We walk past the village and follow the road along the Boyne River. We walk past the old Flour Mill, and under the traffic bridge, we stop to read the graffiti on the walls. We walk past the park. It is a clear, bright day and I notice a family with a kite. The dad is trying hard to keep the kite in the air with his cheering children running a-muck around him.
We stop near the kiddies play park and then we lean across the shiny, silver barrier and look down at the murky water in the river. The swans swim toward us eagerly for scraps of bread.
Glancing back at him, past my shoulder, I see him already looking at me. His face is full of concern when he says softly, “You look sad.”
I step back from the barrier surprised.
He asks quietly, “Why?”
I look into his greener than green eyes and then the words burst out of me. I tell him everything. I do not really know him, but I tell him about my dad. I tell him about the constant fighting and bickering. I do not tell him how I believe love is lost. As I continue my monologue he looks at me forlornly, it is as if he actually understands my deep, deep hurt.
Embarrassed, I stop talking and he steps closer to me. He folds his arms around my shoulders and then he pulls me into him gently. I go, and it feels right to be in his arms. He comforts me, and when I move away from him, I actually do feel better.
“Let’s get something to eat. Are you hungry?”
“I know this nice place in the village,” I suggest uncertainly.
He takes my hand into his and silently we walk back toward the village. We turn away from the river and walk up a steep road, which will bring us into the centre of town. As we walk past the shops, I tell him where he can buy the best bread rolls, the latest CD’s, and rent the cheapest DVD’s.
As we walk past the old tower and broken down archway, which used to be the entrance into Drogheda, a very long time ago, I see a shadow swoop toward me from the corner of my eye. I flinch when it looks as if it is going to crash into me. Looking in the direction of the ruins, I see nothing that could have caused me to cringe. I could have sworn there was a darkness that crossed across my peripheral vision.
Feeling unexpected apprehension, I let go of his hand and start to cross the quiet road. “Let’s walk on the other side.”
He starts to follow me and then I see a car roaring toward me. It speeds at me. Everything around me slows down.
I hear Kieran scream, “No. Heather.” His voice sounds far away as if I am in a void of emptiness. He grabs me around my waist and twists me around, away from the car.
My legs twirl awkwardly through the air in front of me. I hear the screeching of tires on black-top. I feel the impact of the car, the scrunching of metal. I feel the strength and tautness in his muscles as he braces himself against the force of the car hitting into him. I feel a blast of wind in my face as a dark gloominess wash over me. It lifts my hair away from my face and takes a breath with it.
Then everything speeds up again and the surrounding noises seem too loud all of a sudden, it shudders into me. I feel Kieran’s arms still wrapped around me tightly and I twist around anxiously.
A young man climbs hurriedly from the driver side of the car. It looks as if he just got his driver’s license, he must have turned eighteen only a month ago. He screams worriedly, “Are ye all right? I am so sorry. I did not see ye there.”
I look down and there is only a hair’s breadth between the front of the car and Kieran’s leg.
Kieran steps away from the car unharmed, with me still in his arms. “No, worries.” He smiles sociably. “You stopped in the nick of time. You should drive more carefully though; you could have killed me.”
The driver of the car walks to the front of his car and wipes his hand disbelievingly over the unscathed paintwork. He says apologetically, “I swear ye weren’t there. You just appeared out of mist. I swear it on my life.”
Kieran steps toward him. He loosens an arm from around my waist and holds his hand out to the young man. The man reaches to him and they shake hands. Kieran says, “No harm done, then.”
He turns me in his arms, keeping his one arm around my waist and steers me up the hill again.
I look at him anxiously. “I cannot believe we are still alive. That car barely missed you, it stopped just in time.”
He sighs deeply, but says nothing. He looks uneasy and nervous, and he avoids looking at me.
When we reach the coffee shop and I see the busy flurry of everybody inside, there is not an empty seat, I feel reluctant to go in. After what just happened, I needed somewhere quiet to process my thoughts, since we could have been dead. More so, I could have been dead, if Kieran did not jump in between the car and me.
He suggests, “Would you rather like to get something to eat at my house? It’s just up the road from here.”
I nod my head in agreement. The initial shock is starting to dissipate and now questions are starting to crowd out the awe and wonder of this apparent miracle. I can swear I heard the crunching of metal and I am sure I felt the car slam into Kieran.
We walk away from the coffee shop, my hand twined into his.
I turn to him as we turn up a cobbled alleyway. “I could have sworn that car knocked into you, yet there was not even a dent in it, and you are okay.”
I see him struggling with himself. His face is clouded over with doubt and indecision. He says, “We’re almost there.”
We walk through the busy Saturday market, and I have to look where I am walking not to crash into other people, so I look away from him. I have the distinct feeling he is hiding something from me.
When we reach his house, and after he unlocks the door, he lets me walk in and then he follows me in. I wait in the foyer for him while he closes the door again.
After he takes my coat from me, he drapes it over the banister. He smiles and says, “Come, sit down.”