|After the Rain
Author: Eninaj PM
How life would have continued the day after the food fair if it hadn't been for the accident.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Chapters: 11 - Words: 17,854 - Reviews: 37 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 18 - Updated: 07-21-12 - Published: 10-03-09 - id: 5417575
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"So what's the big emergency?" Siobhan asked Brendan as she entered Fitzgerald's darkened bar.
"He is!" replied Brendan, gesturing to the small boy currently dribbling on his jacket.
"Kieran? He looks OK to me. What's he doing here with you?"
"Niamh dumped him on me," hissed Brendan, as if worried that Kieran would overhear. "And I don't know when she's coming back."
"So what d'you need me for?"
Padraig, who was sitting further along the bar chimed in, "Brendan thinks our boy here might need a nappy change."
"Oh that's it is it?" said Siobhan, not at all pleased.
"Well we just thought..." began Brendan.
"He just thought..." corrected Padraig.
"Well, you know, what with you being..."
"A woman?" supplied Siobhan.
"No, I didn't mean..."
"I see." She made to leave again.
"I just thought you might find the practice useful," tried Brendan, wincing slightly.
"Oh, so you're not in need of the practice yourself?" said Siobhan, "Why don't you take him back to Ambrose why don't you?"
"Not there," said Padraig, "he's out looking for Father Clifford."
"Why? Where's he got to?"
"If we knew that, no-one would be looking." Padraig observed.
Siobhan turned back and found herself a stool to sit on. "Tell me more. I could do with a good yarn."
"See, Padraig here sent our favourite Padré off on a mission to get car parts." began Brendan.
"Why?" Asked Siobhan, looking at Padraig.
"He volunteered." answered Padraig, shrugging.
"He went straight off to Dublin in a hurry, by all accounts, and never came back." continued Brendan.
Siobhan frowned. "So what's all the fuss? He probably had some other errands to do up there."
"That's what I said, " said Brendan, "but Padraig here reckons Peter was desperate to get Padraig's customer out of town."
"Carmel." supplied Padraig.
Siobhan raised an eyebrow and shared a knowing look with her two companions. "So where is this Carmel now?"
"I saw Miss Hendley kicking her out of her shop." remarked Brendan.
"And I took her off to Cilldargan for the night." said Padraig, "B&B".
"Good work that man." commented Brendan approvingly.
"So where's Assumpta?" asked Siobhan looking round the darkening bar.
"Went off looking for Peter too. Niamh insisted on going with her."
"Likes being a gooseberry does she?" said Siobhan with a wry smile.
"Or a chaperone." suggested Brendan.
Kieran began to cry. Siobhan gave him a sympathetic look. "What are we going to do with you eh? These two big eejits been neglecting you? C'mon then, lets see if we can't sort you out." And she took him away to do just that.
The rain was finally subsiding by the time Ambrose found the car. It was clearly without its driver but Ambrose shone a torch through the windows and got a clearer view of the precious car parts lying on the back seat.
He surveyed the landscape but couldn't see anyone. He pursed his lips.
The phone rang in Fitzgerald's.
"Shall we answer it?" asked Padraig.
Brendan sauntered over and picked up the receiver hesitantly. "Hello? Fitzgerald's" he said.
"Brendan?" came Ambrose's surprised voice from the other end of the line.
"Ambrose! What can I do for you? Have you found Peter yet?"
"No, I've found his car though. I take it he's not turned up down there?"
"Afraid not. Not that I know of anyway, I can phone around if you like."
"Thanks, that'd be a big help. Listen, you don't have Niamh there by any chance? Only she's not answering the phone at home."
"Ah, no she went off with Assumpta, they're on a rescue mission of their own. We've got Kieran though if you'd like to speak to him."
"Have you now? And who's 'we' exactly may I ask?"
"Oh don't you worry. Me, Siobhan and Padraig'll take good care of him."
"You, Siobhan and Padraig?" Ambrose didn't sound reassured. "The bar's still closed though right?"
"Oh absolutely, it's a private party, just the 4 of us."
"You'd better not be having a lock-in with my son!"
"Ambrose I swear, not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips."
"Hmm," said Ambrose, "you'll give me a call if Father Clifford turns up yeah?"
"Right, I'd better get on with this search. Thanks Brendan."
Assumpta would always wonder if it was a sixth sense or a guardian angel that led her to pull over by the side of the clearing. Perhaps she felt the need to say a little prayer herself by the secluded shrine. But it was there that she found him, head in hands, sitting close to the statue of the Virgin Mary.
She gestured to Niamh, who was hovering uncertainly a short distance away, to go back to the van. After glancing at Peter, who was as yet unaware of them, Niamh nodded her agreement and left the two of them in the clearing alone.
As Assumpta stood watching him, the distant clouds began to part and the last of the evening light shone through in glorious beams of burning orange. While the heavens unveiled the spectacular light show, Assumpta had eyes only for the forlorn figure ahead of her.
"Peter," she said gently, unwilling to startle him, her voice catching in her throat.
He looked up and gazed at her in wonderment. She reminded him of an apparition, all bathed in golden light, or maybe the fairy queen he'd been bewitched by that day on the road. He rose and covered the space between them so that he could wrap his arms around her and be sure that she was real. He kissed her hair and murmured "Assumpta".
"You're soaking!" she said, into the wet folds of his shirt.
"Yeah, sorry," he said, releasing her slightly, but still keeping her close. "Didn't mean to make you wet too."
He put his hands on her shoulders, manoeuvred her and bent his head so he could take a good look at her face. He was startled to see she was fighting back tears.
"Assumpta?" His voice was full of concern. "Assumpta, look at me. What is it?"
With difficulty she raised her eyes to his and saw them full of warmth and care. "Tell me you haven't changed your mind." she choked out.
He cupped her cheek in his large hand and brushed away a stray tear with his thumb.
"Oh Assumpta, you didn't think...? Assumpta, I love you and I'm not going anywhere... well, except perhaps home to get some dry clothes, but then I'm coming right back to you, and I always will, for the rest of our lives. I will never change my mind."
Assumpta managed a small smile, shyly breaking away from his gaze. "What happened? Where've you been?"
"Car broke down."
"About ten miles that way."
"Well, feels like it. I think I've warn the soles off these shoes."
"You must be frozen. Come on, I've got hot coffee and sandwiches in the van." She slipped her arm around his waist and began leading him back towards the road.
He smiled appreciatively. "Did I mention that I love you?"
"Once or twice, but I don't mind hearing it again."
"OK, maybe I'll mention it later." He said, rubbing her shoulder and grinning cheekily. He looked around him. "You know, this place always reminds me of you."
"Really? Why's that?"
"It's what you told me about the 'famous' statue: how it will never move, no matter how much drink you've taken..."
"What? That's not this one. That one's the other side of Glendalough,... much smaller statue. This one now, this one is your bog standard moving statue, she'll be dancing a jig when your back is turned."
Peter frowned, "So this isn't the place we met that time?"
"Don't think so." She shook her head.
"Funny, I could have sworn it was. Oh well, everything I see reminds me of you these days I suppose."
Peter stiffened and stopped walking. "Assumpta, there's someone in your van."
"It's OK, it's Niamh, she insisted on coming with me... Peter, I had to tell her, about us."
Peter found he suddenly felt quite nervous. "Oh, OK..."
Assumpta took his hand in both of hers. She chuckled at the look on his face. "She won't bite!"
Peter swallowed as he saw Niamh clock them, and their clasped hands, and get out of the van's passenger seat.
"There you are Father, you've had everyone worried. My husband's out looking for you too."
"Is he? Well, thank you, all of you, I can't tell you how glad I am to see you!"
"That's all right Father, we'd hate to lose you. Car broke down did it?"
"Err yeah, how'd you guess?"
"It's not here and you two haven't fallen out."
His response was a slightly embarrassed nod and a lopsided grin.
Assumpta emerged from the back of the van holding the flask of coffee and a small towel.
"Here," she threw the towel over, "give your head a rub."
Peter smirked, "Déja vu," he commented. He rubbed his head. "Just about the first thing she ever said to me," he told Niamh by way of explanation.
"Well, if you will keep going for long walks in the rain..." Assumpta remarked, pouring him a cup of coffee. He took it gratefully, giving her the kind of smile that always made her go weak at the knees. She went Pink. Niamh didn't know where to look.
"Mmm, coffee never tasted so good. Thanks Assumpta. Did you say there were sandwiches too?"
"Coming right up."
The headlights of a car came into view over the brow of the nearest hill and before long they were illuminating the little scene by the side of the blue van. The patrol car pulled up beside the curate and his rescuers, and Ambrose emerged from within.
"Niamh, Assumpta... " he acknowledged before finally noticing Peter enjoying a sandwich behind the van. "Father Peter! Well thank God for that! I found your abandoned car miles back. I came by this way on my way up, I must have missed you."
"Thanks Ambrose, sorry to have caused you all so much trouble."
"I assume the car broke down? You might want to do something about that thing, it's becoming a liability."
"Preaching to the converted..."
"I'd er, better give Brendan a ring, let him know we've found you."
Ambrose went back to his patrol car and used the car phone to pass on the good news.
Peter finished off his fourth sandwich and began to think longingly of a hot bath and dry clothes. The ones he was wearing were still wringing wet in places and hardening in others. His feet were throbbing too, now that the walking was over. He shifted from blistered foot to blistered foot and pulled his suit jacket tighter around himself, as if it would make him warmer.
Ambrose returned and offered Peter his own jacket. "Here, best not catch hypothermia if you can help it!"
"Thanks Ambrose, I owe you one. Well, I owe you several for this."
"That's OK, I have a vested interest. We need you fit and well for Saturday."
"Saturday?" Peter's mind was blank.
"Our son's christening?"
Peter went white. He'd forgotten. He looked at Assumpta in horror then looked back at Niamh and Ambrose. He was momentarily speechless.
Niamh looked uncomfortable. After a moment she took Ambrose's elbow and tugged him away. "C'mon, we'd better go and find Kieran before he runs off with Brendan."
Ambrose broke off from trying to read the unspoken conversation that was going on between the priest and the publican. "Yes, well who's fault is it that he's with that lot down the pub in the first place? You can't keep dumping him on people Niamh!"
"Brendan's not people, he's Kieran's Godfather...Will you excuse us Father?"
"Yeah, of course." replied Peter.
"That's not the point Niamh," admonished Ambrose as she led him away, "a bar is not a suitable place for babysitting..."
"Goodnight!" called Assumpta and Niamh waved cheerily as she opened the passenger door, apparently unconcerned about her husband's disapproval.
"Ambrose, you know very well I couldn't let Assumpta go out looking on her own. We might have lost both of them!" said Niamh inside the car. "Besides, there's more going on than you realise..."
Peter turned to Assumpta as the Egan's drove away, distress etched across his face. "I forgot about the christening!"
"I know," she said sympathetically, patting his chest, "but first things first, let's get you home."