Whose Irish Eyes Be Smiling? 11

Whose Irish Eyes Be Smiling?
by
Anam Chara

Dr. Belknap tells Sean about Kelly’s new diagnosis and prognosis. A father and son talk seriously during their long drive home. Adele seeks to meet the mysterious violinist. Paolo Cassini hears important news. Is Sean the mysterious violinist?

XI


When Irish hearts are happy,
all the world seems bright and gay,…

—Chauncey Olcott & George Graff, Jr.

* * *

Sean and Dr. Belknap were standing just outside Kelly’s room while Nurse Heather attended to her.

“Did she recognize you when she woke up?” Dr. Belknap asked Sean.

“Well, not exactly.”

“What do you mean?”

“She recognized ‘Sína’.”

“Sína?”

“Have ya noticed how much Kelly an’ I look alike?”

“Yes, I have,” concurred the doctor. “You two look more like twins than cousins.”

“An’ almost everyone else thought so, too, when we were kids,” admitted Sean. “So our moms thought we’d be cuter if they dressed us both alike for céilidhs an’ Irish festivals. Then we started dressin’ up like each other, ourselves, to fool people. Sína was me name whene’er I be dressed like a girl.”

Dr. Belknap chuckled at Sean’s story. “So that’s who she thought you were?”

“’Twas, but then she asked me who she be,” Sean continued. “Told ’er that she be Kelly, but I’m not sure she believed me.”

The neurologist held his chin with thumb and forefinger. “She suffered a serious concussion,” he told Sean. “That often results in retrograde amnesia. We can hope she’ll begin to recover her memories. But for her first recognition to be what you described concerns me. Do you remember the most recent time that you were in the guise of ‘Sína’ with your cousin?”

“Think it be for Halloween—no! ’Twas for the Powder Puff Football Tournament durin’ our senior year o’ high school.”

“You were in the same graduating class?”

“Yeah, we were. We’re ’bout the same age. I’m not quite a month older.”

“Actually, what you’ve told me may help me determine how extensive her amnesia may be,” explained the neurologist. “Retrograde amnesia is usually temporary, but it’s often difficult to know how long recovery will take. If she’s only remembered you and herself as in high school, that indicates a rather significant loss of memory that may need a good while to recover. She could also be back to normal tomorrow, but I wouldn’t count on it.”

“Could I go back in to talk with her?”

“Do you mind if I join you?”

“Will it help?”

“I’d like to observe how she actually responds to you,” said Dr. Belknap.

“Sure!”

* * *

Michael slowed as he approached the main gate at McGuire Air Force Base and stopped right next to the security booth. He pressed the button to roll down the car window and a guard inside the booth greeted him.

“Good afternoon sir! Would you state your name and business, please?”

“Yes, Airman,” Michael addressed him, noting the rank badge on the guard’s sleeve. “Me name is Michael FitzPatrick an’ I’m here to pick up me dad, Marine Corps Major Seamus FitzPatrick. He’s flyin’ in from Icelan’.”

The guard consulted a video monitor for the airbase security system and confirmed Michael’s name and purpose as well as his father’s flight. He printed out a visitor’s badge with Michael’s name and put it into a transparent vinyl sleeve with a lanyard and handed it to him. “Mister FitzPatrick, this is your visitor’s pass. Please wear it at all times while you’re on the airbase.” Next, he gave Michael a plastic parking tag. “Also, hang this parking permit from your mirror so that it’s visible through your windshield. “Do you know where the visitors’ parking lot is, sir?”

“Yes, I do.”

The airman noted the time on the security booth’s clock. “The major’s flight from Keflavík touches down in seventeen minutes. Please remember to return your visitor’s pass and parking permit when you exit McGuire Air Force Base. Have a good day, Mister FitzPatrick!” he wished Michael. The guard then flipped a switch that raised the striped gate in front of the car. Another guard standing outside the booth and next to the gate and waved for Michael to drive through to continue to the visitors’ parking lot.

* * *

Dr. Belknap stood just inside the door of Kelly’s room as Sean sat down next to his cousin and held her free hand. “How’re ya feelin’, Kelly?” he asked.

“Really confused and I got the worst headache ever!” she replied.

“Not too surprisin’,” said Sean, smiling as he caressed Kelly’s hand. “Ya took a nasty bump on your head.”

“How’d it happen?”

“You were ridin’ your bicycle to work and a driver turned the wrong way ’n’ hit-cha head-on. You flew into his win’shield. Hit it so hard your helmet broke in two.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“That’s not surprising,” remarked Dr. Belknap, coming toward them from the door. “You have retrograde amnesia.”

“Do I know you?” Kelly wondered.

“Not yet,” he answered, smiling to invoke his best bedside manner. “I’m Doctor Timothy Belknap. I’m your neurologist. I’ve been watching over you since your accident.”

“Neurologist? What’s that? Can’t remember anything.”

“A neurologist studies and treats illnesses and injuries of the brain and nervous system.”

“The injury Sína told me about is why I got this headache and can’t remember much, then?”

“Yes, it is,” affirmed the doctor.

“And where am I?”

“You’re here at Sain’ Bonnie’s,” answered Sean.

“Is Father Tony, like—uh—the priest?”

“Yeah, he is,” Sean replied. “D’ya wanna see ’im?”

“I will,” she sighed. “Sína, I’m so sorry I can’t remember this, but are we sisters?”

“We’re cousins,” answered Sean. “But most everyone think we be twins when first meetin’ us. An’ we’re mistaken for each other all the time.” He wasn’t certain whether to disabuse her erroneous perception of his gender, fearing that to contradict her might cause her distress. Sean glanced at Dr. Belknap seeking a cue for what to do next, but he didn’t get one. While he was thinking, Kelly squeezed his hand and smiled weakly at him.

“Sandra has me workin’ your shift at the café ’til you can go back,” he continued. “Some o’ your customers thought I were you.”

“Sandra?” Kelly wondered.

“Our boss at Café Tír na n-Óg.”

“I have a job?”

“Yeah, we both work there, but different shifts.”

“Sorry,” she apologized, now looking somewhat taciturn. “I don’t remember.”

“That’s okay for now,” Sean assured her. “You’ll remember more later.” Again, Sean looked over to Dr. Belknap, but this time the neurologist nodded his approval.

“You were reading to me when I woke up,” said Kelly. “Would you read to me some more?”

* * *

Michael sat in the lobby, waiting for his father’s flight to touch down at McGuire Air Force Base when he heard his smartphone receive a new text message. He took it from his pocket and saw that the message came from his cousin Morgan:

Kelly awake from coma
Lost memory

He sighed in relief from the news, although he could only wonder about the memory loss. But wasn’t that common after the kind of ordeal that his sister had gone through? Still, he had at least some good news to share with his father when he arrived.

Looking through the large plate glass windows, Michael saw a transport touch down on the nearest airstrip and a humvee drive up to meet it as the airplane taxied to a stop. A door opened downwards from the side of the fuselage to become a staircase and a man with flaming red hair, attired in a Marine Corps officer’s uniform, made his way down the stairs to meet the humvee. Of course, Michael immediately recognized the officer as his father.

The humvee drove up to the rear entrance of the lobby and Michael went out to meet it as the driver swung around so that the passenger side of the vehicle was toward him. Maj FitzPatrick stepped out and retrieved his duffle and a shopping bag from the rear of the vehicle. His son met him at the door with a full embrace.

“I’m glad to see you again, Dad!” Michael told him with a few tears flowing.

“Me, too, Michael!” Seamus returned his son’s greeting. “Still, I wish the reason be different.”

“Well, there’s some good news, though. I jus’ got a tex’ from Morgan while I was waitin’ for you. Kelly’s come out of ’er coma. But she’s lost ’er memory.”

“Saints be praised!” he said, relieved to know that his daughter had begun to recover. “I’m glad to hear she’s awake! She’s in Sain’ Bonnie’s, right?”

“Yeah,” answered Michael. “Should I take you home first or straight to the hospital?”

“I need to see Kelly as soon as we can get there!” Maj FitzPatrick more commanded than stated. “An’ we ’ave issues to discuss on the way. But first, lemme have your ’phone. I need to let your mother know I’m here an’ to meet us at the hospital.”

* * *

As Sean finished reading the story to his cousin, she smiled a slight smile at him. “Thank you,” she voiced weakly. “I like it when you read to me. The stories help.”

“I’m glad that they do,” Sean replied. “I’ve enjoyed readin’ them to you.”

“You been here every day since the accident?”

“Yeah.”

“Thanks for coming every day then, Sína.”

You’ve had visitors everyday, too. Your mom, my mom, your brother Michael, my sister Morgan, your coworkers, your band—.”

“My band?”

“Yeah,” replied Sean. “The Daughters of Danaan. You sing an’ play piano for them.”

“I’m sorry,” apologized Kelly despondently. “Can’t remember. Do you play with them, too?”

“No, but they’ve asked me to fill in for you ’til you’re well.”

“On piano?”

“Yeah.”

“But I’d think they’d want you to play fiddle,” remarked Kelly. “Haven’t they heard your fiddling?”

“Uh—no, they haven’t,” he said. Sean worried because, apparently, she didn’t remember that he’d quit playing the violin almost a year ago. “Besides, they need someone on piano an’ keyboards more.”

“Know what I’d like, Sína?”

“What?”

“Would you bring your violin and play for me?”

* * *

Sitting at the desk inside the cramped office of Café Tír na n-Óg, Sandra was busily putting together an order for the next week when she heard a signal from her smartphone informing her that she had a new text message. Sean’s image flashed on the small screen. Tapping it caused his message to appear:


Kelly out of coma
Lost memory
Can’t remember accident, job, band
Thinks I’m Sina!

Sandra worried about Kelly. Her traumatic injury had been sufficient to cause damage to her memory. Sandra the manager wasn’t worried about filling Kelly’s shift; no, that was already covered. Rather, Sandra the friend was worried about Kelly’s independence and her beautiful strength of character becoming broken. Kelly was more than a mere employee, more than even a powerful presence at the café. Kelly seemed to empower almost anyone with whom she interacted: coworkers, customers, friends, family, classmates, professors, whomever. Even Sandra herself felt a livelier bounce in her own step whenever Kelly appeared. So, she simply hoped that Kelly’s injury didn’t affect her personality.

Maybe she should call Sean? But he was a young man of few words and what he had summarized in his text message was likely everything that he knew right now. If he learned anything else about his cousin, he’d let her know.

Just then, Sandra heard the bell above the front door tinkling, so she got up to see who was coming in. Her brother David walked up to the coffee bar.

“Good morning, sis,” he greeted her.

“Good morning to you, too,” she returned her brother’s greeting with a smile. “What-cha like?”

“Coffee o’ the day and a white chocolate-raspberry scone…”

Sandra rang up the scone—his coffee was free with the purchase of another item. The owner allowed that as a benefit for employees and their families.

“Sean sent me a text just a few minutes ago,” she told her brother. “Kelly awoke from her coma.”

“That’s good news!” David exclaimed. “Mister Cassini will be happy to hear that.”

“What interest does Paolo have in Kelly?”

“He wants to sign her with Cassini and Sons.”

“Sign?” Sandra asked. “For what?”

“For modeling,” he clarified. “He sent her a letter of intent, but she had her accident before she got it.”

“I didn’t know she was into modeling.”

“Paolo Cassini noticed Kelly’s pictures in my project binder for class. He asked to meet her, so I introduced them. The firm brought in a photographer for a test shoot and she got really great feedback, so he sent out the letter of intent. I think he was afraid another agency might get her first.”

“I’m not surprised,” remarked Sandra. “She’s quite easy to work with. She’s very photogenic and follows directions well.”

“That’s what Mister Cassini—er, Paul—says,” confirmed David. “He asked me to call him ‘Paul’, but I’m not comfortable with calling him by a nickname.”

“Well, get used to it, Little Brother, ’coz that’s what your workplace culture requires.”

* * *

A tiny icon at the top left corner of the screen indicated that Sean had missed a telephone call. Although he considered returning it right away, just before leaving St. Bonnie’s, he needed to go immediately. So he jogged over to the bicycle rack at the near edge of the parking lot.

His bicycle was still there in the rack, undisturbed, just as he had left it before visiting his cousin. Very quickly, Sean unlocked the bicycle. He straddled it and was about to don his helmet but took the smartphone from his pocket and looked at the call log. The number of the missed call in the log was not one that he recognized. He’d keep thinking about it if he didn’t take care of it right then.

He touched an icon beside the record of the call to dial the number. Although the number was unfamiliar to him, Sean recognized the voice of the person taking the call immediately.

“Hello! Paul Cassini here,” answered the voice. “How can I help you?…”

“Well, your number appears in my telephone log from earlier,” replied Sean. “I’m just returning your call…”

“First, I’m sorry about Kelly’s accident,” the attorney and agent offered. “How’s she doing now?…”

“She’s awakened from her coma,” reported Sean. “But she’s lost about two or three years of her memory…”

“Lost memory?…” Paolo Cassini wondered aloud.

“Yeah,” affirmed Sean. “She thinks she’s in high school again…”

“Omigosh! That can’t be good. Will she get her memories back?…”

“Her neurologist says that her memories should return, but he couldn’t say how long it might take…”

“That’s too bad,” said Paolo. “She can’t sign that letter of intent with us, then. Could you help me get in touch with her cousin Sína?…”

“What do you want with Sína?…”

“For now, I’m hoping to convince Sína to try modeling,” said the agent. “She’s got the look and I think that I can get her work right away. It would’ve been Kelly’s if she hadn’t been injured. After she recovers, I can book them as twin models and that could be very lucrative…”

“Except they’re not twins, they’re cousins…”

“But still, they look like twins, and in this business, how they look is more important than who they really are…”

Sean wondered what to say next. Should he just tell Mr. Cassini that he himself was actually Sína and had served him coffee and scones at Café Tír na n-Óg yesterday? Yes, to do so would be embarrassing, but it might avoid an even worse embarrassment in the future.

“Mister Cassini—…”

“Please! Call me Paul!…”

“Alright, Paul! There’s something you need to know about Sína,” asserted Sean, his tone suddenly more serious. “She doesn’t exist…”

“What?…”

“She’s not another person…”

“I don’t follow…”

“Sína’s not a distinct person herself,” Sean told the agent. “I’m Sína. Or Sína’s the name that everyone calls me when I’m dressed like a girl. When Kelly ’n’ me were kids, our moms would dress us alike so we’d look like twin sisters…”

“You still look like twin sisters,” remarked Paolo. “And you two could work together and be very successful. Do you have any idea how much you and your cousin could make as a team?…”

“But I’m a guy, or don’t you get that?…”

“So what? Like I said, in this business how you look is more important than who you are,” reiterated the agent. “Even though you’re cousins instead of siblings, you’re a boy and she’s a girl, I could easily sell your image with hers as twin sisters…”

“I don’ believe for a minute that a guy could get away with modelin’ as a girl…”

“Well, you may not believe it, but it’s even been done already,” Paolo told Sean. “And you could do it, too. You have the look…”

“Except that I don’ wanna,” Sean replied. “’Twould be too embarrassin’…”

“Sean, how can I convince you? What can I offer you so you’d at least try modeling for your cousin or with her?…”

“Nothing. I just don’ wanna do anything like that…”

“But you’ve got the look, a million-dollar look! Not to use it would be such a waste!…”

“I’m sorry if maybe you were counting on me to do this, but I’m just not interested…”

Sean heard Paolo sigh heavily.

“I can’t believe that you wouldn’t be interested in millions of dollars…”

“Mister Cassini—sorry—Paul, I know it’s a cliché, but what part of no do you not understand?…”

Mr. Cassini was silent for a moment.

I’m sorry to have bothered you, Sean,” the agent apologized. “I won’t call you again…”

“Look, you’re welcome to call for news about Kelly or to get a message to her,” promised Sean. “But no more talk of me modeling as a girl, okay? Else, I will block your number…”

“Alright,” conceded Paolo. “I know when I’ve lost…”

“Now, I need to go somewhere, so I bid you a good day, sir!…”

“Good-bye, Sean!…”

So with that, Sean put his smartphone in his breast pocket and began pedaling home. As he rode, he heard Mr. Cassini’s words, “Not to use it would be such a waste!” Yet Sean wasn’t thinking about his girlish looks, but of his violin.

* * *

Alternating between theta- and alpha-waves the Sleeper felt restless, even agitated, as the mindscape came into view.

A very despondent boy with long dark hair sits on the edge of a bed. Three other children enter, two girls and a boy, although they all wear feis dresses, styled for Irish dancing. The boy and the taller girl have flaming red hair and wear matching green dresses; the shorter girl’s hair is long and dark but she wears a blue dress in the same style as the other two. The red-haired boy is lugging a garment bag alongside himself, but it’s almost too big for him to carry.

The three gather at the bed where the sad boy sits. The red-haired boy lays the garment bag across the bed before hugging the dark-haired boy. The two girls kiss him on opposite cheeks and also hug him. Then the red-haired boy unzips the garment bag and the two girls cooperate to bring out of it a blue feis dress identical in style and color to the one worn by the dark-haired girl; it differs only in size. The face of the hitherto morose boy brightens as he examines the dress.

Next, the girls take from the garment bag a camisole, panties, black bloomers, white bubble socks, and soft, black dancing shoes. They give these to the boy who hides behind the closet door to change his boy’s undergarments for a girl’s. When he steps back into the bedroom, he’s all too eager to don the pretty blue feis dress, which the girls help him do. After he pulls on his socks and ties his dancing shoes, the redhaired girl plaits a thick braid in his hair and the other girl ties two large matching blue bows at the top and bottom to secure it.

The dark-haired boy, now smiling light-heartedly, and the others file out of the room, join hands and skip down the hallway to where adults await them. They all enter family vehicles and are soon on their way.

The Sleeper grows more restless, thrashing about in anxiety. Then suddenly, theta-waves yield to alpha, then to beta and joyously, the Sleeper awakens.

* * *

“I’m sorry I been away from you an’ Kelly an’ your Mom so long ’coz o’ this damn war,” apologized Maj FitzPatrick. “I signed up for Reserve Officer’s Trainin’ wi’ your Uncle Colm mos’ly to pay for college. We ne’er thought we’d even see any action. But then we had to be jus’ too good at what we do so Uncle Sam wouldn’ let either of us go home for very long.”

“I really missed you, Dad,” admitted Michael curtly, as he was trying to keep his attention on the road. “We all did. An’ Sean an’ Morgan missed Uncle Colm just as much. I think that’s why we all spent so much time together.”

“You remember what I said real courage is?” Maj FitzPatrick asked his son.

“Though you be afraid, you do it anyway.”

“That’s right, son,” he agreed. “Courage is not the absence o’ fear, but facin’ it an’ movin’ beyond it.”

“So, why are ya bringin’ this up jus’ now?”

“I got a couple o’ reasons.”

“First, I’ve been deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan way too long,” complained the Marine Corps reservist. “Yet I’m no career officer, or at least I don’t think o’ meself as one. But me biggest fear’s always been that you or even Kelly’d think so an’ that you’d hafta follow me into the Marine Corps, the Navy or whate’er. An’ ya don’t! Not ’less ya wanna, that is. Yeah, I served me country o’erseas, but-cha can serve, too, by bein’ the bes’ person an’ the bes’ citizen you can be right here at home. In so many ways, that’s the mos’ fundamental service. Don’t ever forget that!”

“No, then,” answered Michael. “I won’t forget it. But I did wonder if you might’ve expected me to go into the Marine Corps?”

“Not ’t all,” Seamus answered his son. “’Tis not for everyone. Besides, I think your temp’rament be perhaps too broodin’, too introverted for the Corps. Don’ think you’d really fit in too well with ’em. ’Coz I’m wondrin’ if ya be so afraid to answer a question as I am t’ ask it?”

“An’ wha’ be that?”

“Pull off t’ the side o’ the road here,” he told him. His son complied and the father continued, “Now answer me direct an’ honest, Michael. Are ya transgender?”

Michael turned the engine off.

* * *

Sean called up another telephone number from his database. Sending a text to Sandra was enough, but he thought that he owed the Daughters of Danaan a call, so he chose Móira. Her he could trust, so he dialed her number.

“Hello! Móira speaking…”

“Móira, this is Sean…”

“Hey there, Sean! You still coming tonight?…”

“Yeah, I promised I would an’ I still plan to be there, but I prefer talkin’ t’ you ’stead o’ Fiona. But ’tis not why I called…”

“What is it, then?…”

“Kelly ’woke from ’er coma, but ’er doc said she’s got this retrograde amnesia an’ kinda bad, too. When she ’woke, she thought I were Sína an’ forgot about your band an’ that I quit playin’ violin. Thought she were still on the cheerleadin’ squad in high school…”

“How important is that?…”

“Well, I told Doctor Belknap a few things about Kelly an’ me, like what we’d done together in school an’ all. Then he guessed from ’er responses that she’s regressed a couple or three years. Now, she talks like she still be fifteen or sixteen years ol’…”

“You said she doesn’t remember the band?…”

“No, she doesn’t. But that’d go along wi’ regressin’ two or three years. She doesn’ recall ’er job nor even bein’ in college…”

“That’s really bad, isn’t it?…”

“Well, Doctor Belknap said that retrograde amnesia be common in ’er kind of injury, but ’er degree o’ regression be more serious than usual. He said mos’ patients recover their memories, ’cep’ for the time jus’ before th’ injury. But the greater the regression, the longer it need. So, she should recall mos’ things sooner or later, but she needs time…”

“That’s so—so sad!” Móira lamented. “Did the doctor say how long it might take?…”

“Jus’ that it varies from patient to patient. Could be days, weeks, or months. Some might come back in bits an’ pieces, just a little at a time, or ’er memories jus’ might come floodin’ back all ’t once…”

* * *

Michael FitzPatrick sighed and leaned back against the headrest. “I—I think—I’m afraid—that I might be,” he admitted. “But I don’ really know. To be honest, I don’t even know how to know.”

The major remained silent for a moment, stroking his chin by thumb and forefinger. “You need to see a counselor or therapist an’ start to find out,” he told his son. “’Coz if y’are transgender, you need to decide what to do ’bout it. Else if you’re not, I’d imagine it be relief to know that, too. But not knowin’s to be hell for ya! ’Am I right?”

“Yeah,” sighed Michael wistfully. “But I’m so afraid o’ bein’ wrong about this.”

“’Tis why ya need a counselor,” his father said. “Not findin’ out what’s in your heart is to be wrong about it!”

“There are times, Dad, I think I be a girl on th’ inside already,” admitted Michael. “But other times, I know that could never be. Besides, look at me now. I’d be too big an’ ugly to be a woman.”

“But I’m sure ’tis about more than jus’ that,” his father said.

“Yeah, but in our society women are judged so much by how pretty they are,” Michael reminded his father despondently. “I wouldn’t be ‘eye candy’ for anyone.”

“But is that what you’d want to aspire to?”

“No, but you can end up real lonely if you don’ qualify.”

* * *

Back at his apartment, Sean picked up his violin and tried knowingly and consciously to play for the first time in a year. But he couldn’t. The best he could do was to scrape out a few notes with his bow on the strings. He couldn’t hear in his mind the music that he wanted to play.

Was it all gone?

Then Sean recalled what his boss, Sandra, had said:

“…I don’t think so. I don’t know much about music, except for what I like to hear. But your music, your gift is sleeping inside you, waiting for you to wake it up again—for you yourself to wake up!”

Music had been his entire life until he’d lost the audition at Curtis. He looked over at the quarto of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for the Violin on his music stand. He’d been able to play every note of that quarto a year ago, but now he could just barely squeak out his scales for practice. Yet a night ago, he’d apparently played the Chaconne in D minor well enough to captivate a neighbor’s attention, although he couldn’t remember doing it. So, he could play the violin in his sleep, but not awake?

He regretted that he couldn’t play anything for his cousin. Would she understand again what had happened in the past year? She had helped him grieve when he’d given up his music. But If she’d regressed as far back as Dr. Belknap thought, it was to a time when music was all he cared about—and family. But now, even the family was going in different ways. Kelly had a band and apparently a modeling contract if she can remember it all. Mike couldn’t figure out where his life were going either. Morgan would be graduating high school soon enough and come under pressure to choose her life’s path.

Sean stretched himself out on his bed and for some reason thought back to a recital when he played the violin dressed as a girl while his sister and cousins danced. He smiled at the memory, a happy one. He had liked wearing a dress at the recital, although he never knew why. Mikey was a little jealous of him because he wanted to wear a dress, too, but he had to wear a doublet and tights, since he danced the role of a prince. What Sean remembered best was that his sister and cousins were cool with it, as were his parents. So he’d been cool with it because everyone else was. But whose idea had it been? Oh! It was their dance teacher’s idea. How old had he been? He couldn’t remember his age then, but he had played Bach’s Partita for Violin, No. 3. He played the Præludium as his solo, then played each of the other movements for his sister and cousins to dance. He tried to recall the Præludium, to hear it in his mind.

Why was reminiscing so difficult for Sean right then? But he began to recall the delicately muted sounds of «La Fille aux cheveux de lin» by Claude Debussy.

* * *

Adele had stopped by Café Tír na n-Óg to get herself a mint-loaded caffè mocha before continuing on to her apartment. As she walked back to her building, sipping her minty mocha, the strains of Bach’s Chaconne in D Minor ran through her mind. She really needed to find out who was playing it at two o’clock in the morning. She’d fallen asleep on a sofa in the commons area listening to it.

On entering the building, Adele checked her mailbox, but it was empty. So she climbed the stairs to her floor as she did every day, but then stopped at the door behind which she’d heard the violin was playing in the wee hours of that morning and under which she’d slipped a note before going to her morning classes. She sipped more of her mocha, then knocked on the door.

* * *

The Daughters of Danaan were all seated in their van. And Móira had news to tell.

“Everyone, Sean called with a couple of very important items,” she began. “First, for any of you who were unsure about him, he’s confirmed his audition for tonight.” Molly and Mórag nodded but Fiona rolled her eyes. “Next, I have mixed news about Kelly,” continued Móira. Everyone in the van was suddenly silent. “Kelly awoke from her coma, but—”

Molly and Mórag squealed in joy while Fiona smiled and yelled, “Yes!”

“But,” Móira raised her voice, “Sean also says that she’s suffered serious loss of memory. She can’t remember being in college, having a job, or being in our band. She seems to have regressed two or three years and thinks she’s still a high school cheerleader.”

The four women remained silent, all reading the disappointment in one anothers’ faces.

Molly spoke up, “Still, I think that we should visit her as soon as we can.”

“Yes,” agreed Fiona. “I’ve heard that seeing familiar faces can help patients recover memories faster.”

“Then there’s no time like the present,” said Molly as she started the engine. A moment later, the Daughters of Danaan were on their way to St. Bonaventure’s Hospital.

* * *

Sean heard a knock at the door. He went to it and peered through the security peephole to see who was there. There stood a pretty young woman whom he recognized from around the building. So he unlocked the deadbolt and slid the chain off its track to open the door.

“Yeah?” Sean asked.

“I’m Adele Bancroft,” she introduced herself. “I live across the floor from you. I heard you playing when I came in from work this morning. Bach’s Chaconne was beautiful.”

He recalled the message that he had found under the door. “So ’twas you who lef’ th’ note?”

“Yes, it was,” she confirmed. “I curled up on the sofa outside your door instead of going to my apartment. You kinda, like, serenaded me to sleep.”

That surprised Sean, but it also worried him. He hoped she hadn’t come back for an encore—there was just no way he could do it. He’d been fumbling around trying to play scales since he came home. He couldn’t have been playing Bach in the wee hours of the morning. He hadn’t played for a year and all the technique learned and practiced since childhood had fled from his command. Somehow, he’d have to avoid Adele asking to hear him play.

“Well, that wasn’ me!” Sean denied. “That woulda been me cousin Sína. She uses me apartment sometimes. Sína’s the violinis’ now—not me! I quit playin’ a long time ago.”

“Oh! I’m sorry!” Adele apologized. “I just assumed it was you. But you used to play?”

“Yeah, but not anymore.”

“Too bad!” she commiserated. “Maybe you could take it up again?”

“Nah! Don’ think me heart’d ever be ’n it again.”

“I’m sorry!”

“Well, don’ be! Look, ’tis nice to meet-cha, but I gotta get back to me homework, Adele.”

“What’s your major?”

“Computer and information science,” replied Sean. “How ’bout yours?”

“Music—I play piano.”

“Well, gotta go!” He began to close the door, although smiling nonetheless.

“Oh, wait!” Adele stopped him. “I didn’t get your name?”

“Sean,” he replied. “Sean O’Donnelly.”

* * *

Nurse Heather looked up from her desk to see four red-haired young women looking at her. The one with long, flowing hair and wearing a short, daring miniskirt, stepped forward to address the nurse.

“We’re here to see Kelly FitzPatrick,” said Fiona. “She’s our friend and bandmate.”

“There’s too many of you,” replied the nurse. “I can’t let all of you in to see her at one time.”

“But I can!” remarked Dr. Belknap walking up to the nurse’s desk. “Heather, since the patient knows and interacts with these young ladies as a group, she may be more likely to respond to them as a group.”

The neurologist faced the band. “Ladies, come with me, please!”

“Doctor, this is highly irregular,” objected Nurse Heather following the group down the corridor to Kelly FitzPatrick’s room.

* * *

Sean sat on the sofa moping over the visit that Adele Bancroft had just paid him. He’d hoped to meet her ever since he’d moved into the building. Then she comes to introduce herself and he fibs and tells her that “his cousin Sína” was the violinist that she must’ve heard. After all, he couldn’t remember playing Bach’s Chaconne in D minor late at night. Yet he’d found his quarto of Bach’s violin sonatas open to it on his music stand.

But that was not all. Perhaps the strangest evidence that he might have serenaded his neighbor was Kelly’s blue chiffon dress that he was wearing when he had awakened that morning. He began to doubt that what he told Adele were indeed a fib. Maybe Sína had played Bach late at night?

No! He couldn’t have. He was lucky to reprise his scales without screwing up! How could he possibly be performing complex works like anything from Bach’s violin partitas unconsciously?

Perhaps, he thought, he could try to play something else? Yes! A few of Arcangelo Corelli’s variations on La Folia!

Continuandum…

© 2011-2017 by Anam Chara



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