Petticoat’s Loss

Sitting on the water’s edge, skimming stones, she couldn’t help but feel a
strange presence surrounding her. She watched the stones skip along the
surface bouncing into the unknown. An air of melancholy surrounded her
and echoed the mood she harboured within.
Lucy often heard told of the story of Mary Hannigan, banished to these
waters by a local priest for eternity, that, or until she emptied the lake with a
thimble. An impossible task of course, because the coum here in Bay Lough
is bottomless as everyone knows. As she looked around, she couldn’t help
but feel a tang of jealousy towards Ms Hannigan to be exiled to such a
serene and tranquil spot. Wheatears and siskins dotted the sky like specs of
smut rising from the chimney and the wind created tiny ripples on the
water’s surface which hightailed their way to the bank as if late for a
function. The Vee still wore her coat of spring but the rhododendrons
creeping out from behind their hiding place told her summer would soon
make an appearance and the gorse in full blossom painfully reminded her
that kissing was in fashion. Here, in this very spot the stresses of the world
usually seemed to evaporate into the Knockmealdowns. But Lucy’s heart
had finally taken as much as she could handle. This time, she was done!
When she visited here she often thought of Mary and how she came to be
banished to these shores. She couldn’t help but relate to a woman who in
all senses had hit her rock-bottom and likened her to an almost ‘soul sister’.
Exhausted and drained, both emotionally and physically, this place was
usually her solace. A brisk hike up the sugarloaf and a dip in the lake usually
gave her some respite. Better than any therapy she believed, but now she
just felt alone, desolate, comfortless. Nothing quite takes the beauty away
from nature than unrequited love.
A little girl eyeballed her as she walked past with her mother, ‘the monster
lives at the far edge of the lake,’ she told her as they took the path back to
the carpark. ‘Stay back from the edge or Scary Mary will drag you under’.
Lucy wished she could be dragged in but she knew they were only stories.
Anyway she was already a woman on the edge and she had stopped
looking for monsters underneath the surface long ago. She knew they lay
deep inside us or right now inside him. How could he lead her on like that,
make her believe she was his something?
That day as she dried herself off, something shiny caught her eye and like a
magpie she was drawn to a spot in the rocks. She reached to find an old
silver thimble wedged between the rocks. She remembered the impossible
task that was set by the parish priest and she thought to herself. She had a
decision to make. She could forever stay in this nightmare moping around,
like Petticoat Loose, or accept her fate and set about moving on.
Why did she keep putting her happiness in other people’s hands! Not only
did he drop it but this time, he smashed it. That’s the problem with love after
all, you can love who you want . . . . but so can they. She had to stop falling
in love with memories and accept that even though she chose him, he
chose someone else. She had some healing to do. She had to realise that it
wasn’t him she missed but who she thought he was.