Sharon Quigley is a graduate of NUIG and GMIT, living in Salthill, Galway. She studied History&Archaeology and Hotel Management. She has managed to combine her work and love of culture with her love of travelling, which was the best education she ever had. She has travelled and worked in the UK, USA and Israel, and is delighted now to be back home in Galway.
Supposition and Suspense
By Sharon Quigley
She awoke particularly early and lay still, willing her slumber world to wash over her again. She squinted over the covers and, as the light of day crept into her room wherever it found an opening, she realised sleep would evade her for another few hours at least. She reached for the telephone and pulled it under the covers, stretched out her arm and pressed redial. This was a regular occurrence and sight was never required to find that button….
Still, no answer. She replaced the receiver with a heavy hand and a heavy heart, that feeling of dread quickly overwhelming her emotionally and physically.
‘ I guess it’s time to get up’ She wondered what for. ‘Pat wants to talk so I should make some effort I guess’ she thought to herself , and smiled as she drew in the comforting aroma of fresh coffee percolating on the stove. ‘Eunice is early, as usual; I better make an appearance’ She didn’t want any more ‘tittle tattle’ going back to ‘The Good Doctor’.
Her housekeeper had been recommended to her by Dr Greenson who suggested Eunice would prove to be both a reliable companion and confidant as well as keeping house. However, Eunice hadn’t been the confidant or friend she needed, although she did keep the household in good order. She was perfunctory in her duties, preferring to eavesdrop on private conversations which could be relayed back to ‘The Good Doctor’. She had fired Eunice a short while ago but had asked her back, preferring the distraction of activity and noise to the stillness of an empty house. Today was Eunice’s last day of work for at least a month , if not longer.
With concerted effort, she gingerly rose from her haven and grabbed a robe from the chair.
‘Morning Eunice’ and how are we today?’ all the while maintaining an upbeat tone.
‘I don’t know, how are we today?’ Eunice replied with a wry smile, quickly followed by ‘Coffee’s up and maybe you’ll eat something in awhile?’
‘Thanks Eunice, sounds good’ she answered dubiously
She took up place on the velvet sofa for most of the day, from where she made and received her calls, interspersed with coffee breaks and snippets from glossy magazines.
She called many people that day, some calls were very brief and some were more personal and at great length; albeit she didn’t take any of Joe’s calls, fearing they would be too personal and she hadn’t the strength to be anyone’s emotional crutch to-day. She did wonder if he was getting over his engagement breakup and if he would ever settle down with ‘a nice gal’.
‘I’ll call him later when I’m up to it’ she thought wistfully.
She didn’t eat much, and conversation always took it’s toll, preferring to take a pill or two to give her some semblance of energy.
It was a particularly muggy August day and she preferred the safe confines of the house to the balmy outdoors. She hoped the evening would come early.
Eunice insisted she have a light dinner, which she reluctantly had, preferring to give in as opposed to reasoning with Eunice. She was glad after, as it seemed to give her an energy boost although that may have also been due to the evening drawing nearer, she always felt more energetic in the evenings. With renewed energy, she took Joe’s call after 7PM.
‘ Hey Joe, sorry I missed you earlier, I don’t know where the time went. Are you doing OK?’ She maintained an upbeat tone and forgot momentarily about her own problems.
‘Better now, I get to talk with you. It was for the best, you know that. I’m sure she also realises that now. Besides, no-one will ever replace what you and I had..’ He tailed off, wondering would she really know how he felt.
‘Gee Joe, I’ll always treasure those great moments we had; that’s why we’re still the best of friends. You do know how important you are to me, don’t you?’
The vulnerability in her voice started to creep through, but Joe would never take advantage of this.
‘Yes, as you are to me and always will be’
‘It was so sweet of you to send those red roses by the way, I have one pressed already in my notebook. You always seem to know the right time to send them. They really cheered me up. Thank you darling’ She wished he was there now, so he could give her one of his bear hugs and make all that other stuff go away.
She quickly recovered her semblance of a cheerful tone . ‘So I guess you must be catching the game. How about that Belinsky, go Angels Huh!’
‘Hey, you watching the game too? how did you know that? You know you never fail to surprise me’ Joe laughed
‘I’m not just a pretty face am I’ and they both laughed at the irony.
Their conversation continued with a more light hearted tone and she felt a lot more positive by the end of the call. Henry called just after she retired for the evening, but she kept the conversation short and said everything was fine……
‘ Maybe tomorrow will be a good day, something’s got to give for sure’ She convinced herself ‘ but maybe I’ll take a little something to help me sleep’
She tried his number again but of course there was no answer. ‘Maybe Peter will know something’ she thought, and she carefully dialled Peter’s number
He was his usual self but didn’t seem to want to talk about Bobby or even Jack. He was pretty vague and evaded any direct questioning about any recent rendevous. He made genuine enquiries as to how she was feeling and asked if she needed anyone to come over and check on her.
‘Thanks Peter, I’ll be fine. I guess maybe they thought I was too involved or maybe not ‘a nice enough gal’ heh?’ She just spoke her mind, her lips unable to restrain the flow of thought or it’s conversion to conversation. ‘Did I know too much? but you know half the time I wasn’t listening, isn’t that the funniest thing?’ her words now started to slow as sleep flowed through her.
‘Hey, anyone who really knows you, knows you as the sweetest person with a really big heart. Don’t keep going over the whys and what ifs, you’re better than that. Are you sure you’re OK honey. I could have someone come over?’ He had noticed the sadness tinged with exhaustion in her voice, and she had started to slur her words.
‘No, I’m OK, I guess, maybe I just need a long sleep. Do you ever feel like that? It’s the only place I can truly be myself you know…no one can touch me. Sometimes I hate to wake up. Do you ever feel like that Peter?’ She continued to talk, not expecting an answer. ‘I’m sorry Peter you are such a good listener. Are you still there Peter?’
‘Yes, I’m here.’
‘How’s Patricia? Does she hear from….No I guess everyone is busy’ Her thoughts now spilled over and her dialogue was broken, ‘Won’t you tell her I said ‘Hi’ and tell her I’m sorry I missed that afternoon tea.. last week, you know how it is. I will come over soon , I promise. Won’t you tell her Peter, I promise I….’
‘Marilyn? Marilyn?’ he asked anxiously.
‘I’m …here. So hard to talk, sleep, need slee…night Peter, Tell, I promise’ She was almost incoquerent and her voice had faded to a whisper.
‘Alright Marilyn, Good night, I’ll call you tomorrow’ and he placed the receiver wondering if she would get the peaceful sleep she long dreamed for.
She held the receiver unable or unwilling to let go, her lifeline to the ‘outside world’. She thought she heard a noise outside her door, or was it the window? She didn’t have the strength to open her eyes, caught between sleep and the ‘here and now’. Was someone coming into her room? Was she still awake? She tried to listen, her brain unwilling to explain where the sounds came from. Someone whispered her name into her ear.
‘I must be dreaming’ she convinced herself, and allowed her solitude to carry her into the safety and seclusion of slumber.