As time goes by...

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short tale of a man who fell ofr a woman years ago. He comes to look for her twenty years later but is disappointed to find her gone.

Submitted: January 31, 2009

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Submitted: January 31, 2009

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Joseph Murtagh pulled his car up outside number one Forest Road.He rolled his window down and stared at the small cottage.Not much had changed about it over the years at least from what he could remember.He took that as a good sign.The cottage was a bungalow, with sash windows, whitewashed walls and a small garden out front.There was a set of gates at the front entrance to the driveway which were closed.Joseph tried to look through the front room window from the safety of his car. The net curtains blocked his vision.All he could make out was the television set.He wanted to get out, knock on the door, find out if he was right, but then what?He thought about driving off but as he put his hand on the key to twist it he noticed a woman walking down from the side entrance.She reached the gates and opened them.He caught her eye and she gave him a smile.He leaned out the window as she came closer to the car.

“Are you lost?” she asked.

“Oh no, not at all. I – well, I’m looking for someone” he replied.

The woman stood in front of him now.She was in her late forties, early fifties Joseph reckoned.She may once have been pretty but her features were now lost amongst the lines and wrinkles that dominated her face.She wore no make up and her rapidly greying hair was set in curls that added to her age.Her flowery dress was a decade out of fashion and was accompanied by a pair of flat black laced up shoes.

“You are? Well I know most of the people around this way so I should be able to help you”.

“Well, the person I’m looking for lived here a long time ago”.

“They did? On this road?” she asked.
“In this house actually, your house now, I presume?”
“Oh that’s interesting. What is their name?”

“Her name is Maisie Woods, but she may have married since then, it was a long time ago”.

The woman stared hard at him.

“I have heard of her” she said “do you have any more information?”

“Well, it’s rather a funny story” he laughed and stopped himself for a second before he decided to divulge the tale to this stranger.

“I don’t know if you’d want to hear it, it may bore you”.

“Ah go on. Sure if I get bored I’ll give you a nudge” she giggled and moved in closer to hear the story.

He told her about his visit to this town, Swords, over twenty years ago.He had stopped by on his way to Belfast.He stayed for the night because the bus he had taken from Dublin city only went as far as Swords.The bus to Belfast didn’t leave until the next morning.He checked in to a local Hotel.It was just down the road from her house.The Hawthorn, it was named.

The woman knew it well; it was still there she informed him.

The hotel had a dance on that evening and as Joseph had nothing else to do he dressed up in his suit and went along.He arrived early and noticed that there was no alcohol served at the dance.The presence of more than a few priests didn’t go unnoticed by him either.

The woman laughed out loud when she heard that.Jesus, she remembered dances just like that when she was young.Tea only and the watchful eyes of the fathers, making sure the young adults weren’t having too much fun.

He sat down with a cup of tea.People began to arrive, groups of young men and women streaming in the doors.Dressed up in their best suits and frocks.He watched them chat amongst one another.They drank their tea until the band began to play.The floor was packed now.Everyone was dancing.Joseph still stood at the wall.He wanted to dance but couldn’t find a girl he liked enough to ask.Half an hour went by and a new group of girls arrived in the door.One of them caught his eye immediately.She wore a green dress that came in at the waist and then puffed out with the help of a taffeta petticoat; on her feet were a pair of black satin shoes.Her long hair was poker straight and a beautiful glossy brown colour.She wore no make up except for a dash of red lipstick.Her eyes were dark brown, exotic and her sallow skin made her stand out from the other fair skinned girls that were dancing about the hall.He put down his cup of tea and walked straight over to her.

“Do you want to dance?”

She nodded and they took to the floor.They laughed as they danced.He whispered in her ear, making jokes about the priests.She threw her head back, giggling uncontrollably, her hair bounced around her shoulders.They danced that way for five songs.Then her friends called her over.They wanted to hear all about him.He asked her what her name was and she whispered “Maisie” in his ear.She said she would be back. He bought another cup of tea and sat down.He watched her talk to her friends.They screamed with laughter as she told them about the jokes Joseph had been telling.He couldn’t keep his eyes from her. She was beautiful, elegant, and resplendent. He needed to see this girl again.He would travel out to Swords every weekend if he had to.Another young man approached Maisie.Joseph watched Maisie stroll to the floor with him and begin to dance.He was nauseous with jealousy.His eyes were fixed on the couple.Maisie glimpsed over at him and caught him staring.He dropped his face to the ground, mortified. As he looked up again he saw that she was still looking at him.She winked, laughed and threw her head back again.As the song ended Maisie left the man and sauntered toward Joseph.

She cocked her head to the side and smiled. God, she was beautiful.

“Jealous?” she giggled.
“Green” he replied.

“Come on, there’s one more dance and we’ll be thrown out of this place” she took his hand and they danced the last dance.

The band finished and the priests shooed them out of the hall.Joseph walked her home.She stopped outside number one Forest Road.

“Here we are” She gazed into his eyes.
“Can I see you again?”
“You can of course”.
“When - tomorrow?”
“I’ve to go to Mass tomorrow”.
“All day?”
“Of course not, but you’re going to Belfast in the afternoon so…”
“I could get the late bus”.
“Ok. We’ll go to dinner.There’s a nice place in the village, meet me outside your hotel at 3”.

She turned and glided up the driveway to her front door.She opened it and disappeared inside, without looking back.

The next day He woke up and there was a telephone call for him at reception. His mother is dying and He must get to Belfast as soon as he can. He leaves on the early bus and never sees Maisie again.

“So that’s it” he sigh “I married my wife, Liz, one year later.We were together for twenty years but she died of cancer just two years ago”.

“So why are you here?” the woman asks.

“To see Maisie, I think. God, I don’t know.I never stopped thinking about that woman.All these years”.

“Well, she’s not living in Swords anymore, I’m afraid.She married and left years ago”.

His face dropped.What was he expecting? Of course she married.But it would have been nice to talk to her, see her even.He thanked the woman for her time and drove off.

The woman walked back into her house.She passed the mirror in the hall and stopped to look.A tired, strained face looked back.She peered into the sitting room where her husband sat.He caught her eye.

“Who was that you were talking to outside Maisie?” he asked.
“Ah no one Bill, just some mad man”.

She sat down next to Bill and held his hand.She’d tell him tomorrow about Joseph, she just wanted to rest right now.


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