The house buzzed with excited anticipation. Footsteps clattered as family members scurried from room to room. Children and adults alike were enveloped in the passion as preparations for the most special event of the decade were being finalized, this anticipation only marginally dulled by anxiety of what was to come.
In the midst of the hustle and bustle, Marjorie stepped quietly through the open glass doors onto the patio overlooking the expansive rose garden. Her arms wrapped protectively around her, Marjorie’s head swam with thoughts and images, most of which were unsettling. Ten long, lonely years had passed. No news had arrived to give truth or otherwise to the reasons for the separation. No news of ongoing existence or, perish the though, death had been received until last week. Now ten years of silence was to give way to….what? Joy; happiness; further sorrow? Marjorie could only agonise over what would follow the events of this day.
Sixty mines away, Tom looked lovingly down on the sleeping form of his only son. The past ten years had been filled with joy, excitement and shared experiences that could never be forgotten. These memories, however, were all tinged with the deep regret of what had been denied to Marjorie. Too late now to give her access to these memories. It could only be hoped that she would understand, and agree to once again be a part of their lives. The past was past, and Tom had ‘grown’ up. Now he was ready to share his life and son with the true mother of his child.
The pain caused by the acrimonious arguments from those many years ago had dulled over time, but Marjorie felt she could never forgive the anger poured on her for wanting to stay in her home town. Here she was secure. Here she was loved. Tom had always said he loved her, but he left her when she needed him most. Left her when her dad died. Then, just last week a letter arrived telling Rose that he and Jack were going to be in town, and would like to visit.
It wasn’t for Jack. Jack had never known her family. Jack had never known her. Taken from her arms when still too young to remember. It was all for Tom. It was obvious he hadn’t changed. No “sorry for what I did”. No “please forgive me. I still love you”. Just “Jack would like to see you all. We will be in town in the last week of June. Please write and say we are welcome to visit”. And her mother had the whole town coming to celebrate his return. Like the celebration for the prodigal son. Marjorie wasn’t sure that it would not all end in tears and pain like the first time.
The battered, rusty Fiat drew up the circular driveway to the crowded front verandah of the house. Out of the passenger window, the excited face of a young boy peered towards those gathered to welcome them back. One face was missing. That of the lady he had always been told loved him and yearned to hold him. Had it all be a fable? The car stopped. The doors opened as people rushed down to greet the dusty, weary travelers. Grace walked swiftly to Tom’s side.
“She’s out the back.” She said. “Tom, she is not taking this well. I am not sure if she is ready to forgive you yet. Perhaps it would be best if Jack and you went out alone. I will keep the others here until you have had a chance to talk.”
“Thanks Rose. I really do still love and need her. I have no excuse for leaving like I did.”
Tom and Jack walked through the well lit house towards the back garden. There, alone on the patio, Marjorie stood, her face overshadowed by fear. Holding Jack’s hand, Tom walked over to Marjorie.
“I am so sorry Marjorie. It was wrong of me to take Jack for you.” Tom said. “I have had many pictures and stories from you mum that have helped me to keep you alive for him. Can you forgive me?”
With her smile shining through her tears Marjorie drew Tom and Jack into her arms. The last degree of separation had been conquered. Their family was forever reunited. Marjorie vowed she and Tom would forever be together, and that Jack would never be alone like she.
“Yes.” She said. “Please stay.”
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