Menu Close

Once Upon a Time a Woman – Róisín McIntosh

I screamed a lie to the Pacific Ocean that April and it smashed it back. It roared No More Lies, so I flew home two weeks later, twenty pounds overweight, pre-diabetic and depressed. Alone, I sat cross legged on scratchy earth-brown eighties carpet and sliced scissors through twenty-year-old T-shirts, furious with the girl who wore them. I cranked CDs from nineteen ninety-seven until the glass rattled, and mopped tears and snot with strips of cut cloth against my skin, inhaling, and pressing them against damp eyes. I incinerated old diaries in the Aga and text my best friend nothing much all good how you kiss kiss. Asleep, I dreamt in sepia that a prison warden released me, but locals murmured my crime. I lost my phone. Twice. That August, I forked out fifteen hundred to a smirking farmer five miles down the road and named the puppy Lucy, cursing the knee-scraped moments, scrubbing pee from hardwood floors with lemon Flash.

One midnight, I met the river. I sleepwalked into her blackness, floated obliviously in her deep. I came to parked on the roadside, altered, and soaked in shivers, as zombified commuters crawled out onto dimly lit, dawning roads.

Some mountain nights, I massaged waves of silver stretch marks across my puckered stomach, whispering truths. Those mornings, I forgot calories, savouring pans of fresh chestnut mushrooms, salted and sizzling in Kerrygold, devouring small pleasures as the radio played showband tunes and Karen Carpenter. One night, I murmured to a man yes he could stay, crying silently when he snored against my collar bone, careful not to dampen him. I let loving fingers trace the crescent cut inches below my navel and didn’t answer the unasked question.

One leaf-soaked Thursday I said yes he could, then whispered back that yes I would. We bought Foxford blankets just because we liked them. We twisted blessed gold bands on our fingers and slow waltzed after the cake but before the sandwiches.

The following April I planted seeds against the small headstone to watch something grow.