As I nervously await my launch date for “Hope From The Ocean,” I’m hoping that those of you who have read “Fireflies” will really enjoy this prequel and getting to know some of the pivotal characters from “Fireflies” prior to Ennis’ story. This has taken quite a bit longer than I would have liked but we’re almost there now and there’s no turning back. =]
Please enjoy the first 847 pieces of my heart while you wait:
They barely knew him, this man whose wavy red mane was now frosted over and unruly, with the permanent indentation of a hat pressed into it. All he said was, “Ye’ll be livin’ with us now.”
The letter was still folded in his shirt pocket from Wednesday’s post. The simple powerful expression of hopelessness played over and over in his mind, yet those few scribbles gave way to this foretold journey and the outcome of his brother and sister-in-law’s short lives.
“Colleen is dead and buried and I don’t have the means to keep them. The sooner you come get them the better.”
His brother’s wife’s mother, the grandmother so named to these two blameless beating hearts, turned them out without so much as an empty apology. She didn’t even have the decency to wait with them until Dan arrived. She barely had enough humanity left to send two sentences to save their lives. Dan dug deep for either pity or some shred of understanding for how blood kin could leave two small boys alone on the side of the road but could find neither. Over the years, he’d seen his fair share of malice. He’d walked the earth long enough to have witnessed much worse in people than this, yet regardless of the amount of times he’d beheld the reprehensible acts of human beings, he hadn’t grown blind to them. Once he laid eyes on the boys again, and the state in which they were, any chance their mother’s mother had of absolution in his prayers turned to ash.
His voice was low and it rattled a bit. He sighed after he spoke, emptied his chest, then took a deep breath and yawned. He’d traveled an hour in the dark to fetch them and the sun had yet to make even the slightest peek over the horizon.
“Where’s yer thin’s?”
“We haven’t any thin’s. Someone came and took…” Patrick attempted to explain.
“Figured that. Off we go then.”
Their uncle’s heavily lidded eyes never met theirs when he lifted their weightless frames into the flatbed of a cart, pulled by an aged yet sturdy black horse. His words were few but well heeded. His calloused hands barely clasped the reins when he clucked his tongue in his hallowed cheek at the horse to move.
“More orphans,” an old woman grunted as she shook her head and sneered when they passed her on the road. Dan repeatedly glanced back over his shoulder at his cargo to observe the going’s on. Dillon sat in a ball, staring at the road behind them in complete silence. Patrick sat up and glared at the woman in what slight moonlight was left in the darkness, causing her to look away. When she turned her head and met his eyes again, she sneered and shouted at him, “What are ye lookin’ at?”
Dan wanted no part of this confrontation, regardless of how petty it was and barked, “That’s enough. Sit down.”
Dillon pulled hard at his brother’s arm to sit back but he resisted. As the woman faded out of sight, along with her went the place he was born. Patrick’s blank expression and dry eyes told perfectly that he gave no care of loss to either.
“Uncle Dan? Are we orphans now?” asked Dillon, the younger of the two brothers.
“Aye, lucky ones.”
“Ye have kin, don’t ye? Ye coulda ended up in a orphanage instead of comin’ ta me grand estate,” their uncle answered, never moving an eye left or right.
“Ye have an estate, Uncle?” Dillon asked with childish naïveté.
Their craggy uncle just laughed to himself and never looked back.
“Thank ye, Uncle. We’ll earn it. I swear it to ye,” Patrick remarked, giving his younger brother the eye to be quiet now and leave their uncle be. Dan understood in those first few minutes how important it was to Patrick that they not be considered a burden and would never expect anything from him.
Patrick was older by a few years, although his mature and somber demeanor made those few years seem double the length. Uncle Dan knew they were being freed from living hand to mouth or worse, begging in the streets. Patrick’s words of gratitude were spoken on behalf of both he and his brother, the same as all of his words up to this point. Had it not been for either the kindness or obligation of their uncle Dan Flynn to take them in, they’d have been left to suffer the hard shell that life would shroud them in over time–if they survived at all. How bad could it be to live in a real home, even if they’d have to share a bed with their cousins? They’d moved from one dirt floor hovel to another, only to be cast-off in the end to the dirt road. Whatever their uncle’s motivation, they’d have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies, which was more than two homeless and scrawny lads from the outskirts of Old Kilcullen could hope for.