Despite the Angels - By Madeline A Stringer

Chapter 1

Dublin, May 1972

David emerged from the church, his bride on his arm, grinned at his envious pals and looked around the small garden at his friends and relatives gathered in the sunshine. He watched two small nephews, uncomfortably dressed, chasing each other just inside the railings. Then he noticed some flowers. He stared, only realising after a few moments that the flowers were on the T-shirt of a girl standing outside the railings, looking in at the wedding party. She was licking a choc-ice, paying attention to the piece of sliding chocolate, and drinking in the details of the wedding. David smiled at the sight. Jotin leapt up and down and shouted to the girl’s guide -

“She’s too young, I told you. Stop trying to get them together. Get her out of here. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Nice one, David, hold it!” David smiled vaguely towards the photographer, but he was watching the little girl with the choc-ice, noticing that she was holding the handlebars of her bicycle with one hand and managing her ice cream with the other. There was a loaf of bread in the front basket of her bike. Flowers on shirts, thought David, what is it about flowers?

“Nothing now, David. She’s not for you now,” said Jotin.

“OK, Lucy, my darling,” said Trynor, as he concentrated, his energies pulling at the wheel of Lucy’s bike. “Come on, we’re not wanted.” The bike fell, the bread fell out of the basket, and Lucy turned around to rescue it before the bag of tomatoes could roll all over the path. She hauled the bike upright, got up on the saddle and pedalled away.

David watched the two boys, who were fighting now, before turning to his new wife.

“OK, Kathleen?” he asked, “Not too much for you?” Kathleen smiled at him and shook her head, her glossy hair bouncing under the veil.

“No. Everything is just fine, thanks.”

James came over, all Best Man efficiency.

“We really should be moving, if we’ve to get to the hotel by two.” David and Kathleen walked with self-conscious dignity towards the car under a shower of confetti.

Lucy was sitting at the kitchen table, eating a tomato sandwich and breathlessly describing the wedding to her parents and sister.

“The bride had a long white dress with lacy bits and it had a long tail out the back that people stepped on by mistake and there were three ladies in pink dresses down to the ground and little creamy waistcoats and they had bunches of flowers too like the bride and there were two little girls smaller than me -"

“My size?” Alison butted in.

“One was about your size and one was very little, maybe she was three,”

“Oh my goodness,” said Lucy’s mother, “imagine the trouble of controlling a three year old at a wedding!”

“I think she was being good. She was holding the older girl’s hand,” said Lucy after some thought, “and there was a big black car waiting for them, with ribbons on it.” Her eyes were shining.

“Where was this wedding? I hope you weren’t at George-n-John’s, it’s much too far away.” Lucy’s father looked stern.

“Of course I wasn’t. It was at that church just past the shops. The one we never go into.”

“Our Lady of the blessed somethings. And was there a groom at this wedding?”

“I don’t know, what is it?”

“The man who is getting married.”

“Oh Daddy, of course!” Lucy considered this, “There would have to be, wouldn’t there? I think he was just in black.”

“You women,” said her dad, “see nothing but the clothes.”

“Well, when I was busy watching, the bike fell over and I had to rescue it, so I didn’t see everything. Can you please take off the trainer wheels? Alison is far too old for them, they’re loose anyway - that’s how it fell and they get in my way. And it’s embarrassing, I’m ten. Actually, I think I need a bigger bike, then we wouldn’t have to share. Can I have a bigger bike, Dad, please?”

“Yes, Daddy, get another bike, then I can keep the staylisers on. I’ll fall if they’re off. It could just be my bike, with staylisers.”

“Stabilisers, baby!” Lucy mocked.

“I’ll think about it. Help Mum with the tidying, both of you. I want to get on with the garden while it’s dry.”

Jotin was waiting when Trynor arrived. If he had had a body he would have been sitting still, staring into the middle distance. As it was, his energies were just a little flat.

“I told you it wouldn’t work. That