Archive for the ‘The Grip’ Category

When nineteen year old Dorian McElroy went to college, he left his old life and his mother behind. At first there were frequent phone calls. The phone calls became monthly letters. Eventually all contact was lost.

Jessica’s mild mannered world is torn apart when she receives word from the university that Dorian has taken his own life. Now she must abandon the safety of her home and venture out in search of information on Dorian’s last days, the people he met and why he made such a tragic decision.


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Who was that boy?

Posted: October 4, 2016 in The Grip

Two girls sat on the steps watching the building opposite. There had been coming and going from it all day – more than usual. It was the residences for students of the university. That morning paramedics had come to remove a body from one the rooms.

One of the paramedics had set about pushing the students back who had been drawn by morbid curiosity.

“Step back please!” she cried as her colleagues carried the dead  boy to the waiting transport. She was a seasoned professional. She had been on the scene of many an emergency although none would assume it from her youthful face.

Some of the students gasped in horror. Others felt compelled to call home and speak to their loved ones.

But that was earlier. Early evening was beginning to descend as the girls sat on the bench. Although the shock of what had happened had dissipated there was still an odd air circulating the old architecture.

One of the girls shivered.

“I heard he killed himself,” she said.

Her friend didn’t have to ask to whom she referred. She already knew.

“I heard it was an accident. He took too many pills.”

The first girl shook her head. They both fell into silence. They watched a solemn youth with his head bowed enter the building.

“Such a shame,” piped the first girl. “He must  have been very young. What a waste of life.”

Her companion agreed. “He must have been very desperate to have taken his own life.”

The first girl sniffed. “I heard his mother has been informed. I can’t imagine what she will discover as she tries to put the pieces together.”

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Jessica McElroy had been preparing her evening meal at precisely six o’clock as she did every evening. As the pot bubbled on the stove she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the window. She had reached her middle age without the grey becoming too evident through her blonde hair. Her skin was soft and pale like it had been in her youth. Only the slight lines of crows feet were telling of her age. Yet, she couldn’t smile. She couldn’t seem to affix any kind of emotion. That horrified her the most. She looked back towards her stove. The television in the parlour was playing a comedy show. The comedian was throwing himself around like a clown to an appreciative live audience. The laughter from the screen drew her attention, finally she smiled. How dazzling that smile had been twenty years before. ‘You could be a model,’ she had been told more than once. She chose instead to marry Walter and bear their son.

The telephone began to ring. She ran to answer it. When she lifted the receiver her heart began to beat a little faster.

Mrs. McElroy?” asked the voice on the other line, a deep resonant tone of an ageing professional. “My name is Jack Farther. I’m the head of student services here at Filton College.”

Jessica’s heart began to beat faster still. Her son, Dorian, was a student at Filton College. When his father left them it seemed Dorian could be no more interested in her than Walter. He left for college and in the beginning there were regular phone calls, sometimes twice a day. Those calls became twice a week, then twice a month until eventually they stopped altogether. Jessica had written him several letters and after a trickle of replies they finally ceased too. Dorian was set on becoming a teacher. He had had his nose in a book ever since he was a little boy. He was nineteen now and in a few short years he would make a confident, encouraging English teacher for young people like himself. The phone call from Mr Farther had come out of the blue. The college had never contacted her for anything. Jessica couldn’t help but wonder what trouble Dorian had found himself in.

This is Mrs. McElroy,” replied Jessica after a few moments contemplative silence. “What’s wrong? What has happened? Is Dorian okay?”

Mr. Farther breathed a heavy sigh. “I’m sorry Mrs. McElroy. Can you come to the college right away?”

Jessica shook her head, as little good as it would do over the phone. Her body tensing was evident in the tones of her voice. “The not knowing will drive me crazy. It is a long trip to Filton and it will only torture me. Please tell me what has happened.”

Mr. Farther pulled the receiver away from his mouth. Jessica could still hear his voice speaking to someone else but it was muffled and faint. When he returned to her clearer he said, “Please Mrs. McElroy, I really shouldn’t do this over the phone.”

Jessica insisted, “If Dorian has found himself in trouble please tell me what I can do to fix it.”

Mr. Farther sniffed. “Earlier this evening, Dorian’s room-mate found him,” he stuttered; hesitated. “Dorian had taken pills. Dorian is dead.”

The receiver fell from her hand. Tears immediately began to stream from her eyes as the words dropped into her ears like a deadly poison clouding her brain. She caught her reflection in the window again and this time it was filled with emotion. The pots on the stove were beginning to bubble over.

Mrs. McElroy? Mrs. McElroy?” Mr. Farther continued to call over the phone as the other end fell away.

Jessica managed to pick up the telephone again. “Why?” was all she could mutter.

Mr. Farther adopted a more soothing voice. “I’m so sorry Mrs McElroy. I had known Dorian his whole time here at Filton. He was a good boy. Please can you come down here?”

Yes, yes of course. I’ll leave right away.”

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