By Judith Cullen
The pub was full to bursting this night; alive with energetically familiar greetings, merry introductions, and the scraping of sturdy wooden chairs on the well-worn floor. Micheal Flynn, usually a reserved man, was vigorously weaving through the filled tables talking to people as he went, trying to find a place for the three of them close to the tiny stage in the corner. Pat didn’t understand it. His father was never pushy, but tonight he was actively negotiating to get a prime spot close to the entertainment.
“What’s Da up to?” Pat asked.
“Never you mind, son. Your Da has ideas of his own, and we who love him can best let him have his way this night.”
Pat looked at her like she’d grown another head. She rarely let Da just go off and do what he pleased without her approval. He suspected that she knew why he wanted them up front, but wasn’t about to tell.
He was about to ask outright what was going on, when his attention swerved violently in another direction. Behind his Mum he saw Daimhim Finnegan. She caught his gaze and smiled shyly. Pat felt himself blush and, had he been speaking, he would have surely been stammering. He returned the smile nervously and then looked elsewhere – anywhere!
They had been part of the same crowd of kids who had grown up together there on the
Munster shore. Pat had always been struck by her loveliness;
even back when they had all been young children he’d felt drawn to her. She wasn’t loud, she never flirted, but she
had a quiet strength that he found appealing and comforting. He noticed how she always made certain that
people were taken care of. A few years
older than himself, she had become his ideal: the standard by which he measured
all other girls. Last year she’d started
going out with James O’Brien, which had seemed to put her out of Pat’s reach
forever. Big, bold, popular James, who
everyone flocked to, including Pat, seemed an unlikely partnering for the
modest Daimhim. Even though something
had happened to that relationship in the last few weeks, Pat didn’t dare foster
any hope for himself with herself.