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Emerging Writer Member Profile

Rachael Murphy

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Member Bio:

Rachael started writing short stories because she did a Creative Writing Course on a whim. She is firmly outside her comfort zone but, strangely, enjoying it!
When she isn’t writing (which usually means staring at a computer screen), she tolerates working to earn money and dreams of living a life free to pursue her dreams, once she figures out what they are. She has a cat.

Writing sample

I stole a hen. Not a nice hen. Oh no. Not a cute hen, not a posh hen. A pure useless brown hen. Scrawny. Ugly. Scraggly. And now he’s staring at me balefully. I didn’t know hens could stare at you balefully. In fact, I didn’t know what balefully meant until the hen started staring me. I read the word somewhere. Balefully. It’s a Good Word. I’ve looked it up on Google. Balefully staring—which he’s been doing for the last fifteen minutes. I know, he’s not a he, he’s a she. But he’s a he in my head. Tommy. I’ll call him Tommy. He looks like a Tommy.
“Quit staring at me.”
I look away. Pretend he isn’t there. I look back. He’s still staring at me.
“Stop it. I rescued you. “
Well, morally I rescued you. Granny liked morals. Her beady eyes shone when she was going on about them. She was a very moral person, so she said.
Legally, I stole you. Granny wouldn’t ‘ve approved. I could get in Big Trouble. But you needed to be stolen. That one didn’t look after you. I saw her. Every day on my way home from the shop. She’d be out rounding up her hens. She never saw you hiding in the bushes. Well, I think it was you but you all look the same. Brown, scratching, scraggly, scrawny, ugly thing. And baleful. Full of bale you were.
I’ve never liked hens. Granny did. Well, I think she liked them. It was hard to tell with her. She didn’t like me. She was nicer to her hens than she was to me. I’m not making it up. Swear to God. She told me when I was five “I don’t like you, you’re pure useless – you should’ve been born a boy”. Not my fault – I’d no say in it.
“Only child after years of them trying,” Granny said.
I don’t know what they were trying. Then a year later the boy came along and Mammy went. She stopped breathing. You need to breathe to be alive. That’s what Daddy said.
Whatever chance I had of Granny liking me went with the birth of the Blessed Child. Her words, not mine. I called him ‘Bog Baby’. But not out loud.
He was never sent to clean out the hen house. She saved that job for me. The Blessed Child went to school. And University. Granny said school didn’t agree with me so I stopped going. I did Important Jobs around the house, like cleaning the hole of a hen house. The bockety split shovel with the scratchy shaft scraping against the solid floor of the hen house scooping up the acidy hen leavings and straw and mouldy food and slinging it into the stinking heap of ever increasing hen shit outside the shed. I shouldn’t say shit – it’s a Bad Word.
She never sent the Blessed Child out to collect the eggs either even though I was scared of the hens. The pure useless things pecked at me when I reached underneath them to get the eggs. A Good Morning was when the hens had gone out already and I just had to collect the eggs from the nesting box without one of the feckers being there.
A double yolker. The Egg of eggs. I never got one, even though I’d collected the egg. Always given to the Blessed Child.
I was sent to Smiley Mrs. O’Malley on a Friday. I liked her. She lived halfway down to the village. Granny gave me her pension book and then I called into Mrs. Reilly and then Smiley Mrs. O’Malley to collect their books and then down to the post office to collect the three pensions. On the way back Smiley Mrs. O’Malley was the first to get her pension. She had a shed that was a shop that sold everything. I didn’t like the smell in the shop. It smelled dry and dusty – old animal feed, old paper and stale food.
She used to give me Coke – the real stuff - and Tayto. The first time she gave me a glass bottle of Coke she left me in the kitchen with it and a bottle opener and went to serve a customer. I’d no notion how to use a bottle opener. I thought I’d be in Big Trouble cos I’d look like I didn’t want the Coke if I hadn’t opened the bottle by the time she came back. I ended up breaking the bottle, catching it in the half-pint glass and putting the bottle in the bin so she wouldn’t know. She gave me tins after that.
In Smiley Mrs. O’Malley’s I’d to get a stone of chlorenda for the hens. I’ve no notion to this day what it is. I’ve Googled it since but can’t find it. Then again, I’m not great on the computer – probably me. But I know what baleful means.
Chlorenda looked like Corn Flakes. Didn’t taste like them - I tried it. Granny made me eat porridge so I’d never had Corn Flakes. For years I thought that Corn Flakes tasted like chlorenda. Until I tried Corn Flakes. They don’t taste like chlorenda. They look like it though. Also a half a stone of the seedy stuff for the hens.
Smiley Mrs. O’Malley would send me on my way. I used to look back at her smiling but looking sad at me heading a mile up the road with a stone and a half of hen food. I don’t know why she was sad. I was grand. She asked me once why Daddy didn’t come with the car to carry the hen food up the road. She’s dead now.

Current project

So, so many. Currently entering every competition around to see if I can get anywhere with this writing malarkey

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