Welcome to The Echo’s annual feature — Summer Soap. Now in its fourth year, Summer Soap is a daily fictional serial run over 12 parts, which concludes today. Called One Summer In Cork, this story was written by Christine Kannapel, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC. In this final episode, Julia and Rory are reunited — and an item! Julia also solves a few of the mysteries surrounding the characters she met on her journey back in time...
WE were walking down Grand Parade towards Tuckey Street to one of our favourite cafes, when I saw the monument. Of course, I had seen it many times, but this time it pointed towards the sky in glory. I walked up to the encryption and read it:
“To perpetuate the Memory of the Gallant Men
of 1798, 1803, 1848 and 1867
who fought and died in the wars of Ireland
to recover her sovereign independence
and to inspire the youth of our country
to follow in their patriotic footsteps
and imitate their heroic example.
And righteous men will make our land A Nation Once Again.”
A list of names of those who perished followed, and I smiled. Doctor John Donovan’s was absent. He had lived.
“Rory said that you two met the founder of the Martin Whiskey Distillery,” Ben said, coming up behind me.
“Yeah, I guess we did.”
I chuckled, picturing William Martin with his pipe and all his comical anger.
“You know his daughter’s portrait is at the Crawford. So is her husband’s, a doctor I think?”
Then it hit me. That’s why Sarah and John looked so familiar. I had seen their portraits.
“Wow,” I said. “Do you mind if we take a look after coffee?”
“Of course not,” Maeve said, joining our conversation.
Rory stared at me, wearing a smug smile.
We visited the Crawford as promised. The paintings’ description described a fruitful and successful union. There was nothing written about a secret marriage or an elopement or an angry father. Though I could imagine William’s genuine rage. But there Sarah sat in her portrait, elegant — a bird perched on a blue sofa.
“Julia,” Rory said, as we left the art gallery, “would you like to grab dinner? There’s a nice Nepalese place I like.”
“Sure,” I said. “And you know, uh, to be honest, I’ve been crushing on you since I first sat at your café.”
“The chatty customers all have crushes on me. But I always enjoyed our chats particularly.”
Maeve looked back at us knowingly.
“Maybe Maeve put a spell on us,” Rory said, holding my hand.
Snow covered the ground outside. It felt like years since I had fallen back in time in Cork with Rory. Oh, Cork. I missed it so much.
The phone rang, breaking my daydream.
“Hello?” I said.
It was Rory. Was it already that time? We had been in the habit of calling each other three times a week at 2pm my time and 9pm his time. But, it wasn’t two o’clock yet, in fact, it was only 10am my time.
“Is there something wrong? You’re calling earlier than usual.”
“Yeah, um, it’s about Ben and Maeve.”
“What?” I shouted into the phone.
Frantically, I looked at my calendar. It was December 21. The Winter Solstice.
“Maeve said something about finding the secret or the fix to what she did incorrectly this summer, but I didn’t think she was serious, like.”
Some details from William Martin’s story of the oak tree resurfaced. I nearly dropped the phone. Maeve had tried to send Ben to the 17th century, which was the era he was studying for his PhD. The couple in William’s story appeared just about then.
“Are you serious or are you joking, like, are you trying to get me to come back to Cork earlier than planned?”
I came back home after visiting Ben last summer. Since, I applied to a Master’s programme in Cork, as to be close to Rory. I was intending to rejoin Rory in May.
“I mean, no, but you could come visit me now, but what’s the point, like? There’s nothing we can do about it.”
It was true, there was nothing we could do about it, and I knew nothing of magic. How we time travelled ourselves was all still so confusing.
“They will come back,” I said.
According to William’s story, they eventually disappeared. So they would be back in our time, the question was when.
I wandered to my bedroom, holding the phone between my ear and shoulder.
I stashed some of the magical Gin Gins away in a trinket box, buried in my sock drawer. I took it out, stroking it.
“Would you ever want to go back to the past?” I asked Rory.
“Not for a million years!”
I opened the trinket box and stared at the candies. I shut the box’s lid and buried it back in the drawer.
On my bedside table sat a collection of Cork folktales and a notebook of my own. There was a story waiting to be written and I was beginning to wonder if it needed more first hand research.
“I guess we will have to report them missing,” I said.
“I’ll go down to the garda station tomorrow.”
“And I guess I’ll have to tell my parents.”
That was going to be a difficult task. Naturally, I couldn’t tell the truth. There is no way that they would believe it. But it was better than not telling them anything. I did know for certain that they would have a difficult time allowing me to return to Cork in May, especially now that Ben was supposedly missing.
“I was wondering, maybe I could come visit you,” Rory said, changing the subject.
“That would be nice.”
I sounded enthusiastic and I was, but my mind couldn’t release the possibility of the past.