Short Stories to Lose Yourself In

Short Stories to Lose Yourself In

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Short stories make the world go around. Here are some of the best submitted by our readers. Want to submit one for publishing here? Email us at editor@oldmooresalmanac.com

CLOVER

By Tim Curtis, Wicklow Town

Joseph bent forward with a grunt. The pebble in his boot had been annoying him for the last hour. I probably have a blister now, he thought, shaking his head. He tugged at the boot. Damn thing wouldn’t come off. He pulled harder, losing his balance and fell onto his backside with a squelch. Great, he thought, as cold wetness seeped into the seat of his pants.

What a morning. Before he’d even had time to make breakfast he’d looked out the back window and seen that the dam in the upper field had broken through. The cattle were up there, and even from his kitchen he could see that a couple of them were stuck in deep mud. He knew it would take about two hours to get them out and herd them into the west field. He made his way slowly out the door.

After the job was done, Joseph was cold, tired, famished and sopping through to his thermals. He took a deep breath and hauled at the boot, flicking muck into his face when it finally came off his foot. Why had he gone into farming? He could be sitting in a comfortable chair, warm and dry in an office somewhere. God only knew there was little profit in the farm. These days, with the buyers offering less and less, cutting his margins right back, he could barely support himself, never mind think about getting a wife and raising a family.

Joseph turned up the boot and shook it. The pebble bounced around inside, finally rattling out and landing on the wet grass. What a little thing to have caused so much discomfort.  He reached out to pick it up … and stopped dead, with his fingers poised just over it.

Was that a four-leaf clover beside the pebble? He squinted and blinked. By God it was.

A four-leaf clover! Never in my life did I expect to see one of those, he thought. He wiped his mucky fingers on his jacket and carefully pushed aside the pebble and the grass around the clover before gently plucking it from the ground. He held it up in front of his face. It was beautiful – the leaves all the same size – four perfect green hearts.

This could change my life, he realised. It’s better than winning the lottery! There had been talk about rezoning. With this clover the council was bound to zone his land for residential. He’d sell it for ten times its present value. What a life he could have. He could sell the farm and move somewhere warm, somewhere with predictable weather. Live a life of leisure.

Of course he’d miss his brother. James worked the farm over the hill. They met for pints in McGrady’s every Friday. Maybe he should keep the farm. He could hire out the land. Let someone else get up at 5 in the morning and chase after his cows. But who could he get who’d  know the land like he did? Who would care for his cows the way he did? And what would he do with himself all day?

Joseph looked around at his land. Everything he saw was his own. The cows he had reared from calves, the ditches he had kept, the fences he had put up, even the broken dam he repaired with his own hands. Why would he give this up?

He looked at the perfect, four-leaf clover he held between his fingers and realised he would never have even found it if he didn’t work this land himself. With a sigh Joseph held up his hand and opened his fingers letting the wind catch the clover and whisk it away. He pulled on his boot, stood up with a grunt and started down to the farm to get himself something to eat. It would be a long day, but at least it was Friday – he’d be meeting his brother for a couple of pints tonight.

Sure maybe he’d find another four-leaf clover in a few years and let it change his life then.

 

LEAVING

By Barbara Walshe, Rathfarnham, Dublin 

The Qantas flight takes off from Singapore Airport, headed for Brisbane, Australia. It is the third take-off in this long journey to the other side of the world.

Leaving Ireland is hardly anything new these days. But Shauna and Pat had no choice. Shauna’s job, at an auctioneer’s had gone. And there was no reviving that industry, not for decades. So she decided she would be a housewife until something else came up. Nothing did. Pat’s business in corporate gifts wasn’t doing so well either. Nobody was buying gifts for anyone anymore, and no one was expecting to be given any gifts, even at Christmas. An email containing the words “relationship” and “thank you” was enough these days. The business landscape had changed forever.

Shauna sinks back into the economy class seat and thinks about the day they decided to leave Ireland. Pat had said, “Shauna, I have to wrap up the business. We are in danger of getting in some very deep debt if we go on. We need to think of an alternative otherwise we can’t pay the mortgage this month. You have no work and we’re going to have to ask your parents for money for the kids’ uniforms this year if we don’t change the course we are on.”

Neither of them had been to Australia before. But in Brisbane, where her cousin lived, Shauna knew it was so hot in the summer that you couldn’t touch the steering wheel or get into your car for five minutes after the doors were opened lest your skin burned and melted onto the car seat. She knew that there were kangaroos on the golf courses, and that koalas were often seen high in the gum trees along the river near where they would be living. She knew that the beaches were beautiful and the weather was very rarely bad, and that sporting a tan was a national fashion. She also knew that if you didn’t follow some sort of sport then you’d have nothing to talk about to anyone Australian. And that Pat had better learn how to barbeque properly and learn the names of new cuts of meat very, very fast. And she had to learn how to make fruit salads, using local ingredients like paw-paw and mulberries and other purple things she’d never heard of. She has also been told that the Australian grass is everything that Irish grass isn’t. It’s coarse, full of prickles and ants that bite you so hard it feels like your foot is on fire. And of course, there are the spiders and the snakes and the god-awful cockroaches which will make their presence known to her often. She knew that many people had successfully immigrated to Australia and were living fabulous lives.

Shauna’s cousin had got her a job in a real estate office in the city centre, and Pat could start his business afresh in Australia without the crushing pressure of a recession to hinder sales. The kids were ready to start Australian school; their uniforms included a large sun hat that kept the baking heat off them in the schoolyard. They would not find a use, however for their Irish language skills.

The Qantas flight touches down, and the first thing Shauna notices is the bright, brilliant blue Southern Hemisphere sky. She ushers her children into the baking humid air, so dense and heated it is like standing under a hairdryer. The family presses on through immigration, where friendly workers greet them with, “Gidday, welcome to Australia!” Finally, they emerge out of the international airport, and into the sunny day and the cloudless sky. They stand outside in the most beautiful day. Don’t let it get away, Shauna thinks.

She looks at Pat. She says, “Have we done the right thing?”

Pat looks down. Shauna notices a tear in his eye, and she feels just how much he has kept inside for the family’s sake. She understands him. They can make it anywhere.

He says, “We really haven’t made the right decision.”

Shauna looks at her kids, and says, “Let’s go home.”

PULLING

By Sinead Barry, Dublin

Hogan’s Bar in Dublin was busy, and myself and the girls looked gorgeous. We were young, single and we wanted the lads across the way to notice us and we sat down, pretending not to pose. I had only been in Ireland for a few months, but my workmates were taking me out to meet the local fellas. I wanted the lads to notice the hell out of me anyways. I quite fancied an intense affair with an Irishman.

I noticed a looker, sitting with his mate drinking a Beamish. I wondered if he was from Cork, seeing as he was drinking that brown murky ale. And I wondered if I was gonna be able to understand him when he came over to talk to me. I smiled at him, a big, full smile, which works so well in the States. The smile says, “Hey, I’m open for business, and I choose you as a client!” But the lad just looked down into his Beamish and kept talking to his mate.

I asked Aoife, from sales, about this. She roared laughing, and said, “Lady, you are in Ireland now. Those boys won’t make their approach until 2a.m. and only after they have plenty of booze on board. And only if you are in Copper Face Jack’s.”

I ask, in horror, “WHY THE HELL NOT? And what is Copper…” Fionnuala from accounts and Mary from the warehouse join in. “Oh Jaysus girl, Irish men are the worst pullers in the world. They won’t approach sober, and they won’t approach without their wingman and four layers of hair gel. And they can’t string two sentences together. It’s pure awful.”

I say again, in horror, “BUT WHY???” Fionnuala and Mary and Aoife all looked at each other and laugh. Mary whispers, “We don’t know, probably because they are reproductively clueless. Don’t worry, Sinéad, we will go to Coppers later and you will see what it is like at the coalface.”

So I look across Hogan’s bar at the one that will get away. It seemed a shame that the handsome Beamish drinker could not cross the floor of Hogan’s to talk to me without doing something grossly wrong in the eyes of Irish bar culture.

At midnight, Aoife says, “Right ladies, it is time to make our way to Slapper Faced Jacks!” I pick up my coat, and handbag, and take one more look at Handsome across the bar. He had polished off his fifth beamish by this stage. As I stood up, so did he. My heart leapt to my mouth as he started his rather unco-ordinated drunken walk across the floor towards me. It seemed the floor would go on forever, it was a most important and perilous journey. He made it intact. Phew.

Just as he sat down next to me, Aoife hissed at him, “Ah would ya ever feck off, you drunk eeejit.” Mary joined in, “What are ye, a bunch of pervs? We are talking WITH OUR FRIENDS.” And Fionnuala says, “Could ye not have made your approach about 4 drinks ago?”

The guy smiled at us. He said, “No. I cannot have approached you four drinks ago. Because you would have savaged my head off anyway. The drink just lessens the blow. We drink on approach because you are so mean.”

Mary says, “Yeah, whatev. Laters ya feckin’ eejit.”

She pulls me away from Mr Handsome but I reach back to grab my handbag. And I see Handsome slipping a business card into it. Maybe I will give Colm Murphy, Group Internal Auditor of Fresh Eire Accounting an email tomorrow.

THE IRISH SON

By Bridget Heslin

Georgie awoke to the smell of an Irish breakfast. He was glad to smell it because he thought it would cure of his heavy head after being in McCarthy’s the night before .Georgie plodded down the narrow hallway to the kitchen.

“Mornin’ Mammy.”

“About time Georgie,” his mother replied. Georgie mumbled and sat at the four-seater table. He had sat in the same seat for 32 years now. There were seats for Georgie, his mother, his father who had passed away recently and his brother who was travelling the world. Georgie stretched and yawned, impatiently waiting to be served. He studied the kitchen around him. Something’s different, he thought. But what was it? Something was missing and his mother seemed edgy.

“When you gonna find yourself a caring woman boy?” his mother questioned.

“When I’m ready. After all I’m only thirty two.” He waved her question away.

“Only thirty two!” Mammy gasped.  “You should be out raising a family or doing something adventurous like your brother!” Mammy turned in horror that her son would never grow up. She was just hoping that all mothers had this problem.

As Georgie strolled down the field looking at his crops he thought about what his mother had said. Should I find a woman? Should I get a job? Should I be adventurous? All these questions were spinning in Georgie’s head. He lay under some trees thinking. His mother had never pressed so hard about him getting a life. Why start now? He wondered if the fact that something was missing from the kitchen and his mother being so edgy were linked.

”Is Mammy in debt?” he thought. But she couldn’t be, the mortgage was paid off when his father died and there weren’t many bills coming in.  “Was she dying?” he wondered.  “No. She would have told me.” Georgie sat under the tree till sunset at six o’clock. He loved the smell of the grass, the slight breeze in his face, the sound of the cattle bawling and the smell of nearby slurry. He came to his senses and realised he would never want to leave the farm and get a wife. What good was a wife when you had a mammy to cook your meals and a farm to look after? He reasoned with himself. He stood up slowly and dusted himself off as he gazed at the orange sun setting on the horizon. He was satisfied with the day.

When Georgie got back to the house he slipped off his wellies before stepping inside.

“That you Georgie?” Mammy called.

“Yes Ma,” he replied. Georgie stopped suddenly on the way to the living room. He studied the kitchen again. There were lots of things missing.

”You redecorating Ma?” he asked.

‘”Sure that’s what I’m doing love. So did ya think about what I said about a woman?”

“Yeah Mammy and I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying here with you.”

“Ah but Georgie…”

Georgie interrupted her.  “Ma I don’t have time.”  Georgie left in a huff. He felt it was his right to stay there if he wanted. Mammy thought otherwise.

The next morning Georgie awoke to the sound of a car pulling away. He ran to the kitchen to find everything gone. Only a note was left.

Georgie, I’m sorry to do this but I could not go on taking care of you. I did it for thirty two years. Now I want something new. You should be old enough to take care of yourself but that’s why I want you to find a woman. Love Mammy.

Twins

Clare McAfee of Ballycastle, Co. Antrim

 

Maguire’s Bar was Diarmuid O’Boyle’s preferred pub and of course that meant Clooney Callahan favoured it too. Diarmuid sat in the snug furtively nursing a pint. It was a small, very private room with access to the bar that had a frosted glass external window, set above head height. A higher price was paid for beer in the snug and nobody could look in and see the drinkers. The local police officer might nip in for a quiet pint, the parish priest for his evening whisky, or lovers for a rendezvous.

Diarmuid did not usually frequent the snug on account of the higher prices but he was there this evening because he was trying to give Clooney Callahan the slip. He sighed as he thought of how he had let things get out of hand with Clooney. He felt guilty too because the fellow was like a brother to him; a twin brother really. They were both exactly the same age having been born on the same day Friday 11th March 1994. Both were Pisces.

Diarmuid often thought that they were both like fish out of water, two oddballs uncomfortable with life who had gravitated towards each other starting at nursery school. They had stayed friends all through school, even choosing the same university. However, Clooney had one major flaw; he was a copycat. In the days of childhood when Diarmuid got toys Clooney lobbied his parents until they bought him identical ones. Later it was the same with clothes, holiday destinations and even the degree courses they were studying.

Frankly Diarmuid was sick of it all. He had met a gorgeous girl called Grainne and he had managed to date her on several occasions unbeknownst to Clooney. Diarmuid felt he was losing his heart to this girl and he was quite happy about that. His only fear was that the clingy Clooney would somehow manage to spoil the romance before it got off the ground. Diarmuid almost choked on his beer when the door of the snug opened and in walked Clooney Callahan dressed like a carbon copy of his friend. “There you are indeed!” he declared with satisfaction. “They said you were skulking in here. Who are you hiding from, Diarmuid?”

“I’m not hiding!” Diarmuid protested vehemently. Then without thinking he blurted out, “I’m meeting somebody.” This wasn’t actually true and he immediately regretted saying that.

Clooney looked puzzled and then he smiled and nodded wisely, “There must be a lady in the case. I’d love to meet her, do you have a photo?”

“No!” his friend replied. “Sure you do, or is she so repulsive you don’t want me to see her?”

Stung by this suggestion Diarmuid produced his phone and found Grainne’s photograph. Clooney was visibly impressed by the beautiful image of a girl with long auburn hair and ivory skin. “And green eyes!” he exclaimed. “You’ve done well there, O’Boyle. Has she any siblings?”

Diarmuid hesitated before answering, “Well she is a twin.”

“An identical twin I hope…and with any luck not married.”

“Neither of them is married.”

“Ah Diarmuid boy, this could be the future for both of us. It’s in the stars. You and me are practically brothers and if we should marry these two sisters what a perfect ending for our lives! But you didn’t say if they were identical twins.”

“They do resemble each other.”

“Perfect! However, I suppose there is some little difference by which you can tell them apart.”

Diarmuid looked directly at Clooney and stated, “Her twin brother Tomas has a beard.”

 

For Whom the Cat Meows

By Rebecca Kennedy

I would stick with the term “word vomit.” I feel like it sums it up best. Because I thought I wasn’t talking fast enough but as it turns out I was just mumbling. See, I was trying to explain to someone how I felt. I was trying to articulate all these mashed-up feelings. But it turns out I was just making noises. Michael said it sounded like a hoover trying to suck up coal. It’s like the time I was really nervous about the end-of-year geography exam. I stayed in the whole weekend studying for it. I put special emphasis on rock formation because Mr. Coleton just rushed through it.  The whole night before I was hunched over the books and I thought I flew through it until the school rang my mum the next week and said I had failed.  When my mum asked why they told her I had just wrote “Rock formation” and that was it.  Just those two words… all on their own, over and over again.  But in my mind I was incredible. I could have written that exam. Let’s not waste time on false modesty here. I could have successfully re-designed the earth.

But that’s all part of it. Not being able to distinguish between dreams and reality. They call them delusions. I guess I always had them. Like when Michael first moved in with me and my mum. There was this cat that lived in our neighbour’s garden. I remember he was grey with green eyes but apart from that he was just an ordinary cat I suppose. Anyway, one day I was in my backyard bouncing a football off the shed when I hear this noise. I look around and the cat is standing on the wall just staring at me. So I just stared back at him because you should never back down, especially to a cat. And then, clear as day, he said my name. I swear to God he said my name and then he beckoned me over. I was petrified but I felt as though I had no choice. He could talk; God knows what else he was capable off. So I went over to him and he told me that if Michael didn’t rethink his decision to move in with me and Mum then there would be a serious attempt made on his life between now and the next episode of casualty. And then he vanished.

I told mum and Michael this as soon as I was sure the cat wasn’t around. Mum was really annoyed and said that Michael was staying and that was it. I screamed that her selfish attitude could all cost us our lives come Saturday night. And I believed it, because it was real to me. You see, that’s the thing about losing your marbles. You never think you have any less then you had in the beginning.  That’s why that day I was trying to tell Michael I didn’t feel great I didn’t know I was just making word vomit. I thought I was articulating myself quite well actually. My brain was trying to push out words and my mouth just wasn’t co-operating. But I didn’t know that. I thought Michael could understand me. Like when your child and you think you can speak other languages by imitating the sounds of that language. I didn’t know why Michael was panicking. His face was all red and he kept saying “sit down”. And then more people came and they said “sit down”. But I couldn’t. The cat made my skeleton metal. How can you sit down when your skeleton is metal? Then a man was yelling “CALM DOWN”. Which was ridiculous, how are you meant to calm someone down by screaming at them?

At this point I was beginning to hear a weird noise. At first I thought it was the cat.  He wasn’t appeased that Michael continued to dwell in our home. That’s why he made my skeleton metal, because Mum and Michael lived in sin. I thought he was hissing at me. He was trying to confuse me. But the noise just grew louder and louder even though everyone was shouting. I was able to see their words. They leaped from their mouths and smashed into the walls. Every time “calm down” collided with “sit down” the noise became more sinister. Then Michael was whispering “Please Melissa, stop that”. Then I realised that it wasn’t the cat. The noise was me.  And I guess someone must have drugged me. Because next thing you know, I passed the feck out.

Dr. Fannon only really uses her face as a bit of real estate to keep her eyes, nose, mouth and mole. So when I’m telling her the story about the word vomit and the cat and the noises she doesn’t really give much away. Her face has that concerned/condescending expression doctors use when you’re talking. And she keeps nodding along with what I’m saying. As if she was there. Yeah, yeah……you went batshite there for a while. Nod. Nod. Nod. And she keeps interjecting these random questions.

“Would you really use the term……word vomit?”

“Yes, I think it sums it up best.”

“Do you think you lived in fear of the cat?”

“No, I wasn’t afraid of the cat.”

“It sounds as though you were afraid of the cat.”

“I had a healthy respect for the cat. Maybe it was born from a place of fear.”

“Do you like Michael?”

“Yes. I like Michael.”

“You are not being very talkative.”

“Look, I like Michael. There is nothing wrong with Michael.”

“Why don’t you say something nice about Michael?”

“Why?”

“Why not?”

“Michael…..Michael…….Michael has a nice shiny head of………….scalp.”

“You can go now Melissa.”

When I first arrived at St. Bridgets I was bounced around from ward to ward. This isn’t unusual, if you haven’t been diagnosed with any specific mental illness yet.  It comes down to whether you are considered harmful to yourself or others. Since I wasn’t really either I was finally placed in the C-ward. I didn’t really care where I was, as long as the cat and Michael weren’t there. This is where I first met Monica. Monica was in for a rather shambolic attempt of suicide. Poisoning she told me, was the sexiest way to die. Who poisons themselves? Tragedy bound lovers and heroic leaders, that’s who. But the problem, she informed me was getting your hands on the stuff. Especially in Ireland, where you have to have a letter from your mammy just to buy a fecking bottle of bleach. So Monica came up with a plan to poison herself. She learned from a documentary that you could give yourself potassium poisoning…..if you consumed 23 bananas. She had it all set up. Only the supermarket thought it was odd that a young woman should want so many bananas. So fearing for her sexual well-being they rang her mammy. Who had watched the documentary with Monica. Before she had even rolled the peel down on her certain death she was committed. “The real tragedy” Monica said “is those suicide bananas cost me a fortune”.

The thing about hospitals for the mentally ill is that time goes slower here. Everything has to be routine. Monica and I like to break up the days further by intervening them with several chain-smoking breaks. What I have really come to dislike is group therapy, which is not called group therapy but “sharing time”. So the fact that a therapist along with a brigade of overly-eager psychology students attend is supposed to be calmly ignored. They expect you to be forthcoming with your feelings. As if we were some horrid breed of American. So I don’t really like to attend. Which Monica says is a form of “self-abuse” as I am deterring my own road to recovery.  I maintain it is not and half the time nothing gets done in group therapy because Dr. Fannon is aggressive with her questioning. Like the time she asked this girl called Clare questions about her son. And we all knew Clare didn’t want to answer. She kept clenching her fists until they turned white. Dr. Fannon just kept going and even the psychology students looked wary. Eventually, Clare just climbed in under her seat and ignored the good doctor. Then Dr. Fannon stood up and demanded that Clare answer her. Which Clare did.

“Sorry doctor. I can’t pick up. The reception is awful down here.”

Although I must admit that things have gotten better since I arrived. Dr. Fannon along with Michael and mum helped me realise what happened the day of the noises. I had come home and discovered that Michael had backed over the neighbour’s cat and killed him. I was particularly distraught as the cat had shown Michael so much mercy over the years. I picked the cat up and held him, covering myself in its blood. That’s why everyone was panicking. I was in the middle of a complete breakdown drenched in blood of some mysterious origin. Michael thought I had hurt myself and called an ambulance. Dr. Fannon also helped me understand that the cat never spoke to me. He just voiced the part of me that felt threatened when Michael came to live with us. And my skeleton was never metal. I was in shock and thought I couldn’t sit down. The staff here tell us that if we don’t look after our mental health and do not seek treatment then the mind simply doesn’t cope and breaks. Those breakdowns can come at any time, in any shape, form or colour. So whether that form may be a menacing cat from next door or 23 ominous bananas it doesn’t matter.  I guess what I am trying to say is that I am slowly getting better. I’m investing my time in becoming a healthy individual. And by the time I get out into the world I will be armed with better coping abilities and a healthier state of mind. I just hope there is no more word vomit. And I might just keep my distance from cats in general.

MIRIAM AND THE CAILLEACH DUBH

By Lauren Smith

Miriam sat gazing through a dusted window and yellowed curtains at a thrashing crystal sea. She’d neglected the house-work since her children had grown up, grown independent of her care and moved abroad to work and to ‘find themselves’. She had a husband, by definition, but he was about as lively and as present as the tethered arm chair in which he he sat.

She put her mug down and found herself wandering outside. The tall grass by the sea was beckoning her forward and she absently followed the crisp Irish breeze which led her to a curious patch of pumpkins.

“Pumpkins!” she mumbled to her self. “What on earth…”

She found herself drawn to the isolated patch and ran her fingertips over the smooth orange surface. She stuck her nails in sharply, and began scooping out lumps of the pumpkin and vivaciously breathing in it’s sweet scent. Miriam collected a handful of seeds and placed them in her apron pocket and proceeded down to the shore.

The next morning Miriam awoke with a headache. The rain pelted at her bedroom window and wrapping her anorak around her she hurried off outside into the wild coastal morning to collect briquettes from the shed. Something else had caught her eye. Giant pumpkins lined the shore; pumpkins of an array of sizes, plump and shiny, surrounded her cottage. She rubbed her eyes in disbelief. Surely she was going mad! All of a sudden a figure appeared on the horizon. A dark shadow grew closer and closer to Miriam. As it did, the image took the form of a woman. Haggard and with weathered leathery skin, the woman in black glided closer to her, her long black shawl barely tipping the sand beneath her.

The woman spoke to Miriam from under her hood.

“You stole seeds from the Cailleach Dubh. Seeds no human hand were to touch.” Miriam was frozen to the core, still not quite believing what she was seeing in front of her.

“As a penalty,” the woman in black continued, raising a long bony finger up to Miriam “Your husband shall be transformed into a dog and you into a cat, and ye shall live out the remainder of ye’r days fighting until one of ye meets your death.”

Miriam gasped in horror but was swept up in a torrent of sand, her limbs and bones contorting wildly until she was thrown down on all fours, whiskers and all. She ran to find her husband who surly enough, was cowering by his armchair, with shaggy tail between his legs. The two stared at each other in mutual understanding but a wild hate was brewing in their veins for one another. They knew if they were to fix this mess they must push past their animal instincts. The two fought every day, slipping deeper into their feral roles, but a glimmer of their true selves remained, like a light in each of them. They fought over food; Miriam caught fish, her husband ate it, leaving hardly enough for her. Miriam’s husband barked loudly at night to ward off predators and this kept her awake, and cranky. She thought his overt heroism to be foolish and unnecessary.

They both agreed on one thing however; they had to end this curse before it was too late.

Days passed and then weeks. The season changed and with it came spring. The pair had learned to hunt together, taking advantage of her husband’s nose and Miriam’s claws. They both guarded the house at night, keeping close together for heat and in the mornings they explored the vast Irish coast line leaping and bounding with joy in the salty sea air, never again catching sight of the mysterious pumpkins.

It was strange. The two, once they had tamed their animal selves and remembered their human selves in all that they did, and learned to work together as a team, had become content in their roles. They no longer lived in fear of the Cailleach Dubh’s curse and had learned to live happily together as cat and dog; complete opposites.

One morning, Miriam awoke. She had a headache and rain was once again beating off her window. She took a breath and jolted as she looked down at herself and her husbands two arms, hands legs and feet. She touched her face; no fur, no whiskers The curse was gone. She shook her husband and exclaimed in joy!

He replied chuckling, “What a silly dream, my darling Miriam”.

With a shake of her head Miriam lay back down, cuddling her husband tightly.

But then she heard a sharp tap on the floor. She turned her head slowly and looked down… A pumpkin seed!

 

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