Hey everyone! I started writing this a while ago and now I’m curious to see how it ends, so enjoy! There’s a bit of Gaelic in it but I won’t go crazy on you. Cion’s full name is Cionaodh which is pronounced key OH na. The shorter version is just Key an.
Cionaodh Malloy stepped out of the lorry and made his way to the cliff which looked out over the Atlantic. The wind whipped his dark, shaggy hair away from his brilliant blue eyes and filled his lungs with the salty smell of the ocean. He breathed out forcefully but the tension did not leave him as easily as the sea air did. He looked out over the water and felt a tremor of excitement. It was familiar, he felt it every time he stood and thought of what lay just beyond. Beyond was freedom. Beyond was adventure. Beyond were the endless possibilities he thought of while lying awake at night trying to keep from feeling trapped. Behind held tradition. Behind held repetition. Behind held the ghost of his past relationships, most notably, but not most recently, Patrick.
Pat had been the first man to tell Cion that he loved him, and for the two years they were together, he was the only man to exist for him. Patrick had shared his bed, his table, his house, his car, his life. He had shared everything but his own heart and had taken that when he left one day saying something about “it wasn’t working”. Some time after Pat there was Rory. After him there was Michael. After Michael there was a few others who ended in the same predictable way. With the last one, Cion was so tired and bored of it he hadn’t even argued. He just let the poor slob drone on and on about his needs till he realized that Cion wasn’t even paying attention and indignantly bitch-slammed the door on his way out.
Cion kicked the dirt at his feet and watched his large boot disturb the green grass and the dark soil. A small chuckle escaped him at the thought of leaving his beloved Ireland for America and yet the desire remained. Beyond the water lay his destiny. Behind lived his mother. He so hated being a stereotype of a gay man being shackled to him mum’s knee but he was all the woman had. How was he supposed to leave her alone in the big, bad wild countryside of County Mayo. He sighed again and bottled up his tension and apprehension at returning to the life that waited for him and hopped back in the lorry. He would get there someday, he thought and started the engine.
The lorry made it’s way, at it’s own time, to Margaret Mary Malloy’s shop just outside of Crossmolina. It was a small little shop full of the oddities people associated with Margaret, or M as she was known to the townsfolk. Cion walked in and heard the jingle of the many bells attached to the door mix with the sound of the rainforest meditation cd that was playing. His nostrils were assailed by the smell of sandalwood incense which he knew from experience would keep with him for days. Cion was a large man and had to gently make his way through the artfully cluttered store for fear of knocking something over. He had made it halfway when his mother came from the back room dressed in a large orange caftan that made her look like a pumpkin.
“Ah Cion. Conas a ta tu, mo mhac?”
“Taim go maith, Ma. Conas a ta tusa?”
“Well enough.” She went on speaking Gaelic. “Did you happen to see Father Murphy out there?”
“He’s been in three times this week trying to get me in to church.”
“Maybe you should go. It has been a while.”
“There’s a reason it’s been a while.” M’s back stiffened. “I’ve no need to go to church to hear funny little superstitions over and over and have those people pass judgements on me for not looking a certain way. Little biddies with their little church hats and beady eyes. No thank you. I’ve God enough right here.”
“For a price, Ma.”
“Hush your mouth, boy. God’s the best seller there is next to sex.”
“Well He is and always has been. Sure and the Church hasn’t sold Him enough over the years. I’ve always been of the mind that He shouldn’t have made sex so enjoyable that people would rather have it than pray, but that’s just me.”
“And you’re my Ma and I don’t want to hear words like that coming from you.”
“Oh grow up, son. I’ve had sex once or twice in my years. You might want to come around to the fact.”
“I’ve come round to it. I just don’t want to come round to it again and again.” M laughed and her face seemed to shed years. In her day she had been the prettiest girl in the county and now twenty nine years later, it was still apparent when she smiled.
“What’s wrong with you today? Your aura’s all wrong.”
“It’s all the red meat I’ve been eating.” Cion answered dryly.
“You’re damn right it is, but that’s not it. Your heaviness is weighing you down.”
“What heaviness is that, Ma?”
“I surely don’t know or I’d have said it and not been so vague about the ‘heaviness’. Why don’t you tell me?”
“Cause I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Shite, don’t joke with the jester he’s heard ’em all.”
“What does that even mean?”
“It means tell me if you want, don’t tell me if you don’t want, but don’t lie to me, boy. I’ve seen it all and heard the rest.”
Cion picked up a small stature of Kwan Yin and fiddled with it in his hands.
“You’re thinking of Andrew?” M asked. Cion had been blessed with so open a mother that she hadn’t batted an eye when he had told her he was gay. Sometimes though, he wished she weren’t as comfortable as to ask him about his sex life.
“Andrew, the boy who left you? The one you’ve been spending time with? Remember him?”
“Barely. No. It’s not Andrew. He said it wasn’t working and I had just been trying to find a way to tell him myself.”
“Fine. If it’s not that boy, then it’s another boy.”
“All right. Then you don’t want me to know.”
“I don’t. Not really, Ma.”
“I see. How can I help if you won’t tell me what the problem is?” M sighed, a sound remarkably like her son’s, and slapped her palms face down on the table. “Well, if you’re not going to tell me what’s wrong, you can come in the back and fix my drain.”
Cion listened to his mother without paying close attention to a thing she said, a talent he had learned early in his life. At any given moment, should his mother quiz him on something she said to make sure he was listening, he could repeat word for word the last couple of sentences. However, the overall gist of it was lost on him. He was just about done with the drain, and she just about done with the story of how Anne O’Casey had insulted her new caftan when the bells rang out.
“Hello? Aunt M?”
“Grand,” M said in a whisper. “Now you’re cousin’s here.”
“Leave off, he’s a good kid.” Cion said in Gaelic, then switched to English for Tommy’s benefit.
“We’re back here, Tommy.” Cion called and pulled himself out from under the sink. A young red headed man bounced in smiling from ear to ear.
“All right, Cion?”
“Fine, Tommy. How’s it with you?”
“Grand. Auntie M?”
“You smile more than an idiot with ice cream.”
“I’ve got a lot to smile about.” Tommy said, not taking offense. “I’ve got a great family, a great job and a great girl. Life’s grand.” Tommy chuckled, then sobered. “Sorry about the ‘great job’ thing, Cion. No offense.”
“None taken, Tommy.” Cion said glumly, realizing it was too much to hope for that his mother hadn’t heard it.
“What’s this about the job?”
“I got fired, Ma.”
“They didn’t need me anymore.”
“Like hell. They’ve been looking for men from all-.” M stopped short in her tirade. “That’s it, isn’t it? They fired you because you’re gay?”
“No, Ma. It doesn’t matter. I’ll find somewhere else to work.”
“Cion, you’ve worked for near everyone who will hire you in the county.”
“Shut up, Tommy.” Cion barked.
“Ta bron orm, mo mhac.” `I’m sorry, my son.’
“Nil aon rud, Ma. Ni bhaith ag caint le e liom.” `It’s nothing. I don’t want to talk about it.’
M took a deep breath and sighed.
“When are you going to teach me Gaelic?” Tommy asked.
“Your mother speaks it well enough. Why don’t you ask her to teach you?” M pointed out.
“I have. She says it’s a peasant language.” Tommy answered.
“Sounds like something your mother would say.” M scorned. “You’ll stay for supper, Cion. Tommy?”
“I’ve got nothing better to do. Thanks Aunt M.”
The three spoke of local town things as they closed up M’s shop and walked the block and a half to her flat. Walking up the steps, Cion sniffed in the scent of the small apartment and groaned. ‘Not vegetarian Chicken and Dumplings again’ he thought. Even though he had been young when his mother became a vegetarian, he had never taken to the diet preferring to eat over his friends houses or hiding little sausage tins in his room.
“Smells great!” Tommy said as he bounded up the stairs.
“Stop making a racket, boy-o. You’ll shake the house down. Every where you go, you’re always bounding here and bouncing there.” M called after him.
“I’m just a happy-go-lucky guy, Auntie. That gives me energy.” Tommy answered.
“You’ve got freaky energy, is what I call it. Too much of one and not enough of the other.”
“The other what?”
“The calming energy. You need a balance in your life.”
Cion stopped paying attention and let them go on with their usual discussion even though he knew his mother loved Tommy and found his energy amusing. M’s sister, a stern, unhappy woman who disproved of M’s life choices, not to mention his own, came over for tea once a week because she felt it was her family duty. Her son, Tommy, however coming from a strict Catholic family, loved the everything-goes philosophy that his Aunt M espoused and was always a frequent guest.
“Cion?” He was brought out of his mental wanderings by his mothers voice.
“Did I ever tell you of my friend, Sharon Burgoyne?”
“Is this the friend who you went drinking with behind your school there?” Cion asked.
“No, that was Kelly Donahue. Sharon was the one I went to Dublin with when we were both supposed to be staying over the other’s house.”
“No, ma. I don’t think you’ve mentioned her.”
“Well, I got a post card from her not too long ago.”
“How is she, then? Getting along alright?”
“Oh she’s grand. She’s a nurse. Has a nice big house. Fine husband. The kids look nice enough, though not too smart.”
“That’s great, Ma. Tell her I was asking for her.”
“Why don’t you do that yourself when you go for your holiday. I think she can get you a job. Her husband’s in construction and what not. Might be able to get you something for a couple of months. Just for some pay while you’re staying there.”
Cion was totally confused as to why he was going anywhere much less to visit some old mate of his mum’s. “Ma, what are you on about?”
“I don’t see the issue, boy. What aren’t you getting?” Cion’s mother always did have a waspish side.
“Why would I go and stay with someone you used to sneak off to Dublin and drink with?”
“I thought you could use a change of scenery.” His mother answered innocently.
“Oh? Where is she? All the way over in Galway then?”
“Didn’t I mention? She lives in Queens.”
“Queens? Where the hell is Queens?”
“It’s New York, Cion.” Answered Tommy. “That’s in America.” He finished as if Cion were slow. Cion felt slow at the moment and had trouble catching up.
“The land of the brave and home of the-.”
“No, Auntie, it’s the other way-.”
“Don’t be correcting me, ya’ ijeet! It’s the land of the something and the home of the something else! The freakin’ whopper! Who cares?! It’s America. They’re all fat and lazy and spiritually bereft if you’re asking me.”
“Ma,” Cion interrupted. “I can’t go to America.”
“Why not?” His mother asked.
“Because….” Cion couldn’t think of a reason, at least not a reason he wanted to share. He didn’t think his mother would take too kindly to the thought of her staying all alone. But it was too late. His mother had indeed guessed that might be the cause of his reticence.
“Am I so feeble I can’t get round without you? In the land of my ancestors whose blood, sweat and tears cover ever rock from here to Cork and from Dingle to Belfast? Am I so old that I can’t do for myself in a county I’ve lived for longer than you’ve been alive?”
“No Ma, that’s not it. It’s just that..”
“Cion,” Tommy began. “Just go. You know you’ve wanted to go for forever. Just go before you can think of some stupid reason not to. I’ll look after your Ma like she’s my own. I do anyway.” M smiled and kissed her nephews cheek.
“How did my numpty of a sister get a child as good as you?” She asked.
“I think I did something really bad in my last life.” Tommy answered and M laughed wholeheartedly.
“I don’t know what to say.” Cion asked.
“Cad ta i do chroi, mo mhac?” `What’s in your heart, my son’. “An mhaith tu teigh a Meiricea?” `Do you want to go to America?’
“Is maith.” I want to.
“Cinnte. Rachaidh tu ar a Meiricea.” `Sure. You will go to America’. M looked at Cion and smiled. “Nil imni ort, Cion. Beidh me go mhaith.” `Don’t worry, Cion. I will be fine’.
“Go raibh maith agat, Ma. Ta gra agam ortsa.” `Thank you, Ma. I love you’.
“Ta failte romhat, mo stor. Ta gra agam ortsa freisin.” `You’re welcome, my treasure. I love you too’.
Cion made the necessary arrangements over the next few days for his trip over seas. His mother had made him get and keep an updated passport since he was a child in the off chance they would ship off to some other corner of the world to experience tribal native life in the Outback of Australia, or find some herbal cure in the rural areas of India. They had both never left the country. Now it was Cion’s chance and he was having trouble believing that he was actually leaving.
“You’ll check in on her every day, Tommy?” Cion asked his cousin.
“We’ll be fine, mate. Go over and have fun.”
“Jesus, Cion! You’re going to America. They have phones or so I’m led to believe. You can call every once in a while to see for yourself that she’s fine. I’ll be no more than a minute away the entire time you’re gone.”
“All right. Right. You’re right. All right.” Cion droned on, trying to assure himself that nothing was going to happen while he was away.
“You should see a doctor while you’re over there. Get some good meds and such. I hate to tell you this, but you’re a bit high strung.” Cion knew Tommy was kidding but the joke still hurt.
“She’s all I’ve had my whole life, Tommy. I never knew my Da and there was no one looking for the job. Your Ma and Da don’t really get us and there’s not much effort lost in trying on either side. You and Ma are all the family I’ve had.”
“We’ll be fine, Cion. But now it’s time for you to go out and find something for yourself. Your Ma made her life and she’s happy in it. She knows you haven’t been happy for a while. She wants you to go. You know she wrote her friend in Queens, not the other way around?”
“No, I didn’t know.”
“Don’t go looking like you’ll be an unwanted guest at dinner. From what I heard of your Ma and Sharon talking away at each other on the phone they’re still thick as thieves so they’ll probably be excited to see you when they get there. They almost convinced your Ma to go visit too.”
“Ma? Leave Ireland?” Cian asked in disbelief. “Shite, leave Mayo? It’s unheard of.”
“Ah well, people grow and change.”
“When did you get so wise, Tommy?”
“Thursday. I think it was something I ate.”
“Well, here’s to it passing.” Cion said and handed his cousin a beer.
The two sat down at the kitchen table in Cion’s small house by the sea. Rather than move to the town with his mother, he had chosen to buy the small cottage from her and make his life. He didn’t realize then that the life he would build would have been so lonely.
“I’m glad for you, Cion.” Tommy began. “I’ve known for a while that you were not meant for the likes of this place.”
“What do you mean? I love this place. I grew up here.” Cion argued.
“I know and it’ll always be a part of you. But you were meant to go see more of the world than this little corner.”
“I’m only going as far as Queens. Not exactly a grand tour.”
“It’s not, no. But it’s a change, or maybe a start.”
“You’re starting to sound like Ma when she burns her ‘special incense’.”
“That stuff’s magic, isn’t it?” Cion just laughed. “When are you leaving?”
“Tomorrow morning. I still can’t believe I’m going.”
“I’ll be here bright and early to see you to the airport. Said goodbye to your Ma then?”
“She’ll be here in a bit. She wanted to have dinner tonight and not see me tomorrow. She’s no good at send offs.”
“No, she’s not. Remember Dylan O’Reilly’s wake?”
“Ah Jaysus, do you have to bring that up? It’s been four years. The town’s just starting to forget.”
“Forget?! I wish I had a video.”
“Never that, boy-o. Do you know how many people I had to apologize to?” The men of the town still giggled at the memory and shook their heads at M’s antics. “Right well, you’d best be off so you can be here bright and early to collect me. And you’ll be staying here while I’m gone? Your own little bachelor flat?”
“I will, though it made the little woman a bit put out. She actually forbade me to stay here until I reasoned that there was no one else to tend to the place.”
“That would be Katey McAffee?”
“I’m not sure about her, Tommy. Seems she can’t open her mouth unless she’s telling you which way is up.”
“Sure and she’s Irish, isn’t she? An Irish woman can’t breathe unless she’s correcting some Irish boy’s silly ideas about himself.” Cion laughed.
“Not thinking about changing teams, are ya? I’ve got some friends I could probably meet you out to.”
“Shite! It’s not for me. Women may be frustrating but men are damn near intolerable. I should know. I am one.”
“Ah well. Tisn’t for the faint of heart.” Cion added as his cousin stood and made his way to the door.
“Cion, have a really great time. Maybe I’ll come visit you.”
“We both know you won’t, Tommy.”
“I’ll be here in the morning.”
“As will I.”
Cion didn’t have to wait long before his mother opened the door and blew in with a gust of the small spring squall outside.
“In a few more hours you won’t have to deal with the likes of this weather.” She said.
“I’m pretty sure they have weather in America, Ma.”
“Not the likes of ours.”
“No. Probably not.” Cion said and let the reminder that he’d be leaving his beloved Ireland stand. “Should I send you something from across the pond then?”
“Oh you could send small little trinket, if it catches your eye.” Cion translated in his head that his mother wanted something specific but wouldn’t come right out and ask for it.
“A new scarf?”
“Ah no, I’ve loads of those.”
“Ah. A new Buddha statue or one of Lakshmi?”
“Why would I want one from America, when they’re cheaper from India and they both come from the same place?”
“Perhaps you’d like to give me some suggestions then, Ma. I’m not good at guessing.”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind something Native American if you could find it.”
“I don’t think they’ve too many Native Americans running about in Queens.”
“Well, if you come across something.”
“I’ll keep my eyes peeled.”
Cion took the vegetarian burrito he kept for his mother’s visits out of the stove along with a large steak meant for himself. He served them both and sat down to take a pull off his ale.
“You know, cooking the steak with the burrito cancels out the vegetarian part.”
“There’s no meat in it.”
“No, but there’s the smoke from the piece of rotting cow you’re eating. It got in my food.”
“Jaysus Ma, why don’t you just bring something of your own then. I’m not giving up meat just cause you did.”
“I’m not asking you to, just not to cook them together.”
“Fine! I’ll cook them separate from now on. Let you eat a cold burrito.” They ate in silence, only cutting their food, chewing and swallowing.
“I’m sorry, boy-o.”
“I know, Ma.”
“I’ve not raised you to be a mama’s brat but this is the first time you’ve been away.”
“I know, Ma.”
“What’ll I do?”
“Tommy said he’d check in on you.”
“Tommy can’t take care of himself.”
“Say this is all right, Ma. Please. I love you with all my heart but I’ve got to go. I want to see what’s out there. I feel like I’m meant to go.”
“What’s over there, that’s not here?”
“That’s what I’m after finding out.”
“Ah that’s bollocks.”
“It isn’t, Ma. I really do feel like there’s something over there for me.”
“I know.” M said with resignation. “And I want you to go.”
“You’re ok with it now?”
“I am. It was my idea after all. I just didn’t know it would hurt so bad. I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too. Give us a kiss, Ma.” Cion’s mother kissed his forehead.
“Fancy a game of Spoil 5 after?”
“I wouldn’t mind.”
After dinner and a couple of hands of the card game, M stood and threw her coat about her.
“Ma, you could stay. It’s a little stormy out there yet.”
“Just a bit of the wet. I’ll be fine. Besides, I’ve slept on the couch. It’s horrible.”
“You can have the bed, Ma. I’ll sleep on the couch.”
“No, you’ve got your cousin coming in the morning and that baffoon will be banging the door down earlier than I think is sensible. Besides, you’ve got your big adventure to get ready for.”
“I do, yeah. At least let me drive you home. You’ve got nothing but your vespa.”
“I’ll be fine, Cion.” M threw her arms around her son and squeezed him tight. “I’m proud of you boy. I wish your father was around to be proud of you too.”
“He’d probably hate me for a poofter.” Cion said.
“Never say that!” Cion’s mother grabbed his face and stared into his eyes. “Your father was a good man. Open minded, not like these knackers! He loved you when I told him of you, and he would have loved you when you told him who you were. Never think that he wouldn’t have.”
“All right, Ma.”
“You go to America. Show them what being Irish really means.” Cion chuckled.
“I will, Ma. I love you.”
“I love you too. Call me when you land.” And she left.
Cion started packing the last of his bags but fell asleep on his bed, clothes strewn about and the peat fire crackling.
Tommy opened his cousin’s door at quarter to five in the morning. He crept through the house, whispering Cion’s name and giggling that there was no way on God’s green earth that he would hear him. Cion slept like the dead and always had. Tommy bent over and with his mouth very close to Cion’s ear shouted as if to wake the dead.
“Jaysus! What the fuck are you on about?!” Tommy couldn’t answer, he was laughing too hard.
“Seriously! What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Just waking you up.” Tommy lied through his guffaws. “I’ve been here for minutes trying to bring you around but you just wouldn’t come to.”
“You could have tried a softer approach.” Cion said more gruff than angry now for he knew his deep sleeping was troublesome.
“Right. I’ll remember that for next time. Now we’ve got to get you to your flight. You’re leaving in an hour.”
Cion looked at the clock on his dresser and saw that time was indeed upon him.
“Oh fuck! I’ve got to take a shower!”
“Go take a shower. I’ll bring your bags to the lorry.”
Fifteen minutes later, Cion climbed into his cousin’s truck and they headed to Knock airport. It didn’t take them long to get there and when Cion climbed out of the truck and grabbed his bag he was surprised by a feeling of home sickness.
“I haven’t even left yet and already I want to come home.” He said to his cousin.
“In a few hours you’ll be landing in America and won’t give us another thought.” Tommy said.
“Ah sure, you’re right. What’s there to think about really.” Cion laughed.
“That’s the spirit. Now get out of here and let me go back to my new pad. I’ve grand plans for the old place.”
“You will buy new sheets. I’m not coming home and sleeping on something that you’ve been on.”
“What do you think me, a tinker?”
“Well, you sure as heaven smell like one.”
“Get going, you ass. You don’t have time to be standing talking to me.”
“Right. Take care of yourself and take care of Ma.”
“We’ll be fine.”
Cion gave his cousin a slap on the back then left to head into the airport. It wasn’t long before he was seated next to an old woman heading to visit her daughter in New Jersey. Thankfully the woman was stone deaf and after a few failed attempts at communication they gave up leaving them both to their own thoughts. Cion stared out the window as he watched the ocean below him slip by.
‘I’m actually leaving.’ he thought. ‘Let’s see what’s next.’
The plane touched down at J.F.K. airport and unloaded it’s passengers to their next destinations. He left the gate and saw a woman holding a sign with his name on it. She was about the same age as his mum so just the right age to be her friend. He was about to head over to her when she spotted him and jumped up and down.
“Cion! Over here!” She shouted and made way to a break in the crowd.
“It is and you’re Cion. I’d know you anywhere. Come, let’s collect your bags then we’ll get you home. Good flight, was it?”
“Not bad, especially being my first.”
“Ah, then you’ve not really been around yet?”
“No, this is the first time I’ve left Ireland. I’ve been all over the island but never off it. Oh wait, that’s not true. I’ve been to the Isle of Man once but that wasn’t by choice.” Sharon laughed. Cion marveled at her accent. He could hear the Irish brogue but it sounded flattened and more like an American accent.
“It never is. So it’s sort of a spread your wings and fly thing you’re after.”
“I imagine it is.” Cion agreed, hoping he’d understood her meaning.
“Well, you feel free to do whatever it is that you need to do.” Sharon said and led the way to the baggage carrousel. After grabbing his bags, Cion followed Sharon out to the parking lot and her car and was struck by how big the airport was.
“It’s like a small city.” He commented.
“No, the airport.” Sharon laughed.
“It’s quite big. One of the biggest and busiest. Just like the city. Ah Cion, I have a feeling you’re going to love New York.”
“I’ve no doubt. It’s good to be away from home for a bit. I have to tell you I was a bit homesick leaving.”
“I cried the whole first year I was over. But now this is home and I only go over there for holiday.”
“I’m very thankful you’re doing this, Sharon. I was a little wary about dropping in on you and yours when Ma suggested it.”
“Don’t have a fear. You’re more than welcome, truly. I was excited when Margret mentioned it.” Sharon gave Cion a sideways glace. “You know, Cion she told me about you’re being gay.”
Cion closed his eyes and flushed a bit. ‘Thanks for interfering, Ma’ he thought.
“Don’t worry a bit. We don’t mind at all. My husbands sister is a big ol’ dyke and we love her to death. Plus there’s loads of lovely men over here for ya.”
Cion grimaced imagining a stream of blind dates set up by his hosts. Sharon laughed.
“Now don’t give yourself a migrane there, Champ. You’re an adult and you can fend for yourself just like the rest of us. Course if you like I do know one or two male nurses that I could introduce you to.”
“Thanks all the same, Sharon but I think I’ll try that ‘fend for myself thing’ you mentioned. It sounded grand.”
Sharon laughed not at all offended. “Well, you just let me know if you change your mind.”
They drove on a bit talking of this and that, mostly the old country and the new as Sharon wove the small s.u.v. in an out of Queens mid day traffic. The neighborhoods changed so drastically that Cion felt as if he were going through different countries every few minutes. Finally they came to a residential area with fine old houses and Sharon cursed as she fought for parking.
“I do hate driving though. If it were up to me, we’d get rid of the cars and stick with the subways and buses. So much easier.” She found a place and Cion stretched, sick of sitting for so long.
“You all right there?” Sharon asked.
“Just a bit of a crick in the back. It’s good to be finally done with the traveling.”
“I bet.” She said and helped him unload his bags from the car. “We’ve only a bit of a walk since the fecking wanker that’s dating my daughter blocked our drive again.”
They walked the block and a half from where Sharon found a parking space to her house and as they came to the door, Sharon turned to Cion.
“We really do want you to feel welcome. I love your mother like she’s my own sister, so that makes you family.”
“Thanks Auntie Sharon. I’m pleased to be here.”
Sharon smiled, opened the door and lead Cion into the din that was her house. Loud music blasted from downstairs, while someone was shouting upstairs and amidst all that two large retrievers started barking announcing the new arrivals.
“I’d like to say this is unusual but actually it’s a bit quiet for a Wednesday.”
“It’s all right. I don’t mind.”
“How could you not?” She said. “Leave your bags here. We’ve given you the downstairs room and I’ll help you unpack in a moment. First, let’s meet everyone.”
She led the way up the small flight of stairs and into the kitchen. A man stood in the kitchen talking on the phone until he noticed her and told whomever he was speaking to he’d have to call them back.
“Cion, this is my husband, Jake. Jake, this is M’s boy Cion.”
“Nice to meet you, Cion.” Said the man, with a native New York accent. “It’s nice to have you here.”
“Thanks, I appreciate you letting me stay.”
“No problem. Sharon says your mom and her were best friends back in Ireland.”
“Thick as thieves if I heard right.” Cion said.
“If she told you half of the things we did, then I’m in trouble.” Sharon said as a young man walked into the kitchen. “Cion, this is Alec. He’s just about to graduate from high school.”
“Ah congratulations, Alec. Are you going into construction like your Da’?”
The boy scoffed and rolled his eyes. Jake tapped him on the back of the head.
“What did I say about being rude?”
“Sorry. No, I’m not going into construction.” Though there was an apology it had only a hint of sincerity to it. Cion waited for a moment for the boy to elaborate then figured that was all he was going to get.
“Grand. Well, good luck and congrats all the same.”
“Thanks.” Alec said and went to pour himself a drink.
“Teenagers.” Jake said apologetically.
“Where’s Jess?” Sharon asked.
“In her room.” Replied Alec. “With Michael.”
“Excuse me, Cion.”
“No bother. If I knew where I was staying I could unpack.” Cion said.
“Sure, I’ll show you.” Jake led the way downstairs to a den with large glass doors leading to the back yard, and then to a nicely furnished spare room. “We made this up for my mother when we thought she was going to move in but she decided to move to Arizona. There’s a bathroom on the other side of the den that will be for you.”
“It’s magic. Thank you.” Cion said, truly impressed.
“It’s great to have you here. I’ll let you get settled.”
Cion unpacked his bags into the empty dressers he had found and laid on the bed a bit jet lagged from the flight when there was a knock at the door.
“Come in.” He called and Sharon opened the door and sat down on the bed.
“Is it all right?”
“Sharon, it’s perfect. I would have been happy with a small room and a tin of biscuits.”
“Well, we can lend ya a bit more than that. I’m really glad you’re here, Cion.” Sharon turned and looked at her guest from the corner of her eye. “Jaysus, you’re the spitting image of him.”
“Your Da’. Didn’t you know? That man could set fires just by staring at a woman.”
“I didn’t know. Ma doesn’t have a lot of pictures of him.”
“No, that’d be cause she’s a bit of a broken heart. They fell for each other hard as nails, those two. Couldn’t see anyone else. Twas a real bad break when he died. I went back for the funeral. That’s when she told me about you. She had just found out she was pregnant. Things were still bad for an unwed mother then. Not like over here, where the eejits wear it like a badge of honor, or rather a paycheck. The whole town turned their backs on her. Even your grand da and mum. They were a bit priggish anyway. The only people who would be nice to her and didn’t judge was the hippy commune down near Westport. You know, the ones that sing and chant and sell health food and what not.”
“Oh yeah. Ma took me there nearly every weekend. So that’s why she did the vegan thing?”
“Right. I think they helped her through your Da’s death. She probably would have been an old, bitter thing if they hadn’t.”
“Thanks for telling me, Sharon.”
“No bother, sweeting. Anyway, I’ll let you get settled and we’ll have dinner. I’m thinking for the rest of the week we’ll show you about Queens and save Manhattan for the weekend?”
“Sounds good. When would Jake like me to start work?”
“When you want to. There’s no hurry.”
“I’m not going to live off of you, Sharon. You’ve been nice enough letting me stay here as it is. I’d like to pay.”
“Well, you won’t and you’ll only insult us if you try.” Sharon came and sat next to him. “Your Ma is my best friend, like my sister, I’m not lying. That makes you my nephew. Think of this as a whole bunch of Christmas and birthday presents combined. You’ll stay for as long as you like and won’t pay a cent. Jake agrees.”
“That’s very nice of you but-.”
“No. You’re on holiday. When you move here, then you can pay rent but not until then. Understand?”
“I do, ma’am.” Sharon laughed.
“Good. We’ll be eating in about twenty minutes.”
“I’ll be up then. Thanks again, Sharon.”
“No bother, love.”
Cion sat down on the bed and sighed. He was finally here, his beloved America and he had absolutely no clue as to what he was supposed to do now.