Fecundity

by Lynne


Assumpta looked around her in dismay. How did I get here, she wondered? She glanced over at her husband. Immediately her features softened, that's how, she thought. That man wrestling with two children who together were able to knock him to his knees. With twins running around it was no wonder she was always tired. Today was their fifth birthday party and Peter was entertaining the kids while she got the house ready. How did I ever think running a pub on my own was hard? It was a crazy household, but she wouldn't trade it for any amount of gold.

She thought back to her wedding. Now there was a day to remember. Unfortunately, she had started it hung over from the party Niamh had given her the night before. What a hoot to see Kathleen drunk and flirting with the cute waiter at the restaurant in Cilldargan. She didn't remember too much about later events of that evening, but it had something to do with borrowing Padraig's goat, Kathleen knowing where Father Mac kept his spare house key, and damage to the carpets and drapes in Father Mac's study.

She remembered Niamh and Siohban dressing her and bossing her around like she was actually irrelevant to the proceedings. Later she was grateful they had managed to get her to the church on time and looking calm and composed. Her insides were churning, but she had a big plastic smile fixed on her face as she started up the aisle. Brendan had agreed to escort her. She was afraid she was going to throw up all over the lovely petal strewn carpet. When she had finally caught sight of Peter's face, her headache had started to hurt less and her stomach to calm down. Her lingering resentment over being in church had miraculously disappeared also. Peter looked liked one happy man. Like a man who had found the secret behind the sweet shop and discovered that he loved everything about it.

The rest had been a whirlwind of "I do's" and kissing and hugging and crying. They had finally gotten out of there later in the afternoon. What a relief to be finally driving off in Peter's, (their!) Javelin. Niamh had told her there was a surprise in the back seat and they had discovered a stuffed to the gills picnic basket. They had stopped at a place Assumpta remembered from outings as a child. They pulled the Javelin over, hidden behind some trees.

At first Peter had been shy about kissing her, but he had gotten the hang of it quickly enough. They had decided to wait until they were married, there was really no other option for them. Though after the priest marrying the publican, getting pregnant out of wedlock would have seemed pretty tame.

Peter took a lot of teasing from the regulars in the bar, but had borne it all stoically with a grin. Though it was gratifying to see the grimace on Father MacAnally's face whenever he looked at Assumpta's pregnant belly.

Just then Peter glanced over at Assumpta getting the cake ready for Angel and Michael's party. When he looked at her like that, her insides just melted. Glancing outside, she saw it was a fine sunny summer day, perfect for the party later.

The day of the wedding, they had driven away from their friends at the church they had been grateful for the cool shade of a tree and a full larder. After eating, Peter had kissed her, but she had stifled a huge yawn. She was so tired from the stress of the previous weeks that she was exhausted.

"Come on, love," said Peter, "lay down and take a nap. We're in no hurry." When Peter had woken up, Assumpta was nowhere in site and the blanket he had put over her was gone. He had glanced around and called her name when he saw a hand suddenly thrust out between the branches of a huge fir tree whose lower limbs had grown out in a big sweep like the flared skirts of a Grande Dame.

"Assumpta?" he questioned.

The hand beckoned him forward and then pulled him in when he got close. The next few hours were some neither of them would ever forget. They had waited a long time for this, and the cool, nearly dark interior of the trees leafy canopy was a perfect setting. At one point Peter had quoted from a song he liked: "I will journey to the place that was shaped by heaven's hand, I will build for me a bower where angel's footprints mark the land."

Assumpta was fairly sure that's when their little Angel and Michael had been conceived. Nine months to the day of the wedding they had been born. Kathleen Hendley had certainly been counting backwards, as had Father Mac. It was odd the way Peter seemed to know she was pregnant, even before she realized it herself. Shortly after getting back from their driving honeymoon, he had started clearing out a spare room Assumpta was using for storage at the pub. When she had asked him why, he had just smiled and told her he thought they would be needing it soon.

She glanced down ruefully at the cake she was attempting to frost; Angel had insisted on helping her and it was a little lopsided. Oh well, doesn't matter, thought Assumpta with a smile.

Just then Niamh and Ambrose arrived with Kieran. They had promised to come over before the party to give Assumpta and Peter time to go pick up some things from Cilldargan. As Kieran was the oldest at 8, he was a great help keeping Angel and Michael entertained, they loved their "cousin." Niamh immediately took charge of the chaos. "Right. You two can help put up party decorations. Well, what are you waiting for?" she directed at Peter and Assumpta. "Escape while you can, see you later," she said with a wink at Peter.

It was wonderful to be sitting next to her sweetheart, and so she thought of him, though she would never admit it to him. She had always loved riding in this car with Peter. They were deep in conversation and Assumpta didn't notice that they had driven past Cilldargan until Peter pulled the car over in a familiar place. It was several hours later, under a canopy of lush green branches that Assumpta stirred herself next to Peter's side. "I suppose we had better be headed back. Thank you for the lovely detour, by the way," she said with a smile.

Peter pulled her over so she was laying on top of him. "Yes Ma'am, all part of the service," he said with a twinkle in his eye.

On the way back to Cilldargan Peter glanced over at Assumpta and said, "So what do you think we should call this one? I think Mary is nice." Assumpta just stared at him, then she too smiled.