Angela’s response to the trigger ‘then’.
Then and Now by Angela O’Connor
The party starts at 9pm. It’s 7.45 already, I haven’t washed my hair! Panic sets in. 15 minutes to wash, about 20 to dry then make-up, shit I don’t even know what I’ll wear.
‘Just put on that wool jersey tunic, you know the green one, or what do you call it “sage”. It’s got a great neckline if you know what I mean. Throw those new cream trousers on that you came home with yesterday.’
‘What about shoes?’
‘Mmm, ah yes these strappy bronze sandals, you haven’t worn them since last summer, at our party, go on they’re sexy. Perfect, you look gorgeous darling’. The smile in Steve’s voice was reassuring.
‘Thank-you, you are too kind. It’s just, well, I haven’t been out in ages. And look at the time now!’
‘Look, you have to calm down Georgie, it doesn’t matter if we’re late, sorry, you’re late. People are people, all of them our friends. Anyway, don’t they say it’s fashionable to be late.’
The words ‘true, very true’, massaged my mind as I gave myself the once over in our unforgiving full length mirror. It would have to do. I tried to remember when smiling came easily, gone, gone like my joy. I really need to change the wattage in this room.
I arrived at 9.38pm, late but fashionably so. So, with customary bottle of wine, a dry white from New Zealand, I sauntered up the driveway following the fairy lights, acting as my luminary guides.
Classic Phil Collins was playing with gleeful streams of laughter bursting out at regular beats. Surprisingly, I felt at ease – calm almost.
‘Ah Georgie, you’re here, it’s so good to see you! Let me take your things for you’.
‘This is for you Anne, happy birthday’.
‘Thanks, Georgie, my favourite white, from the Marlborough region, you are a good mate. How are you anyway?’
‘Good, yeah a lot better, thanks. I’ve even managed to stop the meds’.
‘Wonderful, that’s great news … baby steps. It’s been a horrible year, but am so very happy you made it tonight. You have to start interacting again babe. Look, help yourself to anything, everyone is here, I’ve got to rescue some vol-au-vents from the oven’. Anne leaves after a quick kiss and embrace.
An hour has passed and I’m standing, by myself, at the French doors gazing into the party at the party goers. Observing them but not being one. Detached and weary is how I feel, even in a great neckline! I want to leave. Then I feel you near me, you whisper in my ear ‘I’m sorry I left you, left us, too early but remember my love, I’m with you, always’.
I dry my tears and join the others, the music has changed.
Then by Michael Healy
Then is where, when or how
Though usually in the past.
Rarely is it now, nor does it often last,
Wherever the viewer recalls events,
Single or Multiple memories:
The Battle of Britain,
The Second World War.
When was then?
Simply when the memory was special,
good or bad.
When man first walked upon
the surface of the moon,
Then that was a definite then.
But, as to when he might walk on Mars?
That is a definite when,
Closed Quarters by Angela O’Connor
I hated this time of year, early June. Because it led to July when the painful memories were brought crashing into my father’s heart again. At least that would be some emotion I guess!
Walking across our cramped yet functional bare room, I shut the lounge windows, not even glancing at the park across the way. The chorus of birds could not camouflage the silence between us. Papa and me.
Work was his life these days. When he came home he sat on that hideous leather chair and read every single word of the newspaper. The piano he bought me was supposed to be my companion. It was more like a burden. Mama was a superb pianist. She died 12 years ago.
I am not her. Indeed, I cannot even remember her. My young heart is screaming for Papa to talk with me.
‘Lucia play me a song that your mother wrote.’
‘Of course Papa.’
I knew this pleased him but he couldn’t see the tears falling down my face. As they dropped onto my gliding fingers, my heart was breaking. With both pain and pride.
Suddenly, the windows burst open from the Chicago wind.
‘You’d better go to bed Lucia.’
‘If you wish Papa’.