A Story about how a child copes with losing his mother, and how he deals with his past....
|It was the middle of the night as I slid my cold hands down the rope. I wanted to go back to my warm, cosy bed, wrap myself in the safe blankets and go to sleep. But I knew that I couldn’t. Not since that day that I first saw the package. It haunted me at night, in every sleeping moment the letter plagued my conscience. Four words were keeping me from peace.
To Timothy, from mum.
I’d been helping my grandfather in the attic, cleaning up all of the old junk. He lives in Bristol, a long way from my home back in Australia. His well built figure, lit up by the many holes in the roof, became all the more different from my mother’s frail body. His eyes, deep brown, sank back into his face, lined by heavy wrinkles. My mother used to tell me that you could tell what someone had been through by the patterns on their face, which led me to believe that my grandfather had been through a lot.
I was living with my grandfather without my mother for a few months while she was getting better. I was told by all of the adults she wasn’t feeling well, but I remember her wails of terror as she fought an invisible enemy. She didn’t have a cold, or flu, or even something much worse. But her mind was eating away at her hope, and she sank deeper and deeper into her depression every day.
That’s why they sent me away. I didn’t have any relatives close at hand. My father bailed on my mother when I was only three years old, and my mother was an only child. So my grandfather was my only option. It was one of the most exciting things possible for my 12 year old mind. Little did I know that I wasn’t just going to be spending a few weeks in England, like I’d been told.
I will never forget the day that the man walked up to our door. The cold knocking echoed through the house, and I ran to the door, keen to see what the postman would have for me today. Our local postman was famous for his friendliness with kids and always gave out small sweets and chocolates to the children.
But the face I opened the door up to that day was not the smiling face of our postman, it was to a man in his late thirties wearing a black suit, who looked like he might not have smiled for years. But I wouldn’t be smiling if I had to bear the news that he brought to people. He asked me what my name was.
“Timothy Radcliff, Sir,” I replied politely, as my mother had always taught me.
“Is your grandfather home,” He inquired, looking down on me with those empty, angry eyes.
My life was different after that. My mother had suffered badly from depression, as I now confirmed. But the condition had eaten away at more than her mind. Her health had worsened since I had left and she lost the will to live.
On May the fifth, she died.
I had no time to mourn my loss. Everything suddenly needed doing, but I found that a lot of things had already been done, as though everyone had seen this coming, except me. My few belongings that were still in Australia were shipped over to Bristol, and I prepared to spend the rest of my childhood in a far away land, with no mother or father to comfort me.
And so we come back to the day when I was cleaning with my grandfather. It was three months after the event, as my mother’s death was slowly starting to become known as. My grandfather was working up in the attic with me, and I was really enjoying the physical movement as I had refused to go to school after my mother’s passing. I had just lived in my own misery for weeks on end. Although the air was dusty, and thick fog covered the room, it still felt like fresh air compared to the darkness of my bedroom.
We were moving some big crates of old papers when I saw the envelope. I only got the slightest glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye. In fact, I even questioned that I had seen it at all.
And in big letters on the side, to Timothy from mum.
My grandfather called me out of the room to pile some more boxes and by the time I went back up into the attic he had moved it. I asked him about it and he shrugged me off, saying it was just a figure of my imagination. When I protested he threatened me with grounding. It was only months since I had lost my parent and I had already gained a new one.
For weeks my mind screamed for me to find out what was in that letter. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat and had trouble paying attention at school, which I finally agreed to attend. My mind was always plaguing me with images of final words from my mother, and her taking her dying breath. Even in more selfish moments I imagined a treasure map with the directions to riches and fortune. Either way I knew that I had to find out what was in that envelope.
My first breakthrough was the discovery of the whereabouts of the letter. We were back up in the attic, continuing to sort out all of the mess when I spotted that telltale sign of the Australian postal system, the corner of the bright yellow envelope that my mother had sent me. He had hidden it well, but my eyes were so tense with the prospect of finding it that I discovered it within minutes.
It was the middle of the night as I slid my cold hands down the black rope. I wanted to go back to my warm cosy bed, wrap myself in the safe blankets and go to sleep. But I knew that I couldn’t. Not since that day that I first saw the package. It haunted me at night, in every sleeping moment the package plagued my conscience. Four words were keeping me from peace.
To Timothy, from mum.
The staircase slid from the hole in the roof, making an almighty crash as it hit the floor. As I began to climb the wooden ladder, I almost wished that my grandfather had woken up, so I could be sent back to my safe bedroom. But I could hear his hot, heavy breathing from his bedroom. Trust my grandfather, he told me of when he slept through one of the bomb raids in the Second World war and almost was killed by a stray explosive.
I reached the ladders end and pulled myself into the attic. A hole at the far end of the room allowed enough moonlight for me to make my way across to where my grandfather had hid the envelope. I pulled it from its hiding place, shoved between the wall and an old chest full of bills and newspapers. I turned it over, to find a note, written in my mother’s ever neat handwriting, stuck to the back.
I moved over to where the light from the moon was strongest, the corner of the room, and huddled myself in the cold light. I started to read the letter.
To my dearest Timothy,
I know that with you reading this you must be going through one of the most difficult moments of your life. You will be feeling scared and alone, but I hope that this message finds you in good health, and where you are starting to feel peace in acceptance. I hope that you are continuing to live, as you were before, and not destroying your life over this minor coincidence.
I am writing to you for many reasons, one as a final goodbye, but the other to apologize. I have been wrong to you many times over the last twelve years, and for that I am sorry and I hope that you can forgive me. One of the things that I have done is to cruelly separate you from your past. This package will hopefully reconnect you to it, and the father I have never let you know about.
I want you to know that your father was a great man, a great man that made some terrible decisions. But I have made a terrible mistake in letting that shut him out of your life. Because I made some very bad decisions as well, which I hope you will be able to see in this story, the fact that forgiveness is possible, even in the darkest of circumstances.
And I have my final words, I know that there must be many thoughts rushing around in your head, as a hurt imagination creates, but I want you to know that in my final days I was happy. I had shaken off all of those worries and that eternal darkness that had plagued me. This has allowed me to be able to tell you these things. Because by forgiving myself, I was able to forgive your father and everyone else that hurt me. And I truly have forgiven myself, and spent my last days in the brightest possible light, and you were by my side.
I must finish now but let me just try to explain how much I loved you, and still love you. We haven’t had the easiest life, but we have had some good times together. My love to you can extend way beyond where ever death will bring me. I will forever be with you and you with me.
The greatest possible love, Mum.
Different emotions overwhelmed me as I pulled the paper from the envelope. I held it close to my heart, as though that was a piece of my mother that I could still keep. After a long time I put the paper down. I looked at the yellow envelope, it seemed to radiate in the darkness, a sign that my mother hadn’t been lying, and she had been free for those last few days.
I tore the top of the envelope open and tipped it over. The contents landed neatly in my lap. I breathed deeply and began to study them. There was a small book, a diary I presumed, photos, all neatly wrapped up in a rubber band and letters, loads of letters. Some of them were written with my mum’s clean, neat handwriting but some were in a messy handwriting, with speed loops and smudges. I guessed that they were from my father and from the few things my mum had told me, that handwriting seemed fitting.
But the most outstanding item in the pile was a book, well bound with a brown cover. I looked on the spine. Timothy’s Story, it read in gold letters. My mother had spent a lot of time on this, this story must be important. I opened the front cover.
Timothy, it is time you knew the truth. It’s nothing exciting, there are no pirates or cowboys but you will find that this story will be one of the most precious things you can own. It is a key. A key to your past.
I closed my eyes and turned the page.
It was summer in Venice, the sun shone beautifully upon the waters that lay instead of roads. The warm nights provided the perfect opportunity to enjoy life to its complete full. I had just finished school and was ready to make my move to change the world, but I had a year of a break to relax first. The world could wait; I had a life to live.
I’d been living in Venice for over a month when it was decided that I would need a job. I had never really thought about it until I looked in my purse and saw nothing but dust. The only problem with Venice is that there are very limited opportunities for jobs, as there isn’t a huge amount that can be done. It is an area for tourists, and being one myself I figured that I could be the perfect trader. I was wrong.
I went for so many interviews; I struggled to keep up with what jobs I was applying for. My screening process consisted of, “how much money,” and, “what hours.” And even that was starting to wear thin by the time I walked into the shipping yard.
The advertisement had been very vague, white female wanted for odd jobs. It hadn’t even really stood out to me, in fact in my preliminary circling of jobs that I could be interested in I skipped over it. But as each interview came and died I decided to follow it up.
It was dusty and messy on the ground, with red dust, thrown up by constant trampling and driving over it, lingering in the air, causing me to splutter. My high heels and tight, white dress couldn’t have been more out of place in that dirty, disgusting worksite.
I walked into the offices which overlooked the yard. From the outside it looked like just a shipping container, and from the inside it wasn’t much different, except for wide windows which provided a wide view of all of the workers packing and unloading containers.
The supervisor looked up at me as I walked in with a mix of surprise and shock. Obviously he hadn’t been expecting any applicants, and the sight of a well dressed, respectable citizen was more amazing than even his highest hopes. He took a puff of his cigarette then dropped it onto his ash tray, which was almost full of ash.
It wasn’t what you’d call a stressful interview. I had the job before I had even given him my résumé. Maybe I should have been wiser about how professional my work was going to be when I asked when I could start.
“Whenever you want,” the man said eagerly.
The next week was one of the hardest in my life so far. Realising that my freedom was finally lost I sank back into the boring yoke which I thought I had ridden myself of, through finishing school. I couldn’t go back to my parents now, not after all the fuss I made about going to Venice in the first place, and anyway, I wasn’t in a financial position to even buy the ticket to get home. Saying goodbye to all of my friends was a hard thing as well, as I would no longer be able to spend all night down on the port partying and socialising. I also thought that I would be giving up my love life, which for some reason didn’t upset me as much. Maybe somehow I knew that I wasn’t going to completely starve.
When I arrived home from my final day of free ecstasy as a young, talented, rich and prosperous teenager, with ambitions the size of my slowly building anxiety, I opened the tin in which I kept the last few dollars that I had brought from home. I sighed as I counted out the fifty dollars, the remainder of once over two thousand. I remember how that had looked like the world to me when my mum had handed it over, neatly wrapped in a tight rubber band. I held that rubber band now, too loose to hold my small band of cash. I pulled it over my wrist, a reminder of the stupidity of youth…
I looked at the pile of things that were in the envelope, now by my side. It took some searching but I found what I knew would be in there. A rubber band, stretched white from what I think was once red lay there, tattered and old. I slipped it around my wrist and could almost feel my mother’s warmth as she held me, her words echoed around in my mind, a reminder of my stupidity. I almost laughed at the thought of my mother going for the job in the shipping yards. I held the rubber band close to me and continued reading.
Early Monday morning my alarm went off. The high shriek of the tone snapped me out of my warm dream protected by the deep blackness of the covers and pulled me into the cold, hard reality. I almost fell out of bed, the cold ground like needles, sending shivers up my spine. I pulled open the blinds, which overlooked the harbour, expecting the usual, warm sunlight of midday to wake me up. Instead the day greeted me with sharp darkness with the moon still rising above the hills.
I could have cried, but I held myself together, if only for the thought of going back to bed that evening. I still remember what I wore that day; I had decided that my white dress was too fancy, so I wore some blue jeans with straps, with a white T-Shirt. As I walked into the yard, I found it funny that even now I looked more superior to most of the slack jawed labourers, and I had picked the outfit from a bargain bin.
This was the first time that I really caught on to what my job involved. I was sent on odd jobs, from one side of the yard to the other, and always to the less motivated groups. I was never allowed to read the messages, but I always heard a lot of laughter and felt the boy’s stares as I left. I wasn’t a stupid girl and it soon came to my attention that I was just there to be a pretty face, to motivate all of the guys who would laze about, costing the company money.
But even with this knowledge in mind I continued to work at the shipping yards, receiving my small pay cheque at the end of every week, I would go out and blow it on alcohol and cheap clubs, trying to make myself free again, like I had been only a month before. But these poisons weren’t making my life any better, and they weren’t killing me, so I found no joy in them.
Two months later I was still working at the ship yards, and my unhealthy life style was taking its toll. I no longer had a free spirit, like I had told myself I would have. And I was no closer to going home, even further away than I used to be. I was weary and saddened, my life was falling to pieces and I was barely twenty. Of course, there were people worse off than me in the world, even in my own city, but my ignorant mind made me out to be that bait of the devil.
And so while this sadness was gripping me, a different kind of emotion was tearing through the city of Venice. Carnevale di Venezia was heading to town. The Carnevale was an age old event, starting somewhere in the 1700’s. You always knew that it was coming when the tourists started to flock in, and posters and signs of famous actors and comedians went up everywhere. We even saw signs of the excitement in the shipping yards with posters going up all along the side alleys and workshops.
After work I loved to go and sit by the edge of the canal, and watch the gondolas, filled with bug eyed tourists. I remember how I was like them, and how I had no clue of the poverty and dirty work yards only twenty minutes from me. The world hides those who it is ashamed of. Or maybe it’s just the government, drawn to secretively hiding the real world from the fantasy land that is Venice.
Even as I watched, a homeless man who sat on the walkways edge near me was confronted by police. They told him, in no uncertain terms to leave the main street. They even pointed him to an alleyway nearby which, I knew, was prone to mugging and murder. I remember being a small child, and seeing that happen on movies and on the TV, and vowing never to stand for it if I saw it in real life. It is horrible how as an adult we let those things slide, as though we never saw them. I know that my child self would have just shaken her head in shame.
And so the Carnevale started, and I still continued my work. The repetitive nature of my life began to create cracks in my lifestyle. Finally, I shattered.
It was late one evening when I walking home from work. I had been forced to work late, bullied into it by my boss. I was halfway to my hotel when out of the shadows came a man. His face was hidden by the shadows, and the rest of his body was covered in black clothing. No wonder I didn’t spot him. Before I had time to scream for help he had darted behind me and placed his hand over my mouth. I felt the sharp tip of a knife digging into my back.
He led me forward towards a darker end of the alleyway. I began to struggle and managed to get my mouth free for a second, long enough for me to scream out. But I was silenced with a hard slap to the side of my face. I tasted blood.
He led me further and further into the darkness until I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. Finally he stopped and pushed me against the wall. I was relieved to have the knife out of my back. My mind was engulfed in fear as I saw his face. It was dark skinned, very ugly and had a scar running from the side of his face down. But the thing that scared me the most was his eyes, those dark, lifeless eyes.
The man reached out for me, first stroking my hair, then pulling his hand down to my cheek. As he began to lean forward to kiss me he pulled his hand away from my mouth, allowing me enough time to scream again. He pulled me to the ground roughly, knocking the wind out of me. But he let down his guard doing so, and I was able to lash out, hitting him hard over the face. He stepped back in shock, furious. And it was during that moment that another shape flew out of the darkness, tackling my attacker into the wall.
There was a sickening crunch as the stranger drove my attacker into the floor. But he had lost his element of surprise and the dark skinned man slung his fist wildly, hitting the stranger hard in the side of the face. Even in the dark light I could see the glint of the knife, as the dark man began to swing at him wildly. But the stranger was ahead of him and kicked him into the wall again, then knocked him out with a final blow.
The dark skinned man slumped, unconscious, onto the concrete floor. His chest rose slowly up and down, indicating he was still alive. Blood ran from the corner of his mouth and his nose was disfigured and broken.
I finally looked up at the man who had come to my rescue. He had dark hair, dark brown, if not black. His eyes were the lightest blue, and seemed to glow in the moonlight, which had started to come over the alleyway. He seemed relatively unscathed in the face, although I saw a patch of crimson blood pooling on his white shirt. He seemed to sense my concern and noted, “The knife scratched me on the way through.”
He spoke in a rich British accent, so strong it almost made me laugh, in spite of my circumstances. He bent down and picked up the knife that the attacker had been holding, flipping it through his hands for a second, before throwing it into a nearby rubbish bin.
“Are you alright,” he asked, concerned, “I heard your scream and came as fast as I can. “
“I’m ok. A few scratches and bruises, nothing to worry about. I can’t say how thankful I am. I don’t know what that man was going to do” I gasped.
“You don’t want to know. That guy’s been hanging around for a long time. He looks for pretty young ladies, like yourself, and attacks them. We’re just lucky I heard your scream.”
I shivered at the thought of that man hurting me. I heard about that kind of thing happening and never thought I would be in the same boat.”
“Well, would you like to go and get a drink, to celebrate the fact that we are all fine and well,” he asked confidently, nothing like the boys at the shipping yards, who would stumble and stutter if they ever got up the courage to ask me.
I don’t know why I said what I did, I really would have liked to go and spend more time with my saviour. But my upbringing kicked in subconsciously, my careful ways not wanting to stray from their direct route. Not wanting to take a risk, like letting a stranger into my life.
“I’m sorry, but I have had quite enough out of this night, I need to go home and sleep,” I replied meekly.
He looked slightly hurt.
“But could I at least know the name of my saviour,” I continued, hoping to make him smile again.
“My name, fair maiden, is Michael Smith,” he replied, mockingly enhancing his strong British accent, “and could I be gifted with the knowledge of your title.”
“Melanie Gauze, of Sydney Australia,” I replied, laughing.
“Well then Melanie, I hope to be blessed with your accompaniment soon.”
And so, he began to walk away, and with him a sense of purpose that I had found within the ten minutes of meeting him.
“Michael, wait,” I yelled.
He span around and looked at me.
“I might take you up on that drink,” I said, pushing back those childish feelings of regret.
He smiled, and we walked together back from the alleyways, into the Venice I loved…
I found it hard to hear my mother talking about my father like this. It was heartbreaking how only now I was actually seeing my mother’s true feelings, and it was too late to ask any questions. But as I remembered her, I saw bits of this character in the book, interlaced and hidden in our relationship. But there was also that childish feeling of disgust at the thought of my mother being in love. I almost laughed at the thought of it.
With the Carnevale now in full swing, Venice was buzzing with excitement. Tourists filled the restaurants and bars, with the once beautifully clean pathways becoming rubbish tips. It hurt me to think that people were destroying the city that I was now calling home. I tried to avoid the memories in which I had done the same thing. But the lack of beauty in the city was easily being replaced by the boy in front of me, holding my hand as we pushed through the maze of tourists.
His soft hand led me through all of the crowds, and towards the edge of the main walkways. The amount of tourists started to thin out, and we started going down one of the complicated staircases and walkways that only a well seasoned Venetian would be able to navigate.
One thing struck me as we walked through beautifully carved arches, lined with flowers and thick stones, giving the feeling that we were back in a time long before all my worries. It struck me that at any time before this moment, I would have been trying to get free and turning back from all of the risks that were now presenting themselves to me. But this new concept of risk taking grasped my in its addictive grip, and I didn’t want to let go.
Finally we reached the end of the wooden path we had been following, and we came to a small stone walkway, leading out onto a platform, overlooking a small pond. It was lit by old gothic lamps, which cast a flickering light across the water. In the pond swam little fish, gold and black. In the very centre of the platform was a group of tables, set and ready for patrons. The white tablecloths seemed to shine in the darkness, brighter than even the thousands of stars that overlooked my stunned figure.
The beauty of the scene overtook my sense of hopelessness, and I was lost in the immense depth of my surroundings.
Behind us was a small house, which I guessed was the kitchen, and out of its doors came a waiter, dressed up in a suit. He walked up to us, holding a black, leather bound book with the word Menu written in golden letters. He led us to a table on the very edge of the water, where we could overlook the fish, dancing gracefully through what I could now see were colourful corals. I sat into the chair, and stared at Michael. His light blue eyes stared back at me, with his dark hair and skin seeming to reflect the pale moonlight.
“Would you like a drink,” he asked gently.
Alcohol was unnecessary, when I was already drunk on his eyes.
He sensed my hesitation, and mistaking it for awkwardness added, “They have the most amazing coffee here.”
I smiled, as his accent still made me laugh, and then nodded. He beckoned for the waiter.
“Two coffees please,” he asked.
We sat in silence together until the drinks came. It wasn’t strange though, as silence said more than words ever could. It had been just under an hour since I had met him, and I was in love. My parents would have never approved of my recklessness; even less believed that my feelings were true. But I knew that they were, and I could tell, while I swam in his amazing beauty, that his were too.
When the drinks came, conversation picked up.
“So Melanie, you said you’ve come from Sydney,” he inquired.
“Yes, right in the middle of the City Centre. In an apartment,” I replied.
“Well I reside in Manchester, in the heart of the United Kingdom.”
“Ah… so you’d be into football then.” That was stretching my amount of knowledge about the sporting world.
“Yes, a man and his team…”
We were silent for a few moments before he picked up the conversation, “So what brings your fair face to Venice.”
“Rebellion mainly,” I laughed, “getting away from the repetitive world of parents and Uni.”
“So I have an escaped student in my midst.”
“Well I was reluctant in the first place,” I admitted.
“What are you studying,” he questioned.
“Art and Literature,” I sighed, “Well, enough about me, why are you in this beautiful city.”
“I was brought here buy the winds of opportunity.”
I must have shown my confusion because he continued, “My mates told me that all of the women in Venice were hot.”
I laughed; my friends had given me the same excuse.
“And were you proved wrong.”
“Well I’ve been looking for the last four months, as a guy does, but I have never seen one as beautiful as you.”
I looked at him and he looked up at me. He leaned across the narrow table and kissed my cheek. His soft lips slid across my skin, and I felt a feeling rush through my veins that I never thought possible.
“Michael,” I whispered, “kiss me again.”
He leaned back across the table and kissed me on my mouth. The feeling returned as I returned the kiss to him. He smelled sweet, like the coffee we had been drinking. So we continued to touch, as the candles flickered and danced in light reflections on the dark water.
This man that my mother was writing about was nothing like the monster that I had been told about. He wasn’t gentle, or caring. He wasn’t this hero who saved my mother. He definitely wasn’t romantic, going out of his way like this. It hurt me to think that a human being could change so dramatically, from loving and caring, into hating and hurting. It was hard to read, and even harder to comprehend. But I kept going, the story was pulling me backwards and forwards, making me hurt and laugh. But my mother hadn’t lied, it was the most precious story I had ever read.
Michael and I ran along the pathways laughing. Hand in hand we jumped across channels, and followed dead end roads until we were hopelessly lost. My feet clanked hard on a wooden boardwalk, and we reached a wide lookout, overlooking the beautiful city. It occurred to me that I was still wearing my uniform, the denim overalls with the blue T-Shirt. I also noticed that Michael was wearing a uniform as well, a green shirt with denim shorts. I guessed he worked at a supermarket or video shop. We had both seen the other side of Venice, the hidden shame, and now had both found the perfect counter.
I leant on the wooden banister, which separated the platform from the water, about a metre below. We kissed again, but I started to feel off balance. I started to tip back and soon flipped the whole way over the banister, landing in the water, making a huge splash. I emerged from the water with a shocked look on my face.
“Help me, help me,” I laughed.
He stood on the banister and did a perfect duck dive into the water. He was underneath the murky liquid for a very long time, and I started to think he’d drowned. But then I felt him moving around my legs and he shot up underneath me, lifting me out of the water on his shoulders. I laughed as he leant back and we fell into the water together. It was cold in the water, but being with Michael overwhelmed my emotions and I hardly felt the pins. We bobbed up again he pulled me close. We just stayed there for a long time, ignoring the cold, just staring at each other.
Finally, reluctantly, I pulled myself out of the water. My clothes were wet and heavy but I didn’t care. As the clock hit two o’clock on Saturday morning I said my final goodbyes to Michael, planning to meet him the next day. I walked into my apartment and collapsed onto my bed, not worrying about my soaked clothes. That night I was dreaming of my love in the most peaceful sleep of my life…
I woke up the next morning an older woman. I had a plan, a purpose and a reason. I was up ten minutes before my alarm, and ready five minutes after it. I drank a cup of coffee on the balcony of my apartment, and watched the sun as it rose. The red sky, slowly infiltrated with blue streaks, seemed to summarise my peace. It took me a moment to realise that I had only met Michael that last night.
It was a glorious Saturday as I stepped onto the sidewalk, as my watch hit seven thirty. I walked down along the main canal, with the streets strangely deserted. It was almost a week into the Carnevale and the wild partying had taken a toll on the youth, who until a day or so ago would still be in the clubs and bars. As I walked past the few clubs that were still open, I even pitied the people inside, as I knew how they were feeling, and I had found the perfect cure…
All of this philosophical thinking though had left me longing to see Michael again. As if on cue I heard my cell phone ring in my pocket and I picked it up to check who it was. Michael Smith, it said on the caller ID line. That was funny; I actually didn’t remember giving Michael my number. Then again, the previous evening was just a blur in my imagination.
“Hello, Michael,” I answered.
“Good morning, my dear Melanie. Are you well,” he replied.
“I’m wonderful. Last night was amazing. It all just happened so fast.” I was stuttering.
As I sat on a bench that over looked the beautiful Venetian Bridge I found myself curling my long, brown hair around my finger, like a schoolgirl.
“Could we meet up sometime, again,” I asked, trying not to sound desperate.
“How about dinner,” he offered.
“That’s too far away, I want to see you now,” I replied with mock pouting.
“I have something on this morning, but I should be free around lunch time. Do you think you could wait that long…”
“I’ll see you then in that case.”
“Where should I meet you,” I asked.
“Let’s see; how about that little café just behind you.”
I spun around to see Michael, standing behind me, holding the most amazing roses I had ever seen. I jumped over the back of the bench, and threw my arms around him…
“You scared me,” I gasped…
“I’m sorry; I just couldn’t wait to see you.” He handed me the flowers.
I smelt the deep red roses and smiled.
I looked up at him and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.
We spent the rest of the morning together, enjoying the sights and sounds of the infamous Venice. It was like I was back in tourist world, visiting shops and markets, looking at sculptures and art. And it was as if I was seeing them for the first time. Enjoying them with the company of someone that I was falling further and further in love with…
By the time the sun was setting, later in the day, I was completely exhausted. My eyelids were heavy as I walked into my apartment and I collapsed onto the bed, unable to even change out of my clothes for the second night in a row. Two paragraphs is not even slightly enough to describe the wonders of that day, but two novels wouldn’t be able to, so it’s going to have to stay at that.
The next morning I didn’t see Michael. It was Sunday, and it was strange that I wasn’t still asleep, but excitement pulled me from my rest earlier than I could ever have imagined. But the fact that he didn’t call was scaring me, as I was expecting the same amazing surprise that he gave me that previous morning.
It my careful, risk avoiding nature in those days that had me jump to conclusions. With each minute he didn’t call, images of cheating and robbery and a love triangle danced in my mind, and I soon came to the conclusion that I had been duped and that I should never try these kinds of things again.
Of course, when my cell phone in my pocket rang, my wild imagination was put at ease.
“Hey Melanie,” his sweet voice welcomed.
“Oh hi Michael,” I replied.
“Do you trust me,” his blunt statement startled me.
“Umm… Yes, I don’t know.”
“Good, meet me at the South Car Park in ten minutes.”
“Cool, see you then.”
“Wait, Michael,” but he was already gone. That boy was full of surprises.
I hardly had time to throw clothes on and get to the car park by the time he got there. He drove a black sedan, with obvious care and attention in all of the aspects of the car. His beaming eyes seemed to show off his vehicle, and I could see my reflection in the waxed, cleaned doors.
“Nice ride,” I commented, looking it up and down.
“Well, it gets me from A to B,” he laughed.
“I think it would get you further than that.”
I jumped into the seat next to him; a leather cover seemed to hug me as I sat.
We began to drive and light conversation filled the air between us. But something seemed to change when I asked him about his car.
“So you’re into cars,” I questioned.
“Well, it was something that my dad and I did together when I was little,” he began to stare off into the distance.
“Isn’t your dad around,” I inquired.
“Nah. He died when I was nineteen. Cancer. He was given two years to live by the doctor. I really lost him then. After that number was given to him he lost his will to fight. He was dead a year later.”
“Well. What are you going to do? Life comes and goes,” he mused sadly.
“That doesn’t make it any easier though.” I was trying to be helpful but at the same time trying to get more out of him about his past.
“Aye. Still, a week after he died his will came out and it was shown that I was to have this car. It meant the world to me, and my dad. We used to spend hours out in the shed adding on new bits and pieces. Sometimes we would just sit out in the shed together and look at it. I was lucky in some ways. I had a real relationship with my dad.”
I saw tears welling up in his eyes.
“But I’ve moved on now.” He brushed his hand across his face trying to wipe away the tears without me noticing. That was the end of that conversation.
Reading that hurt me. I don’t know why, but the way that my father had described his dad made me long for a father figure. It was true that my grandfather had been there for me my entire life, but he could never be my dad. I noticed another instance of people changing there. If my dad had such a father figure to look up to, how could he have just walked out on me like that? Adults are so confusing. With children, everything was black and white. No dramatic changes in character. No backstabbing. Everything was simple. I liked that.