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Old 01-30-2011, 07:25 PM   #1
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An Cat Dubh 37

I had what Cath saw in my head for a while now. What's clearer still is the epilogue that will come eventually, which should be fun.

Sorry kids. To have dragged you through this story and then done this. To be fair, there's another ending I may post as a second epilogue, but I warn, it's not much better.

There are a few chapters to go yet before this is over with. There may even be 40 (hmm ) which would make an odd sort of sense. There's still some stuff that has to be dealt with, finished, explained, and years passing.

***

Edge had gone with Oisín out of the hospital. He was surprised the other man didn’t have a car, and offered to drive him wherever he was going; Oisín accepted gratefully and directed him somewhere in the middle of Dublin that looked more like the northern part of Ireland on small scale: everything was some level of wrecked, steam rose up from cracks in the ground, and the one intact building was the one he asked Edge to stop at.

Edge was tired, felt glued to the seat, with the air dragging through him like inertia, little frantic motes of light the memories in his mind. All the images around him were coming through scattered, not in the usual normal stream. He looked up when Oisín said “Can ya stop here?” and decided he’d come with him.

It was surprisingly light in the house. Oisín didn’t knock, just came in and softly called, “Máthair?”

It had been years since Oisín was here. He felt that familiar divide within him from when he was nineteen: he hadn’t been able to stay with her, like he hadn’t been able to stay with his father, even to help Cath. That his mother lived here—and everything that came with it—was enough that he could not.

He climbed the stairs (“Don’t rush down like that, Oisín! The world will wait…silly boy…” Ciara picked up a squirming, gap-toothed Oisín and he frowned indignantly and demanded to be set down. Cathlin looked intently at the daunting staircase from the top, clutching her thumb in her mouth and deciding she could not be made to go down it and lose her balance…) and swung open the door, standing there awkwardly and saying hello. Ciara groaned, blinked, and stood up, recognizing him finally. She came over to him and hugged him hard—she felt so insubstantial since he had last seen her; he could nearly feel her ribs.

“Are you okay?” he asked in Gaelic. She nodded, a very real happiness shining through her; she had been wonderful, in comparison to when she had lived with his father.

“I’m fine, ’Sheen,” she answered. “Now let’s have a look at you.” She smiled and pulled away from him, gazing at her boy; years had passed. He had a faintly frantic look about the edges of him, that said he hadn’t really settled anywhere yet, and she had seen some of those clothes years before. His hair had grown longer, out of his face, and there was still, beneath everything, that sort of openness in his eyes, though he looked almost as if he wished she would not see him so intently.

“What is it?” she asked.

“It’s not important,” he replied, and sighed then. “I killed a man, by accident.”

She didn’t say anything. No, that was not his father she saw in his eyes.

“Oisín, you’ve grown,” she said a little sadly, then turned away and threw a coat on. “So, what made you visit?”

“Cathlin,” Oisín said, his voice heavy.


Edge didn’t know what he had expected to see, but somehow it made sense that this woman was Cath’s mother. She was bundled into a dark coat, but even with that, he could tell that she had gone through something that made her on the verge of painfully thin. She had long dark hair that fell around her face, and soft dark eyes, but her face was very different from Cath’s, less angular, and she looked at Edge directly as if she could see through him, reach into his body and understand his soul, then looked away shyly. That was definitely one of Cath’s traits. Oisín had one hand on her arm and unconsciously drifted nearer to her, his face bright: he had been without his mother for a long time. Most of the tightness or concern on his face eased a little—what belonged to her had—what was from Cath remained.

And some of Cath’s weariness towards the end of life—yes, that was hers.

“Hello, Mrs Fairleigh,” Edge greeted her. She nodded at him and smiled a quick smile, beginning to look curious.

“Are you Cathlin’s man, then?” she asked him with more than a little amusement—and some approval.

Edge bit his lip. “No, he’s with her at the hospital. I’m friends with her.”

She looked at him piercingly for a moment with those eyes and probably understood, then looked back at Oisín, who told her “She’s had a baby, and had a rough time of it,” and then fell into some fluid incomprehensible speech Edge assumed was Gaelic. An intense emotion fell into Ciara’s eyes and settled there. She nodded at her son and thanked him for telling her. She’d be out the door in a moment, she said next, and went back upstairs to get ready to leave.

“Why didn’t Cath know she was alive?” Edge asked Oisín curiously.

“When she left me da,” Oisín answered quietly, looking torn, “he made it sound like she died. He was angry that she left, and he couldn’t find out where she was. I was fifteen, Cath was thirteen.”

“But surely you could have found…”

Oisín shook his head. “I found out two years later she had nearly died from heroin, and it didn’t make sense at first, until I searched for her and she told me she couldn’t bear to be away from da, and that had made it better at first.

“She went through some terrible withdrawal and never touched the stuff again, said she’d find a way to make money so we could live away from him. The job didn’t work out, and I hadn’t seen her since then.”

There was that odd sense of synchronicity again, of events seeming different than they were.

“But she’s a good woman,” Edge stated. There was something elusive about her and Oisín, and even Cath, that seemed good despite their pasts.

Oisín nodded, though part of him still seemed fifteen, overwrought, and unsure. “And Cath misses her.”


Everything was finally coming together, all the little loose strands of her life drifting into a whole. She embraced her mother hard when she saw her again, a little sun of realization filling Cath: it made sense her mother wasn’t dead. Perhaps it would make things easier for Oisín.

“Is he in America, then?” she asked her mother when she could finally pull away, leaning back a little on the hospital bed.

Ciara shook her head no. “Not yet.”

Cath frowned thoughtfully, the idea coming to her. She whispered something to her mother for a long while. Paul was outside, anxious and restless and then calm, staring before him like he could become everything he saw and leave the intense pain that was building inside of him.

He came back in, not showing anything outwardly, but to Cath he looked very young, nothing of the man Bono Vox—but the boy she had known, who he had been before she had known him. That same little echo of dark sadness was coming back unendurably into his eyes.

She began to only feel around the edges. It was unsettling. She clung to Paul but it didn’t change things; she couldn’t feel her feet, or the back of her neck, and her head was spinning with a terrible violent nausea that ripped through the corners of her stomach. Edge couldn’t stand to be in the room; he sat outside crying while Ciarán frowned up at him in complete confusion and tugged at his clothes with baby hands.

Everything that had fallen away began to rush back dizzyingly. Cath became aware she held Paul tightly, and he was staring at her without speaking, without crying or moving. She watched the sun move over him, almost afraid to even touch him, and he watched the sun leave her face.


Everything was ocean. That’s where it all began, in an ocean of darkness and life had formed from a little spark of existence. Little connections in her own body, the network of blood and bone and thoughts and heartbeat. Her eyelids closed; the sky grew red and pale and calm like a little womb. The world was huge and oceanic, the darkness that called at her swaying with the same sounds that whispered vigorously in her ear: Paul’s heartbeat, his voice, his breath.

The feeling of his fingers stretched and slipped away. They no longer felt tight in her own; she was falling and walking forward under this great vast cloud-weighted sky. The clouds fell away but the sky revealed no color. She could feel no water, feel nothing. She was submerged and moving at once. She let the feeling drift into her body and when it tightened and expanded into a kernel of awareness, she let it release itself outward, and the world around her transformed, close and hazy and still with that faint sound that could not leave.

She walked forward, and she stared at the vastness, and then she was inside it, and darkness rushed across the sky behind her eyelids, and she looked up at the sun and wondered. It fell, needle-like, over everything that did not envelop her in silence.

She was very cold, in the still rush. She may have been shaking. There were goosebumps trailing over her arms, and wet hair trailing over her back. She was small before this Ocean and Ciarán called at her in Paul’s voice to come back or she would be swept away.

She became aware that that light receded, and the water too, and the dizzying vastness, and the dark rushing closeness was warm around her. She could hear his heartbeat one last time. In an odd rush of instants, she could feel different times gripping at her: she turned her head and saw him singing to her, reaching out with his eyes; she bolted out the door of her father’s house, cuts sharp pain across her face; she looked down and saw Ciarán. She wanted to speak, but could not.

It was very, very warm.

Before it took her senses and the little strings tied between herself and the living, she heard something faintly, a scrap of lyrics she had heard one day.

A picture in grey…
Just me
By the sea…

Washes my feet
Washed my feet
Splashes my soul…



He was holding her when it happened, in the deep stillness of the night. Nothing else was moving. Ciara sang to her grandson something in Gaelic Paul felt he had heard before. He wanted to disappear into Cath’s arms and forget everything, he wanted her to make it go away. He was fourteen again and his mother had just died and he was lost…lost…

Her hand tightened around his as if communicating some obscure message he understood instantly, the energy in that one part of her body unbearably vibrant for a brief moment. She was very warm in his arms. She had been shaking with the fever that returned and her nails had dug into his skin, and there had been a quiet time before nightfall when fear gripped his heart and made the heat behind his eyes sweep an unshakable sadness throughout him. He held her so tightly he thought she might have bruised if she had longer. He could feel every breath, every heartbeat, so that’s how he knew.

She whispered his name and looked up into his eyes. Hers were endless as the sky had been above them. She didn’t see another place, she focused and saw his eyes, his face, and ached with that terrible need to capture his face, his body—everything—into her memory, because it would be gone.

Paul...”

If there had been any other sound, he wouldn’t have heard it. He had set aside her ring, next to his, beside the bed, and held both her hands tightly as if he could catch her.

She reached up to his face, something huge crossing her eyes, and he kissed her for the last time, unable to stop himself from crying. The tears spilled past his body from where they had been building with a deep ache in his eyes that was nothing to the growing unendurable emptiness. Her lips were fever-hot and barely able to move. She sighed and let her head fall against his shoulder when he broke away and looked desperately at her in the moonlight. He was holding her so tightly, her body melting into his bones, the fever scalding his skin from hers through their clothing, that he felt her give a little hiccup of a shiver and the little stutter of her heartbeat that lengthened and pulled his sanity away with it and became a great void of silence, white noise out into the reaches of space and emptiness.

And she was completely still. He did not hear the quiet continuous flatline beep the machine made.

He became aware he was shuddering, still crying, and even his tears did not make her body real anymore. She was an empty shell that carried everything of the woman he had known. She would wake in a moment, she would shake him away from this dream he was having, they would get married and forget about all of this.

She was there. No, she was gone. Cath’s heartbeat had dropped out of the world. She lay still warm next to his body, her head tilted a little sideways, her head brushing against his skin, her mouth slightly parted, her fingers held open, with no pulse.

The air was the same around them, the light the same over them, the flesh and bone the same basic substance, but it could not bring her back. Just as she was, she was not, and the world in its silence began to wrap Paul in the suffocating stillness.

The silence filled him and did nothing to comfort him. Just the high flat sound the doctors turned off and the little sounds Ciarán made in the other room in sleep, but nothing masked the silence. It filled him like unending static and clawed through him almost as deeply as the pain.
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Old 01-30-2011, 07:56 PM   #2
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NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOO!

I was really hoping for a Disney ending here. Sort of a 'what? True loves kiss brought her back to life?'
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Old 01-30-2011, 07:59 PM   #3
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Oh Kath!

How terribly sad. I've been following this beautiful story since the beginning and although I've not commented on every chapter I've enjoyed it a lot.

Her mother's name is Ciara...
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Old 01-30-2011, 08:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GraceRyan View Post
NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOO!

I was really hoping for a Disney ending here. Sort of a 'what? True loves kiss brought her back to life?'
You mean Edge?



(Sorry, it was my job to say that. LOL!)
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Old 01-30-2011, 08:07 PM   #5
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Not commenting on that! Haha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WithoutSpeaking View Post
Oh Kath!

How terribly sad. I've been following this beautiful story since the beginning and although I've not commented on every chapter I've enjoyed it a lot.

Her mother's name is Ciara...
Going to pretend that was a C. Alright then (It is weird her name is so close to mine...um.)

(I was noticing the Ciara bit when reading your story and I'd already decided on her name—oh no! I had to keep silent because she's kinda a spoiler)

Thanks darlin

Quote:
Originally Posted by GraceRyan View Post
NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOO!

I was really hoping for a Disney ending here. Sort of a 'what? True loves kiss brought her back to life?'
Wait for the alternate version of the epilogue. It's not that and not so positive, but it's interesting...she and Bono do say hi, once, in '83 (that's when the story ends)

But in this non-alternate version she's definitely dead.

*sigh* Ciaran...
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:05 PM   #6
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CATH!!
Okay, you killed off my favorite character, now what? I guess this is the end.
Alternate version might be more welcome.
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:07 PM   #7
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I miss her too...she found a way even in the beginning to become an actual character and then to make the story and the song make more sense...

It's not the end, actually. There's a couple chapters left and an epilogue. Alternate version's coming as a different version of the epilogue...
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:13 PM   #8
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Epilogue!
That's my one thought I guess. I saw the word "epilogue" and was like YAY!
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:19 PM   #9
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Why? Because it's in '83?

(haven't yet decided if it's Red Rocks...that is tempting, but I would be rewriting history...ah well, that's what fanfic does...)
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:47 PM   #10
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I like epilogues. They wrap everything up well, usually. And yes... 83, woop!
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:52 PM   #11
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Kinda that, but I guess it's not a good job of an epilogue in the sense that it leaves everything kind of open...we'll see when I finally get to writing it ^^
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:54 PM   #12
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'Kay, see ya then! Hehe...
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