Vico Road, a short story by Doreen Duffy
Gina couldn’t believe she was still sitting there. The rain hadn’t let up; it was spilling onto the windscreen. She flicked the wipers but the scene in front of her made her feel sick. The orange glow of the clock said 12:08. She thought she heard thunder or was it the sound of the other car moving away from the tree it had been rammed against. She turned quickly almost wrenching her neck, checking the blurry view, straining her eyes trying to make sure there was still nobody around.
She needed time to think. Should she drive her car just that tiny bit more, into the back of Sophie’s white Ford Focus? It would only take the smallest nudge to push that selfish bitch over the edge, out of their lives, out of her son’s life.
Gina closed her eyes for a moment; she could never have dreamt she was capable of this. The slotted pictures of the day flickered frantically in her mind.
Sophie, Chris’s girlfriend, had sat across from her, tears spilling onto reddened cheeks, scrubbing at her eyes with a balled up tissue. Gina had felt everything slide and jar to a stop when Sophie in a childlike whingeing voice explained that she couldn’t go through with donating a kidney to Chris.
“I hadn’t thought it all through properly and now the whole idea of donating, well, it doesn’t bear thinking about. I’m scared; I can’t cope with the thought of being ill and in pain. You have to understand Gina; you have to help me tell Chris.”
Gina had clutched the back of the kitchen chair her knuckles white.
“But it’s all set up, everything’s in place, you’re his only hope.”
Gina looked at Sophie. She wasn’t going to change her mind. She was still talking head tilted to one side, that pathetic expression on her face.
Sophie lowered her eyes and bit her lip. She begged Gina to see it from her point of view, but Gina couldn’t see anything. She could no longer hear her words. All she could think of was her son. She turned away from her, moved over to the sink still filled with dishes. The tap dripped clean drops into the cold greasy water. A vile mess was starting to form on top. She stared out through the kitchen window. Rain was falling, the sky heavy and grey. Even the leaves on the trees had given up, lost their grip.
She ignored Sophie calling her name as she walked past her picked up her car keys and left. She had driven for hours all along the coast road. She had stopped and stared out over the bay watching the tide beat the island with relentless waves.
Everything had changed when Sophie had agreed to have the tests and discovered she was a match. Gina thanked God they’d met, decided she would ignore all her little flaws. Sophie came home with Chris often; she’d have dinner with the two of them but the last time she came she’d drawled at Chris to hurry up and finish his meal as she wanted to get out of there, go somewhere fun. Chris looked embarrassed. Gina picked up on his discomfort and to break the tension she asked Sophie about her computer course.
She’d said she got her Dad to pay for the course. She told him she’d get a job with much better pay if she could get a degree. Her Dad bought her a car when she passed her first year exams and she put Chris’s name on her insurance.
“You can drive when I’ve had a few drinks”, she’d said laughing.
Gina remembered Chris talking about taking Sophie on the drive down along the coast. He laughed telling Gina how terrified Sophie was driving the narrow cliffside roads between Dalkey and Killiney.
“She was squealing Mam, hiding her eyes with her hands.”
Gina had tried to pull herself together; she knew these roads could be treacherous. The rain was so heavy, hopping off the ground, wipers swishing back and forth, it was like watching a film on fast forward, she tried to concentrate on her driving and then she’d seen it. Coming out of Sorrento Terrace, Sophie’s white Ford Focus the only other car on the road, teetering nervously along the narrow road in front of her, brake lights bouncing on and off through the thick grey night, her driving erratic.
“You stupid selfish bitch”, Gina heard herself hiss.
Gina couldn’t form any clear thoughts. There were just waves of emotion, flashes of thought. She knocked the headlights on to full beam and sped up behind her until with a thump she made contact. The holy medal hanging from Gina’s rear view mirror with the Madonna holding her child swung violently. Revving madly she shoved the car along faster towards the sharp turn on Vico Road. Her veins pumped with blood until she could barely hear the metal as Sophie’s car grazed along the grassy wall on the right, scraping, whining like a woman screeching until it careered off the road and slammed bluntly against the tree.
The tree was the only thing between Sophie’s car and the steep drop over the bay. Silence, stillness, Gina didn’t know what to do next she switched off the engine. She sat staring at the wreckage in front of her. Lights flashed and Gina’s body almost left the car seat with fright but it was just another car taking the bend at speed.
The fact that Sophie hadn’t gotten out of the car after it hit the tree might have meant that she was dead already or unconscious or scared to move, just like she was too scared to go through with what she’d promised Chris.
She made the emergency call. Gina knew that Sophie’s organs had to be taken as soon as possible. She started up her car reversed a little way back and then slammed her foot on the accelerator and lunged forward dislodging the car. She rammed her foot on the brake as she watched the Ford Focus almost fly for a second before it bounced like a toy, weightless down against the bank until it landed cradled on the rocks.
She reversed feeling strangely calm and drove her own battered car home. It didn’t matter now what happened to her. The paperwork was done they couldn’t refuse Chris Sophie’s kidney now.
Gina turned her car into her driveway; her stomach lurched violently at the sight before her. Sophie, her face white under the light, hopped from one foot to the other wringing her hands. Mascara mixed with tears and rain made trails like roads on a map. She ran over and pulled open Gina’s car door.
“Chris took my car. He was so upset. I told him I couldn’t go through with it. He stormed out. I couldn’t stop him.”
Gina squeezed her eyes tightly shut and tried to block out Sophie’s words. She put her arms around herself and rocked back and forth remembering the heat of happiness when she had held her baby boy for the very first time.
Doreen has studied the various forms of creative writing, at Oxford University online, at UCD and at NUI Maynooth. Her publications include The Ireland’s Own Anthology, Circle and Square, The Woman’s Way, The Irish Times, The Burning Bush 2 and Brilliant Flash Fiction online. She has received many awards including first place in the Jonathan Swift Poetry Competition and most recently she was awarded the Deirdre Purcell Cup at The Edgeworth Literary Festival. Doreen is working towards her first collection of poetry.
© Doreen Duffy