(                   (    
 Angela Andre, Alice Cook, Steele Diggles, Amy Gosse, Michele Lacina, Megan Long, Deborah Jones, Laurie Mac Eachern, Elspeth Martin, Heather Morey, and Margie Stellmon

Bits of Assumpta's Diary, as read by Steele Diggles:
Dear Diary,
Asparagus for dinner again. I hate Asparagus. Does this mean I'll never grow up? Nervous about meeting L. tonight.

Dear Diary,
So I guess I can tell you his name now, it's Leo, L is for Leo. And C. is for cocaine, Leo is dealing. But I find myself attracted to him. The
attraction to that which I shouldn't have, it's unbearable. I've got to get away from this university, away from the church and the stench of
corruption that inevitably follows it. Why is it that that which is supposed to be so good always attracts people who are so bad. Ran three miles
today. Am I exhausted!

Dear Diary,
Today my heart leapt when Agent Scully suggested spontaneous human combustion. Sorry, it's a rainy day and I'm feeling silly. And there's a
new show on TV that draws me. Something about a filing system I think, missed the start. Leo sent me a small box of chocolate bunnies today, I
wonder why. I wonder where he is. Might try this chocy, wish they were Kit Kats but I guess you can't look a gift confection in the mouth. See I
told you I was feeling ------

Dear Diary,
I'm sorry It's been so long. But it was nearly an eternity. Two months in a hospital. How was I supposed to know Leo was storing his drugs in
those bloody rabbits! Someone as straight as me overdosing on cocaine, I guess it has its funny side. Kinda. At least it'll give those bloody nuns
something to talk about, or should I say *something else* to talk about. I must have cost Leo a tidy sum. It's not like he's short of a bob or two
though. He was surprisingly cute about it. He visited me and brought me roses most days. I
still haven't forgiven him though, using me to store his gear. Just a shame I didn't read the note first. From now on I'm sticking to Kit Kats!

Dear Diary,
Leo's back in town, the people you see when you don't have a gun! Actually it's good because when I saw him today I knew I don't love him any
more. And that's good, that means I'm free again. Diary, I never want to love again, it hurts too much. If I ever write any more mushy stuff here,
have me eliminated okay? Hey that's funny, here's me telling an inanimate object to do me in, what are you gonna do, electrocute me or

Dear Diary,
I wanna go where a yellow light means slow down not speed up. Uni's over, what's a girl to do. I'd like to see Niamh again, she's my closest
friend, my only *real* friend come to think of it. But there are things about me, things even Niamh doesn't know. I guess loneliness is a choice. I
think I'll give mum a call at Fitzgerald's and see if she's got any work to offer me. We haven't spoken for a long time now. I hope that dirty old
Father Mac isn't in town anymore. Ahh Father Mac. My first experience of what religion is all
about, lots of pots calling kettles black, lots of men in glass houses throwing stones, in fact most cliches seem to fit rather well. God I hope no
one ever reads any of this, I caught Steele in my room yesterday, he couldn't have found where I hide you though, could he?

Dear Diary,
Something terrible has happened. It's my parents, a terrible accident, God tell me it's not true. I don't know when I can come back, maybe

Entry by Amy Gosse
Dear Diary,
It's been quite a while, hasn't it? I'm making a new resolution to write down these important moments in my life. So here goes...I'm back in
Ballyk, running the pub. Ever since Mum and Dad died, that's been taking up all my time. I left Leo and my life at uni behind and I have a new
life now. Not exactly what I'd planned after finishing uni. Business at the pub is marginal as usual, never enough money to do what's needed
around the place. But I'm managing.

Despite my feelings about the church, we recently got a new priest and I was one of the first to meet him. His name's Peter Clifford, and I met
him along the road from Cilldargen. It was raining cats and dogs and I took pity on this wet rag walking along the side. I didn't know he was a
priest at first, he wasn't wearing the uniform. As I told Niamh, he looks about 12 and ready to play with a train set! I'm going to have to try to
be civil to him. I don't need any more animosity in my life, plenty there already!

Speaking of Niamh, her dad bought this fancy new confessional. They had to lift it in through the church roof with a crane! TV crews here and
everything. Apparently it's got air conditioning and a fax machine. Not that you'll ever see me on the inside of it!!

The other night the new priest woke me up in the middle of the night to give him a ride to Tommy Haslett's house. Needed to give him last rites.
The priest doesn't have a car, doesn't drive either. Well you know how I am when I'm woken out of a sound sleep. Not the most congenial
person on the face of the earth. I drove him up there anyway but we were too late, Tommy had already died. Peter seemed really upset that he
hadn't been able to get there before he died. He tried to explain why but I still don't understand. I might have just been too tired. And since I'm
sleep-deprived, I'm going to bed now.

Entry by Michele Lacina
Dear Diary,
I hate to admit it, but I'm rather confused. It's been a strange week. Starting with the wake for Bertie O'Doyle. Then this new radio program
which seems to have half the town on its ear. To top it off, Leo is back in my life. After all this time. He hasn't changed at all. Still the same,
easy-going, fun-loving, inquisitive fella that he always was. It's been rather queer to see him here in Ballyk after all this time. I should be overthe
moon. So why am I so...blas*?

We had a birthday party for Father Clifford and I (foolishly, I expect) gave him a card with six free driving lessons. Me...teaching a priest to
drive. Perhaps I'm after secretly ridding the world of another Catholic priest and calling it an accident! No...not in the case of Father
Clifford...maybe Father Mac! Seriously, Father Clifford is hard to figure out. I told him that priests don't fail their driver's test in this part of
Ireland. Thought that would make him feel better. Instead, he hands me his collar and takes the test without the "perk." Go figure. Every time I
think I have the man tagged, he up and does something to turn me around. I don't like it. It's too confusing. 

To top it off, I find that Leo has gone and asked him what to do about "us." I'm not sure why that bothers me...but one thing I'm certain of. No
priest is going to give ME advice...and I'm not sure I'd want a man who would take the church's advice, before coming to me. The election is over
and Leo is leaving. He's asked me to return with him. Tell me, can true love die a natural death from separation? My home is in Ballyk. Leo
belongs in Dublin. We've grown apart and the spark that seemed to light the flame between us has faded into only a dim glow. I've told him to
come and visit again, but he only gave me some cryptic comment about maybe thinking that something was keeping me here. Perhaps he's seeing
shadows where there are none? 

Father Clifford passed his test. I had to remind him to put his collar back on. Silly, that. The driving inspector actually thought we were

Entry by Margie Stellmon
Dear Diary,
Did we really act like we were married? The constant bickering that we seem to carry on....could it actually sound like we are married? A
Catholic priest and me? We get on pretty well. I enjoy giving him what for. He makes me think about things, a lot of things. I must be daft to be
saying this!

StrangeĚ.it didn't seem to hurt when I found out Leo was only here to cover the election. I suppose he was checking on me but why would he
think there was something keeping me here? Of course, I have the pub now. It's more than enough to keep anyone busy but somehow I don't
think that he'd think it was that important. He doesn't even seem to realize that I've got this serious business nonsense going on. Come to think
of it, Leo was acting rather odd, admitting to me that he asked Father Clifford for advice about "us". I never saw him even talk to the man! I
think Father Clifford has been busy as he hasn't popped his head into the pub for awhile. I'm beginning to wonder if Leo really did ask! I'll
have to ask Father Clifford. It seems everyone in Ballyk is listening to the new radio program. It was hot topic of the day with Padraig, Siobhan
and Brendan. Liam and Donal were even pestering me to turn it on. You'd think it was the second coming or something but I think Father
Clifford would be interested then. I haven't given it much attention but it does seem to involve some kind of mystery. Stay tuned...

Entry by Megan Long
Dear Diary,
Niamh's baby came last night, in the car on the way to the hospital. I've just come from visiting her. The doctors want to keep her in hospital for
a few days to make sure all is well. I wonder if they know what they are getting into! She and Ambrose are so happy. Little Kieran is a beautiful
child and I can't wait until he comes home so Aunt Assumpta can spoil him rotten. Ever since Niamh told me she was pregnant, I've wondered
what kind of mother I would make. In many ways I'm very envious of what she's got. She has a wonderful man who loves her and a brand new
baby boy. Her father isn't much to brag about, it's true, but at least she has one. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Leo and I
had married. Would we have been as happy as Niamh and Ambrose? Somehow I can't picture Leo having children. He'd be far too worried
about them spilling things on him or making a mess of his car. I'm happy for Niamh, I really am. But at the same time, now that she has Kieran
and Ambrose, will she still need me? I worry about being shut out and left all alone. I don't have so many friends here that I can afford to lose
one like her. She's not perfect, but then neither am I. If I lose her, what will I have left? Maybe I should have gone to Dublin to open that wine
bar while I had the chance. There would have been more opportunity for me there, more chance of making my mark. Dublin is far bigger than
BallyK, of course, but I'd get used to it, I'm sure. It would be nice to live somewhere where not everybody knows your business and they don't
care if you go to Mass or not. I'm sure Brian would buy the pub from me if I went. But how could I go? This is my home, small and nosy as it is. I
couldn't leave the pub either. How could I leave it in Brian Quigley's hands? Who knows what he would do with it! It's my last link to my
mother. I can't turn my back on it. It would be like watching her die all over again. Besides, even if Niamh doesn't need me as much anymore, I
do have other friends. I would miss Siobhan and Brendan awfully if I left. Padraig, too. What would I do with out them to keep me amused?
Padraig especially. Where else would I find such a jack-of-all-trades, journalist one minute and real estate agent the next? And then there's
Father Clifford. I don't think I will ever figure that man out. He's changed lately. Seems different somehow, in a way I can't quite put my finger
on. There's a look in his eye that wasn't there before. I wish he would talk to me, but I know he won't. Maybe we're too much alike. Both alone in
this small town, with no one to really call our own. If I'm honest, he's one of the main reasons I know I can't leave. When I remember the look on
his face when he confronted me about not telling him that I might be leaving, it breaks my heart. He looked so betrayed, so...I don't know what. I
realized then that even though we squabble about a lot and clash over the church, he depends on me as much as I depend on him. I'm not sure I
like this feeling very much at all. I've never depended on anyone before. Even when I was with Leo, I didn't need him. It was nice to have him
around, but I got on equally well without him. It scares me that I don't know if I can say the same thing about Peter. I must try to be nicer to him.
A couple of days ago, when the statue was sweating, I made some stupid remark about why couldn't he accept that as a miracle when he expects
us to accept someone rising from the dead. As soon as it was out of my mouth, I knew it was a mistake. He left the pub immediately and I don't
know when I have felt worse. I must apologize to him soon. I hope he can forgive me. (What am I saying? He's a priest. It's his job to forgive me!)
I wrote earlier that I couldn't picture Leo as a father. I can Peter. I think he would make a wonderful father if he weren't already a Father. He
went with me today to visit Niamh and Kieran (I drove). His face softened when he saw the baby. The nurse let him hold him for a minute. I
don't think I've ever seen him look happier. He cooed to him and sang him silly songs, as though the child could understand him. He looked at
him as though there were no one else in the room. That bloody priesthood! If it weren't for that stupid rule about celibacy and being "married to
God"...I know he would be so happy if he could have children of his own. For his sake I wish he could. Yes, when I think about Peter, I know I
can't leave. The others could do without me and I without them, eventually. I'm not so sure about him and it scares me to death. I even dream
about him sometimes. It's happening more and more lately. When I wake up, I can never quite remember what happened in them, but I know he
was there and that we were happy. I wish I knew what it meant, but I don't. The only one I could talk to about it would be Niamh, but I know
exactly what she would do. She'd raise her eyebrow and say "But Assumpta, I thought you hated the Church!" She'd be right. I don't like the
Church and yet I do like him. I just wish I could tell him that.

Entry by Angela Andre
Dear Diary,
I'm married. I'm a married woman. But how far has that gotten me? Even as I write it, it still doesn't seem real. I do love Leo. I love him, but not
the way I should, not the way...Damn! I can't say it. I shouldn't even be thinking it. I'M MARRIED! But more importantly HE'S married! To
that blasted church. And for God's sake, when it comes down to it, he really has nothing to do with me. I had to get on with my life didn't I? He's
got his patrons to look after...I've got myself. He's never given me any indication that he's interested in something else, in me even. Nothing real,
nothing I can get my hopes up for. God what am I saying, the priest! Thousands of men and I fall...I THINK about the damned priest. In my
dreams, in my thoughts. I've said I can't remember my dreams about him, but maybe that's the not the case. Maybe it's just that they're waking
dreams. Things that I think about all the time, but can ignore when I'm conscious enough. Will he never stop hounding me! He touched me as we
were sitting in the car. He touched me. What is in that man's head? He'll never leave the church. It's done. It has to be. My marriage is falling
apart and I think about Peter touching my hand in the car. God, I'm a wreck. Maybe I should've stayed with Leo in the city. What kind of life do
I really have in BallyK? My thriving enterprise! Ha! But there's Niamh and the lot. The baby. This is too much! Too much for one woman.
Peter's away now. I have no one to confide in about this and the worst irony is that the one person I can talk to is the bloody priest! And he's the
problem isn't he? And since when do I confide in priests! I must be mad. That's it, I'm going mad. What if I just walked up to Peter and said,
Look, I have some kind of feelings for you and what the hell do YOU have to say about it? This is mad. He'd never leave. That's it, I'm off to take
Finn for a walk.

Entry by Laurie Mac Eachern
Dear Diary,
Leo left this morning. He's better for the 'big cities' or so it seems. I don't know how I feel about this. I married him to get on with my life, but he
isn't even a part of my life!!!! Niamh was upset about it. She told me that he deserves an explanation, at least. She's right, but it's not that easy. If
I did catch up with him, what would I say?

Entry by Elspeth Martin
Dear Diary,
Well, I'm back. Lots has happened, I haven't had a chance to write. It's over with Leo. Done, dusted, whatever. I can't write about it. Peter is back
too. At LAST, I think? His Mother died. When he came into the pub Padraig was telling a stupid joke...Peter was okay though. The lights have
been playing up. Peter and I were in the cellar. We touched again, accidentally, well maybe not. I'm sure he feels the same way as me. Does he
dream like me? I'm scared that I'm wrong. Maybe because I feel so strongly I imagine things that aren't there. But he asked Michael to give me
his number when he heard I was back. It could have just been friendly concern. Ambrose came over and did us all for after hours drinking. But
that seems insignificant. I said to Peter in the cellar that we needed to talk, he nodded his head. 

Entry by Alice Cook
Dear Diary,
I'm so rattled I can barely write. Yet if I don't I risk losing some aspect of it, forgetting some part of what happened or what was said. Huh! Like
I could! No, actually this is more than a journal entry. It's a record for posterity.

I was fuming mad at Ambrose's gall to come by this morning. One moment passing out subpoenas to all his friends for an after hours party, the
next asking me to babysit for him and Niamh! I think I made my sentiments pretty clear when I suggested he electrocute himself. I doubt if he'll
be speaking to me for a month. Of course, I wasn't really going to punish Niamh for Ambrose's idiocy. So I showed up at their place plenty early
enough for them to take off and have a nice night out.

Well when I got there I found Peter in charge and preparing his entry for the food fair acting quite the chef. He explained his menu to me and
then slid into this party bit, the best way I can describe the moment is "Julia Childs meets Sean Connery." Very odd indeed. But despite the
levity there was this undercurrent. Not that that's remarkable. It's just different now. Since he's been back from Manchester he's always
checking my expression, like he's trying to get a read on me. And none too subtly. (Huh, when is he ever? I mean the man is so bad at hiding his
feelings. I can do stoic much better than he can. Any day!) Since he's been back he seems more settled, almost unnervingly settled. When he
looks at me I get the feeling that he's thinking, "I have something to say, just give me the opportunity." 

I was tired of standing all day and took a seat on the nearest available surface, the kitchen counter. He handed me a plate and to my surprise his
food fair dish was great. "If the priest business ever bellies up I'll hire ya to cook at the pub." "Yeah? Can I have that in writing?" He sounded
half serious, then under his breath he muttered something like, "Cook or priest? Different paths, same destiny?" "What?" "Nothing, just
thinking about something me mum said." He flashed a quick smile, his settled look was fading fast. "Hard week." I said. "Hard life." Well, the
brooding Peter evidently was still lurking beneath the surface.

I searched for something uplifting to say to that. "Yeah, well. You're back here now. The parish will be glad for that. I've heard people say they
were going to put off sinning till you got back. They didn't want Fr. Mac to hear their confessions."

"Thanks for confirming what Fr. Mac's been trying to tell me for ages. I inspire moral laxity."

"Peter, I was kidding."

"Yeah? Well, I'm not so sure I am."

He walked back across the kitchen to wrap foil over his baking dishes. "Anyway, thanks for the warning. I'll be sure to leave my whole evening
free for all the confessors next time." He looked over at me and said, "You know, I seem to remember you telling me I could talk to a friend. And
me telling you..."

"Priests don't those kinds of friends."

He nodded. "Who do I take my troubles to? Who'd want to hear it?"

"Well," I swallowed hard. "I think I've told you before."

He got very quiet and then started, "Yeah. Before. Maybe I should have take you up on it then." 

"Is it too late now? You know it's not the easiest thing to watch someone watch a friend carry around a load, even if they are a priest. I'm
sure prayer has its place. But talking to a flesh and blood person has distinct advantages too."

He gave a slow nod. "Do you have any idea what it feels like when everything inside you wants something that can't be had? And it doesn't go
away. It's like the wrong heart got in your body. But it's not the wrong heart, it's your heart." Yeah, I seem to recall trying to discuss this with
him once before. But at the time he seemed more keen on getting a good night's rest than talking to me about things that mattered. So maybe
patience does pay off... "That about sums up my life since I came here. And met you." He looked away for a minute then began a story about a
young polar bear who was unsure if he really was a polar bear. After his father assures him that he is indeed a polar bear the young bear asks
his father, "Then why am I freezing?" Fighting back tears Peter asks me, "Why am I always thinking of you?" 

I opened my arms to him, "Peter, come here."

In the tender embrace that followed I felt his face wet with tears against my skin and my heart joined with his. The intimacy of the moment
overtook him. He dropped his guard and followed his heart. I completely melted as he kissed my neck. If I ever for a second doubted the fact that
a very warm blooded man existed under the collar, I no longer held any such illusions. The stark truth displayed in his action and the powerful
response that arose in me shocked me to my senses. As much as I relished his kisses I knew this shouldn't be happening. He can't love me now.
Not like this. No matter how much I want his love, he has to decide first that this is what he really wants as well. What I did next was probably
the hardest thing I've ever done, I pulled away. "No, Peter! This is wrong." I was off the counter and started out of the kitchen. 

As I bolted out he called after me, "Assumpta, Assumpta!! Wait!"

I very nearly kept going, but something held me back. "I can't be messing about in this state of confusion! For three years I've done nothing
except stuff these feelings down. I won't be toyed with Peter! Please, I'm begging you. Figure out what it is you want!!" As I started for the door
he caught my arm. 

"I have." He looked at me a moment and continued. "Look, this isn't exactly happening in the order I had wanted." His voice grew quiet. "I
guess emotions have an agenda of their own."

I couldn't believe my ears. "That's not a very priestly thing to say!"

"I only meant, I only meant I'm not perfect. My intentions were better than my actions."

"Peter, I should go. I can't think clearly right now. Neither can you!" And I edged away from him as he released his grasp.

"I wouldn't be so sure. Please, Assumpta. Stay." I was certainly distressed enough to leave, but I felt that at last we might have the talk that we
so sorely needed. So I consented. He pulled out a chair for me then one for him and we both sat down. "I thought I had this all sorted out. What I
was going to say, how I was going to say it. But my thoughts are one big jumble. I guess telling a woman you love her isn't the same as preparing
a homily." He collected himself for a moment. "I've got so much to say to you if you're willing to hear it. May I continue?" "You have my
attention." My insides were starting to shake, I hoped it wasn't showing. Then I looked at Peter and had to suppress a smile; his shaking was
showing. Ahhh, me. I put my hand on his arm as a gesture of comfort.

"Assumpta, I think about you every minute of every's like I'm working on autopilot. I take a wedding or a funeral. I hear confession. I
say Mass. I say the words - but it's you that I'm thinking of. I can't sleep because you keep me awake. Am I getting through to you?"

"Peter, I had no idea." "I thought the dogs on the street knew." Leaning closer he said, "I love you, Assumpta." A look of relief spread across his
face. "You have no idea how good it feels to say that finally." He placed his hands on mine. "You have no idea how good it feels to hear that
finally!" I replied and we both laughed a bit. "Having said that, I still have these other concerns about what to do..." "Like..." "Like. Like, how
do you feel about me? Like could you live with the hostility of the community if you took up with an ex-priest? Could you bare leaving Ballyk,
or would either of us even want to? But here's the toughest one. Could I interfere with any hope of you reconciling with Leo? I know I couldn't.
That was the easiest one to figure out and the hardest one to live with. When Michael told me you'd gone to Dublin to end it with Leo I counted
that as a sort of sign. The biggest obstacle for me was removed and I felt like ╬OK, Peter, this is your chance. Do what's right for you both.' So
here I am. I'm asking you Assumpta, is this the right thing for you? Is it what you want?"

"Yes, it's what I want." I nodded to underscore my agreement. Then I took hold of his shoulders but more to steady myself than out of affection.
I wondered if I was hearing him right. "So you'll leave your vocation?" My head was starting to hurt and swim. Why should I be feeling so
awful, now of all times?

"I can't have it both ways, can I? Be a priest and be in love with you? What I care most about is you. I love you too much to live without you. So
there you go." The worst wave of nausea I've felt in years came over me. "Uh, yeah. Speaking of going...I'll be right back." I bolted for the
bathroom. It was either his chicken or my nerves, or both. I was totally sick. After a few minutes Peter called in and asked if I was OK.
"Something's not agreeing with me. You may want to reconsider your entry."

"Does this mean me job's in jeopardy?"

"It could. It seriously could."

"Can I be of any help?"

"Um, yeah, bring me a glass."

"Right," and he returned with a glass which his hand thrust inside the bathroom, and gently reclosed the door. "Anything else I can do?"

"No." A bit later I called back. "Peter?"

He came back outside the door. "Yeah?"

"Peter, about Leo. Doc Ryan told you that I went to Dublin to make it clear that we're finished."


"Well, here's the whole picture." I was now able to stand erect and starting to feel better. I talked to him through the door as I splashed water on
my face and cleaned up. "My motives for marrying Leo were...a bit messed up. I mean Leo's a good fellow, when we were in college we were
pretty serious. You know he wanted to get married then, but I didn't. I don't know why. I was never sure if it was because it was the wrong time
or the wrong person." 

"What about this time?"

"There was nothing really, only a hope that there could be. I wanted to love him. I really hoped I would..."

"But why did you marry him then?"

"To get you out of my head is why. An act of desperation. I couldn't go through life with my heart attached to a priest, could I? I wanted to
believe that Leo would get me over you. What a bloody stupid thing!" I opened the door. The thought of how serious this mistake with Leo had
been had me on the verge of tears. Again. Peter drew me close with one arm and touched my hair with his other hand then we kissed. I felt such
happiness, such sweet happiness. Afterwards we just stood there looking at each other. As I gazed at his face, I noticed there was this streak...


"What's this?" I touched the wet brown smear and studied the residue on my finger then brought it to my nose. "Soy."

"Oh. It was clogged and needed a bit of a shaking." Then with a smirk he added, "But I don't suppose you want to know what's on your chin." I
turned to the mirror and studied my face, I was sure my washing had been quite thorough.

His great grin told me he was plainly amused by my reaction. "Nothing. It's lovely." and he placed his finger under my chin. I smiled and said
something like, "I know how to spoil a moment, don't I?"

"It's not spoiled for me." His finger gently lifted my chin and he gave me another kiss.

Back in the kitchen he told me more about his time in Manchester. "Are you feeling all right?" The sink was filling with water as he added his
mixing bowls and utensils. 

"I'm fine now."

"When I got there me mum wanted to talk. The first afternoon and evening we must have talked for hours, we talked about her and Dad a lot.
She told me all kinds of stories about their life together. Tender stuff. Then after a while she starts on about me. Like ╬Ireland's brought a lot of
changes in your life, hasn't it, Peter?' I said, ╬Well, yes. I suppose so.' She said, ╬And not exactly ones anyone expected. But things don't always
go as we expect, do they?' I said, ╬I'm afraid now you've lost me, mum.' 

"╬Oh' she says, ╬I don't think so. It was obvious enough in your letters.' Then she tells me that when she talked about her and Dad I was
listening...with a lover's heart." Peter blushed as the phrase fell from his lips. I bet he went beet red when she said that! He continued with her
observations, "╬It's written all over you. Peter, I'm sick, not blind!'

"I said, ╬That bad, huh?' and thought, Great, me mum's on her deathbed and I'm letting her down. She's seeing right through me. I tell her ╬I'm
sorry.' Then she straightens herself up and says, ╬Why? There's no reason to apologize. You know, Peter, a person's destiny can't change but
their understanding of it often does. And yours is in flux as we speak, isn't it?' I asked her, ╬How can I be sure I'm not just running away from
my destiny? I mean I made this vow.'

"╬Son, sometimes we do our best running with our feet squarely planted in one spot.' Then she said, ╬We have both known priests who stopped
keeping their vows but kept the collar on. Somehow, Peter, I don't think you're in any danger of breaking your vows to love God and follow him.
Not now, not ever. You're wise, you're strong, and you're good, Peter. Though presently you probably don't feel like you're any of those. I
know you'll sort this out.' Then she laughed and said, ╬But right now I wouldn't trade places with you for all the tea in China!' I said, ╬Thanks
a bunch.'

"Now, I ask you, how bad is that? Instead of me dispensing mercy and grace to me own mum just days away from her death, she was sitting
there feeling sorry for me."

"She was sitting there doing what she could do best, be there for you. She was the only person who could have spoken to you that plainly. You're
very lucky to have had that conversation."

"Right. I know that's true."

"So was this the turning point, this chat with your mum?"

"Nah...No. That came earlier. I knew before I got to Manchester that I had changed courses. I just didn't expect to discuss it when I got home.
Actually I was relieved really that she brought it up. Made it much easier from then on."

The washing now finished we straightened up the kitchen and my wondering thoughts made me chuckle.

"What?" he asked.

"I was just amused by the fact we wouldn't have spent this time together if I hadn't been so rude to Ambrose earlier."

He nodded like he could imagine what that meant. "What exactly did you say to him?"

"Oh, I asked him if he wouldn't stick his finger in the electrical socket just for me."

"Sinister creature, aren't you?" 

"Yeah, you better toe the line."

"Hm. I'll take that under advisement." The kitchen now nice and tidy, he asked if I cared for a glass of wine and I said fine. I checked on Kieran
while he opened the bottle and tossed his entry in the garbage. We took our glasses into the living room and sat down on the sofa. My heart was
as light as a feather, I now knew how he felt and the realization that we would be together was starting to sink in. Fancy, all this time we've been
guarding our hearts so carefully not wanting to sway the other person. Not wanting anyone to suspect. The dogs in the street, hah! I wonder!
"So, Peter, what do you think?"

"Well, I'm free after the trial tomorrow. Want to elope?"

"That's bloody hopeful!"

"What? You want a church wedding??"

"No, I mean, being free after the trial. We'll be spending tomorrow night together all right! With the regulars in a dank cell in Cilldargen!"

"Talk about being bloody hopeful, you know we wouldn't be in the same jail anyway." He was looking at me with his head leaning on the back
of the sofa, so relaxed and content. Was this really the same bloke who'd been so eaten up for last several months? "To look at you now is a bit
beyond belief. Quite a contrast."

"Yeah? How's that?"

"Oh, the past few months you've been so, um...distraught. Oh, you've tried to cover it. Most of the time." I said with just a hint of sarcasm.

"That's being kind." He turned a bit towards me as he went on, "When I drove out of BallyK to catch my plane for Manchester I looked at the
seat beside me and I knew that more than anything else, I wished you were sitting there. Wished you'd always be there beside me. That was the
moment I knew for certain I was going to change courses. Since then all the pieces have just fallen into place. The conversation with me mum, the
phone call to Michael, these were all lights on the path, but I had already decided this was the path I wanted to take. It all came into focus so
sharply I feel like the blind man who's been given his sight!"


"I'm not kidding."

"I'm not either," I said. He drew me close and kissed me again, and this time not so briefly. We heard the door knob turn and he knocked over
my wine glass. Red, no less. I ran to the kitchen for a wet rag, and Peter rose to greet Niamh and Ambrose as they came in.

"Why is Assumpta here?" Ambrose certainly didn't expect me to be coming by tonight.

"She came to babysit too. You know what a handful Kieran can be." Peter's attempt at humor wasn't helping. Niamh and Ambrose exchanged
an odd look.

As I headed into the living room clutching the wet rag Niamh asked me, "Just what are you doing?" 

"Cleaning a wine spill." I answered, though I knew full well that wasn't what she was really asking. I looked over at Peter. There was a smudge
of lipstick on his mouth. I wondered if it could possibly escape their notice. When I looked in on Kieran earlier I stepped into the bath to check
my hair and I put on a touch of Niamh's lipstick. That's vanity for you. Damage control was going to be in order. While the whole question of
who to tell and when to tell should wait for another day, it was plain that Niamh had a very secure spot at the top of the list. Ambrose was
staring at Peter's mouth. 

Peter started talking, "Have a good evening?" My heart was racing. I worked furiously at the spot but it wasn't coming up.

"Grand." Ambrose answered looking thoughtful, "How about you?"

"Ambrose, next time I think I'll call the Finn girl. She only necks with altar boys." Then Niamh turned to me. "Assumpta, I have prayed for
ages that this wouldn't happen. Why? Why can't you recognize that some things are off limits! The pair of ya!!"

Your sins will find you out. Peter was the only one in the room who wasn't aware of the telltale smudge of deep mauve above his lip. He gasped
in astonishment at Niamh's perception, "What?" 

I shook my head and mouthed "Don't!" He gave me a very puzzled look. "Niamh, Ambrose, I guess it's obvious some explanation's in order."
Still looking a little quizzical he thought for a moment then proceeded. "This year I've done more soul searching than most people do in a life
time. I've had a lot on my mind, about my life and my vocation. I guess you two will be the first to hear the conclusion I've reached. Meeting
Assumpta may not have changed my destiny, but it's definitely affected my understanding of it. How it all plays out is in God's hands. It always
has been. I just know that I can't be faithful to a vow that excludes Assumpta from my life. Whatever I do with my life I want to do with this
woman beside me." I took his hand and smiled at him. "I was told recently we sometimes do our best running with our feet squarely planted in
one spot. Well, it's time I stop running from something by pretending I can do without. I'm done running." He looked at me, then back at them.
"I'll be seeing Fr. Mac tomorrow. Please don't say anything to anyone about this for the time being."

Niamh and Ambrose just stared at us. I felt like the world had ground to a halt. I shifted my weight and searched for something to add to Peter's
statement but for once no words came. I was about to speak anyway when Niamh began, "Assumpta, is there anything left of the wine? Or is it
all on my carpet? I'll get two more glasses." Niamh darted to the kitchen for extra glasses and the bottle.

After filling the glasses Ambrose spoke, "To Peter and Assumpta, I know you've both been through hard stuff and reaching this point must have
been difficult. For both of you. Truth is I can't imagine how I would have gone through it myself. I don't think any of us are in a place to judge
that. But there are no two people I have more respect for and I wish you every happiness."

Next Niamh shared her thoughts. "I like tradition, I like order. I like priests who stay single and friends who leave them alone," she paused and
spoke very much from her heart as her eyes locked onto me and she raised her glass, "But I love Assumpta Fitzgerald and I love Peter Clifford
and may God bless your future together."

"Oh, Niamh. Thanks." and I gave her a hug, then Ambrose. Peter did likewise. Ambrose offered Peter a napkin and pointed to the evidence.
Then the phone rang and Niamh got it. "There's a fire at the pub!" She slammed down the receiver and turned to me. "It doesn't sound too bad,
but you ought to get down there. Ambrose, I'll stay here with Kieran." I flew out the door with Peter and Ambrose on my heels. I'm too exhausted
to write about the pub tonight. But the important stuff I managed to get down.

Entry by Amy Gosse
Dear Diary,
I've finally gotten back to writing this. It has been an unbelievable few weeks since I last wrote. Looking back at that last entry, so much has
happened. Let me try to fill in.

The fire was, fortunately, just a small one. As I told you, the lights were playing up for a few days, I knew I needed to get an electrician in to fix it
properly, but the cash flow wasn't up to it, so I was trying to bandage it until some more money came in. Well, that old fuse box in the basement
sparked out again, and it hit some old papers that were lying down there. Poof! Padraig was first onto it, he was able to get the fire out with an
extinguisher. The fire brigade was called out just to be sure it was completely out. I lost a few bottles of liquor in the cellar, and the electrical
system was completely gone. Thank God I hadn't let the fire insurance expire. I could have wound up with the town collecting charity for me like
we did for Kathleen. The insurance put a whole new wiring system in the pub. I lost a few days' business while the new electrics went in but
when I think of what might have been...the insurance inspector saidI was damn lucky I didn't electrocute myself when he saw the old system.
Should have been replaced 30 years ago, he said.

Turns out the fire was only the beginning of everything that's gone wrong in my life. I've been staying with Niamh and Ambrose. They've been
wonderful, but neither could really help me with the pub, Ambrose has to work and Niamh has Kieran to look after. Peter's been great, helping
me clean up. Of course, he hasn't had time to tell Father Mac he wants to leave the priesthood. Which is probably just as well...The morning
after the fire, I had a repeat of the dodgey tummy episode I had the night before. And it's happened every morning since then. It took a few days
for me to recognize the pattern, and then when I thought about things...well, I knew it was possible. I saw Doc Ryan just to be sure, and he
confirmed it. I'm about 8 or 9 weeks now.

So what am I to do? I haven't told Peter. Or Leo. Or anyone. What will Peter think? I do love him, but just when we finally get it together, this
pregnancy has to happen. How could Peter possibly accept this baby? Even Peter couldn't be so good-hearted as to accept another man's baby.
And I can't get an abortion. I just can't. Not after what my friend from university went through after hers. And I love seeing Niamh with Kieran,
I can't help picturing myself with a little baby too.

What am I going to do??

Entry by Heather Morey
Dear Diary,
What am I going to do???

I've asked myself that question so many times in the past month and a bit. I have not had the time to write, these past five weeks, as getting the
pub back in order has been priority Numero Uno, I'm afraid.

Finally today I screwed up the courage to speak to my beloved. Just let me say now, that I truly think I am about to change my opinions on the
existence of Saints. Is it Saint Peter who is supposed to guard the gates of Heaven? If that is correct, then rightly so...and rightly so that I should
feel as wretched as I do. Why, oh WHY did I let him leave the priesthood without telling him first??? Let me explain.

It was Peter's own comment which pushed me in to telling him. He was talking about Kieran, and how he was glad that he had worked out just
what kind of Father he was meant to be, and of course I, being in the emotionally drained state that I have been for quite a while, couldn't just
smile and say something normal, oh no, I had to lose it, didn't I? I had to cry. He asked what was wrong and I just blurted it out. Blam! Just like
that. God!I am so insensitive...You should have seen his face, he actually turned white.So there we were...standing in my kitchen, staring at one
another. He in his checked shirt and jeans, holding a tea-towel and looking as if he didn't quite know what to say, and me, still in jeans, but
with a baggy shirt over the top. (I'm not really showing, at thirteen weeks, but my jeans are now slightly tighter than they were.) I thought he
was going to walk out, the way his bottom lip was trembling. I must have looked a mess, as my tears were almost blinding me. It wasn't the baby
that was upsetting me, or even that the baby's father had left me...divorced, actually, if we're going to be particular. It was the fact that I couldn't
bear to see the pain that I was causing him.

Peter took a step away from the sink and placed the dish-cloth on the bench. "This is it", I thought, "You idiot, Assumpta, he's going to walk
out and I'll never see him again." But he didn't...he simply walked over to me and gave me the most gentle hug. Then he actually said, "we'll
work it out...don't worry..." We went for a walk along the river, and I told him everything. How far in to pregnancy I was, how I felt about the
baby, and why I'd held off telling him for so long. My dearest diary, this must be a dream...either that, or Peter is a Saint, sent down from some
glorious place, especially for me...

Dear Diary,
It is now nearly a year since my previous entry, so please accept my profuse apologies for not writing for so long a time. Things have changed,
since I last confided in you. It is now six months since the accident.

I was eight months pregnant, and the lights in the pub were playing up yet again. Only I would be daft enough to go near a fuse box while
carrying a child, but I just can't STAND men doing all of the hard-core work, ALL the time. They say I was lucky not to have been killed myself.
If I had been, there would have been no wedding, that's for certain. Tomorrow, I marry the man who has helped me through this difficult time,
and put knowledge of true love into my heart.

I regret that I have neglected you for so long, precious diary, but it is just that I haven't been able to face putting to paper, what happened on that
fateful night of the food fair, five months after my last entrywhen someone from the previously mentioned "glorious place" stole my beautiful
baby girl, only month away from meeting the world and placed her in the arms of Heaven's gatekeeper...

Entry by Deborah Jones
Dear Diary,
Today's entry is going to be little different. I'm going to write a letter to the man I love, the man I'm going to marry. Perhaps I'll show it to him
one day, perhaps not.

Dearest Peter,
Well here I am on probably the most important day of my life. It's 3:00am and I just can't sleep. I really can't believe that today in just a few
hours I am going to be marrying you. Peter Clifford, this man who I'vedreamt about, cried over and loved for so many years. We've wasted so
much time hiding our true feelings from each other, I really regret that.

When did I first realise that my feelings for you went further than just friendship? It's difficult to pinpoint the moment because I'd always liked
you, I thought you were a good man and as priests went you seemed to do your job well. "Ryan's Mother" was probably the start of it though. I
really looked forward to acting with you, but I wasn't going to let you know that! When I had to touch your face and look right into your eyes it
made me feel dizzy and breathless, I wanted us to kiss. You can't imagine how disappointed I was when it all came to nothing.

As time went on my feelings for you grew deeper. I longed to tell you how I felt but I knew that it was wrong. I resolved to forget you, move away
from you; you know that I considered becoming a partner in a Dublin bar. I tried to put all thoughts of loving you aside. I told myself I could
never love you, you were a priest, a good priest and I would only ruin your life. I decided that we'd always be good friends but that was all it
could ever be. You had devoted your life to God and the Church, you had no room for me.

And then it all started going wrong, you completely confused me. Do you remember when you came into the bar one lunchtime when the 'tax
inspectors' were in? You seemed really upset when you asked me if I was moving to Dublin; I began to think that perhaps you did have feelings
for me. You told me that you cared about me! If you had only known that at that point I wanted to put my arms around you, feel your arms
around me, bury my face in yours and reassure you that of course I wasn't going to Dublin. How could I ever go anywhere without you? I wanted
to tell you that I loved you and wanted to be with you... but I knew that I couldn't. So instead I stood there muttering about making decisions
and then I dashed back into the bar. What a fool!

Although that conversation gave me hope Peter it also left me confused. Had I the right to take you away from the Church? Did you really love
me? I didn't know what to do.

I tried to forget you by going out with Enda, God that was stupid. I ended up hurting Aileen very badly, although I did realise in time what a
prat he was! One night I even tried to tell you how I felt, but we got nowhere and I just ended up losing my temper. Thank God it's all sorted
now and we can be completely honest with each other.

Peter, I love you more than life itself and I can't wait to become your wife. You are the kindest, most caring and loving person I've ever known
and the thought of spending the rest of our lives together fills me with excitement. I know that we are going to achieve great things together, so
roll on 11 o'clock when we will make our vows together and our new life will at last begin.

With all the love that I have,
Assumpta (Fitzgerald but soon to be Clifford!!!!)