It's a Wonderful Life
"It's not what's in your head I need to hear." After Assumpta stormed
out and narrowly missed being run over by Brian, she stopped in the
middle of the street and considered. Tears were close to the surface
and she didn't want to be seen by anyone in her state, so Assumpta went
inside St. Joseph's instead of going home straight away.
She felt like praying. Thinking of how that would send certain people
into cardiac arrest, Peter being among them, she smiled slightly.
Assumpta chose a pew about a third of the way up the aisle, and sat
there thinking deep heavy
thoughts in silence for quite some time. She wanted to say something to
whoever it was up there looking down at her. Directing her life or
at it, perhaps both.
"I never asked to fall in love." Assumpta spoke aloud, almost angrily
to the empty church as her eyes looked up. "It would be better for him
if I wasn't
here to get in the way. I don't want to ruin his life."
"You really believe not being here would help him?" It came from a
disheveled man sitting a few pews back, Assumpta saw as she turned
suddenly. She wasn't sure how she'd missed seeing him there before. She
didn't recognize him as from Ballyk and her eyes betrayed her mistrust.
"Clarence," he introduced himself. "Very pleased to meet you."
"I was just lookin' for-"
"A little peace and quiet, I know." Clarence smiled at her. "I know
more about you than you realize."
Assumpta felt this was becoming a little bit too creepy. Maybe this man
was some lunatic stalker, she considered.
Clarence continued, "You don't pray often. But you're one of the few
who never prays for yourself. It's always for someone else… mighty
Yeah, Assumpta thought, definitely a lunatic. She started to judge
whether she should make a run for it, or if she called out for Peter
would he hear her?
"Assumpta, you're at a crossroads. There are more than a few options
and ways this could go. Are you sure you want to pick that particular
one for you and Peter without really thinking it through carefully?"
Her eyes narrowed, she didn't like him speaking of her and Peter with
such authority. Peter only kissed her a few hours ago and no one could
have seen, how could the gossip get round so quickly? She started, "I
don't know who you think you are-"
"I'm an angel." This stunned her, her mouth hung open mid-sentence as
he spoke, "Your guardian angel actually."
"Oh, yeah," Assumpta's sarcasm snapped at him, "well you look about the
kind of angel I'd get. Sort of fallen angel, aren't you? What happened
"I'm trying to earn them."
"Right." She shot a laugh at him and shook her head. "My guardian
angel... do a lot of sleeping on the job don't ya?"
He was taken aback. "No. I don't have the power to prevent your parents
from dying or to keep the pub's pipes from bursting if that's the sort
thing you're thinking. I'm only here to guide you and my boss felt this
moment in your life was much too critical for me to guide you from
afar. He sent me down here to help you. There's more at risk than you
"An angel... your boss," Assumpta repeated, still thinking he was a
"You believe more than you admit to folks. You argue with Peter
Clifford not because you don't respect his faith but because it's the
one thing keeping him from you."
Her eyes snapped to him, it was dead on. And she'd never spoken those
thoughts out loud to anyone, how could he know?
Clarence continued, "You need proof, Boss warned me you'd be
difficult." He stood and offered a hand. "You've been given a great
gift, Assumpta Fitzgerald, a chance to see what the world would be like
She reluctantly took his hand, not sure what else to do. Suddenly
everything was spinning and the walls of the church melted and she felt
as if she were flying. Fear gripped her; "Peter," she tried to call out
for help, but her lips wouldn't move.
And then they landed behind a tree. Assumpta could see a lake
shimmering in the sun between two peaks. She saw herself and Peter
walking and as they got closer she could hear the conversation: "You
must know how I feel about you... Assumpta, dogs on the street knew."
She watched the entire thing, even
Peter reaching for her, taking her in his arms.
But she was behind the tree, not in his arms. This had to be some kind
of narcotic drug the creepy Clarence gave to her. She was high right
now, yeah? Assumpta started to ask Clarence for an explanation but he
took her hand again
and they were spinning once more.
Suddenly she landed in grass on her bum. "Ouch!" she complained and
glared at Clarence, "stop doing that would ya?" He only put a finger to
his lips to quiet her and pointed to Father Mac and Peter coming around
the side of the building, walking and talking together. Father Mac made
a remark about the country "being full of Assumpta Fitzgeralds." That
seemed to abruptly remind Peter of something.
Next she landed in her own kitchen, Clarence had her peek through the
doorway and watch Peter enter the pub, longing in his eyes and bursting
to tell her things. But her other version wasn't alone in the pub,
Brendan, Padraig and Siobhan were there helping her set up, so he left.
Clarence said, "Hurry, outside."
"What?" Assumpta was dragged along behind him. "Tell me what is
happening. Why? How are you-"
But Clarence cut off her protests. "Shh, listen to this." He stopped
just short of where Peter stood at the payphone. "He's talking to you."
And with that, Assumpta heard Peter say into the phone, "I think
there's only one of you and I can't let you go…I love you. I want you
in my life and
I'll do everything it takes, whatever you want. Just don't run away
Clarence turned to Assumpta and whispered, "My favorite part, it gets
me every time." Then took her hand and they did the spinning thing
again. Assumpta was starting to feel motion sickness coming on. This
time Clarence took her to see a conversation by the river Angel. She
watched the other Assumpta talk
to Peter in the most open, relaxed way they ever had. It was natural
flirty and the happiest conversation of her life. Peter promised her,
know what I'm doing."
And before long they were inside the pub again. The food fair was going
on around her and Peter said to her, "I love you." Assumpta watched her
other version melt at those words and understood the feelings, she was
same thing just watching. Suddenly the scene froze as if someone had
pause on a video.
Assumpta turned to Clarence. "Why did you stop it?" she demanded.
"Because this is where your prayer earlier matters, so I'm pausing for
"Will all this happen?" she asked carefully, afraid to believe, "or is
this a dream or a trick?"
"No, it's one of many things that could happen. It depends on his
choices. And yours."
"What he said, a moment ago…" Her eyes watered, Assumpta longed to know
it was real. Hearing him say those words was more than she allowed
to hope these last few years. She knew he loved the church. She always
believed his feelings for her paled in comparison.
Clarence smiled and patted her hand. "My boss is prepared to fulfil
your prayer. He agrees life may be too difficult for Peter if you
remain near him
while continuing to have doubts. If you keep thinking Peter would be
without you... my dear, things won't go very well for you both." With
the scene played again and the real Assumpta held Clarence's hand and
everyone else down to the cellar. She watched as they tried CPR and
as Peter anointed her body and preformed the sacrament once called last
Assumpta was so stunned at what she was watching she didn't even fume
at what Peter had done. And after she once specifically asked him not
to. But Assumpta couldn't be angry when he was so clearly falling
apart. Outside, Peter stood soaked with rain and threw his collar over
the bridge and into the river.
Assumpta yelled and ran to Peter, "I'm here." She tried touching him,
wanting to hold him.
"You're not here," Clarence reminded her. "He can't see you or hear
you. This is the future and you aren't with him any longer." Her own
words echoed back at her sounded childish and cruel. "You can't get in
"How can you do this? You're no angel." She cried. "Look at him, please
let him go from it." Tears were streaming down her cheeks now.
Clarence raised his eyes heavenward, "There must be some easier way for
me to get my wings." And next took Assumpta to see Peter sitting with
body, caressing her cheek with the back of his hand. Assumpta's heart
at the sight of his care for her even in death. It was then she
he didn't just say those words. He meant them, he loved her.
She saw the fight between Peter and Leo at the statue of the virgin.
Leo accused him of meeting her here and having an affair. She knew the
Peter even before he threw the punch. Assumpta wasn't sure if she felt
like crying or laughing that Peter was defending her honor this way,
his fists. Leo wanted to know if she loved Peter. Peter struggled,
tried, but couldn't answer the questions.
"How could he not know?" she wondered aloud to Clarence. Assumpta knew
she carefully hid things as much as she could to protect herself. Her
love for him had the capacity to hurt her so she tried to shield
herself from that pain. But somehow protecting herself had become
shutting everyone out. And Peter never knew her heart, not completely.
She watched the wake and saw the sadness in her friends but also the
sense that they would move on in their lives. But not Peter, Assumpta
could see it in his eyes, he was pretending for their sake. Peter was
hurting on a level
now far worse than the confusion of trying to choose between her and
church. Confusion could be resolved but his grief might last a
scene paused again and Assumpta asked Clarence, "What happens to him?"
"I don't know. His choices and paths are only known to his angel,
Alicia. She's hot." Clarence wiggled his eyebrows.
Assumpta gave him a look of `you have got to be kidding me.'
"Hey, we have fun too. And Angel Parties got infinitely better when
Elvis joined the two Beatles up there. Talk about rock." Clarence took
her hand and everything spun again, until she landed outside St.
Joseph's. He said to her, "Think it through, very carefully this time."
With that she felt a
pull as if she'd gone up the tube of a Hoover and she popped out the
other end and into her body, sitting in the pew. She felt a little
dizzy and took a gulp of air.
Assumpta still wasn't convinced she hadn't fallen asleep or was drunk
or drugged but she wasn't going to take any chances. She thought for
several minutes then spoke aloud, "I want him to be happy. The
happiest, most fulfilled he could possibly be in life. Whatever it
takes for him-" She took a breath. "I'm willing to do whatever it takes
for his happiness." She would be willing to give her life if necessary
but she doubted that was what it would take. Assumpta sent a glare
heavenward. "But I'm calling the electrician in the morning just in
Peter had fallen asleep but tossed and turned and woke every few
minutes. He kept wondering if he should talk with Father Mac tomorrow
and what he should
tell Assumpta. If only he had solid evidence of her feelings, not hints
clues and then going and marrying someone else. He knew she cared, but
much? She pushed him away when he kissed her, but then stormed in
to know if he wanted her. But what did she want? Why was she always
those mixed messages? If Assumpta would tell him her true feelings
he would have no doubts about what to do.
He heard a knock, quiet but persistent. As he opened the front door she
threw her arms around him and hugged tight. Peter swung the door closed
behind her and closed his arms around her in return. Assumpta didn't
say a word for
a long time, just clung to him like she'd seen a ghost. Peter stroked
back to calm her and drank in the magnificent feel of her so close.
Finally she took a deep breath and spoke to his chest. "I want you to
be happy. I know you don't think it's that simple. But for me it is.
Only I don't
know what I can do to make you happy. I've tried everything, pushing
on you, pushing you away, and nothing seems to work. You become more
the more I try. Tell me what to do."
He closed his eyes, `say you want to stay like this forever.' But he
couldn't say it out loud.
"Peter..." Her head lifted from his chest and Assumpta locked eyes with
him. The current that ran through her every time their eyes met was
her pulse again now. This was the most difficult thing she would ever
She was setting herself up to fall even harder and hurt even more if he
rejected her. He had rejected her before. But if she died tomorrow at
least he'd know. "Peter, I love you."
He looked a bit dazed but he held her tighter and asked, "What is it
you want, Assumpta? I'll give you whatever you want, whatever will make
you happy. You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso
around it and pull it down."
"I don't want the moon." She smiled at his nervous rambling. "I want
Realization and happiness spread across his face. He leaned in, but
then stopped short just a breath away from her lips. As if unsure it
was all just a dream, "You love me?"
"Why don't you kiss me instead of talkin' me to death?" And as they
kissed in the early dawn light, the bells of St. Joseph's rang out.