Elizabeth Friel is a writer based in Co. Monaghan, Ireland. She writes flash fiction in the ‘witching hours’ and this is her first publication.
I wait in the car for my husband; he is in the dole office, begging to have his stamps honoured. It’s three days before Christmas and success will mean the difference between making the rent on the first of January, and moving into our twenty-year-old car.
The stripped trees above echo the bareness of our coffers; their gnarled branches seem poised in accusation. Below, crawling across the wall, a hardier plant; its leaves, pulled sharply by a gust, remind me of fluttering moths, pulling upwards as if in panic. A sudden shadow crosses over, as big black crows swoop into view and arc upwards, circling the skies. I have to admire their tenacity in this biting, blustery air.
I begin to pray, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name…
My husband returns downcast. My silent implorations have failed to change the status of his social claim. But as I look at him, I draw strength from his presence. We are not alone. We’re paid up for two more weeks, and won’t be kicked out before Christmas, unlike those in Dublin’s Apollo House. The important thing is that hope remains.
My husband pulls out of the carpark, freewheeling down the slight slope to save on fuel. I place a hand on his, and finish my prayers:
Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy.