By Marie Reynolds

Photo “Exploring Solo” By Tuyet

A foreigner with no ties and boyfriend problems arrives at a hen. Everyone brought a present worth 5 E but not me, I misinterpreted an email sent to all of us. The only person I know is the bride-to-be. Feeling awkward, she’s opening presents, guessing who they’re from, but none are from me. Eat some tapas, drink sangria, forgot my lipstick, and a pregnancy test protrudes out of my purse — I hide it quickly. I don’t know anyone. The bride’s sister keeps hugging me in sympathy. Yes, I am a loser. I’m probably the oldest one here. Should I tell them that I’m still married but I don’t want to be with my husband because his prison experience took a toll on me, and I fell out of love? I wanted a career as a writer, as a performer.

We get a taxi to a horrific place, ‘Howl at the Moon’. It’s packed with 20-somethings in miniskirts and awkward young student men with posh accents. ‘’Can I have a kiss?’’ a student asks me. Hahaha! I haven’t heard that in years. ‘’Can we swap, you give me a cigarette and I give you, my rollie?’’ ‘’Sorry mate I only have rollies too.’’ Girls in tiny skirts falling over, spilling drinks all over my back, then asking me to loan them my devil horns so they can take pictures for Facebook, no problem. I want to tell one that her tampon string is hanging out, but she is falling over, and I can’t catch her. The music is horrendous, everyone is mouthing words to it. How do they know all the songs? These are the hits, Jesus. A young one approaches me as I’m sitting and observing: ‘’Your hen party is shit’’, I say nothing, he’s right.

Force myself to a dance, do some street dance moves I learned in a school play when I was 12. I was a rapper in a modern version of Cinderella. The bride is loving it and copies my moves. Out to the smoking area, then wandering around, checking the time, after 2 am it won’t be rude to get the hell out of here. The bride’s sister praises the bride, she’s lovely, an absolute doll, but I’m tired of the conversation now. How much did I spend? 60 E already, I’ll get one more Corona and call it a night.

I tell one of the hens about my boyfriend problems. He has a daughter, an ex, a mortgage, a job, I’m fifth on his list, it’s hard. I check my phone to see if I’ve gotten any messages from him. Asshole. I’m crying inside, I’m devastated. I tell one hen I am moving to London. I don’t tell her I booked a flight for next week. I can’t tell the bride yet, don’t want to ruin her night. I can’t tell her that I won’t make it to her wedding in July. It’s probably rude. I don’t know if I’ll have the money once I move to London. Move away from it all. I decided even if I marry again in a ‘normal way’, (not escape to Antigua and do it secretly like last time), I still won’t have a hen party. I hate them. If I had to have one, I’d probably get everyone to do an activity, maybe go parachuting or something, not just sit, drink, talk shite, and get drunk. Sick of that lifestyle.

I watch the club filling up with girls in pencil minis and boys with fresh faces. So young, all from D2 or D4, Daddy’s probably paying for all. I’m not jealous; I wish I was them, but then again, they seem so awkward and lacking personalities. They’re actually enjoying this music. I tell one hen these guys will probably run this country in the future as bankers and government staff. She says it’s a depressing thought. She says in her time they never dressed up the same way, like sluts. I think the girls look amazing, in tiny but expensive dresses, great bodies, they all look like they could be from ‘Sex and the City’ or a Beyonce video.

I kiss everyone goodbye, ‘’See you soon I hope’’. ‘’Yeah, see you in July at the wedding!’’, they say. I swallow saliva, say nothing. ‘’Don’t walk home!’’ Says the bride-to-be. ‘’I’ll get a taxi’’ I say. I get out and walk home. I need air, I need to go to the shop anyway and buy more tobacco. It only takes 10 minutes, and I’m at O ‘Connell Bridge. I see a young grungy couple just hanging out. The poor people seem so much more interesting, it’s something about their faces I tell myself. I keep walking, then get depressed, thinking how I haven’t got any texts from the boyfriend for the last two days, how difficult our relationship has been, and how I developed eczema on my hands. My hands are completely flared up at this point, it spread even to my wrists this time. Air is doing me good. ‘’Tomorrow is another day’’ I mumble to myself as I unlock a friend’s house on North Circular Road, where I spend the weekends. That was Peter’s idea, so he can bring his daughter to our address and there will be no trouble then. It’s because Penny is meant to believe that he lives alone, and I am just a waving acquaintance who frequently wheels a suitcase to the other side of the Liffey.

Marie Reynolds

Mirjana Rendulic (Marie Reynolds) is a Dublin-based writer who first got her pen surname in one of those normal jobs when working as a customer support, in case angry customers get strange ideas. She trained in theatre in Ireland and has always written stories and poetry, mostly in English, but sometimes in Croatian.  Her play ‘Broken Promise Land’  won an award at New York Radio Festivals and was listed as a key play of Ireland. She likes animals and children, and almost always mentions them in stories. Sometimes she makes unwritten stories when facilitating groups. Mirjana also developed her play ‘Shady Lane’ via an Arts Council Agility Award as well as her poem prose ‘A Death of a Star‘. Soon after, her poetry was shortlisted by Aleph Press in London in 2021. She hopes to make more of her written and unwritten projects a reality and if she wasn’t in Ireland all those years, she was meant to expand on her Croatian as she really appreciates its colourful and diverse vocabulary.