When Peggy fell in love with Peter McLaughlin as a naive teenager, she fell in love forever. When that love wasn’t reciprocated, her older sister Edie stepped in to ensure Peggy didn’t spend her life longing after a lost cause. Years later, and just when Edie thought Peggy had rid her mind of foolish romantic notions, Peter arrives back in town…
‘Throw another log on that fire, will you?’
‘What did your last maid die of?’
But Peggy, younger sister of Edie, puts aside the magazine she’d been reading, heaves herself from “her” fireside chair and plucks a piece of applewood, dry as tinder, from the basket. She drops it onto the embers from where it instantly produces a showy shower of sparks against the brick fireback and sides of the old fireplace. For a minute or so, she stays on her feet, enjoying its fizz and crackle until it dies down.
‘It’s like our own fireworks, isn’t it, Edie? I love Sundays. Wish I didn’t have to go back to work tomorrow.’
‘My pension won’t provide for the two of us, Peggy, will it?’
Edie’s in a bad mood because of yet another looming defeat by the Crosaire setter in the Irish Times. Her ambition is to master the wretched thing before her 70th birthday in April. It’s now mid-February, she’s been at it since New Year’s Day but hasn’t managed to decipher more than half of the fiendish clues on any one day.
Before retirement, she had been principal of the local national school and this daily drubbing is mortifying.
In addition, just when she’d begun to believe that this business with Peter McLoughlin is no longer an issue – Peggy hadn’t mentioned him for at least three years – there’s now the prospect that this week of all weeks, with Valentine’s Day plonked right in the middle on Wednesday, it’s going to resurrect itself.
‘For God’s sake, sit down,’ she barks, ‘you’re standing in my light.’
Peggy, offended, re-takes her seat, picks up her magazine and turns a page, rattling the glossy paper as much as possible.