Moya Roddy attended the National College of Art and Trinity Arts Lab. She continued painting during a two-year stay in Italy, before moving to London where she trained as a television director at the Soho Poly. Que Sera Sera, which she wrote and directed, won a Sony Award in 1983 and the British Film Institute commissioned a full-length feature, I Prefer Freesias in 1985. Several of her screenplays were optioned in America. She worked in television adapting a novel for Scottish TV and in Current Affairs/Documentaries for Channel 4 on programmes such as Promised the Earth , analysing the UN Decade for Women and was sole writer on the innovative four-part art series Opening Up the Family Album. Returning to live in Ireland, her debut novel The Long Way Home, ( Attic Press 1992), was described as ‘Simply Brilliant’ in the Irish Times. They had published her first short story, Biddy’s Research, in 1991 and since then she’s had numerous stories published including The Day I Gave Neil Jordan A Lift ( Anthology of Irish Comic Writing, Penguin/Michael Joseph,) which was broadcast by RTE and CBS Canada. Her work has been anthologised in Dublines and the Anthology of Irish Women’s Writing , (Bloodaxe). She wrote several episodes for RTE’s sit-com Upwardly Mobile . A radio play Dance Ballerina Dance was short-listed for the PJ O’Connor Award and broadcast by RTE. She collaborated with Pete Mullineaux on Butterfly Wings, broadcast on RTE radio in 2010, and two stage plays, Trust Games , (Galway Youth Theatre 2002) and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry – specially commissioned for the 2003 Cuirt International Festival of Literature. She completed an MA in Writing at NUIG in 2008.
By Moya Roddy
Nora’s face caved in, ‘It’s awful’, she cried, ‘awful, awful.’
Five pairs of eyes turned to stare at her. She saw them through a mist: her oldest friends, powdered and painted, gathered together for one of their dinner-parties.
‘I can’t bear it,’ she continued, on her feet now.
‘What is she saying?’ Laura enquired loudly.
Nora fled from the room and it wasn’t until she found herself in a narrow hallway that she remembered she wasn’t at home. ‘Oh God!’ she wailed scuttling through the nearest door. It was Theresa’s bedroom, pale and wan like Theresa herself these days. Mortified, Nora threw herself on the large bed. Did they ever listen to themselves? “Don’t you look wonderful! Doesn’t she look wonderful? What’s your secret! You must give me the name of your hairdresser, your masseuse, your acupuncturist.” Your bloody undertaker! Nora thought bitterly. Her fists formed tight balls, the carefully lacquered nails digging into her palms. She felt wretched. And foolish. As the sobbing subsided, she buried her face in the duvet. A moment later she sprang up, stared miserably at the smudges of black spoiling the sea of cream she’d been lying on. So much for waterproof mascara! Theresa would have a fit. She’d always been the finicky one, had grown worse with age. Hearing a light tap, Nora threw herself on top of the offending stains, curling up so her face was out of sight.
‘Are you alright?’
It was Molly. She knew it would be Molly, sent by the others to ‘humour’ her.
‘You seemed so upset.’
Against Nora’s will the sobbing started up again.
‘Oh dear! What is it Nora? Is something wrong?’
‘Everything,’ Nora gasped. ‘Oh, stop acting like you don’t know,’ she continued, ‘you know quite well. We all know,’ she shrieked.
Glancing up she encountered Molly’s puzzled eyes.
‘It’s… awful…’ Nora repeated lamely.
‘We are. Look at us, we’re disintegrating, bits of us falling off all over the place. Teeth, hair, both of Theresa’s hips, one of Eilish’s heart muscles, withered away as if it was a branch of a tree!’
A veil dropped over Molly’s normally curious face.
‘We’re all getting on I suppose.’
‘Getting on! I detest that euphemism!’
‘Nora! It happens to everybody, sooner or later. Best keep busy, not think about it too much. That’s my recipe.’
‘I can’t stop thinking about it, it’s all I think about.’
‘Bad for the health, darling. Maybe you need to get out more. I’m off to Dublin next week for a couple of days. Want to come?’
Nora shook her head. ‘It’s the knowing I hate.’
The corners of Molly’s mouth sank.
‘I hate knowing anything I’m going to do in the future. It’s probably why I hate leftovers.’
‘Leftovers?’ Molly pounced.
‘From meals, even good ones. I can’t bear knowing what I’m going to eat next day, or in two days times. If I know I have to have leftover spinach quiche on Friday I do not want spinach quiche on Friday. I’d rather starve.’
Nora was so worked up she forgot the mascara stains until she saw Molly raise an eyebrow.
‘Oh for heaven’s sake, it’ll wash out!’ Nora got up and crossed to the dressing-table to survey the damage to her face. Theresa won’t mind,’ she added, helping herself from a tube of tinted foundation. Did Molly understand, really understand, she wondered as she squeezed out a dollop.
‘There’s a time for dying,’ her friend murmured, leaning over and kissing the back of Nora’s head. Then she was gone.
Nora stared hard at her reflection, the words settling in her heart.
Back in the dining-room, Nora resumed her seat.
‘We’re about to have pudding,’ Eilish piped before turning to Theresa. ‘I hope you made your crème brulee. It’s my favourite. You must give me the recipe.
‘You ask for it every time,’ Theresa laughed.
And they have the same conversation every time, Nora thought. Then to her surprise a wave of compassion swept through her.
‘I love you all,’ she blurted, ‘all of you.
For the second time that evening five pairs of eyes stared at her.
‘I wish- I just wish …’
‘What do you wish?’ Eilish asked impatiently. ‘Hurry up, I want to eat my pudding.’
‘I wish none of us had to eat leftovers. Ever.’
‘What are you talking about?’ ‘What is she talking about?’ Laura looked round the table.
The only response was the scraping of spoons.
C Moya Roddy 2013