Edel’s Firsts

Edel’s first experience of teasing.

Edel stood in the background and watched in silent amusement as Katie squealed and made a fuss. As far as Edel could tell, there was nothing to be upset about. The slug looked harmless enough.

Katie shrieked as Jay picked up the slimy creature in his hand and chased her through the house.

“Jay! Stop it!” she yelled, although she laughed between her screams and shouts.

She ran to the kitchen and slammed herself up against the counter. “Jay! stop it!” she yelled as he advanced on her again.

Edel watched as Jay thrust his hand under Katie’s nose and she slapped him hard on the chest. “Stop it! It’s not funny. Get it away from me!”

Edel felt anger rise in her chest. The girl had struck Jay and even though she knew he wasn’t hurt, she felt a need to defend him. She held her breath and waited for this unfamiliar sensation o pass, reminding herself that Katie was about as physically strong as a wet tissue, and Jay was laughing, totally unhurt.

Kate ducked under Jay’s outstretched arm and ran for the bathroom. “Stay away from me!” she screamed.

Jay laughed manically as he lurched his body toward her, but Edel’s focus was suddenly on Katie. All the humour she was displaying before had evaporated, and the poor girl was showing signs of genuine fear. Edel felt herself stuck somewhere between sympathy and disgust. How could anyone be afraid of something so small and harmless as a slug? It had no teeth, no venom, no claws. It was a totally benign creature, yet Katie was terrified.

Edel continued to watch, feeling increasingly sorry for the girl. Couldn’t Jay see she was afraid? Edel could smell it. Taste it even.

Jay continued to laugh as he closed in on Katie. By now, she had stopped resisting. She silently shook her head as she backed up against the wall, and there was pleading in her tear-filled eyes.

“Are you crying?” he asked.

When he spoke, Edel couldn’t place the tone. It sounded like he was disparaging her, but there was distress in his tone, too. Perhaps he felt bad? It was a mystery to her.

Jay dropped his hand and marched back to the kitchen. He wrapped the slug in a paper towel and deposited it in the trash. “It’s just a slug, Katie!” he muttered under his breath, shooting her a sly smile.

Katie’s expression did not alter. She glared at him with a look of hatred, then with a flick of her silvery blond hair, she stomped to the door without another word. She yanked open the door and disappeared through it . Jay rolled his eyes, but followed her, yelling, “Katie! Come on, it was only a bit of fun!” He shot Edel a pained look as he left.

Edel remained exactly where she was. She had not moved throughout their entire bizarre interaction, and she didn’t know what to make of it all. This behaviour wasn’t unusual whenever Katie was here. She usually left upset or angry and Jay always seemed to be chasing her down to apologise, but she couldn’t help thinking Jay deserved Katie’s anger this time.

Edel didn’t know much about love or relationships, but she was certain of one thing: Danny and Gemma never acted like this.

Edel’s Firsts…

Edel meets a pensioner.

Edel’s First… meeting with an older person

Edel could hear Jay was not alone as she approached the door to their apartment, but she could not place the scent of who was inside. She hesitated a moment before finally deciding to push open the door, hoping she could quietly make it to her room without having to interact with any new humans.

“Edel!” Jay greeted her as soon as she pushed open the door. “This is my Grandad.” He pointed to the man across the room. “Grandad, this is my roommate, Edel.”

Edel stared at the man carefully. Older people weren’t something she was used to seeing. Before she escaped from Poly-Gen, she’d never seen a person aged over retiring age. His skin was creased and weathered. It looked like well-worn paper money that someone had tried to smooth out, and it looked as though it would tear easily, like tissue paper. The deep creases around his eyes deepened further as he smiled, and said, “So, you’re the one who’s been giving him the run-around.”

Edel continued to stare, wondering what he could possibly mean. His voice sounded different to that of a younger man. Deep and gravelly, and instead of coming out smoothly, the sound left his lips with a slight quiver.

“I hope you’re keeping him on his toes? You look a nice girl. He deserves a nice girl, does Jay. Not like that other one. What was she called, Callie? Kelly? Kerry?” he screwed his face up and waved his hand dismissively.

“Katie, Grandad. And she’s still my girlfriend,” he said testily. “Edel is my roommate. We live together, but we are friends, that’s all.”

“Katie,” the old man muttered under his breath. “And where is she, anyway?” his question turned from words into a hacking cough, and Edel stepped forward, alarmed to see the old man struggling.

Jay caught her eye and shook his head a fraction, indicating that Edel should remain where she was. “Why don’t you sit down, Grandad?” Jay placed his arm under the old man’s armpit and gently guided him to a chair. Edel watched his shuffling feet, noticing the effort it cost him. As though he needed to concentrate on his coordination. Jay gently lowered him into the chair and the old man laid his head back. His breathing seemed laboured after the short walk and Edel could hear his heart pumping harder than it should be.

Edel watched, fascinated. In his features, she could see a resemblance to Jay. The shape of his hairline and the bow of his lips. When he smiled, his eyes lit up the same way as Jay’s. She considered what it meant to be a grandad and shaped her thoughts carefully until she had crafted her question in her mind. She breathed in deep and looked up at Jay. “Grandad is your mother’s father? Or your father’s father?”

Jay smiled. “My Mom’s.”

Edel had so many questions spring to mind. This was the first time she had met any of Jay’s family. He rarely spoke of his family, or his youth, and Edel had never thought to ask him. Suddenly she found herself wondering why she had never met this man before, or heard Jay speak of him, or his parents. It struck her only now, that she didn’t know anything about Jay from before they met. As though he had been born a grown man, with no past. “How old is he?”

The old man coughed again and looked up at her. “What sort of a question is that?” he shook his head and said, “The youth of today are so damn rude! Asking a gentleman his age!” he said indignantly.

Edel’s heart hammered in her chest. Jay had said she would never get in trouble for asking questions, but this man was not Jay. She looked over to Jay and he snickered.

“Grandad! Behave!” he shook his head and caught Edel’s eye. “He’s joking, Edel.”

Edel wet her lips with the tip of her tongue. It seemed Jay and his grandad shared a similar sense of humour as well as physical traits. She found Jay’s humour to be confusing, and his Grandad was no easier to understand. Her eyes travelled to her closed bedroom door, and she fought the urge to run to it and hide herself away where things were safe and easy.

“Edel has to go now, Grandad.” Jay said, offering an understanding nod in Edel’s direction.

She’d never felt more grateful. She peered at the man in the chair and murmured hesitantly, “It was nice to meet you Mr Powell.”

“Call me Joe.”

Edel nodded and made her way across the apartment and into her room. As she closed the door, she heard Joe say, “I like that one. Why isn’t that one your girlfriend?”

She listened to Jay’s guffawing laughter and smiled. “Trust me Grandad. She’s not interested in dating me.”  

Edel’s Firsts

Illnesses

Edel stood in the doorway of her bedroom and stared at Jay, unsure of the situation. Something wasn’t right. There was something wrong with him.


He turned and placed his coffee on the counter, then unscrewed a bottle of pills, tipping two into his hand. He jumped in surprise as he caught sight of her in the doorway. “I’m going to get a bell for your neck. Why are you always sneaking around?” His voice sounded short and irritable and it made her feel confused and out of her depth. Jay didn’t get angry with her. Not ever.

She stood in the doorway willing her feet or her voice to work. She couldn’t find the words.

“Were you planning to just stand there all day?” He said as he sullenly poured milk into his cereal bowl.

She shuffled forward with her head down, but she didn’t know what she was meant to do. She stood aimlessly in the space between her bedroom and the living room, wondering what she had done wrong and how she had managed to upset Jay just by being here.

“I’m sorry.” He muttered, running his hand roughly through his hair. “I’m not feeling good this morning.”


She studied his face meticulously. He was clammy and pale, and he smelled different. “You are sick?”

He shrugged. “I’ll survive.”

She swallowed down her nerves about asking humans questions and forced herself to find out if he was going to be ok. “Do you hurt?”

She had his attention. He looked at her with an expression she didn’t recognise. “It’s just a bad cold. It’s nothing serious!”

She stared at him with her big, worried eyes and he sniggered at her. “Edel! It’s like you’ve never seen a sick person before!”

I haven’t. She didn’t dare to speak the words out loud. Maybe she was meant to know what to do or how to act. Maybe he would be angry with her for not knowing.

He snickered again at the look her on her face, but it quickly turned from a laugh to a coughing fit. Edel stepped forward, the look of alarm clearly visible on her face. He recovered from his cough, and she steered him to a chair at the table and not-so-gently pushed him into it. She bent forward, her face inches from his and stared at his face. “What happens when people are sick?”

“What do you mean?”

“How do you get better?”

He made his ‘you are being ridiculous’ face at her. “Are you worried about me?” he smirked.

She recognised his tone and facial expression as ones that were making fun of her. She looked at him, unable to admit that, yes, she was desperately worried about what would happen if he was sick. She didn’t know how it felt to a human to be sick, or if he was in pain, or if it was serious, or how he would get better.

“Edel, it’s just a cold!”

She nodded her head as though she understood, but she didn’t. Poly-Gen had very strict rules about sickness. Nobody could enter the facility unless they had been screened and given the all clear. It was a very sterile place – they didn’t want any cross contamination or skewed results, or any errors caused by sickness.

“Shouldn’t you be resting?” She tentatively asked the question, pushing back the fear of what might happen from telling a human what they should be doing.

He smirked at her again. He was making that face – the one with the raised eyebrows and the tongue poking out between his teeth. The next thing out of his mouth was not going to be anything serious.

“Are you telling me what to do?”

She knew he was joking, but fear made her throat constrict. “No.” Her eyes fell to the floor. “I thought sick people needed rest,” she mumbled quietly.

He began to cough again and then he sneezed three times in quick succession.

She looked so panicked. “Does it hurt?”

“Sneezing?” He said incredulously. “No, it doesn’t hurt. It’s normal! Don’t you sneeze?”

She shook her head. It didn’t look normal. He tried to stand but she pushed him back down. “What do you need?”

“Tissue,” he said, pointing to the bathroom.

Edel returned with a whole roll of toilet paper. She wasn’t sure how much he needed or what exactly he needed it for.

“Are you going to stare at me all day?” He snapped. He wrapped his arms around his body as a shiver ran through it.

“You are not cold,” She said. “You have a fever.”

Jay blinked. He didn’t even want to know how she knew what his temperature was. He just accepted that she knew. “Chills are normal with a cold,” he muttered.

She stood and brought his coffee that was sitting on the side, placing it in front of him.

Jay grinned to himself as he pulled the hot drink towards him and cradled it between his hands. She was terrible at this, with her intense stare and her abrupt speech, but she was genuinely concerned for him, and this was the only way she could show she cared. What Jay wanted, was to be left alone to mooch around the apartment and feel sorry for himself in peace. But this was probably the first time in her life that she had experienced compassion and sympathy, and maybe the first time she had actually wanted to help somebody. He couldn’t send her away.