Moira came back to the table as soon as she was free, and as she sat, Danna gave her all her attention.
“Tell me about you and Daniel,” she said, and that seemed to open things up.
“We dated,” Moira said. “I liked him. Very much. I don’t know how serious we were. Now I’ll never know.” And with that she cried, and Danna held her.
“My mother died five years ago in just the same sort of… accident.” Moira sniffed. “I was just fourteen. The sisters found me a good catholic home to live in, but as soon as I was old enough, I got my own room. Oh, Grandma.” She cried some more. She was not exactly keening for the dead, but she did not have to
After they ate, Danna put Moira in the hands of Pumpkin and Ellean while she excused herself. There was an old man at the bar she felt drawn to see.
“I was wondering when you were going to get around to me,” The old man said as she took a seat.
“So you know who I am, Matthew Mconough?” Danna asked.
The man shook his head without realizing that she certainly knew who he was. “But when I first saw you, it was like a wee bell went off in my head.”
“Ah,” Danna said. She did not reveal anything in particular with that sound. “And so here I am. Now, what was the egg timer set for?”
“Well.” The man sat up straight and sipped his drink before he talked. “I am a fisherman, you know. I’ve worked all my life right near the docks where so many went to the Americas all those years ago, in case you’re a stranger to the facts. From here I can go out to deep sea.”
“You and many others.” Danna nodded.
The man shifted a little in his seat as if looking for a comfortable spot. “Well, it’s like this. I met a man once, only once mind you, only he wasn’t exactly a man.” Mister Mconough leaned in close and spoke softly. “He was big, and gray like a fish and green like the sea, and he had seaweed dripping for his clothes, and I was scared. I don’t mind telling you that. I was frightened half out of my mind.”
“I don’t blame you. He can be very frightening sometimes.”
Matthew Mconough paused and let his eyes open plenty wide at her words. He took a long draught of his beer. “So you believe me then?”
“Certainly,” Danna said. “But I had the feeling that you have something to tell me.”
The man took another drink. “I do, I do.” He took a third drink to empty the pint and wiped his upper lip with the back of his hand. “It’s just… It did not make sense when he said it… just. Another!” He pointed to his empty before he turned and spoke quickly. “He said when I see you I should say, Please don’t worry and don’t get excited. He will be going over to the other side, soon. Very soon.”
“Uh-huh.” Danna smiled, nodded and sounded like she did not believe a word of it. “He has said that before, you know.”
Matthew Mconough swallowed and tapped the bar. “Be quick now.” He called for his drink. He swallowed again before he spoke, and Danna watched the old adam’s apple bob up and down in the fisherman’s throat. “Would I be wrong in assuming that the man I met was Mannanan, the Old God of the sea?”
“Son of Lyr and Pendaron, but he calls me Mother,” Danna confirmed.
The man’s eyes got a bit bigger. “And that would make you?”
“The Don?” Danna said. “Danna, D’Anu, Dannan.” She was offering him choices. Different people in different places and different times called her by all sorts of different names.
“Nevermind.” Matthew Mconough yelled at the bartender and tipped his hat to Danna as he staggered out of the bar as fast as he could go and remain upright.
Danna just smiled and thought, what a sweet old man
The following day, Danna found Moira down by the docks and without a word, sat quietly on the park bench beside her. Moira said nothing for a while. She just watched the river and the boats that plied the waters. When the sun began to drop, she spoke, but it was as much to herself as to Danna.
“I love the water.”
“I know. And there is one who can teach you all about the wind and the waves.”
“One of your children?”
Danna nodded before she spoke. “A most disobedient child. You know he no longer belongs here, and neither do I.”
“I was raised a catholic.” Moira looked at Danna for the first time.
Danna nodded again. “What need have you for my children?” It was a rhetorical question.
Moira examined this woman in every way she could, her perfect lines and perfect skin and honestly, everything about her that was perfect, before she spoke again. “Who are you, really?”
“Danna, your grandmother.” Danna smiled. “But I suppose the simplest way to put it is to say that I was the mother of the gods of the Celts. All of my children and grandchildren called me Mother, and even the people who once ruled this land called me Mother. When the children of Mil came and conquered the people in this land, all that changed, but I remain the mother of the gods. Does this surprise you?”
Moira looked again at the water before she spoke again. “A little,” she said, and then she fell silent to reflect on what that revelation might mean. When she opened up, she explained why she was not more surprised. “I can do things that are supposed to be impossible.”
“I bet you can do all sorts of things, if you are willing to learn.”
Moira did not answer at first. She was still thinking. “I couldn’t save Daniel, though.”
Danna nodded for a third time and took Moira’s hand to offer her comfort as she spoke. “The first thing you must learn is that for us there are twelve commandments.” Moira looked up. “Eleven is to remember that people die. Twelve is that even the gods are not permitted to change number eleven.”
“That sounds hard,” Moira said.
“It is not cruel to leave such decisions in the hands of the source.”
“You mean God, I mean, you are taking about the real God, aren’t you?”
Danna nodded yet again. “But in the spirit realm we do not refer to him in that way. It is hard for the spirits that dwell upon the earth because while the human race has received grace, the spirits still live in uncertainty. But yes, the source decides and we are not to interfere. Even so, it is sometimes very hard.” Danna dropped her eyes and Moira was surprised. Moira had not thought of it that way, and she felt compelled in her own spirit to give her grandmother a real hug before she stood.
“Time for work,” she said. “But I am just going to say thank you and to quit.”
“You have plans?”
Moira paused to dig her toe into the dirt before she spoke. “Would you take me to my father? Is he far away?”
“Four days.” Danna nodded for the final time. “But he may ask you to help him in his work.”
“Not exactly, but rather important work.”
“Maybe we could just see him first,” she said, and Danna stood to return the hug.
“We will leave in the morning,” she said, and let the girl go to close up her affairs and get ready to travel.