down she saw the yellow shine of the butter in the glass jar, her whitenedknuckles on the handle of the churner. Disturbed that the transformation from cream to butter had taken place unnoticed by her, that shehad slipped into unconscious motion, without volition or directedness,she leant against the kitchen table and covered her eyes and wept for anhour. The feeling was of moving within an illimitable current, towardsan unknowable end. The sensation returned once or twice a year. Ondays of unexpected sunshine she discovered relief in walking out of thehouse and crossing the road and the train tracks and going down to therocky shore, there to watch the sea lift the weed on slow swells and feelplayful coastal breezes on her upturned face.
On the seventeenth of December 1973 Éadaoin returned from a faculty Christmas dinner in a state of drunken introspection. Breathingheavily through his nose, swaying before the kitchen sink as he filled aglass of water, he was uncommunicative as to the night’s events. Leaning against the doorjamb, she gently probed him. The hall light cast hernarrow shadow on the floor of the darkened kitchen. Éadaoin workedthe tap and glass awkwardly, the fluorescence of the water breaking overhis hand. After he had finished drinking he bent over the sink to brushhis teeth. She watched him, the frosted leaves of the path melting under the soles of her feet, turning limp. Knowing that Nuala Smyth hadbeen in attendance that evening, she felt compelled to ask him if he wastruly happy. If the oddness of his mood was not somehow connected tosome burden of regret. Somewhere inside her, sufficiently deep as to bea bodily secret, a cavity in strong bone, was the knowledge that NualaSmyth sent a Christmas card each year, which, although addressed tothem both, was undoubtedly intended for her husband. The question,she found, was impossible. Instead, she asked him if he would like herto put two Alka-Seltzer by the bed for the morning. Turning unsteadily,the bulb in the hall placing two catchlights in his fluid eyes, he repliedin the affirmative.
On the eighth of July 1978, while staying at the Connemara holiday homeof some friends, a game of Monopoly was suggested as an after-dinnerentertainment. She found herself unable to choose between the top hatand the iron as her playing piece. Her procrastination brought a number of suggestions from her fellow players. Ralph Sweeney, their host,annoyed her only slightly with his opinion that the iron was a symbol