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In case you forget

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In case you forget There was death at the start, just as there was death at the end. Though whether a fleeting wisp of this crossed the Irishman's dreams and shook him awake on this least likely of mornings, he would never know. All he knew that when he opened his eyes that the world was somehow changed. As always the first thought that come to his head was the quick, searing hope that the last eight weeks had never happened. But as he saw the pale morning light filtering through her curtains, reality hit him with an icy certainty-Aileen was dead, and it was his entire fault. He looked at his alarm clock; 7:00 shone angrily at him in red, making him turn back to the wall. It beeped impatiently at him, and it was that, not the cold, which finally gave him the thought to give up his worthy fight and struggle out of bed. He breathed in the faint lingering smell of musty perfume. Photos of horses stared down at him from the walls. He was in his wife's room. A coat was slung over the chair where Aileen had left that morning of the accident. The hairbrush of the table was coated in a fine layer of dust, a few blonde hairs clinging to the bristles. Nothing in the room had changed for four weeks, not since the day Aileen Flaherty died. At the sight of the familiar things, his stomach twisted. He glanced at the photo of him and her. Pat and Allie. Patrick Harper and Aileen Flaherty. Sergeant Major and Horse whisperer. Mr and Mrs Patrick Harper. Husband and wife. There were tears in his eyes, which he reckoned was from the dust in the room. He got dressed. His kharki and olive uniform was oddly loose after the tight dress uniform of the funeral. Harper gazed in the mirror. ...read more.


She had never come home. He had ripped it into three pieces, because he thought it not worthy of her. He had saved a piece, the only bit where her actual handwriting was shown and he pulled it out now and marvelled that he had never actually seen her own scruffy hand until after her death. His hand carefully placed the relic back into his wallet along with the library card, the pocket diary and the thirty silver coins that he had yet to summon the courage to either ignore or destroy them. The cuckoo clock on the wall opened its tiny wooden doors and the cheerful little bird popped out announcing that it was half past seven. It was always late and Harper automatically checked the time on his own analogue watch, without realising that it had already stopped working on the twenty-second of March. The day his world stood still. Harper reckoned it was the blast that had destroyed the mainspring. But he had taken it along to the fixing shop anyway and had said that it had fallen off the table onto the floor. No one noticed the lie, nor the pricking of tears that covered up the real truth. He had wanted to tell them the truth, to shrug off the awful weight of his conscience, but there was a lady behind him. They could not fix it and told him that it was a lost cause and also asked him if he was sure if it had fallen onto the table as surely a greater force had broken it. He answered curtly that he had an extremely hard floor and the case was left as that, as no one dared cross the tall man with dried blood on his shirt. It was getting light and he knew that he should have left the house by this time. It was a dangerous time to be out on the streets and alleyways at dawn. ...read more.


They licked their lips and they lined up the foresight onto the lone solitary target. At this distance they could not miss. The settling snow was still too thick for Kelly to be sure, but he thought he saw Harper open his hands a touch and, in a movement so flowing that he may of imagined it, showed the British his open palms. It was as though the Irishman was offering something and perhaps it was what he had always wanted to offer the gift of friendship and peace. But although he would never from this day forth mention the thought to anyone, Kelly had a vivid impression that it was otherwise and that Harper, without fear or despair, was somehow offering himself. 'I'm here. What is it?' And then he knew. ******* They buried Patrick Harper by Aileen. The intention was to keep the funeral small and for family only, but on the day about one hundred people came, touched by the actions of the tall, handsome soldier in the white-sugared street. There was room for only a few in the small but ornate Catholic Church, so they threw open the doors and people watched from outside where cherry blossom danced and cartwheeled in the small breeze. He was found, lying there, a tiny smile on his face, motionless on the snowy carpet. It eyes were loosely shut as if he were sleeping peacefully. They typed this up on the army records of births and deaths. But there was one thing which they had not mentioned. Tucked away, from all sight were two claddagh rings. One gold and one silver. The Irish icon of friendship, love and loyalty. They were wrapped in a torn piece of paper, one side a list of food items and on the other side, scrawled blue ink pen which was in the handwriting of Aileen Harper. On the paper, all she'd written, inscribed in the ancient language of the Irish Celts were the small italic letters which made up four short words. In case you forget. ...read more.

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