A Bitter Morning

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A story of the troubles in Northern Ireland

'Together we will live forever.' I can remember thinking those exact words to myself the day we took our vows at the altar. We have three beautiful children together; two boys and a girl, and with them we share a loving home. Every morning I've had this peculiar knotted feeling in my diaphragm with no perceivable knowledge as to why. I awoke this particular morning with a caustic nausea, responsible for driving me up and out from our normally tranquil bed. I shot down to the kitchen to corner my husband Eamon before he left us for work.    

'Will ye take the day off work today Eamon, please?' I asked with a childlike need.    

'Be away with yourself woman, It's Monday morning. Are ye not sick of the sight of me yet after the weekend we've just had?'    

'It's not about that Eamon!'     

'Well then what's it all about by Christ? Ye've come into the kitchen like ye've seen the bloody horrors. Make yourself handy, the babies will be up soon.'    

I want to explain the reasoning behind my need for him to stay with me but there are no words, only feelings which find no explanation. Had I found myself a communicable explanation, a man as obstinate as Eamon would likely have little care for it. He brings himself close to me and places his hand upon mine.    

'There's nothing to trouble yourself with today Trish my sweetheart. You worry far too much and you know there's no place for worry in this home of ours.'     

'Am I being stupid, my husband?' I ask facetiously.   

'Yes my wife, You're being a bit of an eejit!'    

'You cheeky swine.' I swing out to strike him playfully, but he just laughs and pulls me closer before whispering into my ear:   

'I love you more today than I did yesterday, but less today than I will tomorrow.' He smiles and my heart skips a beat as a calm washes over me, soothing my burning anxiety.   

'You know how to make a girl feel special Eamon.'   

'Isn't that why ye married me woman?'   

'No. . .I married you for the money,' I reply sarcastically.   

'This is Northern Ireland Trish, not Dubai. I won't be wiping my arse with paper money anytime soon.'    

'I was just joking Eamon, no need to be so shirty.'   

He smiles carefully and shakes his head. I admire his handsome dimensions. He is the archetypal tall, dark and handsome type; clean shaven with sharp, chiseled facial features, like a young Sean Connery. His physique is more like a swimmer instead of your muscular type.   

'I'll need to be away now Trish. I'll get my arse booted if I'm late one more time. Mullen has been a right bastard recently.'   

'Ok, I'll see you to the door.'   

I follow him out into the driveway. It's a bitterly cold November morning and I'm feeling the chill.   

'Get inside woman or you'll catch a death. I'll be back home for about three o'clock so make sure you have them potatoes peeled,' he says while giving me a fly wink. I wave and make my way into the house, hastily closing the door behind me before heading into the sitting room to peer through the window and see him away. I watch as he unravels a giant tarpaulin placed over the car so the ice doesn't coat the windows. He folds the tarpaulin neatly and places it at the bottom of the hedges beside our dustbin. He gets into the driver seat and blows me a kiss. I smile and my heart melts again for the millionth time. During this brief moment, there's a certain gaze being shared between us; the kind of loving gaze that can only be understood by couples who have endured the unpredictability and uncertainty of a life we never bargained for, in a world we never imagined.  

He turns the key in the ignition and just like that; he's gone from our lives forever.    

I'm blown off of my feet as the windows shatter and I land hard in the opposite end of the room. I don't remember if I fell unconscious or not, but I do remember rising to my feet at some point to see the flames and knowing that my beautiful husband perished among them as my children shrieked from upstairs. All I can do I stand frozen, staring at the wreckage.    

During the night as we slept, a carefully considered and neatly placed bomb, primed to detonate on ignition, was placed beneath our car. The IRA are responsible for the attack. I always expressed my disapproval in Eamon's role as a part time member of the Ulster Defence Regiment. Part time soldiers tend to work full time jobs, which makes them easy and attainable targets to reach. He was under surveillance for around six weeks which gave the IRA more than enough time to gather intelligence on Eamon's daily habits, different routes to work, the public house's he drank in and so on and so forth.    

I often think to myself that had Eamon listened to me and taken the day off work would he still be alive to this day, or would we all have burned to death as a family if we had taken the kids to school together?   

One last moment between us before we fall into finality together.   

Maybe I would have nipped to the shops and fallen victim to the bomb blast myself?   

If truth be told, I'd rather it was me. 

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