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Term Dates (continued from preceding page)
 seen him like that, so ardent. That was the way. Get him fired up for it so that when the news of the child came, it would be with this memory attached to it. They kept the bulls penned a day or two to settle with the herd in season before they bred them. She’d watched the bellow and stamp of them, and she thought of him, knelt in front of her, the bob and duck of his head and smiled, ran her hands down her sides. That a few scraps of silk could do that to a man.
The next morning, she was cooking the breakfast when he came in and wrapped an arm around her
as she worked, and kissed her neck from behind her. “How are you?” was all he managed but she heard the huskiness in his voice still.
“Good,” she said put a hand on his where it held her, high on her waist. “Is Stephen in this morning now?”
“He’s not,” he said. “We’ve the day to ourselves now.” She felt the rub of his hand on her hip. “That was grand last night. Shall we take the tea upstairs after the breakfast?” The motion of his hand on her dress- ing gown felt good and she nodded, pressed a little against him.
“You make the tea, so” she said. ~
Marie counted the days on the calendar and found herself again in the shop in Skibbereen, the memo- ries of Brian’s big hands all over her that weekend, the hidden thrill within it of what might be hap- pening, even as she drove the roads to the town. She wore a darker blouse to the office that Friday, one that wouldn’t show the new black straps beneath and wore the lot under her work suit. Brian finished the feeding early that week and, at the sight of her in the kitchen they didn’t make it to the bed-room even. She’d be days, she thought, getting the marks from the good sofa in the front room.
A week later, the silk was replaced with the warmth of her familiar bathrobe as Marie waited in the cold bathroom, washing the pee from her hands, a distrac- tion lest she pace around the room. She’d kept some of the sample. It sat, still warm in an old jam jar, with the spare tests, so that she could test it twice more in case the kits she’d already used were defective. The pair of them, the used ones, sat lined up upon the cistern, ready and, as she waited, she stood by the
window, where the signal was better, playing with her telephone, reading the news of your woman from R.T.E., the one with all the blonde hair piled high on her head, dandling a newborn from her hip. Though she expected it, she jerked at the ripple of sound from the phone, pressed hard on the button at the phone’s top to silence it in case Brian should hear, though she knew he was out already, bringing in silage to the herd, penned in their sheds. There, clear as could be, she saw a pair of lines, etched clear and blue on the paper. The silk had done its trick.
She saw O’Connor to confirm it a week later, by which time three more tests had said the same. From her own calculations, it had been the original outfit on that first night that had done the job.
“If I have things right,” the doctor said, turning the wheel of his own laminated paper device, before tapping on the computer screen, “your due date’s sometime around ... September the 8th.”
She nodded, “Mmm, hmm,” though the 6th was her own estimation of the thing and the first child late more often than not.
You’ve to come back here,” he told her, “for the twelve week scan so that we can make sure everything is as it should be. Make sure as you take a good long time off from your work that day. We’ve a woman brings the equipment in from Cork once a week only and she’s not the most punctual.”
The look on Brian’s face was something to behold that night when she told him. “Are you sure now?” he asked her. “Are you certain there?”
“The doctor said so, didn’t he?” she told him and he beat the table with his hands, the colour up in his cheeks again and a shake of his head in disbelief all he could muster.
“Delighted, I am,” he said. “Delighted,” and he drummed on the table again with his palms. “I’ll come with you, of course, to the scan. Stephen can mind things for an hour or two, I’m sure.”
The rain came in hard as they crossed the town square to the surgery on the appointed day and Brian pulled Marie in front of him so that she could shelter in the lee of his wide back. “Some weather

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