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Title: Amongst Friends ( Revisited ) 
Author: Linda Suazo 

Opening Scene 1 

Peter Clifford sits beside Assumpta Fitzgerald's lifeless

The pain was too great. He didn't feel the cold. He had
nearly forgotten who he was. He sat beside her. The white
sheet covered
her up to her face, emphasizing the whiteness of her skin.
Her beautiful eyes were closed. He could barely look at
her. Was it
possible for a human being to feel such pain and not die.
Maybe he could die too. How could God have let this happen?
He know how much he loved her? "Oh, Assumpta, how could you
leave me?" 

He put his face in his hands. When would this wretched life
be over? Was it just a few hours ago that he had told her
that he loved
her? He knew she loved him too. She hadn't told him, but he
knew anyway. He turned toward her. He touched her cold face.
love you, Assumpta," he whispered, the tears once again
flowing down his face.

The sound of footsteps echoed down the quiet hallway. The
doctor came in. He walked up to Peter and put his hand on
his shoulder.
"Son, you should go home and get some sleep." Peter didn't
answer. He wasn't aware that the doctor had said anything.
"Father," the doctor said. "Father." Peter turned and
looked up at the doctor.

"Son, you need some rest. It's cold in here. You've been
here nearly 24 hours. You've got to go home." 

"I.. I can't," Peter stammered. "I can't leave her," he
said, putting his face in his hands once again.

"There's nothing you can do here," he said. "Maybe someone
will need you back home."

Home. Where was that? Ballykissangel? Without Assumpta? He
didn't think so. 

"Go home, son," said the doctor. "She will be here until

"Then what?" said Peter, looking intently at the doctor. 

"Then we will make whatever arrangements her husband agrees
upon, if we can locate him. Do you know him?" 

"Yes,...I do," answered Peter. 

"Has anyone let him know?" he asked. 

"I..I don't know," said Peter, trying to collect his

He got up. He turned to look down at her. So quiet. So
still. He had just held her in his arms. He had just kissed
the top of her head.
She was so warm and soft and her scent lingered in his
memory. He leaned down and kissed her face. "I love you,"
he whispered. 

Peter walked down the road. He couldn't take the car home.
He had to walk. How many times had he been down that
road? He remembered the first time he had seen her. She had
picked him up in her van. He was walking in the rain, trying
to get to
Ballykissangel. "Would you like a lift," she had said. The
tears fell. He hardly noticed them.

He had relived every moment with her. The sound of her
voice. Her dark hair framing her face. The sparkle in her
eyes. Even when
she was telling him to mind his own business, he had adored

Peter realized that he had walked to the lake. The very
lake where he had told her how he felt about her. The very
lake where she had
said, "do you think I would have married Leo, if I had
known how you felt?" He heard her voice, echoing in his
memory. He walked
along the sand. He looked at the crystal clear lake, with
the white clouds reflected in it, as if they were floating
on the surface. He
wished that he was at the bottom of it.

The doctor walked down the quiet hall. He glanced into the
room where the priest had been. He certainly had taken that
death, extremely hard. He glanced over at her body. It
seemed strange for a priest to be that distraught. They
deal with death almost
as often as a doctor.

He walked over to the window. He was used to death. It
didn't seem to affect him like it did when he first became
a doctor. He
guessed that you could get used to anything. He
straightened and smoothed the sheet. Too bad, he thought. 

"I love you," he had said.

"Would you take that thing off before you say things like
that," she replied. 

"I can't help it." 

"I know," she smiled.

That was just before that terrible moment. He couldn't
bring himself to relive what came after. "Please, God. Let
me die too," he
said out loud. 

The doctor turned just as a man came into the room. He
walked up to her. "Oh, God, Assumpta," he said, sitting
down in the chair.
"How could this have happened?"

The doctor came up to him. "Who are you?" he asked.

Leo looked up at him. "I am her husband," he said 

"I'm sorry, Mr. McGarvey," said the doctor. "We tried to
locate you, yesterday, to identify the body. But the priest

"The priest did?" asked Leo. 

"Yes, he left a little while ago. I must say, he was here
for a long time. Nearly 24 hours."

Peter walked along the road. The sun was going down. He
didn't notice. One foot in front of the other, like some
strange habit in
some hideous awareness. As he approached Ballykissangel, he
saw the grotto.

He went over to it. He remembered meeting Assumpta there by
accident. That was when he told her about Father Mac sending
home. Her first reaction was panic. He didn't know it then,
but he knew it now. He had gone over and over everything. He
in front of the Blessed Virgin. He fell to his knees. He
couldn't pray. The tears fell down his face untouched.

"Well, how touching." Leo sauntered into the grotto. "My
wife upset you, you know, her dying and all?" his anger
barely disguised.

Peter just stared at the statue.

"Is this where you brought her?" Leo walked over to him and
struck him in the face.

Peter wiped his mouth on his sleeve. 

"I never brought her here, Leo. We met here once, by
accident." Peter had no energy for this. 

Leo hit him again. He could see that he was getting no

"What did you do? Take her behind the statue??? " 

Peter got up and before he realized anything, he hit Leo in
the mouth. Down he went and didn't move. At that moment,
heard someone shout.

"Stop," Niamh yelled. "Are you trying to kill him?" 

Peter came to his senses. His knuckles were bloody. Niamh
was holding Leo's head and patting his face.

"I'm ok, Niamh," Leo said, starting to get up.

"It's ok, Niamh," Peter said. "Go back to the's
ok, I promise." 

She looked from Peter to Leo and back again. Slowly she
turned and left. 

Leo turned to Peter. "I want you to tell me the truth." 

"I'll try," said Peter, wiping the blood from his mouth.

"Did you love her?" 

Peter looked down and then back up at Leo. "Yes." 

"Did she love you?"

....Yes, I think she did." 

"And when she married me?" asked Leo. 

"I don't know, Leo, she never said." 

The doctor turned the lights in the hall off. Carefully he
checked each of the rooms. As he walked passed the room
that the girl was
in, he could feel the emotion coming from it. He had never
experienced that before. He had seen families in grief. He
had seen people
mourn. But there was something about this. He didn't know
what it was. As he walked into the room, he glanced at her.
She was
very beautiful. The skin on her arm was smooth and white.
He walked over and took the sheet out from under her arm
and laid it on
her chest again. He turned and walked away, shaking his

Again! He had straightened the covers on her once before.
He turned around and walked over to her. He felt her neck.
couldn't tell. He rushed out of the room.

He returned with a stethoscope and threw the sheet on the
floor. He listened very carefully in several places. "Oh
God!" She had a
heartbeat. It was faint, but it was there.


Leo's car sped off, leaving dust and rocks flying. He knew
now that his marriage would never have worked. She had
loved the
priest. God, he had never had a chance. Why had she married
him? He should have known. He thought there might be someone
when she refused to come with him, when he had surprised
her with a visit after Bertie O'Doyle's funeral. She seemed
distant. He hadn't come back after that. Well, he had been
busy. He didn't see her until that chance meeting in
London. He
remembered the greeting they got when they came back. The
priest had congratulated him.

He remembered how she avoided talking to Father Clifford.
If he came in to the pub, sometimes she would just
disappear into the
kitchen. How curious that he really hadn't noticed. Then
there was the night that he was coming back from a walk and
he saw her
come out of the church. He saw her face very clearly. Tears
and pain! He then saw Peter come out and look for her. Boy
had he been

When Peter had come into the kitchen to take Kieran from
him, he did see it then. Not that he thought that there was
anything going
on between them. But he could feel the emotional connection
between them that he and Assumpta had never had. He didn't
anything to do with this funeral. She loved him, let him
take care of it. The tears rolled down his face. God, he
couldn't believe
that she was gone. 

Peter watched him drive off. He felt his mouth. He felt his
beard of two days vintage. He didn't care. He walked out on
to the
road. He heard the thick sound of a car door closing.

"Father," said Niamh. "Father, come here." 

Peter turned around to see Niamh's green car parked along
the side of the road. Her eyes were swollen and red. She
walked up to
him and put her arms around him. "I'm so sorry, Peter."

Sympathy was something he couldn't deal with right now. The
tears burst forth and he sobbed onto Niamh's shoulder. They
both cried.

"This is Dr. Monroe, from Cilldargan. Yes. We need an
ambulance immediately. We have a woman who has suffered an
shock and we considered her dead until just a short while
ago, when I found a pulse. No, we didn't do brain waves.
She seems to
be in a deep coma. Her vitals are weak. All I can find are
these erratic heartbeats. We've got her on IV's, and we
need an
ambulance STAT. We have to get her to Dublin." He hung up
the phone.

He sat at the desk. On a half of a piece of note paper he
wrote, Con: The McGarvey woman was found to have a heart
beat. We have
sent her to Dublin by ambulance. Call Michael Ryan and let
him know... 

He needed a new piece of paper. He continued: get in touch
with Fitzgerald's in Ballykissangel and see if the McGarvey
had any next of kin besides her husband. He was in and out
so fast and didn't leave a phone number. Call the Parish of
Joseph's and get in touch with the priest and tell him. I
am leaving at 6:00 for the convention. It should be over on
the 26th. If you
need me, call me at the convention center. Ask Mary what
the number is.

He set the pieces of paper on Con's desk. What a strange

Niamh shut the door to the apartment. Peter followed her
down the hall. She opened the bedroom door. "You need a
shower and
some food, and then some sleep." 

"I can't sleep," he said.

"You have to," she said, pointing to the shower. "I'll go
over to the church and get you some clothes. Until then,
there is a
bathrobe of Ambroses' hanging behind the door. I'll be
right back." 

Niamh knocked slightly on the door. No answer. "Peter," she
called, opening the door. She saw him sitting in the chair
looking out
of the window. He could see Fitzgerald's across the street.
"Peter," Niamh said. Still no answer. Niamh walked closer to

"Did you ever see the film, =91One Against the Wind'?" he
asked, still staring out the window. 

"I.I don't think so," she said, wondering what he was
talking about. 

"Well, there was this woman who lived in Paris, during the
Nazi Occupation. She spent much of the war helping British
flyers get
back across the border after they had been shot down. One
night she was talking to a British Officer and she said "In
the last war I
nursed a boy who had lost both of his legs, and he would
only sleep if given medication. We all thought that he was
afraid of dying
while he slept. So I told him there was no danger of
that...He said it wasn't that at all,....It was the waking
up he
couldn't bear.... 

Niamh knelt beside him and put her arms around him. They
both cried. 

Ambrose opened the door to Fitzgeralds. It was dark inside.
He heard the whining. They had all forgotten about Fionn.
"Come on,
boy," he said, taking his lead and closing the kitchen
door. As he stepped outside, he met Padraig.

"Padraig," he said, nodding.

"Hello, Ambrose." 

"Town is kind of quiet, yeah." 

"Yeah," he said, nodding his head. 

"Leo, was here," said Ambrose. 

"Yeah, I saw him." 

"You want me to take Fionn?" asked Padraig. "He's used to

"Yeah, thanks," said Ambrose. He locked the door to

Padraig looked at the door. He wiped his eyes. Ambrose
patted him on the back.

"Let me know about the funeral," said Padraig.

"I will," answered Ambrose. 

The hospital in Dublin was busy. The aide got out of the
ambulance first. "This is the one that was electrocuted." 

"What's the name?" asked the doctor. 

"Assumpta McGarvey. We thought she was dead for over 24
hours," he said, by way of explanation.

The doctor just shook her head. 

"Take this one up to ICU, STAT," she ordered. 

"Where's the family?" she asked. 

"I guess the husband came to see her when they thought she
was dead. He took off and didn't leave his address or phone
number. I guess they were separated," the aide commented.

"No other family?" she asked. 

"Guess not." 

He was finally asleep. Niamh shut the door quietly. He had
wanted her to talk to him about Assumpta. She remembered
out loud
when they were children. The years of growing up. The loves
and the laughter. And the fights. Niamh cried, remembering.
was her best friend. How would she live without her?
Ambrose came in. "Where is Kieran?" he asked, setting his
hat on the table,
and hanging up the keys.

"Asleep," she said.

"And Peter?" 

"Asleep, also. Finally," she added.

Ambrose put his arms around her. He knew she needed
comforting. He didn't say anything. What could he say? The
whole town
was like this. Everyone needing comforting. When he had
stopped at Siobhan's to drop off the magazine Kathleen had
sent to
her, her eyes were red from crying. Brendan was in the
kitchen, drinking.

Peter sat up. It was dark. Where was he? The pain, like a
giant vise, gripped him as he remembered. He got up and
turned on the
light. There were his clothes. He grabbed some trousers and
a shirt. Put on his socks and shoes and closed the door
quietly. In the
kitchen he reached for the keys. 

Quietly he shut the outside door. The street was wet. The
reflected light from the small street lamp shimmered on the
black street.
The air was cold and still. Peter walked across the street
to Fitzgerald's. He tried several of the keys until he
found the right one.
Slowly the door opened. Peter walked in. The dim light of
the neon signs gave everything a ghostly appearance. He
could hear the
drip of the tap. Oh God, had he ever heard such a sad
sound?? He slowly walked into the kitchen. Everything was
just as it was left.
Food still hadn't been cleared away. Someone must have come
and fixed the fuse downstairs, because the signs were
lighted. He
started clearing up. He didn't know why. Maybe just to keep
himself busy. Maybe he felt that Assumpta would have hated
for the
pub to be left this way. 

The phone was ringing. The young man came down the hall and
into the office. "Con McGuire here," he said, slightly out
of breath.
"No, Doc. Monroe has already left for the conference. Okay,
I'll leave him a message." He hung up the phone. He reached
the desk for a pen. He didn't see the small piece of paper
float slowly into the wastebasket. "Let's see..he wrote out

He picked up the paper. Doc. Monroe's handwriting. "Get in
touch with Fitzgerald's in Ballykissangel and see if the
McGarvey woman had any next of kin besides her husband. He
was in and out so fast and didn't leave a phone number.
Call the
Parish of St. Joseph's and get in touch with the priest and
tell him. I am leaving at 6:00 for the convention. It should
be over on
the 26th. If you need me, call me at the convention center.
Ask Mary what the number is.

"Get in touch with the priest and tell him what?" 


The heartbeat on the monitor was strong. Dr. Anne Blake
smiled to her self. I think we will save this one. Seems
strange that one so
young would have no family. An estranged husband. Poor
girl. Who knew what that story was. Her vitals were
improving. She, of
course, was not awake. The coma was very deep. She may not
ever come out of it. Her skin was pink instead of the
bluish hue she
had when she came in. The doctor picked up the chart and
read for a minute. She patted the woman's hand and left. 

Father Mac opened the door to the pub. Father Clifford
wasn't at home. His next guess is that he would be here,
judging from the
revelation given him before the accident. "Father
Clifford," he called. He heard some noise in the kitchen.
As he opened the door he
saw Peter stacking some boxes in the corner.

"Father Clifford," he repeated. 

Peter turned around. "Yes," he said.

Father Mac noticed his appearance. "You look terrible," he
said, critically. 

Peter didn't comment. "What can I do for you, Father?"
Peter asked. 

"Kieran Egan's christening is on Saturday, Father. I am
just making sure that you will be fulfilling your

Peter could hardly believe what he was hearing.
"Father..I'm not going to discuss this right now." 

"We need to discuss it right now," Father Mac said, getting
a little irritated. 

Peter looked at him. "Father, less than three days ago, I
was going to marry Assumpta Fitzgerald. She is dead,
Father, and I am not
going to make any decisions at this point." 

"Well, when can we expect to know what your decision is?"
Father Mac asked, getting a little red in the face.

"I will talk to Niamh, today, and let you know," Peter
said. "As for anything after the christening, don't count
on it." 

Father Mac turned and walked out of the door. Peter stared
after him. He went in and sat down by the fireplace. He
closed his eyes.
Everything about this place reminded him of her. Her scent
was here. Her handwriting was everywhere.

The phone rang. Peter walked over to it. "Fitzgerald's" he

"Hello," said a voice. "This is Con McGuire, Doctor
Monroe's assistant." 

"Yes?" said Peter.

"Dr. Monroe wanted me to call and find out if Mrs. McGarvey
had any other relatives, besides her husband." 

Peter tried to think. "No, I don't think she did. Her
parents are gone and I know she didn't have any brothers
and sisters." 

"Thank you, then," said the man. 

Peter put the phone down. He picked up a pad of paper with
her handwriting on it. Several phone numbers and something
in the corner. He looked closely. =91I love him,' was
written in Assumpta's handwriting. He tore the page from
the pad, and
reread it.

He walked to the bottom of the stairs. Slowly he climbed up
the stairs. Everything was so strangely quiet. He came to
her room. He
needed to be near her. He went in.

He stood there, looking at everything. There were two
shirts on the bed that she had taken out of the closet and
laid down, probably
trying to decide which one to wear. He picked one up and
held it to him. He could smell her perfume on it. The tears
came again.
"Assumpta....." How in God's name was he going to be able
to go through the rest of his life?

He heard the pub door close. He walked down the stairs.
Padraig was standing there. "Father," he said. 

"Hi Padraig." 

"Father, did you know that Leo must have taken her body


"I went over to see her this morning and she wasn't there.
So I asked one of the

nurses and she said that she thought her husband had taken

"He took her?" Peter sat down. "That means that we won't
have the funeral here." He didn't know how much more he

Padraig left. Peter sat staring out of the window. He would
stay here and take care of the pub, until the counsel
decided what they
would do about it. What he would do then,...he couldn't

"Let's see, what else was I supposed to do." Con McGuire
tapped on the desk with his pen. He looked down and picked
up the
list from the waste basket. This wasn't it. He looked
again. Dr. Monroe's handwriting. =91Con' it started out. He
hadn't seen this one yet. =91the McGarvey woman was found
to have a heartbeat. We have sent her to Dublin by
ambulance..Oh God, where was the other paper. He rummaged
around on his desk. There it was. He picked it up. =91get in
touch with Fitzgerald's in Ballykissangel and see if the
McGarvey woman had any next of kin besides her husband. He
was in
and out so fast and didn't leave a phone number. Call the
parish at St. Joseph's and get in touch with the priest and

"Let's see, what was his name?"..Carter?..Clifford?
Clifford!!! He picked up the phone. He waited. No answer. He
dialed again. A voice said .. 

"Fitzgeralds." "This is Peter Clifford." 

"Yeah, I AM Father Clifford." 

"Yeah, that was me." 

"What!!..What!!!..but"..his head was reeling.
"What?....wait, say that again."

Oh, God, was that possible? "Where?" Oh, God. 

Peter grabbed his jacket. He ran across the street. He
didn't knock, but just opened the door and ran in.

Peter and Niamh came running out. They got into her car.
"Tell me what he said," she demanded.

"I told you. She is in Dublin."

Niamh parked the car. They both jumped out and ran across
the street. Peter was out of breath when he got to the
information desk.

"Assumpta McGarvey," he said, trying to catch his breath.
Niamh ran in behind him. "Is she here?" she asked him.

"I don't know yet." 

The lady at the desk said "Here she is. Second floor, ICU." 

Peter turned and ran down the hall, frantically looking for
an elevator. He came to a sign that said =91STAIRS'. Niamh,
closely behind him barely got there before the door closed.
He took the stairs two at a time, and burst through the
second floor door,
followed by Niamh, breathing heavily. The arrow pointed
left. He ran. When they finally came to the floor desk,
they were both out
of breath.

"Assumpta McGarvey," he said, trying to breath and speak at
the same time. Dr. Blake turned from her charts to look. The
nurse said "Are you family?" 

Peter and Niamh looked at each other.

Dr. Blake walked over to the nurse and whispered something
to her. 

"Come this way," she said.

They walked through the ICU door. It was empty except for
one cubicle with a man on a respirator. At the end, a
curtain was drawn.
The nurse drew aside the curtain and motioned for them to
come in.

Peter was almost afraid to look, for fear that it wouldn't
be her. The palms of his hands were sweating and his heart
pounding. Niamh was the first to see her.

"O God, Assumpta," she cried. She leaned close, the tears
were falling down her cheeks. "Assumpta," was all she could

Peter looked up at her face, half expecting to see someone
else. O God, it was her. It was her...... He moved to
her side opposite Niamh. He touched her hand. There were so
many tubes and cords. All he saw was her beautiful face. A
face that
he never thought he would ever see again. She was quiet and
still, but her skin was warm. The doctor appeared at his

"I think you had better sit down," she said, moving a chair
for him. He couldn't speak. He slowly sat down beside her.
this was a dream. NO. It was too real.

"Are you friends of hers?" asked the Doctor.

"Yes," said Niamh. 

Peter said nothing. He just held her hand.

"Can I get some information?" Dr. Blake said, looking at

Niamh looked up and nodded, moving away from the bed and
leaving Peter with Assumpta.

He still couldn't believe it. She was here. She was alive.
The tears started. "I love you" he whispered. He rubbed her
arm, while
the tears coursed down his face.

"Is that her husband?" the doctor asked.

"No," said Niamh. "He's her friend." 

"She is in a deep coma, and there is no guarantee that she
will ever come out of it. I just wanted you to know that,"
she said,

Niamh just nodded. 

Niamh looked over at Peter. His face was on the pillow
beside her head. His hand held hers. She understood. 


Niamh parked the car in front of the pub. She opened the
unlocked door. It was so good to be back. She felt as
though she had been
gone for weeks, instead of days. She wondered if Kieran
would even remember her. She would come back to this later.
Right now
she needed to go home.

Peter sat beside the bed. The nurse finished changing the
IV and smiled at him. He smiled back. Never, never in his
life had he been
so happy. It was like waking up from a horrible nightmare.
After this he could face anything. It was interesting how
this had put
everything into perspective. Assumpta, he knew, may never
regain consciousness. He would do everything he could, for
the rest of
his life, to make her life comfortable, no matter what. He
slid his hand down her arm and whispered "I love you." He
said that about a
thousand times a day. He would never stop saying it. He
talked to her constantly. He touched her face and kissed
her cheek. The
doctor finally had moved her from intensive care to a room
on the 3rd floor. And after finding Peter sleeping on the
cold floor by her
bed, ordered a cot to be brought in. She didn't mind having
Peter there. He was better than having a nurse on duty
hours a day, and besides, it was obvious that he loved her.
What better medicine, she couldn't imagine. She did have
moments of
curiosity, because she knew he was a priest, but she never

Doc Ryan walked in. "Hi, Peter," he said, setting a box
down on the cot. 

"Hiya, Michael," said Peter.

"I brought the rest of your clothes. Niamh washed and
ironed them." 

"Thanks," said Peter, smiling.

"So, how's the patient today?" he asked, patting Assumpta
on the shoulder.

"Well, I have been talking to her and touching her, because
I heard once that a person in a coma can sometimes hear what
you are
saying and feel, as well." 

Michael looked at him, and shook his head. What a really
remarkable man he was. 

"Siobhan and Brendan are coming up Saturday for the
christening. I heard that you will be doing it here." 

"Yeah, that's what Niamh and Ambrose want, so we will do it
right here, where Assumpta can be with us also." 

"Then what are you going to do?" Michael asked him.

"I'm going to stay right here with Assumpta," Peter said,
patting her hand.

"I mean, what are you going to do about the priesthood?" 

"The christening will be my last duty. I have already told
Father Mac. And eventually I will try to get a job close
by. I mean, I will
need money soon. The last little while I have been able to
think clearly." He smiled. 

"It's good to see you smile again," Michael said. 

"It's good to be able to. God, what a close call that was." 

Michael nodded. "What about the pub?" 

"Niamh is going to run it until we know more about
Assumpta's prognosis. Then, I guess it will be easier to
make a decision." 

Peter sat on the chair beside Assumpta. He touched her face
and brushed some hair away from her eyes. "I love you," he
Every night when he lay down on his cot, he took out the
paper folded in his pocket and read =91I love him.' She had
never told
him, but he had known anyway. Still, it was wonderful
seeing it written in her own handwriting. "I love you," he
whispered again.

The nurse walked through the door. "The doctor has decided
that you should have the telly turned on. She said that the
noise and
talking might be good for Mrs. McGarvey." 

Peter hated to hear her called that. But that was her name.

"OK," he said, walking over and turning it on. He supposed
that it wouldn't matter what program was on.

Peter wondered if anyone had been able to get in touch with
Leo. He had no idea where to find him.

The christening was wonderful. Kieran Peter Egan they had
named him. Michael Ryan, Padraig O'Kelly, Siobhan and
Brian, Liam and Donal had come to see the christening. Even
Dr. Blake and several of the nurses had attended. Everyone
was so glad
to see Assumpta. They all talked to her and touched her
hands. Afterward Peter gave Niamh and Ambrose all of his
vestments and
other things to take back to Father Mac. Father Mac hadn't

"Has anyone been able to find Leo?" asked Peter, folding up
some things and handing them to Niamh.

"I called his apartment and some girl answered," said
Niamh. "I didn't ask who she was, but she said that she
thought he had
taken a job as a correspondent covering the war in
Yugoslavia. She didn't have any idea where he was going to
be located. I left a
message for him to call me if she heard from him." 

It suddenly hit him, how alone in the world Assumpta had
been. Oh yeah, she had friends, but people can be really
alone without
family. He had plenty of family. Brothers and a sister.
Several cousins. An old aunt. He intended to be her family. 

Everyone was gone. The room was quiet. He had some time to
think. He wasn't a priest any longer. What was he? Being a
was his identity. He really felt at loose ends. But he
understood why. This was a transition and he was expecting
to feel confused. He
prayed. Always he prayed. He prayed for Assumpta every
night. He prayed that he would be able to know what to do
for her. He had
thanked God over and over again for sparing her. No matter
what happened now, he knew that he belonged with her. Until
the day he
died, he would stay with her.

The pub was sparkling clean. Niamh had worked for days. She
was going to open tomorrow. She was putting a coat of polish
on the
bar. The pub door opened.

"Tomorrow?" asked Brendan.

"Tomorrow," replied Niamh.

"Not just a small one today?" 

"Tomorrow," she said.

"Oh, alright," she said, seeing the tortured look on his

He sat down at the bar. "It will be so good to be able to
sit here again." 

The door opened. "I saw your bike," said Padraig, sitting

Niamh put her hands on her hips. "Tomorrow," she said,
staring at Padraig.

"Oh, come on, Niamh, we haven't been able to sit here since
the food fair," Padraig said. 

"What do you want?" she said, resignedly. 

"Two pints," said Brendan.

The door opened. Eamonn came in. "Niamh, can you tell me
when Assumpta is coming back?" 

"No, Eamonn, I don't know. She is still unconscious."
Eamonn shook his head. "I'll have a diet cola, please
Niamh." Niamh
reached over and turned on the telly. Maybe they could get
that Italian soap opera again. 

Siobhan walked in. Niamh took a deep breath.
"What is everyone doing here? How is Assumpta?" 

Niamh looked at Siobhan. "It's obvious that they don't have
homes to go to, and Assumpta is the same." 

Liam and Donal walked in. "Two pints, Niamh," Donal said,
as Liam sat down at the table. Niamh brought the drinks and
around. This was how it was meant to be. This was the
beating heart of Ballykissangel. She was glad that she
could do her part.

"To Assumpta, may she get well fast," said Brendan. "To
Assumpta," said



He walked up the stairs. He needed the exercise. All that
sitting.. Another day of job hunting. Well, what do I say.
"I live at the
hospital?" Oh, well. Whatever will be, will be. He opened
the door to the 3rd floor. Walked down the familiar halls
and past the desk.
"Hi, Peter," said the nurse.

"Hi, Trudy," he said, with a wave. Boy, he was really
tired. He walked into the room. He never got tired of
walking into that room and
seeing her there. He would never get tired of that. He
walked over to her. She was, of course, sleeping. But she
was starting to move
around a bit. The doctor seemed to think that she was
making some progress. He leaned over the bed and placed a
kiss on her cheek.
Then he kissed the other cheek. "I love you," he said, as
he always did. He let his hand slide down the side of her
face. The telly was
on. Some lame soap opera. Oh, well. It was something for
her to listen to when he wasn't there. Well, he was there
now. He
walked over to it and snapped it off. The doctor walked in.

"Hi, Peter, how was job hunting?" she asked, reaching down
to check the chart. 

"Hello, Anne. Kind of disappointing," he said, sitting down
on his cot.

"You know, I have been thinking... she is very stable now,
and although she hasn't regained consciousness yet, I'm
wondering if you would want to take her home?" 

"What?...Take her home?" he stammered. 

"Yes, what do you think?" 

"That would be great?......Wouldn't she need......?" 

"Well, I would arrange to have a doctor come in several
times a week, and also have someone come and see to her
IV's and her
general care...but other than that, you can do it."

"When could I........" 

"Well, I thought, if you were willing to, perhaps next

"Oh, that would be great. I think if she were in her own
surroundings, she may do even better," he said, excitedly.

"Well, that's what I thought, and as long as she is
physically strong, I think it would be a good idea." 

Peter was already on the phone, dialing Niamh.


"Niamh, is that you." 

"Yeah, Peter, is everything ok?" 

"I'll say. The doctor says I can bring her home next week." 

"What? Oh God, do you think you would be able to handle

"Of course, I take care of her now almost totally." 

"But what about the IV's?" 

"We'll arrange that before we get there. Don't worry." 

"Assumpta's coming home," she shouted to the others. Peter
could hear the clapping and the hurrah's. 

The phone rang. Peter picked it up. "Hello." 

"Hiya, William." 

"Fine. How about you?" 

"Thanks for the card. I appreciated it." 

"Well, I got some good news today. The doctor says I can
take Assumpta home next week." 

"No, I haven't had much luck finding a job here, anyway." 

"I've only been out a few times." 

"I don't know. I guess I will take care of the pub." 

"Yeah, well tell everyone, will you?" 

"Thanks for calling." 

He put the phone down, and went over to Assumpta. "Did you
hear that, sweetheart? We're going home next week." He
her face and kissed her cheek. How he loved her.

Dr. Blake came in. "You know, Peter, someday I would like
to hear the story." 


"The story.... of you and Assumpta? I am very intrigued." 

He didn't say anything. It WAS quite a story. "It's kind of
a long story. About three years long," he said, smiling.

"Well, I'm off duty now, so maybe you could start it?"

"Well," Peter said..... 

Anne Blake sat still, looking at Peter. She had never heard
anything like it. What a remarkable story. Her eyes had
filled with tears,
more than once.

"And so I got a call from the doctor's assistant telling me
that she was alive. At first I couldn't believe it. In fact,
I didn't
believe it until I saw her face." He could barely talk
about it without feeling that incredible emotion, causing
his voice to break up.
"But God has been so good to us, and now we are going

Dr. Blake shook her head. She had seen and read many love
stories, but she had never heard anything like this. Nor
had she ever
witnessed this love and devotion that she had seen.
"Peter," she said, I'm grateful that you were willing to
share that story with me.
I feel privileged." 

"Anne, without you, none of this would have been possible,"
he said, with tears in his eyes.

She would be home tomorrow. Niamh had cleaned all of the
rooms and gotten everything ready. This will be so good for
her. To be
in her own home.

Ambrose was in the pub watching the telly. Kieran was
sitting in his pram. "I'll be glad when Peter gets here,"
he said, absently,
trying to talk and watch the show.

"I will to." Niamh put the clean glasses in the cupboard
under the bar.

"Do you think she will ever get well?" Ambrose asked. 

"I pray every night, and light candles everyday," she said.

Niamh went back into the kitchen to get the rest of the
glasses for the bar. The last month and a half had been

"Niamh," Ambrose called excitedly. "Niamh!!!" 

"What," she came rushing out, thinking something had
happened to Kieran. 

Ambrose was staring at the television. Someone was talking
about the war in Yugoslavia. News. Something about a
helicopter down

"What?" Niamh said, irritatedly. 

"I think they mentioned Leo McGarvey," said Ambrose, still
trying to listen. 

Niamh turned the volume up. =91the three journalists, two
from the BBC and one American from CBS, haven't been
located. We
will have more for you as the story unfolds.'

Niamh looked at Ambrose. "What happened?" 

"I'm not sure, but I think they said that the helicopter
had been shot down." 

Peter was remembering his ride going to Dublin. Now he was
going home, to Ballykissangel. He held her hand and looked
out of
the ambulance window. Much nicer trip this time. Sometimes
he could feel her hand tighten in his. There was a new
priest at St.
Joseph's. A Father O'Connell. Peter hoped he would be a
good priest. He had seen plenty of the other kind.

The ambulance parked in front of Fitzgerald's. Niamh,
Brendan, Padraig and Doc Ryan were there to greet Peter. The
handshaking and back patting taken care of, Doc Ryan spoke
to the driver and the attendant. They carried the stretcher
up the stairs
and Peter lifted Assumpta off of the cart and into her own
bed. Niamh sat by her on the bed, touching her face and her
"Assumpta, you're home," she kept repeating. 

Brendan and Padraig came upstairs and each in turn touched
her and told her that they were glad she was home. Peter
had told them
that it was very important that they talk to her and touch
her. Doc Ryan told Peter that Dr. Blake had contacted him
and that he would
come every day and make sure everything was fine.

Niamh took Peter aside and told him what she had heard
about Leo. "Are you sure it was him?" Peter asked. 

"No, I only heard a little bit of it, but Ambrose said he
heard him say Leo McGarvey. Peter shook his head. "God,
life is full of

Niamh said that she would be back in the morning to take
care of Assumpta. Peter, she said, was relegated to the
pub, except at night,
when he needed to be near her. 

The pub was dark and quiet. This was the first night home.
He was so glad to be there. He had made a bed for himself
on the floor in
Assumpta's room. The nurse would be there first thing in
the morning, to change her IV's. He knelt at her bedside.
He put his
arms around her. He kissed her face and whispered "I love
you," as he did every night. Then he felt her hand touch
his face. He was
startled. Her eyes were closed but her hand was resting on
his face. He took her hand in his and kissed it and laid it
down across her
stomach. He took a deep breath. She had never done that
before. He pushed his bed closer to her's.

So many thoughts running through his head. How much his
life had changed. He hoped and prayed with all of his heart
that she
would regain consciousness. But even if she didn't, he was
so very grateful that she was alive.


Peter sat up. "What?"...... 

He looked at Assumpta. She was sitting up. "Leo!" she

Peter jumped up and went over to her.

"Assumpta," he knelt next to her bed and put his arms
around her.

"Assumpta," he said.

"Oh, Peter, is that you?" The moonlight shone through the

"Yes, sweetheart, it's me," he said, his heart pounding.

"What a strange dream!" she said, lying back down. 

The sound of her voice was like heaven to him.

"What dream?" he asked.

She paused for a moment. ... "I was in this deep forest. It
was very quiet and very beautiful. I walked for a long time.
see...I remember seeing quite a few people...I don't
remember now who.....But I remember hearing
your voice talking to me...." 

"What did I say?" 

"You said, =91I love you'. 

He put his hand on the side of her face and kissed her

"I remember that I wanted to go home, but I couldn't find
it. So I just kept walking ...and then Leo was there. He
told me that I
needed to go home, but I told him I couldn't find it. So he
took my hand and told me he would show me. I told him I was
about our marriage, and he said..... =91you can't help who
you love.' So we walked for a ways... and then
he said there it is.....and I looked and there was the pub.
As I turned back to thank him, he was gone..." 

"Peter, where am I. What has happened?" 

"Oh, God, Assumpta, what do you remember last?" 

"We were walking by the Angel, you and me. You had told me
you loved me. I wanted to tell you that I loved you too,
but I just
couldn't say it. You, know, I thought about that, when I
was walking in the forest..I kept wishing that I had told

Peter reached over to his trouser pocket and took out a
very wrinkled piece of paper. He unfolded it and said "you
did tell me. I
found this piece of paper by your phone and it said, =91I
love him' in your handwriting. I read it every night." He
was on his
knees by her bed. She reached over and touched his face.

"So what happened to me?" she asked. 

"Maybe you should rest now," he said. "I'll tell you

"Stay here by me," she whispered.

"I'll never leave you, Assumpta," he said. 


"Oh God, I can't sit here for one more minute," she said.

"You have to," he said, smiling at her.

"Peter, I feel fine. Will you stop treating me like an

He stopped clearing the bar and walked over to her chair.
He leaned over and took her into his arms and lifted her up.

"What are you doing?"

"Well, you said that you couldn't sit there for one more

She took a deep breath. "I meant that I couldn't sit
anywhere for another minute." 

"I'm so tired of......" He kissed her. And then he kissed
her again.

"Please don't give me a hard time," he said, gently sitting
her on a bar stool.

"Please, please, let me do something," she cried.

"Okay," he said. "Wait here." 

He returned with a basket of towels. "Fold these," he said. 

She looked at him. If she didn't love him so much, she
would throw something at him. She took another deep breath.

The pub door opened. "Hey girl," said Niamh. 

"Glad you're here, Niamh. Make her stop hassling me, she is
doubling my work load," he said, smiling at Assumpta.

A towel went flying past his head. "See what I mean?"

"Well, I'm here to take her off of your hands for awhile,"
Niamh said, walking over to get her jacket.

Assumpta's eyes brightened. "Where are we going?" she

I thought we would go for a short walk. 

"Yes!!" Assumpta said, staring victoriously at Peter. 

"She can't walk far," he said. 

"I know, I know," Niamh remarked.

Peter helped her on with her jacket. Kissed her softly on
her cheek and said, "Behave." 

"He's just like a mother hen," said Assumpta as they closed
the door to the pub. 

Niamh laughed. 

The day was so beautiful. The sky was blue with great blobs
of white clouds floating in it. Niamh held on to her arm.
Her legs were
getting stronger every day.

"I wish he wouldn't baby me so," she said.

"He almost lost you, Assumpta. You have no idea how much
pain he was in," she said, becoming serious. "That was just

Assumpta looked down. She still couldn't talk about it. She
remembered some things. She remembered Leo and the dream, but
Peter was the only one she had ever told about that. It was
kind of like a secret between them, although they had never
agreed that it
should be. Leo had died. She still had a hard time
believing it. She had cared a great deal about him. Of
course, not in the same way
that she cared for Peter. She couldn't even describe that.
That was so all encompassing, so intense, so much a part of
her being
that she couldn't put any words to it. Sometimes she
remembered his voice in her dream. "I love you," he had
said, over and over. 

"We'll walk to that fence and then we'll turn back," Niamh

"OK," she said, the breeze dancing through her hair.

"Have you been eating enough?" asked Niamh. "You're still
pretty thin," she said. 

"Oh God, if Peter had his way, I would weigh 200 pounds. He
feeds me all the time. Sometimes I have to throw the food in
garbage when he isn't looking," they both laughed. 

A car came by and stopped.

"Well, you're looking good today, Assumpta," said Doc.
Ryan. "How are you feeling?" 

"Great," she said, smiling at him.

"Don't go too far," he said, "Or I'll tell Peter," he

Assumpta looked at Niamh. "See," she said. 

Father Aiden's bike hit a rock and it wobbled dangerously.

"Be careful, Father," yelled Niamh, from across the bridge. 

He just smiled his sheepish smile. "What are you two
doing?" he asked, pushing the bike along the side of the

"Just out for a walk, Father," said Niamh.

Assumpta smiled at him. She liked him. Sometimes she
couldn't believe herself. She liked one priest and loved
another. She
really must be crazy. But Aiden had been so kind to her and
to Peter, that she couldn't help herself. 

"Just practicing for the marathon, Father,"she said.

Father Aiden looked at her and then realized that she was
joking. He laughed. "Well, don't overdo it," he said. 

Assumpta sat up. It was dark and quiet. She hated waking up
in the middle of the night. Peter was no longer in her room.
She had
thrown him out when she began to feel better. Sometimes she
wished she hadn't. Of course, this was the only time she
could get
up and walk around when he wasn't there to tell her to sit
down and rest. She got up and slipped on her jeans. She
pulled a t-shirt
over her head. She still was thin, but with Peter making
her eat constantly, she was putting on weight again. She
smiled thinking of
him. Thinking of how much she loved him. There really
weren't any words, just feelings. She went down the stairs,
being careful
not to make any noise. She had a lot of energy that he
wouldn't let her use up. He was so protective of her. She
put a kettle on. A
cup of tea sounded good.

"What are you doing up?" Peter said, coming sleepily into
the kitchen. 

"God, I thought I was being quiet." 

"I heard a stair creak," he smiled.

"Boy, I can't do anything without getting caught," she said.

He walked over to her and took her in his arms. He held her
tightly and kissed her head. They stood there in each others
arms, no
words were necessary. 

She took his face in her hands. "I love you so much," she
said. He held her tightly and pressed his face against
hers. "I can't tell
you what hearing you say that, means to me," he whispered
against her face.

"I have a few more to go, to catch up with you," she said,
looking into his eyes.

He smiled and leaned down and kissed her mouth. 

"Want some tea?" she asked.

"Yeah, sounds good." 

"Why do you wake up at night?" he asked, sitting down at
the table. 

"I don't know. I think, when I first wake up, I'm

"Do you remember a dream at all?" 

"No, I just sit up and I realize that I'm frightened." 

"Dr. Blake said that you may have some trouble sleeping.
Maybe that's what she meant." 

"Maybe.".... Maybe I just need you to sleep with me," she
said, with a smile. 

He looked at her. The look on his face made her laugh. 

"Assumpta, don't joke about things like that," he said,
taking a deep breath. 

"I'm not joking. I miss you being there in my room with me.
I felt safe." 

He got up and came over to her. He reached down and pulled
her into his arms. "I have been wanting to ask you if you
would marry
me, but I have been waiting until you are well."

"How much more well, do I have to be? I am well," she said. 

"Assumpta, will you marry me?"


"What?" he said.

"Just joking," she laughed. "I'll marry you tomorrow, if
you want me to. Tonight, even," she hugged him and laughed.

She walked into his room. "So, when we get married, where
do you want to sleep?"she asked. 

"With you," he said, pretending not to know what she was
talking about. 

"I mean, which room?" 

"I don't care. Which one do you want?" 

"I like mine better than yours," she remarked, glancing
around the room. 

"Then your's it is," he said, looking over at her.

She had picked up a picture. "I haven't ever seen this

"I just unpacked it," he said. "It's my mum." 

"I've seen her before," she said.

"I don't think you could have," he said, shaking his head. 

"Yes, I know I have seen her.....I don't remember where....
She talked to me. I remember her voice. It was
very soft... I don't remember what she said." 

"It must have been someone else," he puzzled. 

She cupped her hand across her mouth. She stared at the
picture. "Oh God, I remember. She was in my dream. She
walked a little
way with me.." She looked at Peter. Her eyes filled up with
tears. So did his.

The pub looked very festive. Niamh had strung crepe paper
across the ceiling. A big sign read Peter and Assumpta,
forever!! A
beautiful wedding cake sat on a table in the living room. A
small fire burned in the fireplace. People were coming in
from the
wedding. Niamh was there already. Siobhan and Brendan came
in with Padraig close behind. Eamonn had a suit on and had
his hair for the occasion. Brian was holding Kieran and
Ambrose was talking to Liam and Donal at their table. Peter
and Assumpta
came in followed by Father Aiden.

Outside, the sun had set and the evening stars were out.
The lights of Fitzgerald's sent a warm glow out into the
darkened street.
The sound of music and laughter...and love.