Saturday 27 June 2015

'Day Trippers' by Lynn Mulvihill

It’s hard to pick a path through the gift shop crammed with tourists in polo shirts and designer shades. Their jeweled hands examine shamrock paperweights and leprechaun tea towels.

My daughter Emmeline is below their radar, twirling in her purple, pink and white skirts. Her toes peeping from yellow jelly shoes are caked in dried sand; her cheeks shiny with suncream. Four years old, she is always admired for her smile. She is just as beautiful to me now, her eyes frowning as she sizes up the strangers around her.

I’m torn between watching her chubby hands choke a porcelain fairy – and the American lady to my left, dressed top to toe in white linen, a black patent Lulu Guinness bag hanging carelessly on her shoulder.

Emmeline’s eyes are wide now. She cluthes her Hello Kitty bag tightly.

“Come on, Mammy.” Her dragging weight leaves me little chance to delay my mission.

Back on the beach, watched only by a seagull, she empties her bag to show me the figurine – a barefoot fairy in a torn lilac dress, pink roses in her hair. My daughter's eyes show neither pride nor guilt.

As she picks daisies in the grass behind the beach, I leaf through the contents of my American lady’s purse. A crisp twenty is the only paper among neat rows of plastic.

I’ll buy Emmeline fresh cods and chips for tea. The rest, I swear, will go into her college fund.

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