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by Margaret Brinton
Brisk sea breezes rustled the shutters of the Cape
Cod cottage, awakening Thomas J. Kendan just
after midnight. The elderly but fit Irishman arose
from the sofa-sleeper and slid open a window to
the marine air. “This past month has been a good
retreat after divorcing Kaylin,” he mumbled to
the moonlight, “but I’m ready now to resume life
back home in Dublin.”
“I’ll catch up on friendships and keep a close eye
on the store,” the sixty-five year old clothier
assured his son Bernie upon packing up to leave
the next day.
Thomas refused to dwell on Kaylin, accepting the
reality that a large inheritance from her father
had led the old gal astray. She had returned to
Thomas’ forgiving arms after her first fling, but
when she left him again, he had phoned Bernie to
say, “Your mother can tramp about all she wants
now. Our thirty years together are over.”
He dozed lightly on the night flight out of Boston,
soaring across the Atlantic into the dawn. A
strong cup of Irish breakfast tea braced him upon
landing, after which he hailed a taxi to his
clothing store in Dublin’s city center.
“Put the winter wear on clearance,” Thomas told
his management team, and when he finished
reviewing the books, he stepped out the door of
his store to the wonderment of the city he loved.
He lunched on shepherd’s pie and tomato soup at
a good tavern and then joined the crowds along
Grafton Street where the buskers’ music wafted
across the old cobblestone and brick. “I’m going
forward from Kaylin, and I don’t intend to
reflect,” he affirmed to himself.
With the leisure and the largesse of the well-
heeled elderly, Thomas immersed himself into the
cultural arts in and around Dublin, participating
also in alumni events at his old Trinity College.
When the weather on the great isle was
favorable, he took long drives out to the
meadows and vales or, more frequently, to the
nearby Wicklow Mountains.
One Saturday in July, several months after his
Cape Cod visit with his son Bernie, Thomas awoke
to an unusually sunny morning. Inspired by the
clear blue skies, he dressed in khaki slacks and
linen shirt and set out for the DART station to
catch the next train to Dun Laoghaire, a village
on a harbor of the Irish Sea. Upon disembarking
in the charming town just a half-hour south of
Dublin, he lingered along the water’s edge before
eventually strolling out to the light-house at the
far end of a broad pier.
An hour later, while making his return to shore,
Thomas gazed casually over at the pleasure boats
moored in the harbor, swaying with the tide. To
his dismay, he caught notice of an all-too familiar
figure. His ex-wife Kaylin lay sunbathing on the
deck of a sailing sloop, chatting with a man half
her age. Repudiated by her wanton ways, Thomas
lifted his tam in a subconscious but permanent
When Kaylin rose to a stance on the boat’s deck
some moments later, she mentioned to her
youthful companion, “I could swear that’s my ex-
husband over there on the pier. Let’s set sail,
Arnie. If Thomas knows I’m still in the area, he’ll
try to win me back.”
Thomas, shaking the bothersome image from his
mind, occupied the rest of his day touring the
National Maritime Museum and enjoying fresh
filet of whiting with a little jar of smashed green
peas at a posh Dun Laoghaire restaurant
overlooking the sea.
His routines kept him nicely occupied over the
ensuing weeks of summer with Monday morning
visits to his store having first priority. When the
weather was fair, he often motored out of Dublin
to keep up his driving skills on the narrow walled
roadways, but on inclement days he browsed the
galleries and bookstores and exhibits at various
museums. Bachelorhood suited Thomas well.
Even when at home alone, he never felt lonely.
Classical music and a pot of tea served his needs
Another month passed, and September arrived.
Thomas had been downtown to select for himself
two tweed blazers from his store’s inventory, and
as he drove home and turned into his driveway,
the shadow of his ex-wife Kaylin emerged from
the trees and shrubs. She was grasping a large
suitcase in each hand while, at her feet, an
overstuffed duffel bag stood anxiously waiting.
Margaret Brinton’s work appears in Boston Literary
Magazine, The Storyteller, The Iconoclast, Downstate Story
and other journals. A decade of sailing with her husband and
children in their 25-foot sloop on San Diego's colorful Mission
Bay stimulated her creative powers. Trips to Dublin and the
villages along the Irish Sea as well as the Sierra Nevada
Mountains and the Rocky Mountains have added further
inspirations for her work.