refused at first but she was oh so beautiful and a little bit scary, she threatened him with a geis (a curse) which all at that time were wary of and so he went and they hid in a forest across the River Shannon.

When the men all woke up with a pain in their heads and a grumpiness no one could endure Fionn noticed the pair were missing and he immediately made everyone get up and out and pursue the runaways all over Ireland.

We know they went all over because there are many a Dolmen on this fair land named Leaba Diarmaid agus Gráinne (the bed of Diarmaid and Gráinne).

Indeed there is one over the road in Aughnacliffe, Co. Longford, near Leebeen Lough, a mighty fine one you should visit it. Some say it’s a portal to the Otherworld

There is a rock now called “Granny’s Rock” out the Tromra Road 500 metres from Knights and Conquest Heritage Centre, Granard town, that is another Leaba Diarmaid agus Gráinne.

So, Diarmaid and Gráinne moved around Ireland with Fionn following. They were helped by many because all knew Fionn would not be kind if he found them and everyone loved Diarmaid, must be the spot in the middle of the forehead.

Even some of the Fianna helped and also Aengus Óg, who we met in an earlier tale (Midir and Etain). Aengus Óg wasn’t too Óg at this stage but a name sticks. He had been Diarmuid’s foster father, and loved the lad and being the God of Love, loved Gráinne too. 

Aengus hid Gráinne in his cloak of invisibility while Diarmuid lept over the pursuers’ heads so they say.

At first Diarmuid refused to be with Gráinne out of respect for Fionn and kept telling her he would be taking her back to marry Fionn and she teased him for that but he eventually  fell in love with her and they were together a long long time hiding on Fionn, they even crossed over to Scotland a while.

After a time Gráinne found out she was having a child and had a craving for rowan berries from the magic Rowan tree guarded by the one eyed giant Searbhán;  Searbhán was friendly at first but he got angry and refused to give up the berries so Diarmuid fought him. Searbhán’s magic protected him from Diarmuid’s weapons, but Diarmuid eventually won by turning the giant’s own iron club against him.

After many other adventures, Diarmuid’s foster father Aengus negotiated peace with Fionn and the lovers settled in Keshcorran, County Sligo where they had five children. Fionn married Gráinne’s sister and all was forgiven. I’m not sure how the sister felt as no one tells her story and what happened next makes you wonder did Fionn really ever forgive.

One day Fionn organised a boar hunt near Benbulbin and Diarmuid joined in even though when he was a little boy a geis was put on him that he would be killed by a boar. He may have been lovely but he was certainly foolish.

The boar wounded him fatally and the only one who could heal him was Fionn. Fionn had the power to heal by letting the dying man drink water from his hands, but he let the water slip through his fingers twice. Oscar, Fionn’s grandson threatened Fionn so he went to the well again but when he returned it was too late, poor Diarmuid was dead.

There are different stories about Gráinne after Diarmaid has died, we like to think Aengus took Diarmuid’s body to his home at Brú na Bóinne and while some say Gráinne grieved until she died, others say that she made her children swear revenge on Fionn and a more peaceful end says she married Fionn eventually and there was peace between the clans.

AGS 2018

I couldn’t decide on Diarmaid or Diarmuid so you must put up with both.

Sleeping Beauty and Climate Change

(Image : Sweet Dreams by Mary Smyth Art,, )

What if….. everyone has interpreted Sleeping Beauty wrong and it was about climate change all along? Hear me out, this came on a walk on Brí Leith so it must be true.😂 Midir! 🤔😂

What if Sleeping Beauty walking towards the spinning wheel pricking her finger is all of us sleepwalking into climate change?

What if Maleficent is Capitalism wooing us towards our demise? We know it is wrong, we all do but we want the shiny thing, we believe the lies, we are mesmerised, we are under the spell of sell, sell, sell, buy, buy, buy, take, take, take, profit, profit, profit and it is so strong we can’t fight it.

What if the fairies who change the spell to 100 years sleep instead of death are representatives of nature trying to save the planet? Flora, Fauna and Merryweather….. ahem!

What if 100 years is all it will take to correct the wrongs we did and save the planet and all we need to do is go to sleep… as in “stop”, just “stop”? Stop over farming and let the land rewild, stop over fishing and give the ocean a rest, stop over producing and produce and buy local in small communities, stop over travelling and stay where we are or go in a slower, more environmentally stable manner, stop exploiting nature and people and be a community that cooperates instead of competes. This paragraph could keep going but my train of thought is racing by and I need to catch the next carriage.

What if the briars were a reminder to let Nature do the work and just stay away from her while she does it because you’ll get hurt or maybe dead so just let her enclose you and keep you safe and warm while you “stop”?

Briars regenerate the land.

What if when the 100 years are up we will be fine as long as we all sleep (“stop”) and as long as the right way of being gets through the briars to wake us up and work with us to create a better world for us and our people?

What if they knew this? The Grimm Brothers, in the middle of the century of the industrial revolution and they thought about it and didn’t want others to figure it out…. just yet… so they twisted the tale to make it about women and men and oh dear me, here we go on another century of Patriarchy and more intense Capitalism.

What if they knew? Walt Disney, at the beginning of the age of cinema and wrong messages and people falling asleep in front of a screen, lapping it up as “Gospel”, “The American Dream”, “the innocent child”, ” the evil witch”. There’s only two types of women right? Innocent and waiting to be rescued and led or evil bitches tearing the innocent one to shreds. Nothing to see here, carry on buying and selling and taking and raping the world and her people. Look, there’s a shiny thing! Ignore the message that was just “Stop!”

What if they knew? The 1%, bankers and capitalists all, those who tore at the land that was never theirs and plundered her essence, those that murdered her people with war, famine, slavery, every brutality they could think of because they knew and didn’t care and just keep wanting more for themselves.

What if they know it takes 100 years for her to recover and they’re setting their own up to be on top again to start the ball rolling again while we all walk mesmerised to prick our finger on the spinning wheel and sleep? What if the race to space was just a distraction to stop us looking over there at the real rulers in the banks?

What if all of them are going to be ready to sit it out on the land they are grabbing? They are grabbing more than enough to sustain them and theirs, on their islands they purchased. They will slow down behind their walls of briar and wait for the rest of the planet to recover and instead of saving us all, the people, they’re leaving us outside the walls of their kitchen gardens and hunting grounds to die of famine and war and whatever horrors are to come.

Are we going to be left outside the wall or do we tear it down and create a better way before it is too late? We do know there is only a small kingdom of the few behind the wall right? They’ve no intention of letting us by their dragon no matter how successful we think we are in this imaginary world we live in.

This happened before, it will happen again. Empires fall, leave destruction behind, small groups of people survive and others who have been planning all along for the next “pyramid” scheme begin more brutal than before, each time grabbing more, in the end it is a pyramid scheme within a pyramid scheme within a pyramid scheme and the percentage at the top gets smaller and smaller until eventually it will be one who most likely will declare themselves a god and off we go again… as I did on another train of thought…. for another day, let’s dismantle Cinderella next..

The message Nature is giving is clear to me and to many, we need to stop and let her breathe, give her time without us “doing”, and she will be alright but it is up to us whether we will be. If we don’t stop, she’ll take us down and make us stop, virus, plague, not so merry weather, diseases in the flora and fauna we need to survive. It doesn’t matter, it will happen. This planet needs to live and if we continue to destroy we will be destroyed in the end so just “Stop”.

This is what happens when you walk on Brí Leith with family and the forest trys to take you and yours. 🤔😉 Midir destroys the fairytale on you. ❤💚🌹🦋

When will it all stop?

My baby girl cried herself to sleep last night. I held her as she spoke of all her fears and her observations of the the world we live in.

She sobbed as she talked of how we are killing each other and the world and kept asking

“What is wrong with us?”

She talked of how we hurt each other, animals, the rivers land and sea, the very air we breathe, the little babies dying, she talked of all the hunger in the greed.

“When will it all stop?”

“Will it only end when humans have destroyed everything and everyone? The world must hate us so much. We hurt her so much. She is in so much pain. It hurts so much.”

Her sob hurt me.

“This is why God doesn’t answer any prayers anymore, because we are just horrible.”

I held her tighter.

I let her download all her fears, her thoughts onto my shoulder which is already aching from the weight of all my other babies’ fears and mine.

She spoke and sobbed for over half an hour of her short 9 year old life. She spoke of all the horrors of the world that I didn’t even know she knew about.

I whispered to her of the things we must be grateful for. I talked of flowers and the chicks, our demon cat and loyal dog who snored at our feet. Our family, the sun, the moon, the stars, the perfume of our roses, the tiny things living in the garden, ice-cream, stories of leprechauns and fairies.

“I want to meet a fairy. We probably killed them too along with unicorns and dragons. We probably killed them all. Why can’t our leprechaun do something? He wants to do good, he sees it all too, but his hands are tied, they don’t let him, they won’t let him do the good he wants to do!”

I didn’t know who she spoke of and then I realised she meant our president. “Don’t call him that, that’s not nice he wouldn’t like that.”

“How do you know? He really is a Leprechaun, he’s where he is to do something about it. He really wants to help, but his hands are tiny” She looked down at her own.

I let that be. She needs some magic, we all do and if thinking he’s a Leprechaun who might do something with his tiny hands then…I let it be.

I told her there are so many good people in the world, that the good outweigh the bad, there are more of us, all the while wondering was I right…

Today I saw a tweet about babies washed up on the beach because their families were trying to get them out of the hell they were living in and bring them somewhere safe but the somewhere safe didn’t want them so the babies drowned and I don’t think I was right…

Why did that not stop the last time we saw a baby washed up on the beach? Was the image of him in his red and blue not enough?

Why are there more?

“What is wrong with us?”

I think my baby girl who sobbed herself to sleep is right and I don’t know how to make it better. My heart is broken.

“When will it all stop?” 💔

Before the Monsters came

Image by and can be purchased here:

This was written for a children’s story competition. An author decided the shortlist and then children voted for their favourite. It came 3rd. What was more special was on the day a 5yr old came up to me and whispered “I voted for yours, I know it is about Climate Change, it is so important, I like the ending.” ❤ That’s enough for me.❤ It is included in an anthology by other Longford writers that you can buy here:

Once upon a time, before the monsters came, we lived in peace and all were happy. Plants grew, flowers bloomed and filled the air with perfume. Food was growing everywhere and no one went hungry. Animals, big and small, lived side by side and all was good.

The monsters came in flying machines from the sky and landed everywhere, all over the small round planet we live on. No one knew they were monsters because they looked harmless enough with their two wobbly legs and two skinny arms and big smiling faces. Their shiny ships were beautiful and reflected back the sun and we could see ourselves in them too which made us laugh.

The curious little monkeys wandered over first to examine these creatures. They were always brave but stupid. The monkeys followed them into their ship and everyone waited patiently for them to return but they didn’t. If they did, they were so changed, that we, their friends, no longer knew them. They were bigger and they were angry. No one had seen anger before and didn’t know what it was but we all suddenly felt fear and some ran while others hid. Others looked on, not knowing what to do as no one had ran or hid before in fright. All was joy and fun in this world before the monsters came.

The monkeys ran after those that had fled in fear and chased them, shouting and screaming, making big loud noises that no one liked and the elephants raised their trunks and blew hard to cover it up with their own sound. The noises grew and the fear grew and the monsters stood in their flying machines looking out at the chaos they had created and they were very pleased with themselves. Now that everyone was looking at the monkeys they could take the gold and silver from the world and all the precious jewels that sparkled in the waters for themselves, they even sucked the black oil from the ground. No one noticed, no one cared because the monkeys were chasing them all.

A monkey caught a cat and bit her on the back and the cat released her claws she used to climb the trees and scraped the monkey. Their anger grew and others joined the fight and then the first creature in this world blew out like a candle but its spirit stayed to watch the show and I’m here still. A wolf howled at the sky and the sun hid behind the moon. Everything went dark. Nothing would ever be the same again because the monsters came.

The plants closed up their leaves and hid their food and animal began to eat animal and the monsters laughed as they took what they wanted and left this world to do the same on other planets. Some monsters stayed and ruled over all the creatures and the plants that had remained. The plants and creatures changed to fit this darker, scary world where winds blew strong now that there were no sparkles to distract them from their racing flight. The monsters built themselves houses, towns and cities around the planet and continued to take and never give.

Our planet vomited up lava because no longer was the gold and silver in her belly keeping her tummy cool from all the heat of her warm coal. Sometimes she trembled in rage at the memory of the beauty she had been and cracks grew across her skin and swallowed up whoever happened to be passing by. The blissful life her creatures and plants had lived had changed because the monsters came.

But just as the monsters changed our world, our world changed the monsters too. Not all, but many of them noticed how the plants gave generously of their fruit and healed their wounds when they were hurt. More noticed how despite the fear and anger they had brought that creatures still approached and gave them love. Some monsters saw how the beauty of our world could make them smile and love and feel the Joy that once was everywhere before they came. They felt sorrow and regret and cried and asked our planet to forgive them for the pain and she gave them singing birds and butterflies, daffodils and roses, bees and beetles too. She showed the monsters all the good that they can do within this world, how to give instead of take and love instead of hate, how to fix instead of break and the monsters learned and so can you.

Mide of Tuatha

This is a story I wrote for an anthology, full of other lovely works by local Longford writers. You can get it here:

Here is a video we did through Scéalta Beo with Creative Ireland – Longford:

Mide was curled up on her father’s lap, at the campfire in the middle of their enclosure. She was listening to her elders talking of the ancestors, their great feats and desperate defeats. She loved hearing the stories of how the people that created their home, their Crannóg, first came to this area on foot, from over the mythical hills of Brí Leith carrying all that they could with them. They wanted to start afresh in these lakes far from the fires and fighting. 

They left in the night after spending months of preparation, gathering seeds, making food that would last the journey and beyond until the seeds had been planted, grown and harvested in their new home. They cured meat, made butter, made clothing, learned and taught each other skills they would need. In truth they had been preparing for many years before they left as they knew that their world was changing rapidly and in order to keep their people, their families and community safe, they would need to leave their ancient home and start anew elsewhere. 

They had scouted far and wide and were happy that somewhere safe and secluded, somewhere hard to get to was found. They headed off under nightfall to this place to sit out the madness and emerge when all had settled again and was right with the world.

Mide snuggled into the sheepskin rug her father had gently put around her while the stories were told as they were every night, since the beginning, of how her people walked quietly through the bog and over the hills to this lake, a lake that others thought too still and full of death. The stories of stillness and death would keep them safe here when the hunger and desperation hit harder in the world. 

Her people had found new life in this lake, not much at first but life and therefore hope. The lake was rebirthing as the goddess Etain rebirthed in the ancient stories of Brí Leith and so they knew it would serve well as their new home. They fueled the stories of stillness and darkness in whispers to the others so that the many would not come this far and they would be safe, at least for a time. Desperate times brought out the primal tribal feelings of protecting your own. Even with this they had taken in other families and people deserted by their own as deep down they were a kind and caring clan. They also sought out strong and fit people trained in the skills of protection and battle if the need occurred.

Some of their clan had spent time creating the group of manmades islands that had become their home by building up the mounds of mud within the lake and once they were completed they then began the building of the huts and fencing all around. They took their time over the naming of their new home and after much debate agreed to call it Tuatha, which meant, in simple terms  the people, the tribe, the community but their ancient language was never ‘in simple terms’ and so Tuatha meant much more – it is a sense of place, something they needed more now than ever before.

They built their logboats and created a secret path for those who might be on the shoreline needing to get back inside the enclosure quickly. When crossing on the underwater stepping stones it looked as if they walked on water. It was Godlike, Mide was told by her father.

When all the community arrived at the shoreline they began to take the animals over first to the large natural island further in the lake. It was a difficult task, they had to go in two boats each side and get the animals to swim along between them, one by one until they reached the other side. The island, which was hidden from the shoreline, would do their livestock.  They hadn’t brought many, the rest they had bartered with others for items they knew to be needed while the others thought they were quite mad getting rid of the only treasure worth having anymore.

Once they had established themselves in their Crannógs and everyone was assigned their tasks they settled into life and many forgot the destruction they had left behind them. The days blended into each other. Each night at the campfire the Elders told the stories of the past so that no important lesson or skill was forgotten and read from the few ancient manuscripts they had managed to save from destruction. They taught the young to read the symbols and all the knowledge of the past at the evening gatherings. They lived there peacefully together doing their daily tasks, growing their seeds on the island, farming the land and gathering what grew there. 

Every so often a brave one went out to find out if calmness had been restored on the shores and the family waited, worried and excited to find out what news they brought back. Some never came back and they were mourned and stories were told of their lives and added to the nightly learnings. When they did get back everyone watched to see were they followed for days and weeks later. They rarely brought good news. The hardest time for Mide was when her mother didn’t return but hearing her story every night made her feel like she was there with her and her father and she liked to sleep dreaming of her smile.

The first brave scout that came back told of war and dying, of diseases and hunger, many areas of silence. Gradually they told of slow new growth but not enough for all the many needing food. 

They brought strange tales of magnificent structures made by the old people, of strange instruments found and brought some home with them. Some of the elders knew what they were for and taught the clan to use them. The elders waited excitedly for each return to see what treasures returned. Mide, her father and all the new generation were just curious and at times thought most of it was pointless rather than useful.

The last came back so long after they left that people weren’t sure if they really were their kin, but they knew the way and the path across the water so they surely were. If doubt lingered about them no one said as no one wanted to send another being away. There were too few now. 

They hoped in time they would find more communities like their own to trade, learn new skills from and share their knowledge. They hoped that those that had survived had learned the lesson well how cooperation rather than competition was the natural way and working with Mother Earth would serve them better than against. The biggest lesson they all learned every night from the elders was not to casually destroy Mother Earth for she will fight back and she will win.

Mide slowly drifted off to sleep, dreaming of her mother, warm and safe within the strong arms of her father. The large egg she was fiddling with fell out of her hands, rolled towards the fire and suddenly began to crack. The family looked on in bewilderment as a furry robot creature hatched out of the plastic shell making sounds they hadn’t heard before. Was this instrument for communicating like the many slim black boxes they had found but didn’t work? They had taken them apart to use whatever they could from inside. One reached out to do the same to this when Mide woke and grabbed it.

“No don’t break it! This is mine!”

A Journey

Mary jumped on the bus, hood up, head down, hand clasping her bag. The bus driver didn’t give her a second look as she sat down and visualised her plan of action. Inevitably it wouldn’t work out well for her but while she still had time to change her mind she knew she wouldn’t. Her life had taken a complete change of direction but maybe this had always been her destination. She sat back, calm and relaxed, thinking of the events that had paved this road before her.

As a small child, Mary had imagined her future as a successful businesswoman, millionaire. She may have a child or two but no more. She definitely wouldn’t have a litter like her tired mother. A strange ambition for a seven year old when all her friends were dressing up as Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. She was always a realist and never believed in fairy tales.

It wasn’t that she didn’t respect her mothers choices. She seemed to be happy enough in her motherhood and part-time job. She couldn’t have continued in her original, time demanding career if she wanted to give time to her children she was always heard saying though Mary didn’t remember her spending more time with her than any of her friends parents had with them. Mary had noticed the wistful regret of maybe a different life in her mothers words so she planned her own life journey from an early age and no one was going to divert her from it.

She only read biographies, history and “real” books, no fantasy nonsense for her, She noted down all the steps her idols had taken, the sacrifices of these successful women. Women who used their brains and not only survived, but excelled in this man’s world. She played sport to win and keep fit. She was a winner and would always be a winner. She had few friends, she only wanted to mix with driven people, fools need not apply, She was an old head on young shoulders her teachers commented, her school report was always excellent.

Boys did not distract her, though with her long golden locks, sea blue eyes and natural deep red lips she had many admirers. She kept her distance. She knew from watching her mother that often the man’s dreams come first. She came top of the class, top of the country, in her leaving cert. She got her first choice and a scholarship.

The day her journey veered off the path into the murky woods of uncertainty she had followed a ruthless, intelligent and charming wolf. She wasn’t prepared because she had never read a fairy-tale in her life, never read anything but facts, statistics and measureable truths. That day, Mary was sitting in her lecture listening intently to the words of Professor Whyte. She knew all about the famous economist Professor Whyte, she had read all of his papers. She had watched his programmes and read his autobiography.

Perhaps it was because she already knew the economic premise he was discussing, having read on ahead, that she had time to admire his fit body, sparkling eyes and inviting smile. Having never given herself a moment to wander down the rabbit hole of infatuation before she hardly noticed she was slipping into that inviting mossy darkness as she doodled his features on her page. He, however, had been scanning the new recruits, innocent first years, preferably loners. He was looking for new blood, having discarded his last just before she went in for her finals.

Mary was staring into his eyes ready to leap in and drown. She was already beginning to justify in her mind her sudden daydreaming episode, something she never did and scorned openly in secondary school.

“I know this already, I’ll study it later, I’ll snap out of this enchantment shortly and get back to my schedule.”

She had a schedule, a timetable showing her productive plan for every minute of her waking day. Dr. Whyte was about to change all that.

All the rest of her class moved out and on to the next lecture as she lingered on doodling and dreaming of the handsome prince before her and he stayed back, slowly gathering his books and his lunch. He stopped, looked at her and tossed a juicy red apple which she caught and sat holding it, like a rabbit paralysed, staring into his headlights. He smiled, walking out the door.

“ Bye Dr. Whyte, thanks for the apple.”

“ No problem Miss..”

“Mary, Mary Malone.”

“ Ah, Mary, not Molly then? Call me Phil, I’m not into titles. See you soon.”

Mary found herself bumping into Dr. Whyte, Phil, regularly. She had him for lectures twice a week and a tutorial but he seemed to be everywhere she looked. It was unnerving, especially as she had only allowed herself to daydream that one day and now thoughts of him kept interrupting when and as often as they wanted. She found she liked him more and more each day which was not on her plan.

Phil was liking this chase, he thought it was going to be an easy one that first day but this rabbit was resisting, more harelike the way she bounded off as soon as she saw him. He was getting under her skin. She was difficult to pin down, she didn’t attend the usual student haunts and seemed to socialise with her classmates only during and in between class.

“Ah, Mary, how are you?”

He was leaning up against a doorway in the corridor as she was scurrying along to get to class.

“Stop a bit and chat, you are well on time as usual. I’ve been worrying about you, I worry about all my students. You need to live a little, let down your hair, go out with your friends, go to The Yellow Brick, that’s where everyone hangs out I’m told, I go on occasion myself, might even venture there tonight. Funny, normally, I’m telling students to do the opposite.”

He laughed. She stopped and looked at him.

“What do you mean? I’m fine. I don’t really enjoy that sort of thing, I’m just here to learn.”

“It’s not all about books Mary, You seem like an ambitious sort, you need to learn to network, be at the right events, socialise, it’s how we humans work I’m afraid, even if you don’t like it.”

He hit her right between the eyes, she was doing something wrong, not moving in the right direction to her dream, yes she was top of her class, had been since day one but she knew he was right. Sooner or later she had to play the game, be seen at the right places, rub shoulders with the people of influence and she hadn’t ventured out once.

I’ve been so busy.”

“Yes, busy, busy, top of the class. I’ve been watching your progress and well done but you know what they say, all work and no play.”

“I play camogie, that’s a team sport.”

He laughed,

“ And do you enjoy it? ”

“Yes, yes, I’ve always loved camogie. I score a lot, I like winning. We won a lot, my school team.”

“Yes, you like winning, how about you sign up for something social, eh Mary? Tick that box too. “

and off he went knowing he had upset her. He had the measure of this little rabbit, he had met many like her before.

Irritated, she wandered into her lecture not thinking of anything but his words.

‘He makes me seem so superficial and calculating, I’m not like that at all, I’m just focused and that’s a good thing.’

She watched others laughing and joking together making plans for the evening despite a paper being due next week. How could they leave so much to chance? Even later as she studied she couldn’t let it go and in the end she pushed her chair back from her desk and stood up. She changed her clothes, brushed her hair and put some make up on, not a lot as she only had a minimal amount in the first place. Then she went to prove to him and to herself that she could have some fun, throw caution to the wind just like everybody else. She promised herself she would be home by midnight at the latest as she had so much work to do.

He smiled his charming smile when he saw her enter the pub and then he ignored her and continued his conversation while she squirmed and wondered what she was doing here. When he felt she had enough and might flee he approached his little rabbit and saved her from herself.

“Well, this is a surprise, I thought you thought pubs were a pointless exercise”

“I thought I might relax, socialise a bit,”

“Yes, you are doing great at that over here in the corner on your own.”

He laughed,

“Here, let me buy you a drink, you can join us, its not all tutors, there are some of your kind with us too, students I mean not social butterflies”

He snorted at his own joke and directed her to the table. He introduced her and wandered to the bar.

She never was so giddy or frisky, she usually only drank to be polite and only ever one but this night’s partying lasted longer than she intended, she wasn’t sure what was in that concoction she had been drinking, it was sweet but very intoxicating. Against her better judgement, she had none by the end of the night, she went with Phil to his office to discuss some paper he was working on. She had agreed enthusiastically, delighted he thought she was clever enough. One thing led to another and they slept together that night and many more to come and soon her every spare moment was in his company. They did discuss his paper and she won many arguments on it and he even seemed so grateful for her input that she spent more time on his work than her own. As her grades fell his work flowered and bloomed.

She got through first year reasonably near the top. She held her own in second year and third but in her final year she was waking up to the manipulation she had willingly allowed happen. His work had been exceptional during her time with him and much of it was hers but no recognition would come her way. She overheard a lecturer comment one day how Phil always worked better with a muse and it irritated her no end. He was distancing himself from her, saying she should spread her wings, she shouldn’t want to be tied down to him. Before, he had made plans for life with her. She noticed he was spending more and more time around the first years, more than he had in years, in fact since her first year.

It was the day she saw him propped up against a doorway, greeting a young girl in the way he greeted her before, that she remembered the girl who had been staring at her and him the way she was now staring at the scene unfolding before her. That day she changed the course of her journey forever.

She descended from the bus, made her way to the door and knocked. Phil opened it and smiled.

“I’ve written a letter to the Dean and I’ve contributions from many more young women you manipulated along with evidence of their work that you claimed as your own. He should get it this morning, round about now. My journey to hell has ended, but yours is only starting.”

She opened her bag, took out the gun and pulled the trigger. He stood in horror as her young frame fell to the ground before him, her white hood slowly changing to crimson. The phone rang.

This reminded me of Edna O’Brien’s writing in its portrayal of the harsh realities of being a young woman in an environment ruled by a powerful man; the ending was unexpected but unforgettable!” Judge’s comment in ICA Short Story Competition, 4th overall, 1st HIGHLY COMMENDED.