Irene had loved Jim for seventeen months before he said that he loved her.
“You do?” she said in delight.
“That’s not much of an answer” Jim grumbled. “You’re meant to say you love me too.”
“Of course I do” she hugged him.
“Well then?” he said.
“Well what?” she was confused.
“Will we get married?” he asked, as if it was obvious.
Her eyes filled with tears. He was so straightforward and honest. If you loved someone that was it – you got married. No trials, no rehearsals, no seeing how things went. The whole works.
“I’d love to” she said simply. “I think we’ll be very happy.”
And she was sure that they would. They laughed at the same things, they believed the same sort of beliefs, they liked the same kind of people. They weren’t smart and glib and cynical. They thought that a lot of politicians were honest, a lot of churchmen were doing a good job. They didn’t cheat on their income tax and boast about it. They didn’t steal from the office or try to get away without paying a fare on a train.
Irene’s parents lived in Dublin so Jim had met them often. On nights they had no money to go out they often sat at home and looked at television with her parents. He supported a different team and so had endless conversations about this with her father. Jim liked cooking and would debate with her mother ways of making bread. He said you could do great things with yeast. Irene’s mother said life wasn’t long enough to introduce yeast into cooking. In many ways Jim was part of her family already. But the thing was that Irene had never met Jim’s family. Not in the whole two years they had been going out. The subject had never come up. But now that they were going to get married of course it would. Naturally their son couldn’t go home and say he was marrying this girl from Dublin and not introduce her. They’d surely think it strange that things had gone this far and they had not met her already.
Irene began to be uneasy about it. Jim was very relaxed.
“You’ll come down and stay a weekend” he said.
“Whenever suits you and them I suppose. I’m easy.”
And he was easy, sure, confident, relaxed that it was all going to be fine.
“Will we go next weekend?” Irene wanted to be over it.
“No, I think they’re away somewhere.”
He was vague. Imagine having parents who might be away “somewhere.” Irene’s parents went abroad every two years. It was saved for, planned for, discussed. Everyone knew. She tried to think herself into a world where parents MIGHT be away.
It was a leap to great to make.
“Well tell me when” she said trying to hide her unease.
Jim went home about four times a year. He didn’t phone much or write as far as she could see. But that was boys for you. He had a brother in America and a brother in England. Did they stay in touch with home? Jim wasn’t sure…they probably did. They kept in great touch with him and came back for matches and to sleep on the floor of his flat in Dublin. They were nice fellows, much like Jim. They seemed pleased that he was getting married.
“Do you think we’ll be able to corral the parents in for the wedding” said Kevin the eldest, home on a visit.
A dart of fear came into Irene’s heart. Did this mean that Jim’s parents might not approve. They might think her too lowly for their son. She had written them a nice note saying that she was very happy to be marrying their son. There had been no reply.Read on. Download the complete story