Not sure what compelled me, but I went and found me ass in church th’ other day. Hadn’t been stepped in one for years, since I moved out on me own. Not by choice, anyway. Few times went for visiting to Ma, on the holidays, and she’d be dragging me there, would I let her. Depending on the mood — didn’t always like to be startin’ a thing, as it were. Some days it’d be, “Ma, but you don’t agree with what they says like, then you ain’t a Catholic. Simple as that,” and she’d say, “It doesn’t matter what’s been your thoughts, lad, just as long as you’ve the faith. It’s important, that.”
The Ma’am were somethin’ nuts, she were.
This time, I’d off to service on me own. First time in a while I’d been woken early on a Sunday. Weren’t by choice again, just felt like a thing to do. Found an Irish Mass somewhere in the neighborhood—never seen the place before, but heard they sang their hymns in the Old Language and thought it might be nice to have for a listen.
But the fat colleen what sang sharper than the bean sídhe, and I thought perhaps I’d been mistook with my decision. Still, her awful wail weren’t enough to keep from hearing me own name uttered during Father Liam’s dedicated moment for the service, unmistakeable in his soft Leitrim lilt. He’d spoke a prayer out for the names of those who’d recently been passed, a short list that sounded like he’d kept a bowl of names below the altar — one of given, one of family — and drew each name at random, as if for God’s luck to choose the death. “William…Healey,” he spoke. “Padraig…Sullivan. Niamh…O’Rourke…
“Brian…McGackin,” and I felt dry in me mouth, the kick drum echo of a beating heart inside. Following, a moment of silence, filled only with the swell of air.
“We pray to the Lord,” the Father spoke.
“Lord hear our prayer,” they responded. I heard the fat colleen squeal again. “Dochas Linn Naomh P´draig / Aspal mór na hÉireann / Ainm orirc glégeal / Sól´s mó an tsaoil é,” and I waited for the true bean sídhe’s wail.
This is why I woke this mornin’. This is why I’m here, like. I held for my last breathe when I heard that awful howl, and clenched me eyes to closed. I opened up the right one with a caution when I realized it was nothing but the awful woman’s tone, but wondered if the Dullahan had traded in his steed for a V8 engine, revving in his cóiste bodhar as he’s waiting for to find me in the parking lot.
And that mornin’—oh, aye, that mornin’—that Communion never tasted quite as sweet as I had found.