fore she lifted the receiver. The voice on the line was intimately familiar,but when she attempted to utter the name that went with the voice, shefound she was unable to do so. The word sat like a smooth pebble onher tongue, unmoving. She spoke to the voice for some minutes, answered its questions, but the voice showed no inclination to end the call.Long silences developed. Finally, the voice asked her if everything wasokay. Of course, she said, but I hear the soup boiling over. Mum, said thevoice, this is Colm. Then the voice and its owner stood together in herhead. And the skies of her mind cleared and she was able to talk a littlelonger before he asked her about the soup and she said she’d better get toit. When the receiver was back in the cradle she sat in the chair next tothe hall table and recorded her impression of Colm’s manner, which wasthat he had sounded tired and fractious.
In May 1993 Éadaoin turned to her from the kitchen sink and said, Isay, I say, I say, bananas for breakfast? Her ladyship wants bananas forbreakfast again? But she only had them yesterday! And he looked at herfor a long time and gave her one of his crooked smiles and came over toher and cupped the bowl of her head with his hand and said, Her ladyship can have whatever she wants, of course, and he kissed her on herforehead. His lips were cool, dry, tremulous. Old lips. On the mashedbananas he sprinkled brown sugar; she watched the grains spin from hisrasping fingers and fall darkling on the golden pulp. Banana toast.
Sometime that winter she went out into the garden and could not returnto the house. The kitchen door was in the correct place, green-painted,and through its frosted glass were visible kitchen shapes: table, oven, thedark and light combinations of the tiles. The handle of the door was ofobscure function. It turned, moved up and down, but kept no promises.She hated to ask it for anything. From her throat came noises of constrained frustration that sounded remotely, as if emanating from somebody else. Soon her shivering made the door impossible. She stood before it, her arms strapped across her front, her pale reflection in the glassquite still. Éadaoin discovered her there when he returned from the postoffice. He folded his arms around her and brought her before the livingroom fire. From Colm’s old room he brought a duvet with a pattern ofblue flowers and placed it over her and tucked it under her chin and gently admonished her for going outside without him. A fire lit before her,also. Beneath the duvet she shivered violently, her body inventing new