By the way, I shouldn't be writing about Ireland because I've never actually been there, and I'm trying my hardest not to succumb to the American stereotype of how Irish people are... so if you have any tips, if you've been to Ireland, if you catch something wrong, please tell me. I am doing as much research as I can, but nothing is better than firsthand experience. I apologize in advance for any of the errors that are stupid. :) I've only got what I can find via books and google, and what a few of my readers have told me from their visiting there.
Chevonne Dailys could no longer ignore the fact that every time she saw the one and only Jonathan Hedaker, her heart broke in two. She had been bucking up and facing facts for exactly one month and three days, but telling herself that she was better off without him did nothing to convince her heart that it was truly so. Every time she saw him, she ended up holed in a bathroom somewhere, bawling her eyes out while a few friends stood outside and shook their heads with pity.
It didn't help that he had snapped up a new girl within a week of breaking up with her, while she remained achingly single and continually depressed. It also didn't help that she was constantly forcing herself to go to events when she knew he and his oh-so-sweet girl would also be there. And it didn't help that she had agreed to still be friends, and he treated her much the same as he had when they were dating, minus the hand-holding and three-hour-long phone conversations.
So, right in the middle of her own heartbreak, and the ongoing scandal of her uncle's love-affair with a twenty-five year old student from Brazil, an episode that was only one in the saga of her family's long and historic family drama, she packed two bags, bought a one-way ticket for Ireland, and hopped on a plane.
It wasn't perhaps the smartest move she had made in her life, running away when she wasn't sure she had a place to stay or a job to go to when she got there, but Chevonne didn't really care. She was tired of life. She was tired of being the second best woman in the relationship, of being the employee who took the manager's responsibilities for minimum wage, of being the only single female in the menagerie of social situations, of dealing with the explosive situations in her family as they fought like cats and dogs, and of being under pressure by her mother to settle down and get married already.
The latter part was particularly heavy on her shoulders, her mother being one of those who thought that by the age of nineteen a girl should be married, and the woman constantly reminded her that even though their wealth put them a tad bit above everyone else, that was no reason for Chevonne to be so picky about it. Elaina Dailys didn't try to be a snob about the family money. She really was sweet, when she quit thinking money and started thinking family, but it was just her way. She acted every bit as spoiled as she was.
As of yet, Chevy had found no one to fit the bill. Close, but no cigar. For what seemed like the thousandth time, the love of her life had just left her, had a new girlfriend, and she felt empty. She had fallen in love many times before, and each relationship ended the same way. Her broken, him washing his hands of it. Despite being much more logical than the rest of her family, as well as having a temper that was expected given her red hair, Chevy tended to fall for the first man who made her laugh, and she was loyal to a fault.
And, like her love life, her family was a mess. Her uncle's affair left her cringing- he was nearly fifty seven, and his Brazilian lover was twenty five- and subsequently had broken the entire family apart. Her mother didn't speak to her uncle, her father's side ignored the whole thing, her mother's siblings were all in an uproar. If they had been locked in one room, Chevy suspected the family would implode, or kill each other with the resentment, prejudice, judging, and anger.
Her own siblings, too, seemed to have troubles when it came to relationships. Her older brother had already been married once, divorced, and had a kid. Her younger sister went through boyfriends like she went through lipstick tubes- there was a new one every week. Neither of them seemed to be looking for lasting love and commitment. Both of them wanted someone who could satisfy their desires without tying them down.
And as the somewhat self-appointed mediator of the constantly breaking and fighting family, as the one with the most sense and the tendency to say what needed to be said, Chevy felt as though she had lived her twenty-four year old life being constantly run through a wringer. She was poured on from every side. So she decided that it was a good time to leave. Nobody really need her there, they only used her to vent on, blame, and complain to.
Her mother, of course, immediately hyperventilated and had to be resuscitated by smelling salts. After several minutes of unintelligible sputtering, Elaina Dailys calmed down just enough to forbid Chevy from going at all. She insisted that it was a stupid idea, that Chevy would be penniless and homeless, be robbed, or be kidnapped and sold into a black market slave trade.
Her father, on the other hand, merely waved his hand and said if she wanted to go, she should go. He pointed out that they had distant cousins in Ireland who would probably be more than happy to take her in, and he even had their phone number somewhere around the office. In a few hours, he'd made some calls, left a message, and told her to go.
Chevy could only imagine what went on behind the bedroom doors that night as she packed her bags and readied for her flight in the morning. Occasionally, she heard her mother's high-pitched, enraged tone, and she ignored it. She knew she was the reason for this most recent upset, but fighting was common in this household, and all of them- her younger sister, older brother, and herself- had learned to either leave the house or ignore the ruckus.
Temper ran deep in their family. Her mother blamed it on their Irish roots, Chevy blamed it on a lack of proper discipline in growing up, and the reliance on one's self instead of God. She'd been working on her temper since the day she met Jesus at the altar and said yes to His offer of salvation five years ago. The climb was long and hard… and so far, she still lost it. Only difference was, now she didn't throw whatever happened to be in her hands at the height of her temper.
Her flight was early enough for her to leave the house before her mother woke up. She didn't want to deal with Elaina's extreme emotions- yes, this was a large step for her to leave her home and fly across the seas to a different country, but Elaina made it out as though she would never see her again. In point of fact, Chevy would likely only stay in Ireland for a few weeks. A few weeks of peace. That's all she wanted.
She could not remember the last time she'd had peace. Even with her faith, she was in turmoil. She felt as though she should have been able to lay it all on God and give all pressure to Him to take care of, but she couldn't. Running away felt like the only thing that would make it better. Away from home, away from memories of Jonathan, away from her siblings, away from the family's excessive drama. Away from everything that surrounded her and choked her and shoved her down.
Her father drove her to the airport without much to say. He mentioned the traffic, and told her that she'd probably want to sleep on the plane because it would be tomorrow in twelve hours when she arrived, though it was only eight in the morning right then. When he dropped her off, he did not so much as give her a hug. He wished her good luck, told her to have a good time, reminded her to call her mother once in a while, and then he left. Not that she expected any more of him. That was just his way.
Over the ten-hour, overnight flight, Chevy took her father's advice and slept. The overwhelming drama of cleaning up after everyone in her family- making peace between her uncle and his family as his twenty-five year old lover spilled to her, calming her mother down when her father did something wrong, hiding the fact that her younger sister was considering elopement- had worn her down so much that she barely woke at all aside from the two-hour layover in Newark, New Jersey. Thankfully, both of the old women who sat next to her on the plane were content to read Vogue magazines and snore.
But even in her sleep, her family invaded and tensed her. She could not escape them, and she could not escape Jonathan. She dreamt of telling him his girlfriend was wrong for him, dreamt that he was unhappy, followed him in her dreams as he tried to run from the woman he now dated. When she woke, she could only agonize that yet another man had imprinted himself so deeply on her that she could not even escape him in her subconscious mind.
Thankfully, she woke just before the landing, thus she would have something to distract her. At six-forty-five am on a bright and cheery Wednesday morning in March, Chevy arrived at Shannon airport, Ireland, jittery and groggy, still hurting from Jonathan and tense from her family, and she had no idea whether the cousins her father had phoned would even expect her or accept her into their home. The number her father had given them to call back- her own cell number- had not been tried as of yet.
Although her final stop a little more than three hours away from the airport, and Chevy had eaten nothing in the last ten hours, she ignored the smells coming from the airport café and went straight to the nearest waiting cab. She had worked in an airport café. She was in no mood to pause in her journey. This airport reminded her a little too much of the last she had been in, where Jonathan had broken up with her as she worked her shift at the register.
Coupled with the frantic dream, just the barest thought of him had her worked into a state of near-tears. The cab driver glanced at her as she got in, taking in her shimmering eyes and messy, blazing red pixie cut. She hadn't bothered to put on makeup when she had left the morning before, and was well aware that she looked about sixteen years old and very lost. At least, with her plethora of freckles and naturally carrot-colored hair, she fit in.
It took the cabbie all of five minute's driving in silence to start asking her questions.
"Might I ask where you're from?" His softly rounded accent added charm to his rough voice.
Chevy did not look up from staring out the window at the passing scenery. "Washington state, U.S." She really didn't want any kind of conversation. She wanted to stare out the window, work out her heart's problems, and forget about Jonathan. Except that the clouds rushing over the sky reminded her of him like nothing else.
"Oh?" She could hear the smile in the cab driver's voice. "Is that close to New York?."
"No," Chevy answered, wiping away a tear. "It's... on the opposite side of the states." Her last conversation with Jonathan, before he'd broken up with her, had been about the rain. They had been joking- it had been raining non-stop for a week, and he'd mentioned that since he was taller, when the water took over the coast, he'd live longer than she would. But only for about a minute, because their height only differentiated by about an inch. He was five-nine, she was five-eight.
"Are you here on vacation, then?" He glanced in his rearview mirror just as she looked his way, and he smiled.
Chevy closed her eyes. "Something like that." Maybe if she pretended she was tired, he would cease his friendly conversation. She did not resent it, per se, but she really wasn't in the mood to talk.
"Eh, well, you must be tired. I'll let you sleep," he said, and Chevy was thankful. She had hoped she wouldn't get a chatty cab driver, especially since the ride was long and she was short on questions she could answer without being reminded of Jonathan.
Turning her head towards the window, Chevy let her vision slide with the hills and green grass, not really focusing, eyes half-closed. There were less trees here than there had been at home, but it was no less wet, no less green. Somehow, much more charming and picturesque. Perhaps it was just the enchantment of being in a new place. Every once in a while, there was a farm, a field of sheep or cows, a little village, a far-off town. It seemed so tranquil.
Chevy closed her eyes. Not to sleep, though the comforting sound of the wheels humming slightly on the road relaxed her. She needed to think. She had to figure out why she was so devastated this time. She'd fallen for other men, been broken up with before, been disappointed and sad. But with Jonathan, she was truly heartbroken.
Perhaps it was the combination of his seeming devotion and the current situation with her family. Perhaps he had become her escape from her family's drama. She had felt safe with him, comfortable. He had been the one person in her life without drama, without problems, without the need to come to her with every little thing he needed fixed. He had been a rock for her, and at a time when she needed him more than ever, he'd left her. Why?
She could not think of him without remembering his coming into the café for the last time. It was indelibly branded into her mind, something she would always remember and always feel like crying over. Right now, she held in her tears, loathe to cry in front of a stranger. But she replayed the memory of Jonathan over and over, wondering again if perhaps it really had been her fault that he'd left, though he had assured her afterward that it was not.
Jonathan's blonde hair flopped over his eyes rakishly, needing to be cut as usual. He wouldn't look at her. He stared at his hands, flicked his eyes to the register, glanced up at the menu, fiddled with his wallet. His long, lanky frame shifted from side to side as he stared at the choices on the board. Not that he was really going to buy anything, he had come in and told her he had something important to say, and could she spare a minute?
There were customers lining up behind him already, shifting impatiently. She told him he could wait fifteen minutes until her lunch break, but he glanced at his watch and said he didn't have the time. So she shrugged, told him either it would have to wait and he could call her later, or he could tell her now.
He chose the now option. "Look, uh," he started, his brown eyes making it to her chin before he looked down at his hands again. "I…" He shook his head, and Chevy bit her lip. He never avoided her eyes like this.
"Would you hurry up, buddy? I've got a plane to catch!" someone urged from the line.
Jonathan turned and glared. "I'm talkin' to my girl, okay? It'd probably take five minutes to order a drink anyway, so just hold your horses." When he turned back to her, she felt a little better- he met her eyes, and he had just called her his girl.
"Jonathan, are you sure you don't want to just wait until later?" she asked him, feeling that whatever he said really should be kept private.
He shook his head. "I… no. Look…" He met her eyes, stared at her for a long moment, and then lowered his gaze again. His next words were as unexpected as a snowstorm in July. "It's not gonna work out between us, so I'm… I'm breaking up with you. I mean, I hope we can still be friends and all, and I know… I mean, we were pretty serious, but… yeah."
Chevy could barely comprehend what he had just said. She felt frozen, staring at his down-turned face, wishing he would have at least looked at her while he rushed on with his words.
"What?" was all she managed, heart still dead in her chest. It was not a question, but a plea for him to rescind his statement and tell her it was some sort of joke or mistake.
He finally glanced up at her. "Sorry."
And then he walked away.
When the next customer in line moved up, she barely heard him. She was dazed, wondering if she had heard Jonathan right, hoping that the last six months of dating and flirting and talk of a possible engagement were not just flushing down the drain and slipping from her future forever. She went through the rest of her shift getting drinks wrong left and right, until her manager came out and told her to go home early.
She was halfway home before it finally hit her. Jonathan had broken up with her, after she had already given him her heart and signed the contract that said he could own it forever. He had broken up with her after six months of serious dating, in which they had both talked about marriage as if it was the definite goal of the relationship. He had just broken up with her after she had planned the entire rest of her life around him. And he had broken up with her at work. In public. Without any warning.
She pulled over and cried for an hour.
By the time she got home, two hours later than she should have, her mother was worked up into a tizzy, and Chevy had gone through every stage of the breakup; denial that it had happened, feelings of guilt that perhaps she had caused it, anger that he would do such a thing, heartbreak that he was actually gone, acceptance that he had really just broken up with her, and hope that he would change his mind.
And then she told her mother, and her heartbreak started all over again.
Chevy must have fallen asleep somewhere in reliving Jonathan's breakup with her and her subsequent feelings about it, because the next thing she knew, the cab driver was tapping on the window of her door, and they were parked at the curb in front of a quaint little house just outside of a colorful little village in County Cork. When she lifted her head off of the door, the cabbie opened it and held out his hand.
"Well, girl, this is where you get off." He smiled kindly at her, and she noticed he had already unloaded her bags.
"Thank you." Chevy rubbed the grogginess from her eyes and paid him. It was a steep fare, but she really didn't care. He had gotten her where she wanted to be, so for that she was thankful.
"The best of luck to you, miss." He gave her a warm smile, and he slowly drove away.
The little cottage she now stood in front of, with her two bags sitting on the curb, was light blue, bombarded by a rose garden, and invitingly cozy with its white lace curtains and brick chimney wafting smoke. It sat about a quarter mile away from the nearest village- a very quaint, very kaleidoscopic gathering of square buildings that were painted every color under the sun. Behind the village were stony hills beginning to mist with the first signs of rain clouds, and facing the village was the sea.
Chevy stared around her, taking in the quiet, sleepy setting. She breathed in the cool, damp air, the smell of wood smoke and lush grass, the faint taste of salt from the bay. Everything was peaceful. The car driving in the distance went slow; the sign down the road stipulated 30km an hour. A woman on a bike came up the lane towards her, sometimes swerving a little too close to the hedging of short stone wall topped by a useless wire-and-wood fence that did nothing to hold in the tall grass and sloping land.
Chevy picked up her bags, smiled as the woman slowly pedaled by and said hello, turned to go up the path to her cousin's house. She really didn't know how conversational people in the area would be, and she didn't really want a conversation at the moment. Very briefly, she considered waiting for the woman on the bike to disappear, and then turning around and leaving. Whoever lived here, whether they were really her distant cousins or someone else who had taken the home, didn't have to know she'd come. She could find some hotel and be just fine for a few days while she sorted herself out.
But as she walked up the little cobblestone path under the white arbor and ivy, the breeze brought her the fresh scent of rain and leaves, and over the hills beyond, the blue sky mingled with sleepy mist and rain clouds. She couldn't leave with the temptation of promised peace and new life. The curtains flicked at the front window of the cottage, and a dog started barking. At least she knew someone was home.
So she set her bags down on the short porch, took a deep breath, and knocked.
A/N: Again, if you have any info on Ireland from visiting or living there, please tell me. I especially need to know what it's like around the Ring of Beara, County Cork, and Allihies. Correct me if I do something wrong. Please. I will someday come visit, but for now... I can only dream and write.