mother visited and expressed her relief that she had managed to producea child before she was forty, that she had left it till dangerously late, thatshe was always a late starter, the blood slow to move in her veins. Andthank God for that midwife.
On the second of January 1964 she walked into the living room andfound her son, Colm, standing before the hearth with his hands at histhroat. He wore the cowboy outfit he had received for Christmas—tasselled chaps, denim waistcoat, and a gun belt around his waist. The hatlay on the floor, upturned, the silvery glint of the pistol in its dark depth.His colour was deep blue. He was not breathing. From the stricken facethe tongue protruded wetly. Rushing to him she asked him what waswrong. In answer there were only his bulging eyes, the stormy cheeks.On the floor beside him she saw a green furry dinosaur, his favourite toy,the colourful balls of plastic spilling from a broken seam. She grabbedthe boy and turned him upside down. Clasped him to her and bangedhis wriggling back. The coloured ball came out with a hiss and fell tothe floor. She laid him on the couch and watched him take in air, theblue face turn warm. It was the most terrible thing to have happened toher. For months she woke in the night and could not sleep until she hadtiptoed to his room and witnessed his breathing. Her hand clasping thedoor, her long shadow fell across the room and onto her sleeping son,and like that she remained for minutes at a time while the house sleptpeacefully.
On the second of May 1968 they moved into their new home on Sea-point Avenue. Éadaoin’s headmaster’s salary bought them three squarestoreys in a long terrace of white-rendered townhouses. The whitenessof the houses recalled to her a layer of frosting, the square windows letinto them busy with clouds—whipped cream. From the windows werevisible the snout of the pier, the wide arms of the bay, and the distantpins of the Pigeon House towers. The house was everything they haddreamed of.
On the twelfth of March 1971 she stood at the kitchen table and staredtowards the narrow panes of the kitchen door, which admitted a soft,garden-greened light. She wondered if she should have returned toteaching after Colm was born. After some minutes of contemplation, sherealised that the cream she was churning had grown heavy, and looking