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The Grace To Go On

by Maria 

Posted: 08 January 2004
Word Count: 3091
Summary: This is a true story about a woman who suffers from manic-depression. I've re-worked the story...again!!

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The Grace To Go On

Grace was coming down the street, praying and praying to The Holy Spirit. Her mind drifted back to the email she had sent to Kevin Murphy, the previous day. She had "met" Kevin through the Something Happens website. She explained to him that she was throwing herself into the crowd. The crowd would carry her to her destiny…or she would be trampled on. Either way, she was at the Mercy of The Divine Image. To Grace, Christianity meant that when she fell back, there was always someone there to catch her. She was the Witness, she was the one on stage - she was the one who jumped - she was constantly jumping.

Grace knew that there was a man in her life. She didn't know his name or what he looked like but she knew he could write songs and every word of every song that he sang was for Grace and for her alone. She hoped he was good-looking. She had prayed to her grand-father. He would make a match for her, because she knew he still loved her. "Love me, love me, say that you love me, fool me, fool me, go on and fool me…"

Grace turned the corner, still praying. There was a tall blond guy walking towards her, pushing a bike. Suddenly Grace stopped. Something was happening to her…she didn't know what…she felt like she was getting a heart-attack. It was as if a cloud had wrapped itself around her and was now pushing her violently in the direction of the guy with the bike. Grace couldn't speak. She mumbled hello and then stumbled down the street. The guy looked amused. Grace gave a quick glance back and he was standing in the middle of the street, looking after her. Jesus, who's he?

Grace remembered where she had seen Blondie - he was a waiter at The Blue Goat Restaurant, she went there most days for coffee. She recalled the way he used to look at her. Grace thought he paid her a lot of attention but passed it off as her imagination…maybe…just maybe…she remembered the way he served her coffee…he seemed protective of her. His whole being enveloped her. Who was he?

Grace couldn't sleep that night. She kept going over what happened in her head. How could she be in love? It's what she prayed for but she never expected it to happen…not this way. Her shyness meant she never had a proper boyfriend. She didn't want to go back to the Blue Goat but she knew she had to.

Grace got dressed. She looked in the mirror. She looked old. She had aged a hundred years in the past year. She put on some eye-liner but it didn't make much difference. The café always opened at twelve. Grace was shaking with fear. She knew she would be tongue-tied when she asked him for coffee. She didn't care. She had to go. But when she got there "Closed" was written on the door. Closed? Why? Why now? Grace went away, wondering.

Grace bought two pints of milk and a box of tea-bags at the local supermarket and when she got back to the guesthouse she put the "No Vacancies" sign up on the window…again. Her appetite had disappeared. All she could do was drink tea. She never drank coffee in the house - it didn't appeal to her.

Grace turned on the radio. Kylie Minogue was singing her heart out "I just can't get you out of my head, I just can't…" Grace knew that there was a dark secret in her soul. She had had a vision of the waiter when she was only ten years old. He was her first boyfriend. She was standing at the school gate looking up the street. A young good-looking blond man came whizzing down the road on a bike, and she saw herself sitting on the handle-bars as they passed the little girl…Blondie was smiling. His chest was bare and his muscles rippled in the sun. He had his hand protectively around her body, so that she couldn't fall off the bike. Grace melted into his arms.

Through the years, as Grace grew up, she went out with boys but no-body ever measured up to her blue-eyed handsome man. Her first love popped into her head every so often and she never took any notice of that…until now.

It was another week before the Café opened. Grace was so impatient to see her man again. She ordered a coffee from Mary, the proprietor. She wanted to ask Mary who he was but she hadn't the nerve. Her legs felt like jelly. "I haven't seen you in ages, Grace", said Mary, "were you sick?" "No", said Grace, hesitantly. "God, we were busy last week, I don't know where the days are going to," said Mary. Grace didn't answer. She sipped the coffee, trying not to spill it. Then, the waiter came out of the kitchen, smiling as usual. He came straight over to Grace. "How've you been?" he asked. "Fine, fine" Grace muttered, wishing he'd go away. "How's the coffee?" he persisted. Lovely. "Ian?" shouted Mary, "the chicken's ready for Table 4". The waiter turned and went back towards the kitchen. Excuse me. Ian. That's his name. I have to get out of here.

Before Grace could get up, Ian had brought her a second coffee. "On the house" he said. Grace had to sit still. The coffee cup was full to the brim, and steaming hot. It meant she would have to stay another five minutes, at least. Thanks.

Grace pulled out her Walkman. She put the head-phones on and turned up the volume. Ian moved away a little and stood by the counter. He looked at Grace every now and again and smiled at her. She looked straight ahead, wishing she was anywhere else but here.

The days rolled by. Grace forced herself to go to the café every day. As she sat by the window, the rain was pelting against the glass. She was happy enough to be inside, looking out at the deluge. People were running here and there, heads cowering, covered with scarves, hats, umbrellas. Thank God for having a home, she thought, be it a lonely one, a silent one, except for the rain…

Grace ordered a bowl of soup from Mary. Mary went off into the kitchen and…Ian came out. "Shit!" thought Grace. "I thought he was off to-day. I wouldn't have ordered soup if I thought he was working. I can't eat when I'm in his presence". Ian smiled at Grace as he passed by her table. There were two teenage girls at the next table. One of them had long blonde hair tied up in a pony-tail. She seemed…bubbly…too bubbly for Grace's liking. She looked sweetly at Ian and asked him to give them a few minutes. Her friend started giggling. Ian obliged and turned back towards the kitchen, passing my table as if I were invisible. "What did I do to him…?" Grace asked herself. Ian stood at the counter, looking relaxed. After what Grace thought was a life-sentence, Mary appeared with chicken broth and two thick slices of brown bread and butter. She tried to strike up a conversation with Grace but all Grace did was keep her eyes on the floor. She guessed that Mary thought she was moody. She wished she could explain.

Pony-tail summonsed Ian back to her table. Grace pretended to read the newspaper as he passed her again. She wondered if he glanced at her. She dare not look at him. The girls were flirting outrageously with him. Grace was green with envy. He was after-all more likely to fancy an eighteen year-old rather than Grace, who was all of forty-one. Grace couldn't put an exact age on Ian - he could have been anything between 25 and 38. He smiled at blondie - not the kindly look he gave Grace but the sexy look, the look-at-me-I'm-so-sexy come-on look. Grace had to admit that she was eaten with jealousy.

Grace remembered back to when she first saw Ian. It was raining cats and dogs. She was in her usual seat, inside the window. The candle was lighting on her table, though it was only about four in the afternoon. A man arrived on a bicycle and slowly pulled up to the pole that was just opposite the Blue Goat. He didn't seem to mind the rain. He wore only a shirt and a pair of jeans. No cap or overcoat to protect him from getting wet. Grace looked out, examining him. If only she were ten years younger she thought. His hair was flat and wet. His muscles were tight underneath his soaked shirt. Grace felt like dancing with him…naked in the rain. She longed to go to him but instead…she sat.

Ian pushed the door open. He looked at Grace and smiled. "You're…wet" said Grace, not knowing what to say. "I won't die!" he joked. "You'll…catch…cold" Grace said. Ian answered that he would be fine, but told her to cover up on her way out. Grace blushed. "Did he care?" She didn't know…

Ian went into the kitchen and seemed to stay there for an eternity. When he re-appeared, his blond hair was almost dry and ruffled. He reminded Grace of a Greek God. He stood by the counter and stared at her. She pretended not to notice and stared out the window.

A honey-bee suddenly appeared out of the blue. Grace, startled by the insect, jumped up. The bee was trying to escape through the glass. Grace didn't know what to do. Suddenly, Ian was by her side. "I see we have a friend", he said. "Did he just say we?" Grace thought…she felt a surge of warmth go through her. Ian took a tea-towel and gently grasped the honey-bee. "There we go" he said, "nothing to be afraid of". It had stopped raining. Ian opened the door and shook the towel into the air. The honey bee fell and rose and then flew into the distance, disappearing from sight. Grace nodded at Ian, not able to utter thank-you. She thought he understood. He went back to stand by the counter, leaned over it and started staring again…at Grace. His large frame seemed out of place in the restaurant. His waiter image was all wrong. Grace thought he should have been on the catwalk. She wondered at his age again. What did he want from her? She was bewildered but she was falling deeper and deeper in love with him.

The radio was on when Grace arrived into the café one Monday morning. She had heard the usual toot of a car as she opened the door. Why did that car toot each time she went into the Blue Goat…she had no idea. It seemed to be saying "you're doing the right thing". "I need a man with a slow hand" was blaring over the airwaves. Grace was embarrassed. She hoped Ian wasn't working, but out he came, smiling as usual. Grace sat down and ordered the usual coffee without looking at him. She had been to the cinema the night before and one of the characters had been giving tips about knowing when a woman was in love. His theory was if she didn't look you in the eye, she fancied the pants off you. Grace felt like a fool. Ian must have read her thoughts. As he was getting the coffee, he switched off the radio. "You can listen to your own music" he said to Grace, pointing to the Walkman. Grace muttered thank you, not daring to look up. Ian went back to the counter. He started reading the paper. Grace glanced quickly at him and turned away again. She felt more courageous and looked around the restaurant. The place was empty. She examined Ian. She felt that it was as if he had given her permission to do so, by pretending to be immersed in the paper.

Grace noticed his baggy trousers, his broad shoulders, his height, he was well over six feet. She wondered what he would be like naked. He turned and asked her if she wanted another coffee. "No, no," Grace said, hurriedly…"thank you all the same…" Grace got up. "I have to go," she said quickly. "See you tomorrow, Grace" he said. He said…"GRACE"…he knows my name!! Grace was in Cloudcuckooland. Her man had called her Grace. Ian had called her Grace. She couldn't believe it. "I wonder how he knows?" she asked herself. He must have asked the proprietor, Mary. He must like her! If he went to the trouble of finding out her name…"O, God," Grace thought, "how will I face him tomorrow?"

In the mood for scribbling, Grace took a copybook and pen to the café one Saturday. Mary happened to be serving at her table. There was a table of three older women at the far side of the room. They were celebrating a birthday. Ian arrived from the kitchen with a fruit scone and a lighted candle stuck in it. Grace was fascinated by the "birthday cake" but said nothing. Mary brought the coffee. It was a fine, strong cup, tasting more like a double expresso than a regular. Grace was grateful. She took out her journal and grabbed her pen. There was that radio again. Bing Crosby and Co. November Rain was blaring on the Walkman and Grace listened intently, hoping to get some kind of inspiration from the words. She expected to be famous some day. She wanted to write a book. She would write a best-seller and blow the myths that surrounded manic-depression and mental illness, to kingdom come. The only snag was that she would hate to be famous. She couldn't speak in public for starters and there was no-way she would promote her book on The Late Late Show. She would be terrified. She would probably become a recluse…

One of the women wanted Ian to take a photo of the birthday girl. He declined. Instead, he gave the camera to Mary and asked her to take the photo. Grace watched, interested in the developments. A song came on her Walkman - "I'm never going to let you down…Mickey Harte". As the camera flashed, Ian stood up on his tippy toes and seemed to be shielding Grace from the light. He told Mary to take another picture - just in case. The same thing happened. It seemed to Grace that Ian was protecting her. That this was a sign from God. That here was her knight in shining armour. The man who would protect her from the paparazzi. Her bodyguard, her husband, her lover, Ian.

Grace arrived into the restaurant one day in late October and noticed a video camera standing next to her usual seat. She sat down. Willy the wino came in and sat down at the next table to her. Mary arrived down the stairs and saluted the pair of them. She had pre-prepared a sandwich and some tea for Willy.

Ian came in the door and greeted Grace with a nod. He seemed different. He went over to her table and started chatting. He told Grace that it was his last day at work and that he was going to Africa. Her heart sank. Her face dropped. She shrank into the seat. She couldn't tell him that she'd miss him. She couldn't say don't go…stay with me…He looked disappointed. He turned away. Then turning back again towards Grace, he asked her if she would say a few words into the camera. Grace thought he was doing some kind of an ad. "Go on, go on, say something" said Willy. Grace told Ian that she would only speak for two minutes. She didn't understand why he wanted to film her. "Memories" Ian replied.

Grace prayed to the Holy Spirit for divine inspiration. Ian went behind the camera and Grace began to speak. "My name is Grace Moriarty, I live in Dingle, and I run a small scale bed and breakfast. I also write scripts for television. At the moment, I'm writing a novel." Grace smiled into the camera and said "that's it!" Whoa! Where did that come from?! Ian shut off the video. "What about me," said Willy. "Wasn't I talking to you yesterday", Ian said. "Were you", said Willy. Ian laughed. Willy didn't remember.

"Grace, come and look at the playback" said Ian. Grace refused. She knew that she would have a big red face and she didn't want to embarrass herself further. She also knew that she would be standing too close for comfort beside Ian. She might start shaking. Her legs would turn to jelly. She'd…fall…though she thought of the way Ian might have to give her the kiss of life!

Ian went over to her table and leaned in near her. "I didn't know you were a writer" he said. "I was…a few years back" she said. "I'm writing a thesis, myself" Ian said. Oh? said Grace. "Yes, it's a study about different cultures. I'm an anthropologist". "A what?" said Grace, looking startled. "I study people", said Ian.

Grace knew about anthropology. She had read a book about it years earlier and it had stood out in her mind. A group of Europeans had gone to Africa to study the mating habits of a tribe in the Congo. One of the women was known as Frigid Bridget and to cut along story short, she fell in love with one of the tribesmen. Though she didn't understand the language, they communicated in other ways…and made love on the beautiful white beach near the compound, the warm water covering her body again and again, as each time she climaxed. It had been a secret fantasy of Grace's for years.

"That's nice" said Grace to Ian, not knowing what to say. Ian looked disappointed. He said nothing and went back to standing by the counter. Grace finished her cup of coffee and brought it up to the counter. "Goodbye" she said to Ian, her heart split in two, broken into little pieces, never to be healed again. "I might see something of yours on the television sometime" Ian said. Grace didn't answer. She walked out the door. Ian said something else but she didn't hear him. Tears were streaming down her face as she made her way home…

[ 3096 words]

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Comments by other Members

Nell at 10:03 on 08 January 2004  Report this post
Hi Maria,

This is the third version, am I right? You've lengthened the piece considerably and removed her sister and mother making Grace solely responsible for the B&B, and concentrated entirely on Grace's obsession with Ian.

This is now intensely focused, and Grace's feelings explored and detailed with great sensitivity. I was drawn in to what was happening without the distractions of the whiplash or the bloodied sheets of the first two versions, and having read those and knowing that Grace had problems I wondered how you would reveal this fact. The mention of the book that she is writing seemed to me inspired; it comes in exactly the right place and makes everything clear, and Ian's attention to her is explained later by the fact that he's an antropologist. I found this tenderly poignant, an examination of the life of a woman on the edge.

There were a few things that stood out slightly.

It seemed odd at the beginning that Grace didn't immediately realise who Ian was, when you say that she went to the Blue Goat most days for coffee. maybe if you said that she went there occasionally it would be more plausible.

It's possible that Grace is mentioned by name too often in the first few paragraphs, maybe look at that again and see what you think.

The following sentence seems slightly awkward for a thought.

"Shit!" thought Grace. "I thought he was off to-day. I wouldn't have ordered soup if I thought he was working. I can't eat when I'm in his presence".
Maybe something like: 'Shit!' thought Grace. 'I thought he'd be off today. How can I eat when he's around?'

You don't need the hyphens in after-all and no-body

There's a jump into first person narrative at: '...passing my table as if I were invisible...'

When you write '...he smiled at blondie...' it took a moment to realise who you were referring to, as Grace thinks of Ian as Blondie. You called the girl 'ponytail' earlier, perhaps that would be clearer?

'...the candle was lighting on her table...' - the candle was lit on her table, or the candle was lighting her table.

'...arrived into the restaurant..' arrived at

I noticed a couple of repetitions too.

Maria, this seems like a lot I know, but it's just polishing, and I know you're deadly serious about this from the way you're persisting.

Good luck with it, hope my impressions help.

Best Nell.


Maria, forgot to say that where I knew the melody of the songs mentioned I could almost hear them behind the narrative. A crossover from the adaptation of this? Nicely evocative.

roovacrag at 19:09 on 08 January 2004  Report this post
I liked this,have a feeling this is not the first chapter but cannot see more.Grace should have recognised him. Someone like a greek god you would. He would look dissapointed at her not knowing him..........think she did but was not wanting to say.Hope there is more will be ready to read. xx Alice

Maria at 16:45 on 11 January 2004  Report this post
Hi Nell,

You're right. This is the third version.

Thanks for going to the trouble of commenting again.

The sentence you suggested is much better.

I'm a native Irish speaker and English is my second language so please forgive the grammatical errors!!

I'm discussing this piece with a producer on Tuesday so I won't make any changes to the piece until then.

What did you mean by saying "a crossover from the adaption of this?"

Thanks Nell,


Maria at 16:48 on 11 January 2004  Report this post
Hi Alice,

There will be more as I want to write a book. I find it difficult just to sit down and write it! Like everybody else!

Thanks for your comments,


Nell at 19:03 on 11 January 2004  Report this post
Maria, I seem to remember you said somewhere that you were adapting this for radio or TV, so what I meant by 'crossover' was that the lyrics and melodies of the songs you mentioned would probably be playing in the background at those points in the story, and that was in your mind as you wrote this..

It's wonderful that you write so well in English if it's your second language. Hope you don't mind me pointing out the typos; I tend to jot them down as I go along - I find it's all too easy to overlook them in my own work, let alone in a second language.

Best, Nell.

Maria at 21:24 on 11 January 2004  Report this post
Hi Nell,

I don't mind pointing out mistakes etc. at all. Actually, I welcome it.

I did say that I was thinking of adapting this piece for television and I'm meeting somebody on Tuesday who will be able to advise me.

But I'm also thinking of writing around the piece and writing a book, maybe. We'll see. Whatever happens will happen.

Anyway, thanks again and good luck,


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