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In Hindsight

Ciara Brennan

She was so tired. She’d just sit down now, for a moment –only a

moment, no harm could come of that. After all, she’d sorted

everything out, hadn’t she? The rooms were clean, beds made; she’d

washed the dirty laundry in the tub, scrubbing out the stains with a

bar of soap and hanging them out to dry. She’d even chopped the

carrots and parsnips for tea. Of course, she could just cook it all now

and keep it warm for when Charlotte came…

But she was so tired. Slowly, carefully, she lowered herself onto

the chair on the porch. She always had to sit down slowly now

because her knees were all weak and sore, and a shot of pain raced

up her back after any sudden movements.

But the chair was nice –not a pretty chair, but stable, comfortable,

and that’s all that mattered. She sighed, lifting her head up to the

sky, feeling the soft hands of sunlight gently caressing her face. She

could hear the birds, some sweetly singing, others bickering like old

women. Then suddenly – could it be? A little bird fluttered down

and landed on the porch; for a moment it looked up at her, curiously,

then it turned and flew off. It was grey with a ring of yellow around

its neck. It was exactly like the one she and Lizzie would see when…

Lizzie. Anne remembered when they were little girls – “Annie

and Lizzie” – such close sisters. How, at the end of the day, after

school, after helping their mother around the house, after supper,

they would sit in bed and tell stories and giggle. They’d had to share

the bed, and share the room with their brother.


got to sleep on

the side with the window, the window through which you could see

all the stars in the night sky. Anne remembered how, once their

brother had fallen asleep, she and Lizzie would creep over to the

window and watch the stars. And some nights –no, most nights –

they would even fall asleep there, and wake up to the chirping of a

little grey bird with a ring of yellow around its neck. It always gave

them a funny look before flying off…

Goodness, she was just a child back then. She’d had to grow up,

sooner or later. She remembered how, at thirteen, she left school

and worked as a washerwoman, supporting her family –her ageing

parents –until she turned twenty. When she was twenty she met


Anne sighed. She didn’t even know she was to marry him until

he came up to her and said he’d arranged it with her father. Then

the wedding – “oh, look at you all dressed up dear” – and the