Excerpt of Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran
(Page 5 of 7)
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"If you ask me, Estelle Delmonico has better things to do than
break her back in that dustheap again," said Fiona Athey, chief stylist and
owner of the salon that bore her name.
Fifty pounds and another lifetime ago, Fiona had been on her way
to great glories, reenacting the entire opus of Irish fairy tales before
delighted audiences in the theatrical capital of Ireland, Galway City. But an
illicit romance with Gerhard, a German puppeteer, had rendered her bed bound
with a pregnancy that would produce the bane of her existence, her
seventeen-year-old daughter, Emer. After having her child, Fiona suffered a
double blow of indignity when she discovered Gerhard under the theater rafters,
in a compromising position with her very own understudy. The upstart bottled
blonde a primary reason why Fiona stuck to cutting hair and left coloring to
her sister Joan had taken advantage of Fiona's incapacitation to move in on
her man and her starring role. Heartbroken, and vowing never to tread the boards
again, Fiona had returned to her hometown with baby Emer in tow, taking over her
sickly father's barbershop and eventually turning it into a nifty little
business. Athey's Shear Delight was popular with the town's children and women
folk, but most men steered clear of its peroxide-filled rooms mainly to spare
themselves the embarrassment of donning one of Fiona's flowery smocks. Pass
Athey's Shear Delight on any given afternoon, and you will find it a hotbed of
estrogen, where gossip mingles with the acetate fumes of nail polish and hair
Fiona, who had endured tittering giggles and reproachful shakes
of heads when she first arrived back in town, usually refrained from voicing her
opinions. She detested the constant gnawing condemnations that went inside her
small, pink salon but understood the necessity of such gossip for the health of
her business. Because of her neutrality, when the odd moment arose that Fiona
Athey actually did make her thoughts known, anyone within earshot would pause
and pay her particular deference.
"I'd say Estelle's done the smart thing and rented the place
out," Fiona reasoned. "That might be our new neighbor, so. Let's hope it's not
another salon, that's all."
"Sure, I was walkin' past the other day and saw the lights on
through the small bit of window there. Something was cooking. I can't put my
finger on it, but it wasn't anything like the Eye-talian food in that spaghetti
place in Westport. It was something different all together," Evie keenly
"Humph! Well, I don't care who they are or what they do, so long
as that there hussy doesn't go distracting my boys from their Leaving Cert.
They'll be going to seminary school whether they like it or not," Joan retorted,
pursing her lips and releasing the vertical blinds with a snap.
Fiona and Evie both nodded, well-acquainted as they were with
the drama of Joan Donnelly's identical twin boys, Peter and Michael. Convinced
that her precious boys were intended for a higher power, Joan had been pushing
nightly catechisms into their mushy brains since an early age. Her
ecclesiastical ambitions, however, had done little to curb the twins' appetite
for weekend carjackings, brothels, and drunken cow-tipping parties. The boys
were a constant source of worry for poor, neurotic Joan, and the real reason
behind her falling scalp tissue. Lucky for Joan, she was not watching when her
devilish sons nearly knocked Layla off her feet in front of Fadden's Mini-Mart.
"How's it going?" Peter winked at Layla as his brother let out a
Layla, having just sidestepped Benny Corcoran's admiration, was
not prepared for the wily twins' attentions. With an enchanting combination of
teenage timidity and self-assurance, she nodded briefly in their direction
before ducking into the mini-mart.
Excerpted from Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran. Copyright © 2005 by Marsha Mehran. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.