Sunday 10 March 1996
Hello from rainy Cork. I hope you’re doing OK.
Just wanted to get some words down for you. After I got your message last night, I lay awake for ages, thinking about what an idiot I am and how lucky I am to have you in my life and how sorry I am that I made you cry. God, I’m so sorry.
So last night, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about how upset you were, and I wanted to call you again, I wanted to hear your voice but I was worried that you’d already gone to bed and I’d wake you up. So eventually I got up and went downstairs, found an open bottle of Bushmills in the kitchen cupboard and drank the lot of it. I assume it was Ronan’s. He’s going to kill me. I probably ought to leave town before he finds out.
I digress. The point is, I was sitting there in the dark in the kitchen and I was thinking about all the ways you make me happy.
I went back to bed and I still couldn’t sleep so I did that thing I do, when I replay things over in my head, start to finish. Sometimes I do
or the whole of
scene by scene. Last night I thought about us. I thought about the last day at the French house, the day before we had to come home.
It had been glorious all summer, and then on the last day it had to rain – the thunder started up that morning and the heavens opened and I was convinced that the roof wouldn’t hold out and we’d all get soaked. Last night I thought about that day and I played it out in my head, scene by scene.
It turned cold, suddenly, overnight, so we lit the fire in the morning. There was barely any wood left, so someone had to go out to the shed in the slashing rain to get more, and poor Andrew drew the short straw. Wrecked he was, from the night before, do you remember? All he wanted to do was go back to bed, but Lilah wouldn’t have it and so out he went and he slipped and fell on the way back and cut his hand and we heard about it all bloody afternoon.
It was all right, though, wasn’t it, because that farmer, the grumpy bugger down the way, had brought us sausages and eggs (glad to see the back of us, I’m sure he was), so we did a big fry-up and we just sat there, drinking pots of coffee and talking nonsense because there was nothing else to do and not one of us who didn’t have a hangover. We were making plans, already looking forward to the next summer, when we’d be back again. Fire roaring in the grate, windows steaming up, the smell of sausages and coffee and the sound of the rain pounding down outside. And you, sitting there, holding my hand under the table, looking gorgeous, just lush, this after you’d drunk almost your own weight in red wine the night before and slept for less than three hours. How d’you do it? You’re a sorceress, aren’t you? That must be it.
God, I didn’t want to leave that place. And now I can’t wait to get back there. Less than four months now.
At some point (I think it may have been after we decided it was late enough to open a bottle of wine), Nat decided that she couldn’t possibly return to England the same girl that left it, so she demanded that Lilah cut all her hair off. Do you remember that; you were horrified? All that long brown hair lying in clumps on the floor, Lilah wielding those scissors like some sort of evil mad woman, and then she was done, and Nat looked gorgeous, a tiny pixie with enormous green eyes. Dan and Andrew were gobsmacked, just staring at her like they’d never seen her before.
Eventually, the rain stopped, and Dan forced us all to go outside so that he could take photographs of us, the house, us in front of the house, us on the stone wall, us with the valley as backdrop, with the mountain as backdrop, us, us, us. You three girls, you and Lilah and Natalie posing on the wall like supermodels, you three beautiful girls, and Andrew lying on the wet grass moaning about his terrible head and his injured hand, the lightweight. Do you have those pictures, now? I don’t think I ever saw them. I want to get those pictures, put them up on the wall.
It started to rain again. You took my hand and gripped it hard – you said you felt dizzy, you had a case of the weirds, the way you do when you’re hung over, and I said you’d feel better with another drink in you. So we all went back inside and drank red wine and the rest of that God-awful cider and we danced to Gainsbourg and Donna Summer. Do you remember, when we went to bed
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