It’s early. Sun streams through buckled Venetian blinds straight out of the 1970s, filmed with dust and marked with thumb smudges.
A door creaks open slowly, revealing three young women in black jumpers, carrying a tray of sausages. There’s no denying that they’re beautiful. There’s an exuberance about them; a freshness, a newborn confidence. Any signs of a protracted and sometimes desperate battle are buried deep beneath a hopeful skin.
Bunreacht na hÉireann (The Irish Constitution) wakes up and rubs bleary eyes.
Young Irish Women: Good morning lovely! Big day today!
Bunreacht na hÉireann: [sitting up in bed] Wha’? What day is it today?
Young Irish Women: We brought you breakfast.
Bunreacht na hÉireann: But – what big day?
Young Irish Woman 1: [yanking bockety blinds off the window] Are you hungry? Have a sausage. Our Mams cooked them especially for you.
Young Irish Woman 3: We’ve Taytos too.
Young Irish Woman 2: And a cup of tea. Dad made that.
Bunreacht na hÉireann: Is it Barrys Tea?
Young Irish Woman 2: Of course.
Young Irish Woman 3: We have Lyons as well, though.
Young Irish Woman 1: Because we wanted you to have a choice, like.
Bunreacht na hÉireann: Wow, thank you. I’ll have a [*redacted for balance*]
Bunreacht na hÉireann slurps and eats happily, beginning to feel better.
It feels like it has a massive hangover, but can’t remember why. Looking down, it sees red weals on its wrists, as though it’s been tightly shackled for some time.
Bunreacht na hÉireann: So what’s the occasion?
Young Irish Woman 3: The result is in. Of the referendum.
Bunreacht na hÉireann: What referendum?
Young Irish Woman 2: [peering curiously at Bunreacht na hÉireann] The referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment. Don’t you remember?
Bunreacht na hÉireann: It’s a strange thing, but I don’t. Having said that, I do feel like I’ve been forgetting something. For about 35 years.
Young Irish Woman 1: That would explain a lot.
Young Irish Woman 2: But we don’t blame you. It wasn’t your fault.
Bunreacht na hÉireann: What wasn’t my fault?
Young Irish Woman 3: How it’s been for women around here for a while.
Young Irish Woman 1: Yeah. The fact that the 8th Amendment meant that we had no rights.
Bunreacht na hÉireann: [stopping mid-chew to look guiltily at its half-eaten sausage] One of my amendments meant you had no rights?
Young Irish Woman 2: Well, not no rights. Just fewer rights. Fewer than other people, like.
Young Irish Woman 3: Like men. Or foetuses.
Young Irish Woman 1: Yeah. Just fewer rights than everyone else.
Bunreacht na hÉireann: Jaysus. Sorry about that, girls.
Young Irish Woman 3: Ah, it’s all right. That bit’s fixed now. We’re all a bit shocked, but apparently a landslide majority of Irish citizens believe that women are people too.
Young Irish Woman 2: And that we should be able to make decisions about our own lives and bodies.
Young Irish Woman 1: Oh, and Mam sent this for you. [holds up a comically gigantic jar of Sudocrem]
Young Irish Woman 2: To soothe your wrists. Although you’re a bit scarred in other places too.
Young Irish Woman 3: You know, from bonkers ideas about women in the 1930s, or bullshit amendments which had no place being attached to you. That sort of thing.
Young Irish Woman 1: So we’re here now, to fix you up and make you look the way you were supposed to when you were born, back in 1937.
Young Irish Woman 2: Except maybe for the bonkers ideas about women. We might have a bit of work to do there yet.
Bunreacht na hÉireann: [smiling through tears] You’re too good to me. After all you’ve been through.
Young Irish Woman 2: Ah, we’re only the face of it.
Young Irish Woman 3: Yeah. We only got here because of others.
Young Irish Woman 1: Our husbands, mothers, fathers and brothers.
Young Irish Woman 3: Our partners, uncles, aunts and grandparents.
Young Irish Woman 2: Women who couldn’t speak out.
Young Irish Woman 1: Sisters who did, no matter what it cost them.
Bunreacht na hÉireann: Feck it now, I’ve a fierce lump in my throat. But do you know what? I’ll take another sausage.
Young Irish Women: You can have all the sausages you want. Like we said, you’ve a big day ahead. And once we’ve you fed and spruced up, we’re taking you out for some fresh air. It’s going to be one hell of a Gathering.