MICK thought back to the many happy times they’d all had together in their youth.
Carefree summers were spent at the beach, diving off the rocks and jumping the waves, while winters were filled with community events held in the village hall, and then, as they got a bit older, venturing into Cork - to Spiders, DeLacy House and Sir Henrys.
Yes, their group had been a close-knit gang. A few of them had emigrated and came home for Christmas and summer holidays initially, but even that eventually had stopped. Anymore, Mick would be lucky to see them every couple of years.
Now, Hannah gone too.
He thought back to the night of his debs. It was Hannah who had accompanied him to the Silversprings Hotel. If he closed his eyes he could still see her, resplendent in her red dress, red lips to match and her hair an extravagant blend of curls, twists and all sorts.
He felt like the tallest man in the room arriving that night with her on his arm. And then, then... he had to go and ruin everything, destroy all their plans. If only he could turn back the clock.
Well, ill-feeling or not, he would call and see if he could do anything for Maura. He gathered the few empties and went into the back where Rose was busy preparing lunch. The smell of apple and cinnamon filled the large industrial-style kitchen.
“Jesus Christ, I’ve just heard some awful news, Rose. Pat says that Hannah O’Connor is dead, died from a fall last night.”
“No doubt he heard that in the shop I suppose?” Rose asked, not bothering to look up from the beef tenderloin she was busy preparing.
“I’ve no idea where he heard it, but apparently Fr Cleary left mass and rushed over there.”
“Mags Houlihan is dead when I get my hands on her. It’s her bloody neck I should be tying this around,” Rose said through gritted teeth, pulling the twine tighter on the joint. She slammed the meat into a roasting pan, seasoned it generously with salt and pepper, and shoved it into the large oven. Throwing her tea towel on her shoulder, she turned towards Mick.
“I spoke to Maura this morning. Hannah was taken by ambulance to the CUH in Cork last night, unconscious, not dead. She is stable, but in need of complex brain surgery which should be happening just about now as we speak,” she said looking up at the large clock on the wall.
“Oh, thanks be to God, I got an awful shock. I couldn’t even eat my breakfast.”
“Jesus, you must have had some shock to leave the bacon behind you,” Rose said with a playful snort. “I swear, I’ll call to the shop myself some day soon, and give that one a piece of my mind. I’ve no doubt in the world, but that it was from her idle mouth the story came. I saw her outside evening mass last night, hawk-like as usual,” she hissed angrily, adjusting the thermostat on the soup kettle.
“What happened to Hannah at all, Rose? Pat said that it was a fall.”
“Oh, all Maura said was that she fell down the stairs. I didn’t like to go asking any questions.”
Mick decided to call over to O’Connors. He couldn’t bear the tension. He had lived in this village all his life and because of a foolish misdemeanour in his past, he had suffered silently for over two decades now. He’d never quite gotten the hang of relationships and what women wanted, he’d thrown his hat at that whole area of life years ago.
One thing was certain though, there had never again been anyone like Hannah. He couldn’t change the past, but as a glass-half-full person, he believed that every cloud had a silver lining, and just maybe this was his.