Forever is Not Very Long at All
Peter stacked the glasses up his arm and carried them into the kitchen.
Assumpta was busy washing up. They didn’t feel the need to talk. Assumpta
smiled as she listened to Peter moving around her pub. She felt comfortable
and safe with him around. She threw down the cloth she was using and wandered
to the kitchen door. Leaning against the door frame her smile widened as
she watched Peter wiping down tables and pushing chairs in. It was funny,
until recently she hadn’t thought of Peter and her seriously having a relationship.
Sure, she’d dreamt and hoped beyond hope, but it had never seemed possible
before. They’d talked, really talked, a couple of nights before and she was
astounded by what he’d told her...
“I don’t seem to understand the church anymore.” They’d been
sitting by the fire after closing with steaming mugs of coffee in their hands.
Assumpta looked up, startled by his revelation. “I mean, I still believe in
my faith and I don’t think anything will change that, but my vocation... God
says that one of the most precious gifts in life is love. Then how can the
church condemn His disciples to a life of celibacy and force them to miss
out on that gift?”
“Aren’t you supposed to be in a relationship with God?”
“God can’t give me children or flesh and blood companionship...”
“Peter, what do YOU want?”
“I always thought that serving God would be enough for me. But Kieran’s
made me think about family and what I’m missing out on by staying in the
“Could you be happy outside?”
“I think so. My faith hasn’t changed.”
“What would you do?”
“I was talking to a friend in Cilldargen and he’s offered me a job as an
outreach counsellor for schools and communities like BallyK. If I talk to
Father Mac tomorrow, I could start that next week.”
“You’ve seriously been thinking about it, haven’t you?”
“Argh! Assumpta, I just don’t seem to know what I want anymore.”
“Listen to your heart. Do what will make you happy.” Peter looked pensively
at her. She knew him so well at times.
“When did you become so philosophical? Thank you.” He lent over and gently
kissed her cheek.
“What are friends for?”
Peter looked around the bar, surveying his handy work. He liked being here,
helping people, listening. The lure of an attractive woman may also have held
some appeal. He grinned. Having told Father Mac that he was leaving the priesthood,
Peter was less concerned about his growing feelings for the feisty publican.
“You satisfied yet?” her voice laughed across, startling the soon to be
ex-priest. He jumped slightly and turned and grinned at her.
“Scared me half to death! And that’s a very open ended question!”
“I thought priests were supposed to be pure of thought?”
“They are. But I’m on a down hill slide. Come and sit?” He motioned towards
the fire before taking a seat on the couch. She picked up a bottle of wine
and a couple of glasses before joining him.
“Down hill slide?”
“I went and saw Father Mac. I’ve left the priesthood. I’ll finish up after
Mass on Sunday.” Assumpta stared at him, dumbstruck. She hardly dared to believe
it. He moved so that he was sitting next to her.
“I guess I’m just shocked at how decisive you are about some things.” Assumpta
stood and moved over so she was staring into the mesmerising dance of the
flames. Peter stared at her back, confusion etched onto his face.
“Have you ever wanted something you can’t have? Don’t pretend you didn’t
know what I was talking about! What I wanted, what I’ve always wanted is you
and only you and yet you never got it did you? Or if you did, you chose to
ignore!” Assumpta glanced over her shoulder at him and his heart broke seeing
the tears cascading down her cheeks. He rose to his feet and closed the distance
between them, wrapping his arms around her waist.
“I dared not dream that you thought of me like that!”
“I want what I can’t have. I’ve loved you since I picked you up in the rain
the day you arrived, everything I’ve done in the past three years or so have
been to make you happy, to try and get you to notice me...”
“Assumpta, I’m a male, a male who’s been held away from women for over 5
years! You’ve gotta tell me straight out!” Peter laughed and grinned as he
felt Assumpta’s laugh ripple through his body. “Don’t ever doubt that I love
you. I’m just so out of touch with women. They didn’t exactly teach us about
flirting and picking up on ‘the signals’ at the seminary!”
“You seem to have made the decision so quickly to leave the priesthood and
I feel like I’ve been waiting a lifetime for you to make up your mind about
“There was never any doubt in my mind what I wanted with you. The problem
came in deciding if I could risk it if I left for you and you rejected me.”
“Love you.” Peter guided them back to the couch and they settled down with
her leaning against his chest. “Siobhan had some interesting news tonight.”
“Wonder who the father is.” Assumpta looked back up at Peter. He refused
to meet her eyes. Assumpta sat up quickly and stared at him. “You know!”
“I can’t say.” Assumpta grinned at him before straddling his thighs.
“Come on Peter. You know you want to tell me...”
“Assumpta, I might not be a priest for much longer, but I’m still a priest.
And confession is sacred.”
“Hmm... I’ll get it out of you somehow.” Assumpta snuggled down into his
chest and held him tight as they watched the fire go down and fell into a
Brendan stood quietly at the door, watching the goings on around him. Siobhan
and Padraig sat in their usual seats. Siobhan’s face had been drawn and confused
since their ‘indiscretion’. He caught a glimpse of someone moving around in
the kitchen and Assumpta was behind the bar and Niamh was sitting nursing
her drink. He made his way slowly around to his regular corner.
“Brendan! Assumpta! Give us a stout for the school master!”
“Keep your shirt on Padraig!” Siobhan looked anywhere but at Brendan. He
didn’t understand what was going on with her. Assumpta handed Brendan his
“Ta. So, who’s that in your kitchen Assumpta?”
“In my kitchen? No one. Or at least, there shouldn’t be anyone in there!”
Assumpta stormed off into the kitchen. She held the door open, revealing an
empty kitchen. “Satisfied Brendan?”
The school teacher shrugged and went back to his conversation with the regulars.
A hand reached around the kitchen door and gently pulled Assumpta in, closing
the door behind her.
“Why am I hiding? Why are we hiding?”
“Because I love you and I’m not ruining your reputation.”
“Assumpta! I don’t want to worry if I get sprung in your kitchen or if someone’s
watching us walk down the road. I just want to be with you...” Peter held
“I’ll tell you what. You tell me who the father of Siobhan’s baby is and
I’ll stand on the roof of the pub and tell the world that I love you.”
“You know my answer.”
“Fine, but I’ll tell you one thing,” Assumpta said walking back to the door,
“you can kiss, for a priest!”
“What’s so funny?” Siobhan asked, watching the grin etch itself into the
“Just remembering something funny that happened...” She couldn’t help her
grin, it was a permanent fixture on her face. She didn’t think she’d ever
stop smiling. Her grin widened as an idea came into her head.
“I’ll tell you my secret if you tell me yours, Siobhan.”
“What are you...? Assumpta!”
“Are you holding something back from us Assumpta?”
“Yeah Padraig, you’re next pint!” Assumpta winked at Siobhan and moved on
to serve another customer. The front door to the pub opened as Peter walked
in. Assumpta looked up from the beer tap and quickly divert her eyes before
she gets locked in his gaze.
“Father, can I get you a drink?” Siobhan asked, her eyes darting between
the priest and the landlady.
“Thanks, a pint please Assumpta.” Assumpta handed him the beer and grinned
as he grabbed her hand with the pint.
“Alright out with it you two,” Siobhan called, breaking their look and forcing
them to quickly pull their hands apart. Brendan’s face broke into a satisfied
smile. He knew it! Assumpta raised a questioning eyebrow at Peter.
“Well, ah, I’ve left the priesthood.”
“And?” asked Brendan. The confusion spread across Padraig’s face.
“What are you lot on about?” The other four looked at each other before
“Assumpta and Peter are, now correct me if I’m wrong, having an affair?”
“We are not having an affair. We’re, umm, seeing each other?” Peter looked
confusedly at Assumpta.
“Don’t look at me buddy, it’s your fairy tale.”
“Oh Assumpta! Blind Freddy could see the tension between the two of you!
And why else would he have left the priesthood?”
“Come on Assumpta! Don’t be so naive!”
“OK! I just wanted him to myself for a little while!” she laughed. “So are
you going to tell us all your little secret?”
“Peter already knows.”
“And he won’t tell me so spill it!”
“Good man Peter!” The regulars laughed and relief flooded across Siobhan’s
“Out with you! Go and sleep it off,” Siobhan muttered pushing Padraig out
of her van. Brendan helped him stumble to his door before unsteadily returning
“Onwards and upwards Siobhan!”
“God, you’re just as bad as he is!”
“Siobhan?” Brendan grinned as he put his hand on hers.
“Brendan,” she warned, her heart not in the warning. She knew where it would
lead. It takes a skin-full of alcohol before either will act on their feelings
towards one another. Even the priest – sorry, ex-priest – was better at expressing
“Brendan, tell me what you feel when you’re sober.” Brendan’s head hung
down towards his chest and he started moving his hand away before Siobhan
“Siobhan? Can you take me home please?”
“Sure, but hear me out first. Brendan, you’re going to be a Daddy.” Brendan
looked at her through his beer fogged eyes and grinned before his eyes closed
and he started snoring.
“Finished in there? Assumpta called, making her way from the kitchen to
“Yeah, I think so.” Peter leant against the broom as she inspected his work.
“Not bad... Want a drink for your troubles?”
“Na, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. I should get going.”
“Not like you to be in such a hurry to get out of here...” concern laced
“I know,” he said, wrapping her up in his arms. “It’s just, I don’t know
how much I trust myself around you right now. You’re driving me insane woman!”
Assumpta laughed and she pushed him towards the door.
“I know that feeling well!” She stopped and kissed him firmly before shoving
him out the door. “Sleep tight Peter.”
“Sweet dreams Assumpta.” Peter trundled off down the road knowing full well
that his dreams would be haunted by a beauty that he could not yet call his
own. He’d have to rectify that situation... soon!
Peter wandered through the streets of Cilldargen. Having spent so much time
in the small town where everyone knows your life story, it’s nice to get back
to the big smoke occasionally. It felt good to be just another fish in the
sea. Despite that, Peter couldn’t wait to return to the small slice of heaven
he called home. He stopped and stared into the window of a shop and smiled.
He’d found what he was looking for.
Assumpta stood in shock. She supposed she should have guessed. It was obvious
really. Brendan was quiet having heard the news. He was lost. What did it
“Brendan, you’ve been a dad to me, more of a dad than my own was. You’ll
be a great father to your own child.”
“Look how you turned out. A sarcastic, church-hating fighter.”
“Or you could see the university graduate who runs her own business and
works hard serving the community.”
“Or, you could see the beautiful woman who’s won the heart of a priest,
tearing him away from his supposed vocation.” Assumpta looked up and grinned
“Peter, tell Brendan he’ll be a great father.”
“Ah, so she told you then? Brendan, you’re a great teacher and kids love
you, you’ll do fine!”
“I can hand those kids back if they become too much trouble!”
“Brendan, you never handed me back. I don’t think anyone can be as much
trouble as I was when I was a kid. You’ll do just fine!”
“You were a nightmare!”
“Oh tell me more Brendan!” Peter teased, grinning at the daggers shooting
out of Assumpta’s eyes. Brendan sculled the last of his pint and shrugged
into his jacket.
“I think I need to be alone and think this one out for a while. But I’ll
fill you in on the Fitzgerald monster another day. Thanks for the pint Assumpta...”
Assumpta was subdued for the rest of the evening. So many opportunities
begged for her sarcastic wit and were ignored. Peter watched her, concern
etched across his face. Niamh’s face mirrored Peter’s. They sat together
watching the happenings around the bar. Siobhan was quiet but Padraig more
than made up for it. Brendan was yet to surface from his journey of self-discovery.
Liam and Donal were arguing and Brian was tactfully ignoring them.
“Fath... I mean, Peter? Is she ok?”
“I really don’t know Niamh. I don’t know what’s worrying her. She’s been
like this ever since she found out Brendan was the father of Siobhan’s baby.”
“Did she tell you Brendan was like a father to her?”
“Yeah, she’s quite frond of the man isn’t she?”
“You’ve got nothing to worry about Peter. I’ve never seen her happier than
when she’s with you.” Assumpta rang the bell and called for everyone to finish
their drinks and leave.
“I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about how she’s taking the news,
she’s more than concerned for a friend...” The pub slowly emptied but Peter
and Niamh stayed.
“I’ll help you clean up Assumpta.” Carrying arms full of plates and glasses
the three made their way into the kitchen.
“Who’s turn is it to wash up tonight?” Peter asked jokingly.
“Mine...”Assumpta mumbled, dutifully taking her place at the sink. Niamh
and Peter exchanged a glance.
“Ah, it looks like you two have this down to a fine art. I’ll see you both
later.” Niamh hugged her friend before leaving the pub. Peter had to smile
at their friend’s tactfulness. He snaked his arms around his Assumpta’s waist.
“What’s bothering you?”
“Come on Assumpta, I know you better than to believe that!” Assumpta sighed
and threw down the cloth. She slowly turned around to face Peter. Tears glistened
in her eyes.
“He’s my dad!”
“What?” Assumpta laughed slightly.
“Well, not biologically, but he’s the closest thing I’ve had to a father
for most of my life and I love him like a father. Even now he puts me in my
place and looks out for me.”
“And you think him having a child will affect that?”
“It’ll be his own flesh and blood. I was just a stupid monster. The Fitzgerald
“You’re going to have to tell me about this monster!” Peter laughed. “But
not now. You’ve grown up, you’re a beautiful, intelligent woman and Brendan
thinks the sun shines out of you. And I love you so much. Can I look out for
you and put you in your place so you know that there’ll always be someone
here who loves you? Not that Brendan will ever stop!”
The tears flooded down her face. She knew he was right. She snuggled into
his chest and breathed in his smell. The tears stopped falling and she roughly
wiped her hands across her face, drying it. “Thank you.”
“I only told you the truth. Come on. I’ll finish cleaning up in the morning.
Let’s go to bed.” Assumpta stared at him.
“That’s very presumptuous of you. Say something nice to me and think you’re
getting into my bed!”
“Fine! If you don’t want me to hold you and look out for you all night...”
Peter trailed off and started towards the door. She grabbed hold of his arm
and pulled him back.
“Stay. But what happened to you not being able to trust yourself?”
“You need me. I can’t desert you in your hour of need!”
“Oh, my hero!” Assumpta laughed as he picked her up and carried her up the
Peter threw the stick and watched Finn chase it down. The dog bounded up
to his mistress and she wrestled the stick out of his mouth. Peter smiled
at the interaction between man’s best friend and the woman that he loved.
They walked along the River Angel. He’d never found the tranquillity and
peace that he found in Bally-K in England. Ever since his mother died his
brothers have been trying to convince him to return, be close to the family.
But he had his own family here now, be it an abnormal one. He patted his
pocket discretely and grinned at the sight of his girlfriend chasing the
dog along the rivers edge. Her laughter lit up his face. It was a sound that
he’d never tire of... Brendan lent against the side of the blue truck he
knew so well. He looked down at his feet and sighed.
“What can I do you for Brendan?”
“Can, ah, can we talk Siobhan?” Siobhan nodded and started walking down towards
“Siobhan, I’m going to be a Daddy.”
“I know, Brendan.” Brendan looked out over the river.
“I want to be a proper dad to my child. I never thought that I’d have a child,
and now here I am with my best friend having my child and surprisingly I
couldn’t be happier.”
“Does this have a point?”
“Move in with me?” Siobhan stopped dead in her tracks and stared at him.
“What did you say?”
“What did you say?”
“Marry me.” Peter was down on his knee in front of her. She pulled him up
to meet her and threw her arms around him.
“You are an incredible man, Peter.” Peter grinned as he kissed her.
“So is that a yes?”
“Maybe. Would it work? I mean, could we stand being under the same roof?”
“Siobhan, we’re together when we’re not working or sleeping anyway. And recently
we’ve been together sleeping! You’re my best friend and I love you dearly.
Someone wise once said that love is friendship on fire. Please? I want to
be a real dad.”
Peter grinned at Assumpta and placed the ring on her finger before enveloping
her in him arms. He couldn’t believe that it had happened. They continued
their walk back towards the pub. As they rounded a bend the noticed Siobhan
and Brendan sitting together, her between his legs resting back against his
“That’s something you don’t see every day!” Assumpta laughed. Finn bounded
up to the couple sitting on the rocks, licking the faces that he’d come to
know as a fixture of ‘home’.
“Assumpta, get this beast out of here!” Brendan groaned. Assumpta laughed.
“You heard him, Peter, away with you!” Assumpta and Siobhan laughed before
Peter threw Assumpta over his shoulder and walked towards the other couple.
Copying their positioning, they sat down.
“I’m moving in with Brendan,” Siobhan said, deadpan. Only the smile on her
face gave away how thrilled she really was, and of course Brendan couldn’t
see it. She would never make it easy for him!
“Humpf!” Assumpta grinned. “I can beat that. I’m marrying the priest!” Despite
the sarcasm in her voice, the whole world knew that she was thrilled with
the idea, the thought, the prospect of marrying an incredible man – priest
or not! Brendan’s smile broke his face in two. He was thrilled that he was
going to see his eldest ‘daughter’ so happy. He reached for her hand and
“My dear, my dear, I know / More than another / What makes your heart
beat so; / Not even your own mother / Can know it as I know/ Who broke my
heart for her / When the wild thought/ That she denies / And has forgot/
Set all her blood astir / And glittered in her eyes.” Brendan smiled
through the fog threatening to cloud over him. He was so happy for her.
“How long is forever?” Assumpta asked, her head pillowed on Peter’s chest.
“Forever isn’t very long at all, when I’m with you...” Assumpta grinned at
his cheesy reply.
“Forever: always like this.”
“Forever and ever.”
Author's Note: Well, there you go! Finished! The time for this fic is
all over the place, but, forgive me, I’m Aussie without all the DVDs yet
and it seems like forever since it was last on TV. I hope you’ve enjoyed
my ramblings... feedback is much appriciated... I'm also slowly working out
how to use - hopefully this part is clearer than the last!!
DISCLAIMER: Not mine... unfortunately. I do not intend any copyright infringements!
Poem: To a Young Girl by WB Yeats