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The Luck of the Irish


Another three-word challenge story, proof that you can fit Joe in anywhere...

luck of the irish
Banner by Krazymoonkat

She stood under the shelter at the deserted bus stop and stared at the wattles. The waterlogged branches were bending almost to the ground, the rain still falling steadily. Everything was grey and it matched her mood perfectly. She didn’t quite understand what it was but lately everything seemed to irritate her, seemingly innocent comments scraping at her till she just wanted to scream at people to leave her alone. All she wanted was just one day without anyone asking anything of her, free to be herself. She wondered if she could even remember who that was – there were so many versions of her now that it was getting harder and harder. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend – always there when they needed her. But what about what she needed?

The bus stopped next to her with a spray of water that just missed her and she got on, shaking the drops from her umbrella. Sullen faces stared back at her as she made her way to the back and sat down. The windows were all fogged up and she rubbed the cold glass with her hand to give herself a view outside, not that there was much to see. Long lines of cars, people hurrying along the street and holding on to their umbrellas that the wind was trying to wrench from their grasp. A typical winter’s day. The bus driver had the radio on and Gloria Gaynor was singing “I will survive” and it made her think of the time when she was sixteen and dancing at the disco with that boy who had the most beautiful eyes that always looked so sad… And suddenly it was like she was jolted awake. What the hell was she doing? Sitting here like some zombie, going through the motions of living and not feeling anything at all but irritation? When was the last time she had done something on impulse?

The bus stopped and the doors opened and she found herself stepping out into the rain, with a fleeting thought at the back of her mind that she was behaving irrationally.

 “Oh who bloody cares,” she said aloud, ignoring the startled look from a woman who was waiting to get on the bus. She scanned the street, wondering what she should do next. There was a pub on the corner and the map of Ireland on the wall outside reminded her of her favourite pub from years ago so she took it as a sign and made her way there. Now that she thought about it, a drink sounded like an excellent idea. It would give her a chance to ponder her next move.

When the heavy door of the pub closed behind her, it was as if she had stepped into a different world. It was all dark wood and simple furnishings, like a place from a bygone era. There was a vaguely Irish tune playing quietly in the background and it sounded familiar to her but she couldn’t quite place it. Her steps echoed on the wooden floor as she made her way to the bar. The place looked to be empty except for the barman who was rearranging bottles on the shelf behind the bar and turned at the sound of her approach.

“Hello lass. You look like you could do with a whiskey to warm you up.” He was already pouring her one before she could say anything and she sat down gratefully at the bar, dropping her soaking umbrella on the floor.

 “I’m not normally a whiskey drinker but I think you’re right,” she said taking the glass. “Cheers.” The fiery liquid slid down her throat and she closed her eyes for a moment and sighed.

 “Better?” The barman smiled and she noticed suddenly how good-looking he was. In fact she could have sworn that she had seen him somewhere before although he looked slightly out of place in his old-fashioned clothes. His eyes and the Irish lilt in his voice made butterflies flutter in her belly. He took her hand and looked into her eyes. “Maybe you should do spur of the moment things more often lass, to remind yourself that you still can.” The heat from the whiskey was spreading into her fingers now or maybe it was his hand holding hers. For some reason it didn’t feel at all strange that he should be holding her hand and talking to her as if he knew all about her and her life. “I think you have tried so hard to be everything for everybody else that you have lost sight of what you want and need. It’s time to start living your life again lass.” He reached over the bar and kissed her cheek. “Life is too short to waste lass, trust me I know. You owe it to yourself to give it all you’ve got.” He handed her a folded note. “For good luck.”

 And that’s when she woke up. It was only just getting light and she could hear the rain falling outside. She smiled to herself. It had been a long time since she’d had a dream this nice and strangely she could remember every detail too. That smile and those eyes - and then it struck her. It was Joe Byrne. What a shame she had woken up before she could open the note he had given her. What would it have said, she wondered as she sat up and then her eyes fell onto the folded piece of paper on her bedside table. No – it couldn’t be. Carefully she picked it up and opened it. There was no writing, just a pressed shamrock. “For good luck,” he had said. Joe Byrne had given her the luck of the Irish.

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