BDS Fic: Every Man Is An Island
Summary: Set in Ireland, Murphy and Connor are about sixteen, saving up for their immigration to America.
Dedication: To Isis
Jo: Oh, wow, it' been a long time since I was asked to write this.
Muse: Aren't you glad I didn't forget about it?
Murphy: Not it's boring. Get back to your other fic, I wanna shoot something!
Muse: *hides weaponry from Murphy*
Connor: Ah, you know we would never harm an innocent person!
Isla: Oh, by the way, Jo doesn't own BDS!
Connor sighed. Murphy was chasing Vevay Joyce's skirt yet again. He looked over at Isla and smiled. She had a letter in her hand, folded over a hundred times. It was from her friend Annie, a run away who had quite luckily made it to America. Connor had never read it. She had never let him. Isla hadn't gotten a letter in over four months from her friend, but she was, as ever, hopeful. Connor checked his watch.
"He'd better hurry the fuck up," Connor cursed. Unlike Isla though, the MacManus twins would make it to America. They had a plan, which involved getting to their job after school on time. Murphy was no help. Vevay only had to smile and offer him a cigarette and he was sold. Isla folded her letter and looked back at him with large eyes.
"When do you think you'll have enough money to go to America?" she asked. Connor shrugged. "Do you think you'll get a good job there?" He shrugged again and Isla looked down at her feet. She'd kicked off her shoes and the grass felt good on her skin. "I wish Annie would write again, I miss hearing from her. When you go, you have to look for her for me. Her last letter was from New York."
"I don't think we're going to New York," Connor replied.
"Of course you are, silly, everyone goes through there and they see the Statue of Liberty welcoming them," Isla said. She rolled over onto her stomach and crawled over to his feet. Her hand shot out and untied his shoelaces.
"Isla, don't," Connor commanded. He shied away and knelt to retie them. Murphy was jogging over. He ran into his brother purposely. They wrestled for a moment. "What, is it 'pick on Connor Day'?"
"Have you been picking on poor Connor again, Isla?" Murphy teased. She giggled and he sidestepped a swat, laughing. Connor brushed himself off quickly.
"You and stupid Vevay're gonna make us late," Connor grumbled. "We better run. See ya, Isla!" He started off and Murphy was on his heels in an instant. Isla blinked and scrambled to her feet.
"Wait!" she called, hunting for her shoes. She cursed herself for taking them off. "You promised to walk home with me! Connor! Murphy!" She couldn't catch them and if they heard her, they gave no indication. She stopped next to the little path through the grass. It led by some small clusters of houses and to a couple farms. Sitting again, she pulled on her shoes and socks. She didn't want to walk home alone. Anyone alone was like an open invitation for the pricks of Ireland to pick on it seemed to Isla. At least she was a favorite.
"Every man is an island," she reminded herself. "Every woman too. Just be brave for once, Isla." Standing, she started the trek home, in the opposite direction the MacManus brothers had gone. She put her hand in her pocket to finger the letter. Annie was all those miles away and hopefully better off than her. Annie was brilliant. Isla wish her friend was back again. Or that she had had the courage to go with her. Isla knew that Connor and Murphy would leave her too. She felt the impending doom of ending up like her mother creeping up on her. She didn't want to be the dutiful housewife, mother of seven, abandoned one night. Isla had to get out of there and off that path,
Connor tossed his coat to the couch and then collapsed, tired from an afternoon of work. Murphy wasn't quite as exhausted and had a cheerful manner about him. Their mother was in the kitchen, but she wasn't cooking, she was drinking. Murphy went in to greet her and was promptly kicked out. Normally, Connor would have found it funny, or if he cared to delve into it, maybe he would have been upset. He was just too tired.
"Christ, the woman won't even feed her children," Murphy complained. "What's wrong with you?"
Connor raise his eyebrows. "Nothing."
"Don't fucking lie to me," Murphy said. "You're all pensive. You ditched Isla."
"You ditched her too," Connor replied. He brought his fingers to his lips as if reaching for a cigarette. He didn't have one. Neither of the two did. They weren't spending their money on small things anymore. They were so close to their goal. They'd be in America before the year was done.
"Well, you instigated," Murphy retorted. "We could have walked her home. She's always skittish like, afraid someone's gonna pick on her."
"'Cause she gets picked on, one of those fiery girls, won't give in and they're the most fun to mess with," Connor said, yawning.
"Wanna go over, see if she got home all right?" Murphy offered. Connor shook his head. "You want to call her?" Another negative. "You want a cigarette?" Murphy waved a box at him and took one for himself.
"Where'd you get those?" Connor demanded.
"Relax, Vevay gave 'em to me, last two, one left for you," Murphy told his twin.
"So now you're stealing a smoke from a girl?"
"Hey, fuck off, she offered and I took 'em. Lord knows, she's got money to spare."
"All right, let's go," Connor said. He stood rapidly and snatched the box with a single, lonely cigarette still rolling around in it. Murphy wrinkled his brow, his own smoke unlit between his lips. He pulled it away, standing himself.
"Go where?" he asked. "You just said--"
"Ne'er mind that, 'sides, ma don't like us to smoke in the house, the smell's always here," Connor answered. "We should check on Isla, just in case."
Emlyn sighed as she dabbed the towel on Isla's lip. It cam away with a small splotch of blood. It had hurt when it happened and it still hurt. Isla knew that her sister, her younger sister, thought she was foolish. Isla was though. She could have waited for Connor and Murphy to walk her home after their job, but she didn't and she got beat up. Again. Or if she had gone straight home after school instead of waiting with them until their job started.
"They're just going to leave you here when they go," Emlyn told her, unsympathetic. "And you'll be upset about it, but it won't change anything. It'll be Annie all over again." Isla flinched and shoved Emlyn's hand away. She didn't respond, just crawled into bed. She didn't care how early it was, Isla was tired of listening to her sister's reason. She took out the letter. It was the last tie to her friend. Annie was off in America. When she left, Isla was fourteen. Annie was barely fifteen herself but she had to escape, go somewhere she could thrive. Annie was full of ideas. It took a lot out of Isla to see her go. That was why she didn't want to see the MacManus brothers go. Everyone left her.
Isla didn't need to read the letter again, it was completely committed to memory. Annie's flowing handwriting was scrunched up to fit as much as possible on the page, stolen from a hotel Annie had confided. From New York with love. Emlyn was right. It was the same thing as Annie. As much as she cared for Connor and Murphy, it would become letters with "from New York with love" written in small handwriting. Then the letters would stop altogether and she would never know how they were as she walked home alone, afraid of her shadow. Annie hadn't written in months.
She felt tears well up in her eyes and blinked them back rapidly. Isla couldn't let Emlyn see her cry. She was too old to cry. Crying wouldn't keep Connor and Murphy in Ireland.
"She went to bed," Emlyn told Connor MacManus, matter-of-factly.
"I know you don't like us, Emlyn, but Isla's gonna be pretty mad when we tell her 'bout this," Connor said.
"Pffft," Emlyn let out. "You know, if she was as smart as the rest of us, she's stop being friends with the two of you. Maybe then she wouldn't come home bleeding." She slammed the door, but Connor caught it with one hand.
"What are you on about Emlyn?" Connor asked, worried. Emlyn glared at him and reopened the door.
"You didn't walk my sister home today and some bullies messed up her face," she spat. "All you care about is getting away from here. Maybe you should think about Isla for a change. She already lost one friend to the land of opportunity." Emlyn slammed the door again and this time, Connor didn't catch it.
Murphy snort behind him. "Didn't ever 'pect that from cute lil' Emlyn." He patted Connor's shoulder and turned to go around the side of the house. Connor followed, as phased by the exchange as Murphy was not. They stopped at Isla's window and Murphy knocked lightly. They waited, listening. Perhaps Isla wasn't in bed, perhaps she was angry with them. Connor knocked a little louder. Murphy, impatient, pressed his face against the glass. Suddenly, Isla struck the surface, making him jump. She giggled as she opened it.
"You've smudged my window, Murphy," she said. Connor had found the way his brother jumped back humorous, but he turned serious again in a heartbeat.
"Christ, Isla," Connor let out. He reached out and touched her chin, turning her head to have a look at her face. "Who did this?"
"Just Breckin and Galvin, s'not as bad as it looks," Isla shrugged it off. She batted his hand away, despite the fact she relished his touch, and stepp aside. Connor climbed in through the opening and Murphy soon followed.
"We'll just have a but of a chat with 'em s'all," Murphy said, swinging his arms back and forth, cracking his back. Connor flinched at the sound and hit him lightly in the chest.
"Don't go startin' something over this," Isla warned.
"They've already started it," Murphy protested. Connor shook his head at his twin though.
"If you say so," he said to Isla. "We're just sorry we didn't walk you home like we said we would. We had to get to work or we wouldn't get paid."
"I know, or you would get away from here and me."
"Half right," Murphy replied.
"It isn't 'bout gettin' away so much as it's goin' some place better, more jobs and things," Connor added.
"That's funny," Isla remarked, an ironic smile across her girlish features. "Annie said something like that 'fore she ran away."
"No word?" Connor questioned. Isla shook her head remorsefully. They were quiet.
"Hey, don't worry, we'll write to you," Murphy cut in, oblivious. Connor glared. Isla shook her head.
"No, don't, I don't want you to," she said. Her voice wavered a little. "I don't want to hear about all those things I'll never get to have in America."
"Ah, Isla--" Connor began, but she let out a sputter of a sob and hit her bed, face first. Her tears leaked into the pillow, along with a circle of blood, her lip bleeding again. The twins exchanged a glance. Connor sat down slowly on the side of her bed and put a gentle hand on her back. "Don't cry, Isla. I promise not to leave you like Annie did."
"Don't think that about her," Isla whispered. "Annie isn't a bad person, she just had to go. She's my friend, Connor. Don't say that about Annie."
"Sorry," Connor murmured. Girls were confusing. "What I meant, though, was that we won't leave you."
Murphy frowned at Connor but the other boy shook his head once more. They would talk about it later. What else could he tell Isla at the moment? Murphy leaned back against the wall and dug through his pockets to amuse himself. Connor looked back down as Isla. She was facing the pillow, still crying. All he could do was wait. He rain a hand through her hair soothingly and sighed. Dread tugged at him, telling him they couldn't take Isla to America with them, even though he'd just told her he wouldn't leave her. He looked at Murphy again, who was no help.
"Connor, better go, the sun's goin' down," Murphy said quietly. Isla sniffed once and looked up at him. Murphy smiled and waved a curt wave before crawling out the window. Connor turned to Isla.
"Better go," she said.
"Wish I didn't have to," Connor replied. "I'll walk ya home tomorrow, I promise. Now on, ya won't have to deal with Breckin and Galvin, least not on your own."
"Okay," Isla said. Connor went to the window. Murphy was already heading around to the front of the house. The sun had just disappeared behind a few houses. Connor went back to Isla and leaned down to kiss her cheek.
Then he was gone. Isla pulled Annie's letter from under her pillow. She wiped at her fallen tears and unfolded the paper. With one long motion, she tore the letter in half. "But no one keeps their promises anymore."
Connor: Hey! What happens next?
Jo: I don't know, you should.
Isla: Yeah, you lived it.
Jo: Hey, I was up late finishing that!
Connor: Don't forget to review! Maybe she'll write a sequel!
Muse: *wakes suddenly, a light bulb going off over her head*
Murphy: GADS! Connor!