Sunday, January 16, 2011

PS, I Love You [Part 2]

PS, I Love You

Part 2

“GERRY, TURN OFF THE LIGHT!” Holly giggled as she watched her husband undress
before her. He danced around the room performing a striptease, slowly unbuttoning his white
cotton shirt with his long slender fingers. He raised his left eyebrow toward Holly and allowed
the shirt to slide from his shoulders, caught it in his right hand and swung it around over his

Holly giggled again.

“Turn off the light? What, and miss all this?” he grinned cheekily while flexing his muscles. He
wasn't a vain man but had much to be vain about, thought Holly. His body was strong and
perfectly toned. His long legs were muscular from hours spent working out in the gym. He
wasn't a very tall man, but he was tall enough to make Holly feel safe when he stood
protectively beside her five-foot-five body. Most of all she loved that when she hugged him her head would rest neatly just below his chin, where she could feel his breath lightly blowing her hair and tickling her head.

Her heart leapt as he lowered his boxers, caught them on the tips of his toes and flung them at Holly, where they landed on her head.

“Well, at least it's darker under here anyway,” she laughed. He always managed to make her
laugh. When she came home tired and angry after work he was always sympathetic and listened to her complain. They seldom fought, and when they did it was over stupid things that made them laugh afterward, like who had left the porch light on all day or who had forgotten to set the alarm at night.

Gerry finished his striptease and dived into the bed. He snuggled up beside her, tucking his
freezing cold feet underneath her legs to warm himself up.

“Aaaagh! Gerry, your feet are like ice cubes!” Holly knew that this position meant he had no
intention of budging an inch. “Gerry,” Holly's voice warned.

“Holly,” he mimicked.

“Didn't you forget something?”

“No, not that I remember,” he answered cheekily.

“The light?”

“Ah yes, the light,” he said sleepily and pretended to snore loudly.


“I had to get out of bed and do it last night as I remember.”

“Yeah, but you were just standing right beside the switch a second ago!”

“Yes . . . just a second ago,” he repeated sleepily.

Holly sighed. She hated having to get back out of bed when she was nice and snug, step onto
the cold wooden floor and then fumble around in the darkness on the way back to the bed. She tutted.

“I can't do it all the time you know, Hol. Someday I might not be here and then what will you

“Get my new husband to do it,” Holly huffed, trying her best to kick his cold feet away from


“Or just remember to do it myself before I get into bed.”

Gerry snorted. “Fat chance of that happening, my dear. I'll have to leave a message on the light switch for you before I go just so you'll remember.”

“How thoughtful of you, but I would rather you just leave me your money.”
“And a note on the central heating,” he continued on.


“And on the milk carton.”

“You're a very funny man, Gerry.”

“Oh, and on the windows so you don't open them and set the alarm off in the mornings.”
“Hey, why don't you just leave me a list in your will of things for me to do if you think I'll be so
incompetent without you?”
“Not a bad idea,” he laughed.

“Fine then, I'll turn off the bloody light.” Holly grudgingly got out of bed, grimaced as she
stepped onto the ice-cold floor and switched off the light. She held out her arms in the darkness and slowly began to find her way back to the bed.
“Hello?!!! Holly, did you get lost? Is there anybody out there, there, there, there?” Gerry
shouted out to the black room.

“Yes, I'm hhhhowwwwwwcch!” she yelped as she stubbed her toe against the bedpost. “Shit,
shit, shit, fuck, bastard, shit, crap!”

Gerry snorted and sniggered underneath the duvet. “Number two on my list: Watch out for
bedpost . . .”

“Oh, shut up, Gerry, and stop being so morbid,” Holly snapped back at him, cradling her poor
foot in her hand.

“Want me to kiss it better?” he asked.

“No, it's OK,” Holly replied sadly. “If I could just put them here so I can warm . . .”
“Aaaaah! Jesus Christ, they're freezing!!”
“Hee-hee-hee,” she had laughed.

So that was how the joke about the list had come about. It was a silly and simple idea that was
soon shared with their closest friends, Sharon and John McCarthy. It was John who had
approached Holly in the school corridor when they were just fourteen and muttered the famous words, “Me mate wants to know if you'll go out with him.” After days of endless discussion and emergency meetings with her friends, Holly eventually agreed. “Aah, go on, Holly,” Sharon had urged, “he's such a ride, and at least he doesn't have spots all over his face like John.”

How Holly envied Sharon right now. Sharon and John had married the same year as Holly and Gerry. Holly was the baby of the bunch at twenty-three, the rest were twenty-four. Some said she was too young and lectured her about how, at her age, she should be traveling the world and enjoying herself. Instead, Gerry and Holly traveled the world together. It made far more sense that way because when they weren't, well, together, Holly just felt like she was missing a vital organ from her body.

Her wedding day was far from being the best day of her life. She had dreamed of the fairy-tale wedding like most little girls, with a princess dress and beautiful, sunny weather, in a romantic location surrounded by all who were near and dear to her. She imagined the reception would be the best night of her life, pictured herself dancing with all of her friends, being admired by everyone and feeling special. The reality was quite different.

She woke up in her family home to screams of “I can't find my tie!” (her father) or “My hair
looks shite” (her mother), and the best one of all: “I look like a bloody whale! There's no way
I'm goin' to this bleedin' weddin' looking like this. I'll be scarlet! Mum, look at the state of me!
Holly can find another bridesmaid 'cos I'm not bleedin' goin'. Oi! Jack, give me back that feckin' hair dryer, I'm not finished!!” (That unforgettable statement was made by her younger sister, Ciara, who on a very regular basis threw tantrums and refused to leave the house, claiming she had nothing to wear, regardless of her bursting wardrobe. She was currently living somewhere in Australia with strangers, and the only communication the family had with her was an e-mail every few weeks.) Holly's family spent the rest of the morning trying to convince Ciara how she was the most beautiful woman in the world. All the while Holly silently  dressed herself, feeling like shite. Ciara eventually agreed to leave the house when Holly's typically calm dad screamed at the top of his voice to everyone's amazement, “Ciara, this is Holly's bloody day, not yours!
And you will go to the wedding and enjoy yourself, and when Holly walks downstairs you will
tell her how beautiful she looks, and I don't wanna hear a peep out of you for the rest of the

So when Holly walked downstairs everyone oohed and aahed while Ciara, appearing like a
ten-year-old who had just been spanked, tearily looked at her with a trembling lip and said,
“You look beautiful, Holly.” All seven of them squashed into the limo, Holly, her parents, her
three brothers and Ciara, and sat in terrified silence all the way to the church.
The whole day seemed to be a blur to her now. She had barely had time to speak to Gerry, as
they were both being pulled in opposite directions to meet Great-aunt Betty from the back arse of nowhere, whom she hadn't seen since she was born, and Grand-uncle Toby from America, who had never been mentioned before but was suddenly a very important member of the family.

And nobody told her it would be so tiring, either. By the end of the night Holly's cheeks were
sore from smiling for photographs and her feet were killing her from running around all day in
very silly little shoes not designed for walking. She desperately wanted to join the large table of her friends, who had been howling with laughter all night, obviously enjoying themselves. Well for some, she had thought. But as soon as Holly stepped into the honeymoon suite with Gerry, her worries of the day faded and the point of it all became clear.
Tears once again rolled down Holly's face and she realized she had been daydreaming again. 

She sat frozen on the couch with the phone still off the hook beside her. The time just seemed to pass her by these days without her knowing what time or even what day it was. She seemed to be living outside of her body, numb to everything but the pain in her heart, in her bones, in her head. She was just so tired . . . Her stomach grumbled and she realized she couldn't remember the last time she had eaten. Had it been yesterday?

She shuffled into the kitchen wearing Gerry's dressing gown and her favorite pink “Disco Diva” slippers, which Gerry had bought her the previous Christmas. She was his Disco Diva, he used to say. Always the first on the dance floor, always the last out of the club. Huh, where was that girl now? She opened the fridge and stared in at the empty shelves. Just vegetables and yogurt long past its sell-by date leaving a horrible stench in the fridge. There was nothing to eat. She smiled weakly as she shook the milk carton. Empty. Third on his list . . .

Christmas two years ago Holly had gone shopping with Sharon for a dress for the annual ball
they attended at the Burlington Hotel. Shopping with Sharon was always a dangerous outing,
and John and Gerry had joked about how they would once again suffer through Christmas
without any presents as a result of the girls' shopping sprees. But they weren't far wrong. Poor neglected husbands, the girls always called them.

That Christmas Holly had spent a disgraceful amount of money in Brown Thomas on the most
beautiful white dress she had ever seen. “Shit, Sharon, this will burn a huge hole in my pocket,” Holly guiltily said, biting her lip and running her fingers over the soft material.
“Aah, don't worry, Gerry can stitch it up for you,” Sharon replied, followed by her infamous
cackle. “And stop calling me 'shit Sharon,' by the way. Every time we go shopping you address
me as that. If you're not careful I might start taking offense. Buy the damn thing, Holly. It's
Christmas after all, the season of giving and all that.”

“God, you are so evil, Sharon. I'm never shopping with you again. This is like, half my month's
wages. What am I going to do for the rest of the month?”

“Holly, would you rather eat or look fab?” Was it even worth thinking about?
“I'll take it,” Holly said excitedly to the sales assistant.

The dress was cut low, which showed off Holly's neat little chest perfectly, and it was split to
the thigh, displaying her slim legs. Gerry hadn't been able to take his eyes off her. It wasn't
because she looked so beautiful, however. He just couldn't understand how on earth that little
slip of material had cost so much. Once at the ball, Ms. Disco Diva overindulged in the
alcoholic beverages and succeeded in destroying her dress by spilling red wine down her front.
Holly tried but failed to hold back her tears while the men at the table drunkenly informed their
partners that number fifty-four on the list prevented you from drinking red wine while wearing
an expensive white dress. It was then decided that milk was the preferred beverage, as it
wouldn't be visible if spilled on expensive white dresses.
Later, when Gerry knocked his pint over, causing it to dribble off the edge of the table onto
Holly's lap, she tearily yet seriously announced to the table (and some of the surrounding tables),
“Rule fitty-fife ov the list: neffer effer buy a 'spensive white dress.” And so it was agreed, and
Sharon awoke from her coma from somewhere underneath the table to applaud and offer moral
support. A toast was made (after the startled waiter had delivered the tray full of glasses of milk)
to Holly and to her profound addition to the list. “I'm sorry 'bout your 'spensive white dress,
Holly,” John had hiccuped before falling out of the taxi and dragging Sharon alongside him to
their house.
Was it possible that Gerry had kept his word and written a list for her before he died? She had
spent every minute of every day with him up until his death, and he had never mentioned it, nor
had she noticed any signs of him writing one. No, Holly, pull yourself together and don't be
stupid. She so desperately wanted him back that she was imagining all kinds of crazy things. He
wouldn't have. Would he?

to be cont'd

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