by K. Noel Moore
Someone’s bound to recognize me among the influx of new arrivals to Richmond Barracks. Someone’s bound to realize that as court-martials begin and a steady trickle of prisoners are set free, I remain inside. I’m not the town drunk or beggar — though some might say I was well on my way there — and I’m not a local hero, but I am the local tragedy. (Horrible what war does to fine young men, isn’t it? What a shame, what a shame.) My face is known. I see the people of Dublin from my meager window, slinking through the streets like beaten dogs, counting heads. Who is dead? Who’s been taken? Where is your neighbor, your brother, your bartender, your priest? Some of the rebels escaped, many didn’t. Where is poor Tig with the walking-stick? I am here because I was there. Yes, I was right in the thick of it. I sat on the steps of an empty church, cane at my feet. The Holy Mother wept above — we were all too busy raising the flag to celebrate her son. In the midst of rising up, no time to celebrate the one who rose again. I held a rifle. To retrieve my cane would be to drop the gun; I would run, if I ran, with a nasty limp or else unarmed. So I resolved not to run. Yes, I was one of many voices singing Óró, sé do bheatha abhaile. I made a mockingbird of myself that day, singing Welcome home, welcome home. Newly welcomed home from the trenches, I laid down my medals and took up another fight. Onward, boys! For Ireland! For us all! Óró, sé do bheatha abhaile, anois ar theacht an tsamhraidh. It’s May now, May of nineteen sixteen, my twenty-fourth year, and summer is coming. Welcome home, Tig. Welcome home.
K. Noel Moore is a writer of fiction realistic and fantastic, short and long, historical and futuristic and everything in-between. She is the author of Undertown, a ghost story set in Great Depression America, and has had work published in several magazines. You can find her tweeting @mysterioustales, or blogging at theoutlawwrites.tumblr.com.
Photograph of Richmond Barracks courtesy of The National Library of Ireland.