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Authors: Sinead Moriarty

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Pieces of My Heart

BOOK: Pieces of My Heart
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Pieces of My Heart

SINÉAD MORIARTY

PENGUIN IRELAND

PENGUIN IRELAND

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

www.penguin.com

First published 2010

Copyright © Sinéad Moriarty, 2010

The moral right of the author has been asserted

All rights reserved

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-0-14-191150-2

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Acknowledgements

About Eating Disorders and the Lack of Public Health Care for Sufferers

For Amy

A smooth sea never made a skilful mariner

1

I examined myself in the mirror. I hadn’t worn this black dress in years, but it still fitted, which was a relief. I moved closer and peered at my face – daylight was harsh: all I could see were lines everywhere, mapping out my life so far.

I decided to focus on the positive – the dress fitted. Having children young definitely helped you to maintain some kind of waistline.

Sally came up the stairs and walked into the room. She looked stunning in a black trouser suit. Not having children at all helped you to maintain a sensational waistline.

‘Nice suit,’ I said.

‘Prada. My present to myself for my forty-third birthday,’ said my best friend. ‘New boobs for my fortieth, Botox for my forty-first, Restylane for my forty-second and now designer clothes.’

‘Well, you look brilliant. I think I’ll have to ask Paul for a full face-lift for my birthday.’

‘Hey, you’re the hottest mother I know. My sisters all look like old women.’

‘I don’t feel remotely hot. Look at all these wrinkles.’

‘That’s why they invented Botox.’

‘I know, I know. I just hate needles.’

‘Muuuuum!’ yelled Sarah, storming into the bedroom. ‘There is no way I’m wearing this nun’s outfit.’

‘I want you to look respectable. Just put it on.’

‘If I have to wear it, I’m not going.’ She threw the navy dress onto my bed and folded her arms.

‘Sarah, I haven’t got time for this.’

‘Come on, I’ll help you find something,’ Sally said, ushering my bolshy sixteen-year-old out.

As they left, Alison walked in, wearing a simple but elegant beige shift dress. ‘Is this OK?’ she asked.

‘It’s perfect, Ali.’ I smiled at my eldest daughter. ‘You look lovely. Come on, let’s go check on Charlie.’

My father was standing in the hall in his best suit, looking very pleased with himself.

‘Are you feeling all right, Charlie?’ Alison asked, laying a gentle hand on his arm.

‘Never better. I’ve been waiting for this day for twenty-three and a half years,’ he said, beaming.

‘Charlie!’ I scolded half-heartedly.

‘This is the best day of my life.’ He grinned. ‘I’ll celebrate the tenth of August every year.’

Sarah came strutting down the stairs in a black mini-skirt and a black top with
Babe
emblazoned across the front. I glanced at Sally, who threw her arms into the air. ‘This is mild – you should have seen what she wanted to wear.’

‘Sarah, you do know we’re going to a funeral, not a nightclub,’ I reminded her.

‘Legs like this deserve to be shown off,’ she said, flicking back her long dark hair.

‘Sarah –’

Charlie put his hand on my shoulder. ‘Leave her, Ava. She’ll liven things up.’

‘Where’s Dad?’ Alison asked.

I sighed. ‘Stuck in work. He said he’d meet us out there. Come on, everyone, into my car.’

Paul was waiting for us at the church. ‘Why is our sixteen-year-old daughter dressed like a hooker?’ he asked.

‘Talk to Sally. I left her in charge,’ I replied.

‘You should thank me.’ Sally laughed. ‘She wanted to wear hot pants, so we compromised.’

‘Ava left
you
in charge of Sarah’s wardrobe?’

‘Are you implying that I dress inappropriately, too?’ Sally said, playfully punching his arm.

‘Did you forget your shirt?’

‘Smartarse. Prada trouser suits don’t require shirts,’ she retorted. Then, turning to me, she asked, ‘I’m not showing too much cleavage, am I, Ava?’

Before I had the chance to reassure her that she wasn’t over-exposed, Charlie jumped in: ‘I’d like to see a lot more,’ he said. ‘I’ve always been a boob man.’

Sally, Paul and Sarah tried not to laugh, while Ali looked embarrassed.

‘Charlie!’ I hissed. ‘We’re at your wife’s funeral.’

‘I can’t help it. I haven’t had sex in six years!’

‘That is a serious famine,’ Paul agreed.

‘Ewww, Charlie, do old people still do it?’ Sarah asked.

‘Any chance they get,’ Charlie assured her. ‘And now that Catherine has finally died, I’m free.’

‘Was she really that bad?’ Ali asked.

‘She was out of her mind with drink for twenty years. I’ve been cleaning up vomit for decades.’

‘Were there no warning signs in the beginning, before you got married?’ Sally wondered.

‘I just thought she was good fun, lively. I didn’t realize she drank half a bottle of vodka before every date.’

I patted his back. ‘You’ve had a tough time, but it’s over now.’

‘Alleluia! I’m back on the market, so watch out, ladies.’

‘You can come out with me and my single friends,’ Sally offered.

I pinched her. Why was she encouraging him? He was like someone escaped from prison – he needed to calm down. I was worried he’d go out and shack up with the first woman he happened to bump into. After my mother died, Catherine was the first he’d met and look what a disaster that had turned out to be. Charlie had never been on his own. He liked being in relationships. I’d need to keep a close eye on him.

We headed inside and sat up at the front of the church. Sally was in the pew directly behind us. There were barely twenty people in all, including us. Catherine had clearly alienated almost everyone. The priest cleared his throat and began …

He talked about Catherine’s ‘fun-loving nature and her unfortunate decline in health’. He said she had been ‘a loving wife to Charlie for over twenty years’.

‘There was no loving,’ Charlie grumbled, under his breath.

The priest noted what a wonderful carer Charlie had been, looking after Catherine through some very hard times. He then asked us to take a few moments to reflect on our own personal memories of Catherine.

After we had reflected, the altar boy carried the water and wine to the priest. As he approached the altar, he tripped on his vestment. The water and wine went flying, most of it spilling at the priest’s feet. There was a deathly silence. Then Charlie began to laugh. Soon half of the mourners had joined in while the other half looked appalled.

The priest peeled the boy off the floor, muttered, ‘I’m terribly sorry. If you’ll excuse us a minute while we regroup. This is most unusual, never happened before,’ and led him, red-faced, to the sacristy. Once they were out of earshot Charlie said loudly, ‘I can tell you now it was Catherine who tripped that poor boy up. She doesn’t want us having any wine without her.’

‘Heaven must be a drink-free zone.’ Sally grinned.

‘Or else she’s drunk it dry already.’ Charlie and Sally erupted into a fresh fit of laughter.

‘For God’s sake, you two,’ I hissed at them. ‘We’re supposed to be the chief mourners here. Everyone’s staring.’ They struggled to compose themselves.

Paul leaned across me and whispered to Charlie, ‘You’re a saint for staying with her all those years. Were you not tempted to do a runner?’

‘I was, I was, but I’m an old-fashioned fellow,’ Charlie admitted. ‘Till death us do part and all that. That’s why I’ll never marry again. From now on I’m going to look after myself. No more lost causes.’

‘Maybe you should breathalyse them on the first date,’ Sally said, her shoulders shaking again.

I shot her a warning look. ‘
Stop
encouraging him.’

‘Is it over yet?’ Sarah yawned, thoroughly bored by the whole thing.

‘Nearly,’ Paul said. ‘And don’t even think about putting that iPod on. I can see it in your pocket.’

‘But Ali’s been texting David the whole time and you’re not giving her grief.’ Sarah pouted.

‘Ali, put your phone away,’ Paul told her. She finished a message quickly and stuck the phone in her pocket.

The priest returned, the altar boy following with replenished containers. ‘I’m terribly sorry for that interruption,’ the priest said. ‘Fred here would like me to apologize to you all on his behalf, especially the grieving family.’ I suppressed a smile. We couldn’t have looked less like a grieving family.

After the final blessing, the undertakers moved in quietly to bring the coffin outside to the hearse. The congregation followed. People came up to Charlie and said they were sorry for his loss … She was better off now … At peace …

The rest of us stood apart, basking in the hot sun.

‘Oh, my God,’ Sarah squealed suddenly, ‘he just pinched that woman’s arse!’

We spun around to see Charlie groping someone’s bum.

‘That is truly the definition of mutton dressed as lamb,’ Paul marvelled. We watched the woman kissing Charlie’s cheek, leaving a bright red lipstick mark, then tottering away in six-inch heels and a very tight short dress, with a slit up the side.

‘I can’t believe he made a pass at someone at a funeral. At his
wife
’s funeral,’ Sally gasped. She grinned. ‘Charlie’s going to be so much fun now he’s been set loose. I’m raging I’m going away. Ava, text me the juicy stuff.’

‘I can’t believe he’s my new house-mate,’ Paul said.

‘Charlie’s moving in?’ Sally looked at me.

‘It’s only for a few months. He sold his house and bought an apartment, which isn’t quite ready yet.’

Charlie bounded over, rubbing his hands together. ‘Well, well, well, it looks as if I’m already in demand. Lily said she’d like to meet up for a drink some time to see if I’m doing OK.’

‘Seriously, Charlie, Catherine hasn’t even been buried yet.’ I pointed to the coffin lying in the open hearse.

BOOK: Pieces of My Heart
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