By Helen McCormack
It was a Saturday morning. Mammy was organising to take Big Sis and me to Dublin, 40 miles away. We were going to Dublin. Going to Dublin in the old black Hillman. I was so excited and wearing a lovely white muslin dress with tiny blue-thread spots. We were going to Dublin to see Daddy, who was in hospital with a broken arm, a smashed arm. I was ready, all ready with my good navy gabardine at hand, and not quite sure why we were not already leaving, so I twirled a little dance, delighted with my lovely muslin dress in a little swirl.
Mammy suddenly told me to be quiet and to stop showing off. I was struck dumb. I was so angry I had no words, our usual kids' phrase, "that's not fair" as totally inadequate as waving a hankie to stop a bull.
I went inside my head and wrote on metal, "I'll not talk again until I see Daddy."
Driving up the Naas Road, Mammy said, "You're very quiet back there."
I looked out the window.
A while later, I said, "I'm going to vomit."
Mammy stopped the car and came round to open the car door – too late. My lovely muslin dress became the recipient of my upset so it was removed and rinsed out in the nearby ditch water. I had to put on the navy gabardine, though with every mile the day was getting sunnier. Big Sis didn't wear her gabardine.
The German who shared the hospital room with Daddy was very friendly and said Big Sis' hair was auburn blond and that mine was Titian. I liked the sound of that word and realised my hair was different to my sister's and I was grateful mine was Titian, nice sounding.
Mammy helped Daddy to dress over his pyjamas and we crossed the square to St. Stephen's Green and threw bread at the ducks.
I heard Daddy ask, "Why is Helen wearing a coat on such a sunny day?"
I puzzled that he'd already been told I'd been sick on my dress, and why he asked a second time. Because I was six years old I didn't lament the cloud that had obliterated my sunny day, I just fed the ducks and was happy Daddy could sit with us in lovely St. Stephen's Green Park.