The Quiet Girl - Part 1

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The Quiet Girl
 
Part One - The Arrival
by Andrea Lena DiMaggio

 

I've met some folks who say that I'm a dreamer
And I've no doubt there's truth in what they say
But sure a body's bound to be a dreamer
When all the things she loves are far away.


  
The train pulled up at the station and Shiv looked out of the window at the scenery on her left. The rolling landscape she had expected was still there, but now partially obscured by recent developments and a small warehouse.

"This your stop, Miss?" The conductor said with a very thick accent...Pakistani or some central Asia people group," she thought."

"Yes, Thanks." Her accent had begun to come back already. Like many folks visiting the old country, mere exposure to the air seems to thicken any hint of a brogue, even for those who never had one.

As she stepped down off the car, a tall man, about twenty-seven or so; ages with her approached her rapidly, nearly knocking down another lad as he raced to her side.

"I've got a car waitin' just for you, darlin'" He said, almost rudely.

"No, thanks." She said quietly, wishing to be cordial while putting him off.

"Really, I'd be glad to give you a ride anywhere." He said. His face was close enough to hers to smell his breath...cigarettes and beer at nine in the morning.

"That's alright...Thank you, but no." she repeated.

"Oh, come on, darlin'. Let's just go over to my car." She saw that it was very old, very dirty, and probably smelled worse than his breath.

“Kindly step away from me.” Shiv said emphatically. The man apparently hadn’t heard her at all and put his hand on her arm.

Turning quickly, she grabbed his wrist, twisted it behind his back, and shoved hard, pushing him up against his car.

“Fuck off, you dickhead!” She said as she watched his head bang hard against the windshield.

“Fookin’ bitch,” the young man shouted as he fumbled for his keys. As he got into his car, some of the other cabbies stood, pointed at him, and laughed.

“Good for you, missy, good for you.” One of the men shouted while the others continued to laugh as the man drove away.

“Excuse me,” a voice came from behind her. She turned around, fists balled up, ready for a fight. The young man in front of her put his hands up, palms facing her, as if to say, “I don’t want a fight.”

It can be rather disconcerting if you travel to another country, or even another state or province, and someone you meet seems out of place. An Asian girl would seem to fit in Tokyo or Hong Kong. Put her in Chesapeake, Virginia and give her a “southern” accent and she’d almost seem lost. The man in front of Siobhan was about her height, which would be about 5’6”. He had a very dark, almost olive complexion with eyes almost black as coal and he appeared to be about ten years or so older than Shiv. Nevertheless, when he spoke, he sounded completely out of place.

“Beggin’ your pardon, Miss, but would you be one Siobhan ni Caellach? Oive been asked to arrange for a ride for her in me cab.” With a face that belonged in the cast of The Sopranos, his thick brogue threw Shiv off for a moment.

“Yee...yes…I’m Siobhan. And you are?” She smiled warmly.

“Michaeleen…Michaeleen Torricelli, Mum.” He smiled back, revealing a nice set of teeth save for one top incisor that was twisted slightly sideways.

“Oh…no…you can’t be… you aren’t.” She stammered. He smiled again and replied.

“One in the same, Mum. Me dad was straight off the boat from Siracusa, as they say. Me mum took one look at him…a couple of rolls in the hay, and it was love at third sight!” He chuckled.

“So your grandfather….” She started to say, and thought about it. He interrupted.

“Me granddad was the matchmaker for your grandparents…ole Michaeleen Oge Flynn! Mum thought it was clever, namin’ me after him. Me dad wanted to name me Vito.”

“Well, Michaeleen Torricelli, I’m very pleased to meet you.” Shiv stuck out her hand and shook his emphatically.

“I can see how you took Jamie Boy to task. He’s a fookin’ moron, he is. Never had any sense, and he’s almost fookin’ proud ov it!” He looked at her hand, marveling at her grip.

“I’d like to stop over at the farm before we go to the inn, is that okay?” She asked as he put her luggage in the boot.

“Not a problem, Mum.” He said as he closed the trunk. She smiled and said,

“Our families are like kin…call me Shiv...Shiv Kelly.” She said as she smiled once again.

“Well, den, Lassie, you can call me Mr. Torricelli…Mick, if you please.” He said, trying awfully hard not to laugh. He failed miserably.


And precious things are dreams onto an exile
They take her o'er the land across the sea
Especially when it happens she's an exile
From that dear lovely Isle of Innisfree.

 

The scenery whisked by as the cab made its way toward the farm. As the car wound its way up the hill, Shiv saw the house emerge from behind a group of oak trees…pag they call them in Gaelige. It was almost a sacred place, but then it would be to her even if they’d been pine or alder. It was blessed to her because it was where her mother was conceived and born… where her parents last visited before they died.

They passed the stream coming down the hill from the rise just behind the house.

“We say…that you’re blessed if you have water runnin’ through like your stream here, Shiv. It’s what they call a "thin” place, as your grandmother might say; a place where life and light meet to join the spiritual and the temporal.” Mick said as the car slowly climbed the soft rise. A hedgehog wandered onto the stone wall that paralleled the stream and seemed to watch as the car finished its ascent.

“Here you go, sweetheart. White O’ Mornin.” Mick said as the car pulled up to the house. After decades of just a gravel road, the way had been paved; acknowledging the home’s entry in to the twentieth century even as the rest of the world had moved into the twenty-first.

“I won’t be long…just a few moments to walk around, sorta get familiar with the place.” Shiv got out of the cab and walked up to the front door. Years of neglect saw green paint fading almost to grey on the door, while dirt had almost completely covered the windows of the house in a tan film.

“They never really cared about the place, dear. It might have been important at one time, but the family is more interested in what it can be sold for. Too fookin’ bad!” Mick said as he stepped beside her.

“I’m not even interested in the property, Mick” Shiv said as she looked up and down at the house.

“It’s really the house I’m interested in. My mother used to speak of it…like it was almost a holy place.” She bit her lip.

“I stayed with Nana Mary Kate when mom and dad came back for the last time. Like a pilgrimage I suppose. I don’t remember much about it, since I was only ten.” She sighed, wondering if everything might be the same inside.

“I asked Heather for the key, but she didn’t get round to givin’ it to me last time I saw her.” Mick said.

“Didn’t she know I was coming?” Shiv asked

“Oh for sure she did, dear, but she doesn’t really care at this point. Her sister Katie is holdin’ on to this place like her life depended on it, and she’s lookin’ to find a buyer right quick.” Mick said as he used his arm in a broad gesture to point to the farm.

“How can she sell it, when I have the deed?” Shiv asked as she blew out a breath. Her hands were in her pockets, balled up into angry fists.

“This is mine…My parents left it to me when they died.” Shiv said angrily as she looked around.

“You may have the deed, darlin’, but they’ve been farmin’ this land since before you were born.” Mick said.

“I guess that’s why you’ll be goin’ to court to face off with Katie…I expect she doesn’t much agree with you…I’m sorry, Shiv, but a judge might even decide with her…that’s just the way it is.”

“That doesn’t seem very fair.” Shiv said

“That it isn’t, but it’s still what we have to deal with.” Mick looked at her and smiled.

“We?” Shiv smiled back.

“You don’t think I’ll be lettin’ you face the whole Dannaher family by yerself, do ya?” Mick smiled.

“Why don’t you take a walk around the place for a few…I’m goin’ to sit in the cab and take a wee nap, if you don’t mind?” Mick asked.

“Sure,” Shiv said as she started down the path by the stone wall, heading toward the stream.


The ground hadn’t been cleared, but was still fairly neat, likely owing to the large ewe who sat by the house, chewing on a mouthful of grass. Shiv climbed over the wall and walked by the stream, marveling at all the wild flowers growing on the small banks on either side. A fox jumped over a low hedge only to see Shiv as he landed. He quickly scurried away, leaving the hare he was chasing to leap over the stream, onto the wall and up the hill.

About a hundred yards away from the house, Shiv stepped back and sat down on the wall. She took off her sweater, revealing a green tank top. As she looked further down the stream she noticed a glint in the water. A shiny rock or maybe an old can? She stood up and walked down the hill and stopped where she thought she had seen the glint.

As she stooped down, she heard a bird land on the wall next to her. He was almost all black, with a bit of brown under his wing and a white breast. He opened his mouth and cried loudly before flying away. She turned back to the stream and saw the glint of a ring lying in the bed next to the bank. She reached in and picked it up. The ring was silver and had a band crafted to look like two hands grasping a heart topped by a small crown; it was old but strikingly beautiful in its simplicity. She pocketed the ring and started back up the hill.

“Did you see that,” Shiv asked Mick as she got to the car. She then noticed that Mick was sound asleep in the driver’s seat. She pulled the ring out of her pocket once again and looked at it. The ring was on her property, so that must mean that it was her grandmother’s. She gazed once again at the design…she’d check it out on her laptop when she got to the inn, but for now, just looking at the beauty of it for its own sake. The little bird she had seen earlier landed on the thatch of the roof of the house. He seemed to be eyeing her up and down. He cried once again before flying into a copse on the other side of the stream and then he was gone. Mick stirred and looked up at Shiv.

“Mick…take a look at this,” Shiv said as she dug into her pocket. She pulled out the ring she had found in the stream and handed it to him.

“Well, darlin’, things may seem dark, but that’s because it’s always darkest before the dawn.

“I’ve heard that before, but never seen it come ever happen.”

“Oh believe me, darlin… you’re blessed, and it can only get better.” Mick smiled as he got out of the car.

“You say you found this in the stream?” He asked.

“Yes…I saw a glint and found this about a hundred yards downstream on the closest bank.” She used her hand in a broad gesture.

“Well, since it was on the bank, it was likely put there,” he said with a wry smile.

“This is getting better all the time. Someone considered or considers this land to be sacred…this ring is an offering.” He handed it back. The bird cried again, getting Mick’s attention.

“And listen to that darlin’,” he said as he pointed to the copse where the bird had flown. He smiled once again and said,

“Oy recognize that sound…that’s a Ringed Ouzel….very rare…and very precious indeed.” Mick patted Shiv on the back.

“The bird is hard to find, even here and now. Mostly in the nine counties, but here as well but only once in a blue moon.” Mick smiled once again as the bird called from beyond the copse in the grove of oak trees on the other side of the stream.

“What does that mean to me?” Shiv looked at him with a quizzical expression.

“What that means is the bird is a harbinger of fortune since he’s likely just like you and your kin…tenacious and he protects his own, just like your grandfather did with your great uncle. Honey, it’s, as they say, in the bag.” Mick patted Shiv once more on the back. They got into the cab and drove off into town, their departure serenaded by the cry of the Ouzel as he flew over the house one more time.

But dreams don't last
Tho' dreams are not forgotten
And soon I'm back to stern reality
But tho' they paved the footways here with gold dust
I still would choose the Isle of Innisfree

 
Next: Dreams Don't Last


 
Story base on characters created for
the motion picture, The Quiet Man
Screenplay by Fred S. Nugent
from a short story by Maurice Walsh
 
The Isle of Innis Free
Words and Music by Dick Farrelly
as performed by Celtic Woman
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xn7rjlOxfc