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Danny Finn’s Dream
by Sean Bracken
Danny Finn reached over in the bed for his wife Ann. Still only half awake he realised that her side of the bed was empty. He guessed that she had gone down for a glass of water and lay back on his pillow. It was then that the awful truth came back to him. Ann was gone. He was on his own, except for the children, Danny Junior, Heather and little Harry. The never ending grief and horror washed all over him again and he cried out in his despair “Why? Why Ann, Why?”. Tears now streaming down his face, he pulled himself up from the bed and made his way downstairs and into the bar.
He reached up to a shelf and pulled down a bottle of “Black Bush” and stumbled back upstairs to what had been Ann’s old study. The room, once vibrant with old furniture lovingly restored by Ann was now sparse and cold. Danny had donated much of it to charity and given the rest away to friends and family. And yet the room still held her essence, her soul, the smell of her. Her perfume lived in the walls. Here, she lived in Danny’s mind. Here he talked with her, night after night.
Her ‘writing’ chair stood solitary guard before the empty hearth, now devoid of warming flames and her grandmothers old coffee-table lay upside down in the corner, kicked over in a drunken rage the night before. Danny righted the table and set it down beside the chair. He picked up a glass and an ash tray from the floor and placed them on the table along with his whiskey and cigarettes.
He poured a generous measure into the unwashed glass. A Pall Mall in one hand and drink in the other his tears subsided as he switched on the stereo. It was three o’clock in the morning. “God, would he ever know peace again?”
The soothing sound of Vivaldi sang to him as the whiskey started to take effect. Danny knew that without his drink and smokes nothing could prevent him from joining Ann in oblivion. Lord Jesus, how he missed her. Images of her dead body on the bed, one leg on the floor, the empty Prozac bottle beside her, paramedics working frantically to revive her, the God awful funeral with the children clutching into him, the condolences from people that were sincere did nothing to ease the pain conspiring to destroy his soul.
He loved the kids with all his heart, but for the past year he had only been pretending to be alive. He woke them up in the mornings, fed them their meals, helped with homework and put them to bed at night. It took all he had just to wash and shave in the morning. Then onto autopilot behind the bar, for the day, until bedtime for the children and time for him to relax with his whiskey and wallow in self-pity.
He barely ate anything at all and lived on coffee, sixty smokes a day and a bottle of Irish every night. Once a healthy twelve stone and full of life, he was now just a fraction over six stone and looked like a survivor from a Nazi concentration camp. His friends, family and the regulars in the pub had all tried to help him, but he preferred the isolation. All he wanted was his bottle and the numbness it brought.
Violins reached towards the climax of The Four Seasons when Danny's door bell chimed rousing him from his memories. He noted that it was a little after three thirty and wondered who on Earth could be calling at this hour. Probably another poor soul in need of a late night drink. He wanted to ignore the caller but decided to go down to answer the door.
A total stranger stood in the porch, doing his best to shelter from the falling snow. “Mr. Finn? Can I come in please?” asked the man as he shook snowdrops from his dark hair. Danny looked the man up and down. He seemed to be quite calm and other than his rather pale skin appeared to be unremarkable. “Who are you? What do you want?” Danny asked. “I'm so sorry” replied the stranger. “I realise how late it is but I need to talk with you urgently. It's about Ann and it can't wait”
“Come in then. If you must.” Mumbled Danny, feeling unsteady from the alcohol. He led the man up to the living room and after they were both seated across from each other he asked what was so urgent that it couldn't wait 'til morning.
“Ann sent me to talk with you, to help you, to guide you.” replied the stranger. An incredulous Danny was incensed and shouted at the man to get out of the house. “Leave me alone you bastard! That's impossible. My wife's been dead for a year! Get out, Get out, Get out.” roared Danny as he struggled to his feet.
“She said you might react like this,” said the stranger quietly.”She told me to show you this. She said it would help to convince you” he said, holding out a necklace that Danny recognised. He had given it to Ann on the birth of Danny Junior and it had been buried in her coffin with her. Danny sank back into his chair and crestfallen he looked up at the stranger. “How can this be?” he asked.
The stranger replied that Danny would soon understand and started to talk to him about his life. How hard he had worked. How devoted a father and husband he had been. He also explained that Ann was so sorry for taking her life and for the pain it had caused. As the stranger continued with his soothing words Danny began to calm down and he realised how selfish he had been for the past year. He felt deep shame for the way he had behaved, for withdrawing himself from his friends and family and for treating his children as if they were a burden.
He asked the stranger to tell Ann that he would always miss her, that he was ready to be a decent father to the children and to make a fresh start.
The strange pale man smiled gently and put his arms tenderly around the grieving husband. “That’s all I wanted to hear Danny. At last Ann can rest in peace, but never forget that I will be keeping a very close eye on you from now on ”
Danny woke up back in the study, shaken from his dream. It had been so vivid, so real and so intense. It was then that he noticed Ann’s necklace on the coffee table right beside the empty whiskey glass