The Girl in the Shadows – A short extract!

My grandmother was getting on in years. She was nearly sixty at this time and to me she seemed ancient. I watched her closely every day.

“Granny Maura, do you think you’ll go straight to Heaven when you die?”Since I made my first Holy Communion I had become fascinated by Heaven and Hell.

“Of course I will! Sure, why wouldn’t I?”

“Mam says smoking and drinking are sins and I’ve seen you smoking your little pipe and having a second glass of poitin when the neighbours call.”

“Smoking and drinking too much are sins but a few puffs and a few sips are good for you.”

“Is that why the Priest fills up the chalice with wine every Sunday and drinks it down without wasting a drop?” I was intrigued.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph! The wine is turned into the blood of Christ and that’s why the Priest drinks it

without wasting a drop!” My grandmother nearly had a seizure.

“Mick said he tried it once and it’s definitely not blood.”

“If the Priest catches Mick anywhere near the communion wine he’ll never be left near the altar again. Anyway, sure the Priest always wipes out the chalice after he finishes the wine.” My grandmother was calming down.

“Yes, but Mick said the cloth he used was covered in red wine not blood and he knows because he tasted blood when he cut his finger.” I was sure of my facts.

My grandmother sighed. “You’re a strange one.”

I wasn’t finished yet. “Granny Maura, are you pleased that you will soon see my grandfather? You know, when you die too?”

My grandmother swatted me on the arm, “Get away from me child! I’m not dead yet!”

“Yes,” I replied thoughtfully, “but you soon will be. All old people die and you’re really old.”

My grandmother was not impressed. “Child, run out and mind the hens before I slap some manners into you!”

I went outside to do as I was told, but I wasn’t convinced. After thinking about it, I decided that she wasn’t really lying; old age had just made her forget that she was going to die. I thought it would be only right for me to remind her regularly so that she would be prepared and her soul could go straight to Heaven.

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