Ashes of Fiery Weather

Ashes of Fiery Weather by Kathleen Donohoe Read Free Book Online

Book: Ashes of Fiery Weather by Kathleen Donohoe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kathleen Donohoe
    William and Patricia were guarding the small table they’d managed to snag. Norah spoke over her shoulder to Marian in as near a whisper as she could and still be heard.
    â€œWhat’s wrong with the other bartender? Why isn’t he helping?”
    â€œThat’s not a bartender,” Marian said. “That’s Amred. His sister runs the place.”
    Norah nodded. Marian had a way of speaking that suggested you should know the answers to your own questions. Marian had been at “the agency” for almost two years. That was what Helen called Irish Dreams. When William and Patricia said it, they put an emphasis on the word: the
-gency. Norah was sure they were testing her, to see what they could get away with saying about Helen in front of her. No doubt they were outright mean behind Helen’s back.
    Norah felt sorry for her aunt, something she could never have imagined the day she got on the plane in Dublin. Helen didn’t speak badly of a single member of the staff, but she ate her sandwich and drank tea from a thermos by herself at her desk in the corner instead of the small lunchroom in the back.
    At home, nobody wore green for St. Patrick’s Day, and Norah had appeared for breakfast in blue. Helen, who was not good before eleven a.m. and rarely spoke to her in the morning, went into her own closet and reappeared with a green sweater that had white shamrocks embroidered on the cuffs. If Mr. Fitzgerald came in, he would be very annoyed to see Norah not in the spirit of the day, Helen said as she handed it to her.
    At only six-thirty in the evening, everyone was well into it. The noise level seemed to rise by the second. Patches of song broke out around Lehane’s.
    â€œSean’s been quiet since he got back,” Marian said. “He works here, but he doesn’t hang out when he’s off.”
    Without taking her eyes off Sean, Norah asked, “Back from where?”
    â€œNam,” Marian said, and Norah looked at her to see if she was serious.
    â€œVietnam?” Norah had barely paid attention to Vietnam at home, but since coming to America she heard about it constantly.
    â€œI wrote to him when he was over there. He never had time to write back, but then, when he was in Arizona—that’s where he finished his tour after he got injured.” Marian smiled. “He sent me a postcard.”
    Sean was making his way down to their end of the bar. That he’d been in a war made him seem a real grown-up, while the rest of them were just pretending.
    â€œHow do you know him?” Norah asked. She hoped she didn’t sound rude, but she could hardly imagine.
    Marian spoke close to Norah’s ear. She and Sean had gone to grammar school together. Norah had already heard the story of how the nuns had given Marian’s father a hard time about enrolling her and her sister at Holy Rosary because their mother was Jewish.
    Marian’s mother and father had been disowned by their families when they eloped just two months after they met. Three years later, when her mother took off, Marian’s father brought her and her sister back to Brooklyn. Their grandmother let them move in only after the two of them were baptized. In fact, their father had to leave their suitcases on the stoop and take them to the church, where Father Halloran interrupted his own dinner to toss water on their foreheads. Sarah tried to bite him. Marian didn’t remember any of this, but her sister said that was the night their father went into the drunk he never quite came out of.
    Marian kept her eyes on Sean as she explained to Norah that there were a few other kids in the neighborhood who had one parent. Mostly, the fathers had been killed in the war. But Sean’s father had left his mother. They had that in common.
    Norah watched as a girl with long red hair muscled her way up to the bar.
    â€œSean!” she called.
    Sean kept working, though he had to have

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