Emer Martin
















       Eyes come back




I could not sleep last night, the moon was too noisy.

So I posted that on Facebook.  Then I went onto Twitter to check out  Molly’s tweets.  She was awake too, sending splinters of thoughts out into the universe.  She too talking about the huge orange moon looming over Dublin. I checked how many followers she had.  Over two thousand.  Growing by the week.  That was 1902 more than I had.  So who was getting left behind?  I was losing her to her fans, to B Boylan, baby dyke drummer  of The Filthy Georgians, their steampunk band.  B tweeted back to Molly right then and there. We’re all under the same moon.  I quickly clicked on her profile and followed her.  Instantly regretting it, as she would know.  What if she didn’t return the favor and follow me?  Was I stalking them?   I checked back onto Facebook to see how many likes I had.  Only two Likes.  I consoled myself that it WAS the middle of the night.

Steve came around with my T shot in the morning.


“Bing-bong king-kong ding-dong »  I said in a low voice.

“You look awful.”

“I couldn’t sleep.”

“The moon was too noisy?”

“That’s what I posted.”

“I saw.”  He smiled, joylessly but indulgently.

“Then why didn’t you like it.”

“I’m telling you now that I like it.”

“That doesn’t count.”

He followed me to the bathroom, and instinctively checked himself out in the mirror.   Face more stern as he flexed his arm muscles.   I shaved the peach fuzz off my face as he stood in the door of the bathroom with his arms folded high on his chest.  Glancing back in the mirror, I rubbed my jaw.  Was it getting wider?

Becoming r unbecoming?

“My skin looks like shit.”

“That’ll pass.” Steve jammed the needle into my Deltoid muscle.

“Molly’s doing my head in.” I winced, as the needle left flesh.

“Stay away for now” – Steve frowned at me.

“She tweets like every hour. And yer one Boylan keeps tweeting back.”

“Log off, sign out, just breathe.”

“She’s singing tonight.”

“Fuck’s sake.”

“Come with me.”


“I’ll go anyway.  I can’t not hear her sing. Stop me making a fool of myself.  Please.”

“I will if you leave yer phone at home.”

“I don’t know if I can do that. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that. I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”  The thought made me feel lost and panicked.

“At least attach a breathalyzer to it. Right, I’m off to the gym. Wanna come along?”  He squeezed my shoulders from behind.  I winced.  “You need to build up some muscle.  Best thing ya could do.”

“Nah, yer alright.  I can work out here.”  I gestured to the weights in the corner.

“Ya mean you’ll be taken a nap while yer porn downloads?”

“Something like that.”

The white wheel of a moon was still swollen tonight.  Twilight cold summer air sliced by police and traffic noise.  City hiss from siren incision.  A deflation, bridges sagging, buildings buckling.  I tried to tweet that, but it was too many characters so I stuck it up on Facebook.  I knew Twitter was more of a guys thing, but I was getting tired.  Too many links and no sausage.  Bit like my life.  But then Facebook had too many cats and babies.  I tweeted both of those thoughts.  Sending them out there.  Splinterthoughts. In the beginning was the tweet and the tweet was made flesh.  I tweeted that.

Sometimes I didn’t tweet for a bit, and then when I did people remembered they were following me, and they unfollowed me. Used to bother me more. I was ceasing to care. About a lot of things.

One thing about the T shots.   I felt fucking great.  All that female noise was gone.  All that worry about other people.  Should I call my Ma? Should I visit my brother?  Have I forgotten my God Child’s birthday? What does everyone think of me?  Am I bothering the neighbours with my music?  Thoughts  evaporated.  Could just think about myself.     To focus on what I wanted.

What did I want?

I wanted Molly.

I hooked up with Steve in the Panty Bar on Caple Street and he put his hand out as soon as he saw me.

I stared at him blankly.

“If I go out with you I want you to actually be with me. I don’t need yer endless updating.  No one needs to know where we are.”

I slammed the phone into his hand and he smiled in surprise and pocketed it.

A drunk man by the bar leaned over: “Don’t put it by yer balls it’ll radiate them. Yiz’ll never have babies.”

Steve laughed. But moved my phone into his jacket pocket all the same.  I felt edgy without it already. As we set off, I hunched my shoulders in against a cold wind billowing down the quays.

“Steve, I’ve changed my mind. Can I have my phone back.  What if..”

“What are you afraid of?” he asked me.

I shrugged.

“Not that Molly has dumped you for the cute little flannel shirt wearing butch drummer in the band?”

“Nah! That’s over.  I just want to hear her sing. Do you ever worry Steve?”

“Sure. Sea levels are rising, crops aren’t growing, bees are dying, the seeds are being held hostage, drinkable water is scarce, the planet is about to dose us like a bad case of clap.”

“Leave it out. I need my phone back, Steve.” An itchy emptiness by sluggish river Liffey.

“Maybe Later. Walk in front of me.  Let me see how you walk.”

I walked ahead of him trying to walk slightly on each side of an invisible line.  Steve  caught up with me, slapping me on the back.  I wished I had had a drink in the Panty bar.  Anxiety made me reach for my phone but it wasn’t there.

“Hey,” Steve said, as we reached the Ormond Wine Bar –

“Don’t walk with your hips, walk with your shoulders.

Don’t be afraid of anyone.
Feel free to take up as much space as you want.

Don’t touch your hair.

Don’t keep your lips shut

Don’t cross your legs.

Don’t use adjectives.”

“No one told me I’d have to give up adjectives?”

“Start cutting down on them anyway.  And stop nodding along with me.  Don’t say uh-huh, or really,  or react.  In fact don’t listen.”

“I don’t think I could do cold turkey with those adjectives.  Look at that bright round glowing moon for example.”

“And stop looking at that fucking moon.” He said as he pushed open the bar door.

“Wait, Is fucking an adjective?”  I asked.

“Yer some wind up merchant.” – he snarled.

Molly was standing by the bar in lace up boots and a top hat. Tall and wide shouldered, dark smoke eyes, soft flesh hips, big breasts spilling and bound by a tight corset.  I could run my  tongue  between the raw groove until salty with sweat it reached the nape of  her silky neck.

“You unfollowed me.” I tried to sound amused.

“I did. And I unfriended you on facebook.  I’d rather you unfollow me too. I don’t want to have to put a block on.”


“I need to move on. I’m a lesbian. I don’t want a man.”

“It’s something I have to become.”

“With chemicals and surgery? How do you know what they’ll do to you? I loved you as you were Leah.”


“Leo. Whatever.” She sighed, not looking at me. “I thought you were perfect.”

“He could do with yer support.” Steve snarled.

She ignored Steve: “You won’t even be gay anymore, Leo.”

“You think I’m doing this just to become straight?”

“I have to sing.” She looked towards the stage.

Boylan sauntered up, and slung a proprietary tattooed arm around Molly’s waist as she shot me a look of disdain.  Steve dragged me to a seat as the band tuned up.  I begged him for my phone. Bastard wouldn’t budge.  All around us people were standing side by side ignoring each other, texting on their phones the people they weren’t with.  Shrieking splinters of thoughts, lodged into the heel of the universe, limping as it was expanding. Everything getting further away from the centre.  All of us growing further and further away from each other.

“I did warn you once you started your dating pool would shrink.”  Steve raised his eyebrows, as he handed me a pint of Guinness.  I wanted to tweet that but I couldn’t.  I wanted to check out what everyone else was up to on a Saturday night, but I couldn’t.  Inhaling sharply, I flexed my fingers and slurped the bitter cream.

Then Molly began to sing. A suffocating longing filled me, but there were holes in me that kept leaking it out again. And then I would feel nothing.  Her voice pulling me like the tides. Unbearable. I reached for my phone, but Steve  shook his head, as her voice filled the room like an answer.

Molly could sit with this kind of fear and laugh.  She was strong, not because she was fearless, but because she could feel it and move forward regardless.  I had to learn not to keep hoping, just to be, she had told me. You weren’t finished teaching me Molly.  I was at your feet.  One day I could have stood up if you only reached out your hand.  But I can’t face what’s coming, Molly.  What comes to all of us. Becoming or unbecoming. If I had my phone I’d have tweeted you all of that, but Steve won’t give it back.

Oh Molly, once you told me that I was the sun and you were the moon.  You were lit only by my light. Such beauty to hold the tides in place, such loveliness, such stillness, such an ability to wait without fidgeting, without rooting for your phone the moment you were left alone. I couldn’t do that. Because once I stopped tweeting, texting, checking my updates, what is there but a gnawing restlessness? Scrape away the restlessness and I am left with the same old unsatisfying millennial thing – myself. Isolate and Incomplete.




       Etain was Transformed into Water Before she Became a Fly, Oil on Canvas, 100cmx70cm




       First Child, Ink and Oil on Canvas, 30cmx25cm











Emer Martin is a Dubliner who has lived in Paris, London, the Middle East, and various places in the U.S. Her first novel Breakfast in Babylon won Book of the Year 1996 in her native Ireland at the prestigious Listowel Writers’ Week. Houghton Mifflin released Breakfast in Babylon in the U.S. in 1997. More Bread Or I’ll Appear, her second novel was published internationally in 1999.


Emer studied painting in New York and has had two sell-out solo shows of her paintings at the Origin Gallery in Harcourt St, Dublin.  Her third novel Baby Zero, was published in the UK and Ireland March 07, and released in the U.S. 2014.  She  completed her third short film Unaccompanied. She produced Irvine Welsh’s directorial debut NUTS in 2007. Emer was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000. She now lives in the jungles of Co. Meath, Ireland.

Emer is an experienced public speaker and enjoys talking to book clubs, schools, libraries etc.


To book her for an event please contact her at martin_emer@hotmail.com






Unaccompanied” is a new short fiction film shot by novelist and filmmaker Emer Martin (Breakfast in Babylon), stars Maria Hayden (Bloom, The Dead), and was produced by Niall McKay and the Media Factory. The movie features novelist Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) as a social worker who finds a traumatized young boy from Africa on the streets of Dublin


Unaccompanied: A Short Film from Media Factory on Vimeo.



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