Then and Now by Angela O’Connor

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 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,

not then.

Michael Healy

Then by Fred Foster

Fred’s response to the trigger ‘then’:

THEN is a word that can be used in a number of contexts. As a warning (Now then) or it could refer to a recent happening (Just then) or it could be anticipation (And then) or it could be long ago THEN/ Way back when. As a boy during the war years this is what it was like THEN

Grandad is it true I’m told That you know lots of things because you’re old

Are there giants that shake the ground

And are there fairies that fly around

And why does the moon stay up in the sky

And if it falls will we all die

Why does the sea rush up to the land

And why is the sea shore made of sand

And why is the sea so wide and deep

And are there monsters when we sleep

And when you were a boy like me

Did you ever fall and graze your knee

And living for so many years

Do you still cry those salty tears.

 

Now old is wise they tell me so

But so many things I’ll never know

The sun comes out to warm the day

The moon at night to light the way

The sand down by the sea it seems

Is for building castles and weaving dreams

And the fairies come at night they say

To drive the giants and monsters away

And when I was a boy like you

I fell and cried just like you do

But now I’m old I never cry

I think I’ve got something in my eye.

Coming Home to War by David R Graham

David’s response to the trigger ‘then’:

Coming Home to War

By David R Graham. 26.09.16

‘Callum.’

‘What d—! Who d’feck–!’

‘Easy.’

‘Killian? Is that you, Killian?’

‘Aye.’

‘Jesus Killian! What d’feck are ye doin’ comin’ up on me in d’dark like that? Ye frightened d’feckin’ shite out’a me. Whew. Ye made it back then? Come in’t d’light an’ let me have a look at ye.’

‘No, Callum. I live in the shadows now.’

‘Jesus Christ, Killian. What d’hell have they done t’ye man? Ye have eyes that would frightin’ d’divil himself. Was it bad?’

‘Worse than bad, Callum.’

‘When did ye get back?’

‘I didn’t.’

‘What? What are ye say—?’

‘You haven’t seen me, Callum. I’m not here.’

‘But—’

‘You haven’t seen me.’

‘Right. I’m with ye, Killian. What about Sean, an’ d’Hardy boys? Are they with ye? ’

‘No. They didn’t make it.’

‘Jesus, Killian. All five a them?’

‘Aye.’

‘Thank God Maddy’s not here t’hear that. The news would a killed her deader than Carpenter did.’

‘He made his play, then?’

‘O aye, he did that. Not long after you lads went off. An’ a bloody play it was too.’

‘Tell me.’

‘He killed everyone, Killian. Burned, bombed, an’ shot his way t’d’top a d’shite heap.’

‘You’re alive.’

‘Ye can call me that, Killian. Others might call me walkin’ dead. I escaped death by d’skin a me teeth. I’m worth fifty pounds to whoever takes me in. You found me, Killian. That worries me. How long have I got? He’s sittin’ up there now lordin’ it over d’whole city. No one can touch him, Killian. He has everyone eatin’ out a his slop bowl.’

‘No one is going to find you, Callum. Or me.’

‘What are ye goin’ t’do, Killian? What can d’two a do against Carpenter’s army?’

‘Tell me about his empire, Callum. Every detail.’

‘Empire’s right, Killian. He sits on top of the entire pile. From City Hall down to d’sewers an’ every club, bar, restaurant, casino, cinema, bettin’ shop, an’ barbers in between. You name it, Killian, an’ if Carpenter doesn’t already own it, he soon will. An’ he’s a army a coldblooded villains who are only too happy t’do whatever dirty work is necessary t’keep his slaves coughin’ up their cash. So you tell me, Killian. What can d’two a us do against him?’

‘Others are on their way, Callum.’

‘Who? Where are they comin’ from?’

‘From the battlefields of Europe. I’ve gathered my own army of coldblooded villains, Callum. Carpenter’s army will be no match for them.’

‘Jesus, Killian. Are ye goin’ t’take him on?’

‘No, Callum. I’m not going to take him on. I’m going to destroy him.’

‘Jesus, Killian. What d’ye want me t’do?’

‘I need to know everything about every one of his soldiers, Callum. They fear no one. They’ll all have a daily routine. I want to know those routines. I want to know the details of every building Carpenter owns, every vehicle he owns and uses. I want to know all of his daily movements; where he eats, where he sleeps, where he works, where he plays, where he does business, and where he keeps his money.’

‘I can’t do it, Killian. I’ve a price on me head. I wouldn’t last five minutes.’

‘You’re going to live, Callum. Disguise yourself. Go behind your enemy’s lines, and move freely among them. You’ll not be alone. I will be covering you. Others will not be far away.’

‘When d’ye plan t’make y’ur move, Killian?’

‘You’ll know, Callum.’

‘When, Killian?  When will I know?’

‘When each of Carpenter’s soldiers lies with a spike through his throat, Callum: You will know then.’