AUTHOR: Cathy Roberts
SUMMARY: John Carter's neighbor has a crush on him.
She edged the curtain aside and peered out into the street.
It was empty now, not even the children were out playing.
Had she missed it when he came home? She thought not. He was
Just in case though, she went to the kitchen and gazed out
over the fence that separated the houses. He had been doing
work in the backyard these past few evenings, but there was
no sign of him. He must not be home, she affirmed, feeling
slightly disappointed at not seeing him. It was hot outside
and most days he ended up taking his shirt off. She had
quite enjoyed watching him pull the T-shirt over his head
and then use a dry part of the shirt to wipe the sweat from
his brow. There was nothing quite like the sight of a man
working hard enough to break a good sweat.
She quietly made her way back to the front of the house and
sat in the chair by the window. Through the sheers she could
see if someone was on her sidewalk. She didn't like being
surprised whenever her doorbell rang, even if it was himself
She smiled then as she glanced fondly on the vase full of
flowers. He had brought those flowers two days ago.
Yesterday, he had brought her a "National
Geographic" magazine. So far, she had read it from
cover to cover three times. It had put a strain on her eyes,
but she didn't mind. The articles took her home to Ireland.
She shook her head and admonished herself, Margaret
Kathleen, remember, this is your home now. Had been her home
for so very long. Too long to remember. But, he did so enjoy
hearing her stories. And, the truth be told, she did so love
telling them to him.
He looked like her Sean. That made it so much easier to talk
with him. To laugh with him. Except her Sean had eyes so
blue that they could rival the sky. His eyes were brown, but
such a deep brown they were and would have been difficult to
read in a person other than himself.
She picked up her hand mirror and gazed upon her face. In
her mind, she could see sparkling eyes the color of a new
shiny leaf. They were set in a face with wide eyes, high
cheekbones and a pert mouth. The lips were maybe a tad too
thin, but Sean had loved them anyway. Her crowning glory was
her hair. The curly red tresses hung well past her waist and
it was a pleasant chore to brush it out every morning and
night. She kept it braided now, but it was still brushed out
morning and night.
She put the mirror down, then reached up and removed the
pins that held the braids on her head. They fell, a heavy
weight still. Her hands made quick work of undoing the
plaits and as she was reaching for her brush, the doorbell
Guiltily, she glanced up at her clock, knowing it was him.
She had forgotten about him. If she didn't answer the door,
he would worry. He knew she would be home. Where else would
she be, after all? If she did answer the door, he would see
She felt a slight tremor go up her spine at that thought.
Sean had been the only man to see her crowning glory down
and loose. But, Sean was long gone now and she was still
alive. She grasped the arms of the chair and pulled herself
to her feet, then answered the door.
His smile was bright for her, but she could see the circles
under his eyes. He wasn't getting enough sleep, that much
was plain. Probably not eating right either. Men had such
problems when it came to taking care of themselves and he
was no exception.
"I saw this in a thrift store and it made me think of
you," he stretched out his arm, his palm facing up and
cradling a lovely pin. She had once admired one similar to
it back in 1929 when she had first set foot in America. What
horrible timing she and Sean had for their migration here.
Only Sean could manage to land in New York on the same day
that the stock market crashed.
"It's lovely," she said, reaching out to touch the
worn silver and the still vibrant garnet.
"Shall I put it on you?" he asked.
She nodded, then stepped back to let him into the house. He
dropped his bag to the floor and closed the door, then
deftly secured the pin on her blouse. He took her by the
hand and lead her over to her chair, then held up her
mirror. His eyes were smiling at her.
"It looks nice on you," he said.
She quite agreed with him there. The pin was made for her,
she decided. "Thank you. Would you care for some
He shook his head. "No thank you. I've had way too much
"Ah, but a cup of hot tea will help you relax. It will
only take a moment or two. The water is already hot."
"I must have perfect timing. Every time I stop by, the
water is already hot."
"You are certainly one of the lucky ones," she
responded. She would have to make sure that the water wasn't
hot tomorrow. It wouldn't do any good for him to start
thinking that she waited around for him before she took her
tea, even if she did.
"Can I help you with anything?" he called from the
front room. She couldn't quite call it a parlor. Those
weren't designed into houses any more. And she refused to
call it a living room.
"Would you mind carrying the tray for me?" She
asked, knowing the answer before she ever asked. Every day
he carried the tea tray from the kitchen to the front room
and back again once they were done.
He came to the kitchen and carried the tray back to the
living room, carefully setting it down on the solid oak
table that she and Sean had transported from Ireland so long
ago. He poured out their tea then, giving her two lumps of
sugar and taking three in his own.
"Please, help yourself to the sandwiches," she
He thanked her and chose a cucumber sandwich. She was glad
it was summer now and she could get the cucumber's at such a
good price. The cost was worth it though, if it kept him in
her front room.
"So, yesterday you mentioned that you and your husband
brought this table from Ireland. I'd like to hear how you
managed that, if you don't mind talking about it."
She smiled. "No. I don't mind at all. Would it bother
you if I brushed my hair while we talk? I was just about to
begin when you rang the bell."
He shook his head. "No, I don't mind."
She picked up her brush and began her story. His eyes never
left her face as she told how she and Sean had carefully
wrapped the table in quilts to keep it from being damaged on
the ship. Then, when they arrived in New York, the stock
market had crashed that very day and the little bit of money
they had wasn't enough to tide them over. They had counted
on Sean being able to get work within weeks of their
arrival, but with the Depression, it didn't happen. Sean had
thought about selling the table, but it had belonged to her
recently departed grandmother and there was no way she would
part with it. It was the only thing she had to remember her
She paused in her narration to pull at a tangle in her hair.
He set his teacup down and stepped around behind her.
"Let me get that for you." He took the brush from
her hand and began to work at the tangle. "What did you
and Sean end up doing?"
She closed her eyes as she remembered how difficult it had
been. "We took what work we could and ended up living
in a one room flat with another couple, Maire and Aidan
Sullivan. They were a Catholic couple from County Mayo, and
even though we were steadfast Protestants out of Belfast, we
got along anyway. We ad to. Sean was working two jobs, one
down on the docks and the other driving a car for an Italian
businessman. I was working scrubbing floors in the local
hospital. That came to an end though when I lost our baby. I
didn't know I was with child. It shook Sean up to come to
pick me up from work only to find that I was a patient. The
next day he quit his job on the docks and took a higher
paying job with the Italian businessman. It wasn't until we
ended up moving here that I found out Sean was involved in
criminal activities. But, bless his heart, he didn't want me
to risk losing our next babe by scrubbing floors."
It felt good to have him brushing her hair. All the tangles
were out now and he was giving it a gentle, yet thorough
brushing. The same way Sean had. It had brought Sean much
pleasure to brush her hair every night. Was it a sin to
enjoy this pleasure with him? She thought not.
"Shall I braid it for you?" His voice caught her
attention. It was tempting to say yes. Well, why not?
"That would be nice," she replied. She sighed as
she felt him run his fingers through her hair to separate it
"You wear two braids, right?"
"You noticed that?"
His laugh was rich and deep. "I'm a doctor, Maggie, I'm
supposed to notice the little things like that."
His hands were nice, she thought. Long fingers made for
doing the work of a doctor. She suddenly wished she was
seventy years younger. That she was twenty-five once again.
Oh, what she would love to feel those hands doing to her.
She felt herself blush at that thought, but she refused to
feel guilty. Hell, she was ninety-five, but, she wasn't dead
yet. And he was a handsome man. Just like her Sean.
"There. All done." He stepped back in front of her
and handed her the brush.
"Thank you. I'll pin it up later."
"Would you like more tea or should I take the tray back
to the kitchen now?"
"I'm done. Thank you." She watched him return the
tray to the kitchen, then he carefully washed out her china
cups and the teapot. She knew that when he was done, her
kitchen would be spotless. He even made sure the remaining
sandwiches were wrapped and placed in the refrigerator. They
would be her supper tonight, she decided. It wouldn't do to
let them go to waste.
He was smiling when he returned to her. "I promised to
meet some of my co-workers later and I want to shower and
change first. I'll see you tomorrow?"
"I'll be here." She got up to escort him to the
door and she felt a thrill to her toes when he bent down to
kiss her cheek.
"I'll see you tomorrow then, Maggie."
"Take care, John."
As he left, she saw his landlady parking in front of their
house. She stepped outside long enough to wave a hello at
Kerry Weaver then she went back inside. She carefully locked
her door then put her hand to her cheek, touching the spot
he had kissed. It was the same spot where Sean would kiss
her, that is, when he couldn't kiss her lips. Her other hand
touched the brooch and she smiled. Then she headed back to
her chair. If she were lucky, she would be able to see John
when he left to meet his friends.
She eased herself down into her chair, chuckling to herself.
If there was one sure thing, it was that Margaret Kathleen
Fitzpatrick was a lucky woman.