The First Time I Saw Your Face

by Anne Marshall

                Assumpta’s eyes fluttered closed as Peter kissed her neck. Emotions ran rife as Assumpta felt herself involuntarily shiver. She knew how much they both wanted this. Then she felt reality set in.
                ‘No, Peter. It’s not right.’ She pulled away and headed for the door.
                ‘Assumpta, please wait!’ he called, heading after her. He placed a gentle hand on her arm and she turned to face him. ‘Assumpta,’ he said softly.
                ‘Peter,’ she replied. ‘We can’t do...’
                ‘I know,’ he answered. ‘Please, this didn’t happen the way I meant it to. Can we please talk?’
                Assumpta nodded. It was time this was talked out. They headed into the loungeroom and sat on the couch. They sat uncomfortably for a few minutes. Assumpta’s heart was still racing from the earlier encounter.
                Peter looked her in the eye. ‘I know I’m a priest. But here it is, plain and simple. I love you Assumpta. I’ve loved you for so long and each day is more of a struggle, having to pretend I don’t. All those times..the car at Kilanshee wood, the play, when you made that petition to stop me from leaving. The night I told you it was finished. I hated myself for walking out of that room and making you cry. Then I felt terrible when you married Leo. When I saw him walk in and see him with you. I kept thinking that it should be me. I wanted to be the one to make you happy, and I wanted to love you for the rest of your life. I still do.’ He got up and began pacing. Assumpta was breathing heavily. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. ‘I knew I was wrong to have those feelings for you. Priests aren’t supposed to feel like that. But everytime I saw you, everytime I walked into Fitzgerald’s and saw your eyes and heard your voice, I just..fell deeper in love with you. I’d walk in there, you’d look up and I’d get all these feelings. We were taught that they were sin but I often wondered how something so wonderful could be a sin.’ He stopped for a minute and looked at her. Peter saw her shiver slightly and moved back to the seat. He smiled. ‘Sorry for rambling. The main thing that had to come out was that I love you.’
                Assumpta sat for a moment. ‘The other stuff wasn’t that bad,’ she whispered.
                Peter sighed with relief and smiled broadly.
                Assumpta moved a little bit closer. She locked her eyes with his and moved her lips to gently cover his. As the kiss exploded Peter moved her as close as possible and wrapped his arms around her waist. Assumpta’s arms encircled his neck. The opening and shutting of the front door brought them back to reality.
                ‘We’re back Father..Assumpta!’ Niamh said, as she and Ambrose came into the room.
                ‘Hi Niamh, Ambrose,’ Assumpta said, getting up quickly. Her heart was racing.
                Niamh looked at them strangely. She suppressed a smile as she noticed two pairs of swollen lips.
                ‘I, uh, changed my mind about baby-sitting and I came over. Peter and I were just talking about...’
                ‘How Kieran has grown,’ Peter supplied.
                ‘Yeah,’ Assumpta answered. ‘And, I uh, better go.’
                ‘Me too actually,’ Peter said. ‘Early morning for both of us tomorrow.’
                ‘Really?’ Ambrose asked.
                ‘We’re in court, Ambrose,’ Assumpta growled.
                ‘Thanks for tonight,’ Niamh said as they hastily left.
                Ambrose looked at his wife, who was smiling broadly. ‘What?’
                ‘You’re so blind,’ she told him.

                Assumpta and Peter walked silently towards his house. When they got there, Peter turned to Assumpta. ‘Do you want to come in?’
                Assumpta smiled and caressed his face. ‘I don’t think that would be a good idea,’ she answered.
                ‘No,’ Peter replied.
                Assumpta reached up and kissed him gently. ‘I love you.’
                ‘I love you too,’ Peter told her.
                ‘See you in court,’ Assumpta grinned.
                Peter shook his head as she headed back down to the pub. He stood and watched her unlock the door. It was almost as if she could feel his eyes on her as she turned and caught him watching her. A smile lit up her face and she headed inside.
                That night, two souls slept peacefully.


                Assumpta surveyed the regulars at the bar and smiled. Peter sidled up to her.
                ‘What are you smiling about?’
                Assumpta turned to him. ‘At the moment, my life is wonderful.’
                Peter smiled back to her. ‘I’m glad. Would you like something to eat?’
                Assumpta smirked. ‘I think I’ll try the Peking duck. The winning meal.’
                Peter longed to lean over and kiss her. Assumpta noticed this and shot him a look.
                ‘I’ll get it straight away,’ he answered.
                He came back and took his collar off. Peter handed her the plate and Assumpta stared at him for a moment.
                ‘Uh, Peter, help me get something from the kitchen,’ she told him.
                Peter raised an eyebrow and followed her into the kitchen. Assumpta gently closed the door behind them.
                ‘What is it?’ he asked, noticing that she seemed a little uneasy.
                Assumpta listened to the noise outside and smiled. She leant up and kissed him firmly. Peter smiled into the kiss and hugged her tight to him. The kiss would have continued, had the lights not flickered out. Peter took this opportunity to slip from the kitchen as Padraig yelled for Assumpta.
                ‘Alright, Padraig,’ she said.

(AN: If they had to kill her, here would be the point. But I won’t kill her)

                ‘I’m not going to touch that thing,’ Assumpta replied. ‘I nearly electrocuted myself yesterday.’
                Peter looked shocked.
                ‘Can we take our food?’ Padraig asked, gathering up his things.
                Assumpta nodded. ‘I’ll never eat it all by myself.’
                ‘I’m not going to say a word,’ Padraig smiled, getting his entry.
                Assumpta glared at him.


                Peter took the two plates into the kitchen and began running some water in the sink. Assumpta followed him in, bringing the two wine glasses.
                Peter began to wash up and he smiled to himself.
                ‘What?’ Assumpta asked, taking a dishcloth to dry.
                ‘This just feels..right,’ he said simply.
                Assumpta raised an eyebrow. ‘Washing up?’
                He gave her one of his looks. ‘No. Being here, with you. And yes, washing up..together.’
                Assumpta smiled. ‘Well, I’d be glad to relinquish kitchen duty to you at any time.’
                They both knew what she meant. Peter squirmed slightly.
                ‘I’m not released for two days Assumpta,’ he told her.
                ‘I know,’ she answered. ‘I rang Leo today. Since it was such a short marriage, we hope it’ll be able to be annulled.’
                Peter nodded. ‘I love you.’
                ‘I love you too,’ Assumpta answered. She glanced at the dishes, which are drying on the sink. ‘Want to leave these for awhile?’
                Peter smiled and taking her hand, they walked into the lounge and sat by the fire. Assumpta snuggled up to him and he embraced her tightly, kissing her forehead. She stifled a small yawn and Peter noticed it.
                ‘I should probably go,’ he said.
                Assumpta nodded. ‘I’d like you to stay.’
                ‘Don’t tempt me Assumpta,’ Peter replied. ‘When we’re free.’
                Assumpta smiled. ‘I know.’ She walked him to the door and kissed him gently. ‘I love you.’
                Peter checked to see the light in Kathleen’s was off. He turned around and gathered her into his arms, kissing her deeply. Assumpta sighed and wrapped her arms around his neck.
                ‘I love you too,’ he said, finally releasing her from the kiss. He squeezed her hand and headed home.
                Assumpta watched him go and closed the door. She leant against it and tried to get her heart to slow down. She smiled to herself. The priest and the publican.