When Will Mammy Be Back?

– Fiona Sherlock

Cryonaut is one of 4,000 new words to enter the Oxford English Dictionary. Meaning a person who is cryogenically frozen with the hope of being revived in the future, the word joins sexting, five-second-rule and brain candy in the 2012 edition.

Time congealed in her bed sheets. It was St Patrick’s Day ten years ago when Anna Duignan cracked the last laugh and life flew out of her body.

A pair of unwed daughters minded the house as it was, waiting for her.

Whether it was today, tomorrow or in twenty years time, their mother would surely return.

The minute she went, Patsy Molloy the local solicitor darkened their doorstep like the reaper himself.

“Special instructions were left, maybe we’ll throw on the kettle as I go through it. There won’t be any inheritance; your mother is going for an, em, expensive alternative. Ye can stay in the house of course.”

As the kettle started whistling, two black jeeps with yellow plates swooped in on the Duignan home place. Five men headed for the dining room where Doctor Regan sat twiddling his moustache and Anna Banana lay like she was waiting for a wash in the hairdressers.

The heavy footsteps and clanking tools disturbed the calm pool of holy water from the Virgin’s Mary’s door side stoop.

That evening, theories of how Anna had spent the family fortune abounded. Over hushed puffs of Benson and ham sandwiches, white bread with mustard, two generations of Duignans let out private sighs at no inheritance, with not so private speculations of where the money had gone.

“And I that had been out feeding cattle manys a Christmas morning, so ye could play Jenga and watch Top of The Pops”, blubbered Anna’s son to his sisters.

“All that forestry money, all the insurance money from Daddy’s accident…tens of millions of euro, just gone,” thought one daughter as she scalded herself pouring a cup of stewed tea.

“She was sexting some young buck in Donegal last spring, she met him on that Match.com,” said one gormless relation; his mouth hanging open and his eye glinting at the original Jack Yeats over the mantlepiece.

“It’s not uncommon for widows to take to the sup, and sure Anna’d only drink Middleton twelve year”, said an auld bachelor neighbour.

“She could have blown it on yokes or anything,” Anna’s sixteen-year-old granddaughter said to her cousin.

“One day I was dropping library books into her and she was blathering away about time travel, it wasn’t flour that was daubed under her nose. She was coked off her tits”.

Next to ding-dong was Team Funeral; Paddy O’Shea the undertaker with young Father Kelly, thick as thieves.

The solicitor Molloy beckoned both into the parlour as the unwed sisters stood in the cold hall, after blowing the fuse in the kettle.

Team Funeral had lost out on a customer here, and Father Kelly belted the cobble locking with a black boot of disappointment.

With screwdrivers rattling at their mother behind one door, and the priest and O’Shea out the other door, the sisters turned to each other, baffled.

“So when did she become a cryonaut?” queried one.

“God, it must have been after she left the Scientologists,” replied the other.