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Five Notes after a Visit by Anne Devlin

Excerpts from the story:
...........................
"Love. My wife's just rung. I'll have to go and see her. She was crying on the phone. She wants to discuss us getting back together. If only you knew how angry this makes me!"

"Will you tell her about me?"

Below the library window voices reach me from the street. The students are assembling for a march. They shoulder a black coffin: RIP EDUCATION is chalked in on the side.

Maggie. Maggie. Maggie. Out! Out! Out!

Police in bulletproof jackets flank the thin demonstration through the square. The wind tosses the voice back and forth; I only catch an odd phrase here and there: "Our comrades in England ... The trade union movement in this country ... "

"We have to keep a low profile for a while," he said. "And don't answer the phone in case it's her."

When I was young I think, watching the demonstration pass. I must have been without fear. I make a resolution: I will go there after dark.

Thursday 2nd February 1984

.............................. .............................. When he wakes, I whisper: "Love, I'll stay."

"I've found you again," he says.

The phone is still ringing in a room downstairs. It is 2:30 in the afternoon.

Send your Fenian girlfriend back where she belongs, or we'll give her the works and then you." He is staring at the clock.

"I wonder how they knew?" he says.

"The estate agent has been writing to me from England. It was too much trouble to explain the difficulty of it. The postman would notice a Catholic name in this street. The sorters in the Post Office too. Or maybe it was the man collecting for the football pools?"

'Football pools?"

"The other night a man came to the door, he asked me to pick four teams or eight, I can't remember now. Then he asked me to sign it."

"You should have given my name."

"I did. But I don't know anything about football. And I think I gave myself away when - "

"What?"

"I picked Liverpool. Or it could have happened at the launderette when I left the washing in. They asked: 'What name?' And I forgot. Or it could have been the taxi I got last night from here to - "

"I suppose they would have found out some time." He is sitting on the bed.

"Could it have been - your wife?"

He looks hurt: "I never told her that!" he says. I suppose they would have found out some time. I think I'd better call the police."

I get up quickly: "Do you mind if I get dressed and bathe and make the bed before you do?"

"Why?"

"Because they'll come round and look at everything."

I am packing a large suitcase in the attic where we sleep when he comes upstairs.

"The police say that anyone who really meant a threat wouldn't ring you up beforehand. They're not coming round."

"Listen. I want you to take me to the airport. And I want you to pack a bag as well."

"I'm teaching tomorrow," he says. "Please leave something behind, love. That black dress of yours. The one I like you in."

It is still hanging in the wardrobe. I leave my scent in the bathroom and on his pillow.

"It's just so that I know you'll come back."

At 3:40 we are ready to leave the house. The street is empty when we open the door. The curtains are drawn.

"We're a bit late," he tells the driver. "Can you get us to the airport in half an hour?"

In the car he kisses me and says:

"No one has ever held my hand so tightly before."

"What will you do?" I ask, as I'm getting on the plane.

"I'll have to give three months notice."

"Do it."

"Teaching jobs are hard to come by," he says, looking around. "Whatever this place is - it's my home."

5:45. Heathrow. Without him I walk from the plane. Who are they watching now? Him or me? Suddenly a man steps out in front of me. Oh Jesus!

"Have you any means of identification? What is the purpose of your visit ... ?"

............ Source: Stories by Contemporary Irish Women, pp. 74-77, Syracuse University Press, New York 1990


About the author:
Anne Devlin (b.1951) is a short story writer, playwright and screenwriter born in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
She was a teacher from 1974 - 1978 and started writing fiction in 1976 in Germany. She now lives in London.
She is the daughter of the late Paddy Devlin, a former Member of Parliament and founder of the Social Democratic and Labour Party. Devlin was raised in Belfast and left Northern Ireland for England. She was visiting lecturer in playwriting at the University of Birmingham in 1987, and a writer in residence at Lund University, Sweden, in 1990.
In 1982 she won the Hennessy Literary Award for her short story, Passages, which was adapted for television as A Woman Calling. She has written for the stage - Ourselves Alone (first performed in 1985) and After Easter (first performed in 1994) and for which she won the Lloyds Playwright of the Year. Devlin has also written the screenplays for Titanic Town, which is adapted from a novel by Mary Costello, and Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. Her short fiction was collected as The Way-Paver (1986). In 1984 she received the Samuel Beckett Award, she won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in 1986.


amazon.de Stories by Contemporary Irish Women
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Daniel J. Casey
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