Chapter 3

Written by: Donna McTavish

The next few days nearly drove me mad. I could not stop the girls from talking about Mrs Irvine. The idea of their teacher coming to their house enthralled them and they didn’t seem to mind that it would mean more school work and less hanging out with their friends. All power to her I thought. Long may it last.


On Monday, the day of their first after school lesson, they were out of bed before I had the chance to growl from the bottom of the stairs; usually it took at least three calls, each one louder and shorter to dislodge them from their beds. Their eagerness unnerved me. I watched with amazement as Nestor washed and dried the breakfast bowls and returned the cereal box to the pantry while Esther cleared newspapers, unopened bills and other household litter from the dining room table.  “So we have a clean space to work Dad,” she said catching my eye as my jaw dropped. She opened the fridge to check for the thousandth time that the lemonade and butter cookies were still there and Nestor laid out three plates and glasses on the table. She even found a crumpled packet of paper napkins with ‘happy birthday’ on them for God’s sake. I kissed the tops of their heads and left for work.


Since Sally died, I have had to change my routine. No more hanging around in the office for a yarn and a quick beer at the end of the day. I do my work and leave promptly so that I am home to oversee homework and dinner. I don’t mind but I miss the adult company sometimes. At the end of this day, when a beer would have gone down nicely, I headed home forgetting about Amy’s visit. A yellow VW was parked haphazardly in the driveway and I am ashamed to admit that I considered driving around the block again; I needed time to prepare myself for meeting her again. I didn’t, of course, and when I went inside, and she beamed at me over the heads of my girls, I think I blushed. 


Nestor and Esther barely stopped what they were doing. Two photograph albums, the ones that Sally had started when she got sick were open and they were bent over studying the pages as if they had never seen them before. Sally had made one album for each of the girls, choosing her favourite pictures and writing little stories alongside each one. Sometimes, from behind their closed bedroom doors, I heard the girls reading the stories to each other and sometimes I heard them crying, but I had never seen them share them with anyone. Not even me.


So, seeing them both sitting there, with Amy’s arm protectively around their shoulders, an empty plate of biscuits on the table, well, it brought a lump to my throat. 


“Is it ok if Mrs Irvine stays for dinner Dad?” said Nestor, while Esther nodded her head vigorously. 



This is such a heart warming chapter. The subtext of loss is overlaid by a story of gentle optimism, of life returning to normal after trauma. It draws a portrait of a normal day in a normal household yet you make this day special and full of hope.Very nice indeed.
There is a sweetness to this story that makes it so likeable.
A great chapter, and forgive me for pointing out a detail. In previous chapters, her name is Irving, not Irvine.