Tears of a Clown by Sean Bracken
Mary Ryan was all of a dither. Checking her makeup one minute, peeping from behind the curtains the next. What's keeping that taxi? It should be here by now, she thought.
Tonight was the twenty-fifth anniversary reunion dance, for the class of '89. Hard to believe. The years had flashed past. It seemed like only yesterday that herself and Dave Cleary had said goodbye for the last time. It was at the Debs dance. They were very much in love but Dave was flying to the US the next day. He'd won an athletic scholarship to Yale and intended to study law and politics. Mary hated the idea, but kept her feelings to herself.
Two beeps interrupted her memories and let her know that the taxi had arrived. Pausing for one final look in the mirror, Mary was pleased at her reflection. Now in her early forties she was still an attractive woman. Exercise classes three times a week, riding her bike to work, and long walks with Max, her collie cross, kept her lean and fit. Her naturally youthful complexion and radiant black wavy hair belied the stresses of two failed marriages and a mediocre job in an estate agency.
Turning to pick up a small clutch bag that matched perfectly with the silver mini-dress that she'd picked up in Penny's, for a bargain price of forty-five Euros, Mary walked out to the waiting taxi.
With her mind reliving the past, Mary didn’t notice the half hour it took to drive to Power’s Court House. She thought back to that fateful night, so long ago. She had promised David that she would sleep with him before he left for college. She knew that tonight was the night. As the evening progressed, the anger and resentment she felt at him leaving for America built up. Combined with too many drinks, it eventually exploded into a tirade. She told him she hated him, that she hoped he would drop dead, that she never wanted to see him again. She stormed off and got a taxi home alone. As the months passed without a call or even a letter she realised that she had lost him. Through both loveless marriages she fantasised in the dark that she was making love with Dave. For many years she cried tears of frustration silently into her pillow.
The sound of the tires pulling onto the gravel driveway, leading through magnificent grounds to the floodlit beauty of Powers Court brought her back to the present. Her lovely hazel eyes burned with a sparkle of inner fire and resolve. Tonight she would atone for past mistakes. She would hook David. She would reel him in and by God, when she landed him she would never let him go. Her friends had often said that there’s plenty of fish in the sea. Well tonight she intended to catch the one that got away.
The taxi stopped in front of the main entrance and Mary made her way up the red carpeted granite steps, through the opulent hall and into the main function room. It was as if she had entered a time machine. The room was festooned with trappings and ornamentation from twenty years ago. The round tables were dressed with exquisite flower arrangements and the few hundred people present were in full party mode. A four piece band at the far end was belting out hits from the seventies and eighties.
Before she had a chance to order a drink, Mary felt a hand on her shoulder. Expecting to see Dave when she turned around , she was disappointed to be grabbed by Michael Frawley. He pulled her out onto the dance floor and began to gyrate like an epileptic having a fit. Michael or Creepy Crawly Frawley, as he was known back in the day, had not changed. He was still the obnoxious little pervert he had always been. The music changed to a slow set and Mary found herself in a contest of hands. His hands groping for her bum, with her hands pulling his away. The groping was interrupted by a warm, deep voice with a trace of an accent saying “ Do you mind if I have this dance?”
Before Creepy had a chance to reply Mary was swept off her feet and into heaven. It was Dave, he looked just the same, except a little older and more mature. He still had the build of a Rugby Captain, a little boy lost look on his rugged face and tousled hair that always seemed windblown.
“Hi Mary,” he said “You looked in need of rescuing. You look stunning.”
His words barely registered with Mary as she melted into him. The band played “Seasons in the Sun” and Mary’s heart soared on a cloud of pure joy.
She slowly realised that David had stopped dancing. He was smiling and pointing to the far side of the room. “Come on Mary there’s someone I want you to meet.” he said, and he took her by the hand to escort her off the dance floor.
As they pushed through the crowd, Mary spotted Jacinta Harris ,sitting at the table they were heading towards. A rather handsome looking man was sitting beside her. “Not that Harris bitch. No way is she getting her filthy claws into my David”, Mary decided. Jacinta had a reputation for stealing other girls boyfriends and then tossing them aside. It was rumoured that she had broken hundreds of hearts.
“Mary, I want you to meet my partner and the love of my life.” announced David, pointing at the couple sitting together. Each word stabbed at Mary’s heart. “No, no not Jacinta.” she said as she felt her legs begin to wobble. David continued, “This is my Fiance, Peter Harris, we’ve been together now for twelve years. I’ve told him all about you and we both want to ask you to our wedding.”
Heartbroken, Mary sank into the chair beside Jacinta, while the band launched into “Let’s All Drink to The Tears of a Clown”.