The Pocket Watch(4)

By: Ceci Giltenan

Tears welled in Maggie’s eyes. “You know, I’ve never thought about it, but you’re right—she would have.”

“So did you finally go to university in the fall?”

“No. Dad and Paige still needed me. She was only a junior in high school and he remained buried in multiverse theory. But I finished the nursing program at the community college. In Paige’s senior year I took a job at a local hospital. Then when I took Paige on college visits, I found a great program at Villanova for registered nurses who want to get a bachelor’s degree. It’s not so far away, so I would have been around some for Dad. They don’t take many students but I got into it.”

“Well done. And was Paige going to Villanova too?”

Maggie chuckled. “No. She went to Salisbury University in Maryland last fall. She said she was tired of Catholic schools. But the truth is, she was totally committed to going there as soon as she learned she could take glass blowing.” Maggie rolled her eyes.

“Glass blowing? Ye aren’t serious.”

Maggie laughed. “She is a bit of a brat and just to goad Dad, she kept telling him she wanted to major in art.”

“Oh my.”

“Some kids rebel by drinking or staying out late but not my sister. Art is her vice. Frankly I think Dad could have handled underage drinking much better. But in the end she admitted that she wanted to major in finance…and perhaps art too.” Maggie grinned.

“So she went to Salisbury and you went to Villanova?”

Maggie sobered. “No.”

“Och, not again. What happened?”

Maggie sighed. “One evening in April I found Dad sitting at the picnic table in the back yard, crying.”

The old woman frowned. “Why?”

“There wasn’t enough money. Money had never been an issue before. We had always been very comfortable but apparently when Mom had been ill things got bad. She no longer had an income and most of their savings went to pay medical bills. He said he didn’t have enough money to send both of us. He had apparently been trying to get loans but was denied. Mom had always handled the finances and Dad hadn’t been particularly good at paying the bills on time after she died. His credit rating tanked.”

“Oh dear.”

“I told him I might be able to manage without his help. I had been saving my wages and I figured I could stay working and get student loans.” Maggie looked away for a moment before continuing. “But as it turns out, our finances were even worse than he had let on. When he said he didn’t have the money to send both of us, what he meant was he didn’t have the money to send either of us.”

“Ah, I see. Ye gave up on yer dream so Paige could go to university and ye could help yer da financially.”

“I didn’t exactly give up on my dream…”

“But ye helped Paige go to university.”

“It seemed like the right thing to do. I am already a nurse and I’ll get my bachelor’s degree someday. I remembered how excited I had been about going away to college before Mom got sick and I wanted Paige to have that. I wanted things to feel normal for her.”

The old woman took Maggie’s hand in hers patting it. “Ye’re a good lass.”

They sat in silence for a moment before the old woman said. “Now ye’ve told me the story. But it seems all of this happened some time ago. Something happened to open the wounds again. Why were ye crying today?”

Maggie’s chin began to tremble and in spite of her valiant attempts not to, she started crying again. “Today I w-went to Elliott’s w-wedding.”

The woman clucked and gathered Maggie into her arms, allowing her to cry. “Attending the wedding of an old flame is hard at the best of times. It’s doubly hard when ye have never stopped loving him, and I know ye haven’t.”

“No, I haven’t, and it hurts so much.”

“I’m sure it does, pet.”

“I’m tired of hurting and even though I know I made the right choices, it was at the expense of all of my dreams. Sometimes…”

“What lass?”

“Nothing. I feel selfish saying it.”

“Please tell me.”

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