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"I might," said May, but she knew she wouldn't.
Charlie came in. He was great fun, very fond of Hell, wanting to be sure she was okay, and no problems. He brought a bottle of wine which they shared, and he told them funny stories about what had happened at the office. He was in advertising. He arranged to meet Hell for lunch next day and joked his way out of the room.
"He's a lovely man," said May.
"Old Charlie's smashing," agreed Hell. He had gone back home to entertain his wife and six dinner guests. His wife was a marvellous hostess apparently. They were always having dinner parties.
"Do you think he'll ever leave her?" asked May.
"He'd be out of his brains if he did," said Hell cheerfully.
May was thoughtful. Maybe everyone would be out of their brains if they left good, comfortable, happy home setups for whatever the other woman imagined she could offer. She wished she could be as happy as Hell.
"Tell me about your fellow," Hell said kindly.
May did, the whole long tale. It was great to have somebody to listen, somebody who didn't say she was on a collision course, somebody who didn't purse up lips like Celia, someone who said, "Go on, what did you do then?"
"He sounds like a great guy." said Hell, and May smiled happily.
They exchanged addresses, and Hell promised that if ever she came to Ireland she wouldn't ring up the hotel and say, "Can I talk to May, the girl I had the abortion with last winter?" and they finished Charlie's wine, and went to sleep.
The beds were stripped early next morning when the final examination had been done, and both were pronounced perfect and ready to leave. May wonderedfancifully how many strange life stories the room must have seen.
"Do people come here for other reasons apart from . . . er, terminations?" she asked the disapproving Irish nurse.
"Oh certainly they do, you couldn't work here otherwise," said the nurse. "It would be like a death factory, wouldn't it?"
That puts me in my place, thought May, wondering why she hadn't the courage to say that she was only visiting the home, she didn't earn her living from it.
She let herself into Celia's gloomy flat. It had become gloomy again, like the way she had imagined it before she saw it. The warmth of her first night there was gone. She looked around and wondered why Celia had no pictures, no books, no souvenirs.
There was a note on the telephone pad.
"I didn't ring or anything, because I forgot to ask if you had given your real name, and I wouldn't know who to ask for. Hope you feel well again. I'll be getting some chicken pieces so we can have supper together around 8. Ring me if you need me. C."
May thought for a bit. She went out and bought Celia a casserole dish, a nice one made of cast iron. It would be useful for all those little high-protein, low-calorie dinners Celia cooked. She also bought a bunch of flowers, but could find no vase when she came back and had to use a big glass instead. She left a note thanking her for the hospitality, warm enough to sound properly grateful, and a genuinely warm remark about how glad she was that she had been able to do it all through nice Dr. Harris. She said nothing about the time in the nursing home. Celia would prefer not to know. May just said that she was fine, and thought she would go back to Dublin tonight. She rang the airline and booked a plane.
Should she ring Celia and tell her to get only one chicken piece? No, damn Celia, she wasn't going to ring her. She had a fridge, hadn't she?
The plane didn't leave until the early afternoon. For a wild moment she thought of joining Hell and Charlie in the pub where they were meeting, but dismissed the idea. She must now make a list of what clothes she was meant to have bought and work out a story about how they had disappeared. Nothing that would make Andy get in touch with police or airlines to find them for her. It was going to be quite hard, but she'd have to give Andy some explanation of what she'd been doing, wouldn't she? And he would want to know why she had spent all that money. Or would he? Did he know she had all that money? She couldn't remember telling him. He wasn't very interested in her little savings, they talked more about his investments. And she must remember that if he was busy or cross tonight or tomorrow she wasn't to take it out on him. Like Hell had said, there wasn't any point in her expecting a bit of cossetting when he didn't even know she needed it.
How sad and lonely it would be to live like Celia, to be so suspicious of men, to think so ill of Andy. Celia always said he was selfish and just took what he could get. That was typical of Celia, she understood nothing. Hell had understood more, in a couple of hours, than Celia had in three years. Hell knew what it was like to love someone.
But May didn't think Hell had got it right about telling Andy all about the abortion. Andy might be against that kind of thing. He was very moral in his own way, was Andy.