The next morning, I wake up as usual until the memories from the night before come rushing back. In a flash second, I relive the entire episode.
Lethargically I get dressed for school. I shake my head in self-denial when I pull on my checked, pleated school skirt. The hem comes mid-way up my thigh. This is the old me, I think sadly. The me who believed in love even if you disagreed with the one you loved. Admittedly, my mom and dad could not agree on anything and they disagreed on everything, but they were still supposed to love each other. What happened to that love they had when they met?
No! I will not mull over this again.
I rummage through my cupboard until I find a pair of tattered jeans and an old T-shirt. I get dressed in this exclusive ensemble. I pull a beanie over my messy hair, wrap a scarf around my neck and pull on a bright pink puffy jacket. The hideous jacket my dad bought for me last Christmas—eventually I will have to admit to myself the man just did not know me.
At the moment, the fact he does not know me does not really cause me any concern, what really bothers me about my mom and dad getting divorced is—where did the love go?
I go downstairs and before I open the fridge to get a yoghurt drink, I read the note on the fridge. “I had to go into work early.” I notice it is still handwritten. She should Xerox them and save herself the trouble every morning. It would surely be easier to just pull one out of a large stack and hastily push it in under the pineapple fridge magnet than actually having to scribble it down in pen every day.
I get the yoghurt drink and then open the kitchen drawer under the cutlery drawer. I reach my hand in, until my fingers clutch around a small wooden box pushed to the back, under a pile of dishcloths. I take it out and then I pull the emergency credit card from its protective interior. I am in need of emergency retail therapy.
I leave the house and pull the door until I hear the latch catch. I turn the handle and push the door to make sure it is locked. I do this only once because if I did it twice it could be construed as OCD.
I walk away from my house into the misty rain and I follow the road through the estate toward the main road. We live here on the outskirts of Drogheda, County Louth on the lush green isle of Ireland. It is two miles from my home to the centre of town, but I have walked this journey many times and I need to clear my mind anyway.
I walk past the usual places, the pubs, the yoghurt factory, the houses with their quaint gardens while I listen to the music in my ears. The fine, misty precipitation does not wet me, and there are no actual drops of rain. I push my hands deep into the pockets of my shocking pink jacket.
When I get to the mall, I walk into my usual clothes store. I pick new pants, new shirts and a few dresses. I choose new jackets and for good measure, I buy some new underwear. Everything I select is in various shades of black. After all, I am mourning the absence of love.
When I can hardly see over the pile of clothes draped over my forearms, I walk to the pay points. I stand in the short queue and I notice a beautiful black Celtic cross hanging from the impulse-buy display-unit, conveniently located in the narrow stand-in-line passage toward the tills. I move my arms awkwardly and I wrap my pinkie around the chain until I wrangle it from the display-unit, just in time for me to move forward for my turn to pay.
I drop the clothes onto the counter unceremoniously. The elderly teller starts to scan my items and she looks up at me sympathetically. She asks, “Who died, honey?”
She probably thinks my new black wardrobe is for a funeral. Here everybody knows everybody, and usually when someone dies, foreigners will stick out like sore thumbs—like us. We moved here six years ago from England. Foreigners usually do not know the deceased went to school with the person you are talking to, nor were friends of so and so’s uncle’s cousin twice removed.
I look down and she assumes I do not want to talk about it.
She says with concern, “It gets easier, honey.”
I nod my head as if I understand and then when she gives me the total for my purchase, I slide the credit card across to her.
Walking out of the shop with my bags, I consider I would have to catch the bus home because these bags would get progressively heavier when I walked back up the hill to my house.
I walk past a hairdressing salon. About five steps further, I stop. The man behind me almost collides with me. I turn around, ignoring his angry complaints, and walk back to the hairdresser. My long brown hair will never suit my new look.
Uncertainly, I walk in and go to the counter. The girl behind the counter looks up at me, and then she smiles friendly.
I ask, “Is it possible to fit me in for a colour and a cut?”
She looks down at her appointments and she taps the end of her pencil against the book. She looks up at me again and she says, “Is Angie okay? She is free now.”
I cannot remember when last I set my two feet in a hairdressing salon, so I have no idea who Angie might be, but I say anyway, “Okay.”
She smiles and tells me, “Go through to the back, to the basins.”
I follow her instructions and sit down on the chair. A girl comes and without a word, she gently pushes my head backward. She washes, treats and rinses my hair. I am starting to get a cramp in my neck when at last she is finished.
She wraps a warm towel around my head and she directs me toward a chair in front of a large mirror. I sit down on the black leather chair, but I do not want it to look as if I am staring vainly at myself in the mirror, so I swivel the chair away from it.