The Witches of Slievenamon (part 3)



We drive most of the way up to the school in relative silence, with me concentrating on watching the road carefully because the sun has come out soon after the rain and the glare of the wet road generally heading North-North-West is distracting, especially at the afternoon traffic increased with parents picking up their children from school. Why is it that when it rains so many parents drop off and pick up their kids? Surely the kids have got used to Irish rain by the time they go to school. If it didn’t rain, they’d miss it.

I have to pick up my kid up from school anyway because a few months ago she was subjected to some bullying from older girls on her way home; it was outside the school and the school seemed powerless to do anything about it. I work out of home so it wasn’t much of an inconvenience to me most of the time. So I stopped her using the bus and and started to drive her to and from school.

I think the bullying has had an effect on her, hardening her somehow. She used to be so loving but she has been getting increasingly belligerent towards me. A shame, because she used to be such a sweet schoolgirl, now she seems to have the attitudes of a teenager three years too soon.

Etain uses the towel to pat her hair dry without bothering to undo the tight braiding. Even dry the hair looks jet black in contrast to her white skin, even her bare arms are white. I only steal glances at her and assess that she could even be as young as 18, in looks, but she seems to have an air of confidence that makes her seem older somehow. Although I suggested before she got in that she get her mobile out and key in the Garda’s emergency number, she has made no attempt to do so and doesn’t seem afraid of me. Although I’m 6-1 to her 5-6, I’m slim and ‘bookish’, nerdish rather than athletic. I don’t do gym, just 45 minutes’ running at weekends. Because Caoimhe’s not a morning person, I can get out of the cottage early on Saturdays and Sundays for a run without her feeling abandoned.

“The school is only a couple of minutes away from here,” I say at last, “your clothes are soaked through, so you can stay here in the warm car while I fetch her from the school building. They won’t let us drive inside the school and there’s a no-parking restriction on the road either side of the school gates....

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Tony Spencer
Jul 3 2021

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