Just making it with Cricket’s Slice Of Life prompt this week.
The prompt is sixth sense.
I used to love visiting the Irish side of my family during the summer holidays when I was a kid. My cousin, Aine, emailed me the other day, and asked if I remembered a girl we used to play with named Violet Day. I had almost forgotten about Violet, but her life is a story in itself.
Violet was a whimsical, dreamy kind of girl. She used to sit in the fields among the peat, gazing out to sea and humming.
Violet was four years older than me and at 14 was the best read person I had ever met. At 14 she was reading Homer and James Joyce. I managed to read the first page of one of her books and had no idea what was going on. This immediately elevated Violet in my eyes. ‘She’s a genius,’ I said to Aine.
Like the easily impressed ten year olds we were, Aine and I followed Violet around, hanging on her every word. She taught us all the capital cities in the world, how to macrame pot holders, what berries were and weren’t poisonous, and where to look for birds nests.
But Violet wasn’t just smart. She had another talent. She knew what was going to happen before it happened.
It was Aine who noticed it first. She went to school with Violet all year round, while I only got to see her in the holidays. It was little things to begin with like Violet knowing where the teacher had left the key to the games cupboard or that Sister Agnes was going to be late for English. Little things that maybe were more guesswork than anything else. Things that didn’t really seem like fortune telling or ESP.
Then other things began happening. Bigger things. Important things. Like Violet knowing Mary Ellen O’Shea was in hospital with pneumonia before anyone else did. Or that Julia Monaghan, the school’s star gymnast, would fall from the vaulting horse during PE and break her ankle. Or that Sister Kathleen would seek special dispensation to leave the church because she fell in love with an Englishman.
As Violet’s predictions became more frequent and more accurate, Aine and I became convinced that not only was she a genius, she was one of the fairy folk. Walking among us.
We took to hanging around her house, invited or not, trying to absorb some of her power. Violet didn’t seem to mind us being there, didn’t seem to mind our endless questions about how she knew what was going to happen. Was she a witch? Was she a fairy? Did she have a wand or a book of spells?
‘It’s just a feeling,’ said Violet. ‘Deep inside. It’s hard to explain. I don’t know how it happens or where it comes from. It just is.’
A lot of people scoffed at Violet’s sixth sense. A lot of people poked fun. But Aine and I knew.
We were there when she had the dream about the storm that struck the old tree by the church, lightning splitting it in two, with one half smashing the stained glass window depicting The Annunciation so that the ground was covered with shards of glass so tiny they looked like Christmas tinsel.
Violet had predicted it two months before, warning the Parish Committee to cut down the tree. They had ignored her, even forgotten about it, but when it happened they looked at her strangely and wondered how she had known.
Violet had known Imelda McAffrey’s dog, Seamus, would wander off one night (probably chasing foxes) and fall into the bog and almost suffocate. She joined the rescue party and knew exactly where to find him.
By this stage, Aine and I were Violet’s number one fans. We would follow her around, starstruck, asking over and over again; ‘What’s going to happen today, Violet? What’s going to happen today?’
Word was starting to spread. A journalist from Dublin heard about the lost dog and wanted to do a story on Violet. Everywhere she went people asked her to tell their fortune or sign an autograph.
Violet, a quiet, gentle girl with a lovely smile, couldn’t handle her newfound fame. She went to live with her Aunt down south. Aine and I were devastated. People in the town scoffed once more, saying she had made it all up anyway. But Aine and I knew better. We knew Violet had a gift. We had seen it in her face. We had felt it. Small, pale, hidden, with the potential for greatness.
But we could also see the burden it placed on Violet, an ability not really suited to this world. Perhaps it was a gift that after all, that wasn’t meant to be shared.