Davnet DennehyDavnet Dennehy was born and lives in Dublin with her husband and two daughters. She was educated at the Holy Faith Convent, Glasnevin and U.C.D. She was shortlisted for the Hennessy Literary Award in 1994 and 1995 and was a runner-up in the P.J.O'Connor playwrighting competition in 1996. She was a prizewinner in the Good Housekeeping short story competition in 1996.
He was sitting at the kitchen table when I left, his breakfast in front of him. I'd only be gone for twenty minutes to buy his cigarettes. I came through the hall waving the newspaper, and calling to him. There was no reply and I stuck my head around the kitchen door. The breakfast things were pushed to one side. A small piece of toast was left on the plate. Instinctively, I checked the pedal bin, as if he were one of the children. His breakfast wasn't there. 'Dad,' I called upstairs. 'Are you o.k.?' The bathroom door was open. So was his bedroom door. He'd pulled the covers up on the bed. The glass of water on his night table was empty, beside a tinfoil tablet-holder with two punctured blisters. The flowers and fruit we'd taken home were on the dressing table. His walking shoes, side-by-side, were placed toes tight to the skirting board, lined up to the mark, ready to stride straight through the wall and bound down to the garden and away. 'Dad,' I called again, and checked the children's bedrooms but they were undisturbed in their chaos. From our bedroom window there was no sign of him in the garden. A sheet of notepaper on Tom's pillow was only one of Tom's lists: - 'ring garage buy gasket boat varnish find socks.' Downstairs, I checked the rooms. His cap and jacket were not in the hall cupboard. I opened the back door. The wellies were gone from the porch. He'd gone to the river.
On the bridge I stopped to catch my breath. The day was warm, the water still. As far as I could see to the bend there were no tell-tale ripples. I slid down the bank and, staying close to the river, watched for movement. Just before the bend a flattened ring of water died into the bank. I crouched behind a bramble bush. He must be near.
'Dop,' I heard, and then several little 'dops.' I watched the light on the river splinter with the shards of sunshine but the water stayed flat. I edged past the brambles, keeping my head down.
Still no ripples. He must be around the bend of the river, probably in Chas's gulley. A small inlet, where the bank sloped in a natural armchair, it was a favourite place. Here, with his feet on the stones, he would be waiting. I turned my head and at the next 'dop' I saw the circles.
'Dop, dop, dop,' three tiny rings. I mooched into a more comfortable seat beside the bank. If I lifted my head I would see him. He was singing.
'Ó ró mo bháidín ag snámh ar an gcuan, Ó ró mo bháidín.'
I saw the tip of the rod over the bank and I heard him check the reel. He must have left everything ready last night. There was a creak as he lifted the lid of the basket. The sizzle of the orange juice being opened was close to my ear.
'Are you going to stay there or will you join me?'
I stood up.
'I didn't want to disturb you.'
'Yeah? What are you doing here? You don't like fishing.'
'I like the river.'
He passed me the orange juice.
'It's a lovely day,' I said.
'A perfect day.'
'Dad, you know we agreed that you wouldn't head off.'
'Only because we... '
''Yeah,' he said.
He handed me a slice of bread and butter with a rasher on it.
'That's your breakfast,' I said.
'Amn't I eating it?'
He folded a slice of bread and butter around a cold sausage.
The entire text of Catapult may be found in the book Westland Row, which is published by Imp Press priced IR£5.99, and available at all good bookshops, or over the internet from Hodges Figgis.