Nighttime Travelers: Los Angeles/Dublin and Back Again.

Ireland is cold. Freezing. Fog clasps the midlands in an embrace that chokes the breath in a man. Red berries tinged with white. The grave is the same; waiting. The old home town looks the same. Cafés, pubs, church, and the house our family called home, mid-century, post-war. Bananas and pineapples were unknown refugees on rich people’s tables.

A distillery peddling bitter whiskey to thirsty tourists. Rip-off merchants.

“Goodbye, Ireland, I’m off to Kilbeggan.” My father’s war cry.

My mother sits in the armchair, engulfed. A missing plate on the wall beside her. Careless caregiver knocked it off and shattered it to bits. She knows who I am. The same questions. On repeat.

“Have you seen any of your old friends?”

I answer each time as if it’s the first time of asking.

Receding. Hair white as a summer cloud. Collapsing in on herself.

“Have you seen any of your old friends?”

The house is empty of familiar furniture. Sent to auction. Give away for tuppence. 40% commission leaves little for her coffers. Simple needs these days. Hair done monthly. Cigarettes smuggled in by brothers.

Angelus bell at noon.

“The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary…”

“Heathens,” my father said. We didn’t know our prayers and it was her fault.

A kite hovering above the motorway.

“Have you seen any of your old friends?”

The cold gets into your bones.

Kiss her forehead.

Say goodbye.

“See you tomorrow.”

The plane leaves at 5:55am.

“Have you seen any of your old friends?”

Everything is the same. Nothing is the same. From her you sprung. Nothing needs to be said. Everything is understood. There are silences. Walking across the parking lot to the rental car, the sobs send seen breath onto winter air.

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