Andy tidied his desk. The inbox was empty; the outbox full. He held his list; every item neatly crossed off, over the shredder and listened to its whining grind with new awareness. Without a backward glance he closed his office door. There remained only one thing to do and he would attend to that on the way home.
Home. the word caught in his throat.
Hobson’s Point. He pulled the BMW up in the car park and sat for many minutes savoring the sight of myriad yachts, homeward bound, silhouetted against the spectacular sunset.
He leaned his head on the steering wheel. The words, so carefully rehearsed in his head for days, refused to come. He had to write something. She had a right to know. His face heated with shame. A life, and half a world away, he’d wished bon voyage to his old self and invented Andrew Caldwell. Today he had run out of options. There was now nowhere to hide. Tomorrow his past would be front page news. He wrapped his final shreds of self control around himself and forced his fingers to tap out his last communication to his wife.
He shut down the computer and placed it gently onto the passenger seat.
‘You had no trouble doing it as a child. It’s the easy way out, I know, Andy, my old friend,’ he whispered. ‘One last journey, but this time you’re going in and you’re staying in.’
Andy stared out into the darkness.
Matty moved away from the hospital bed and watched as the doctor flashed a tiny bright light into Andy’s eyes. No response. But she’d expected that. She squeezed her fists into tight balls then forced herself to relax.
‘No change, Mrs Caldwell.’
Matty tried not to let the scorn in his voice sting.
‘He’s in some sort of self induced catatonic state. You should go home and rest.’
Home? Rest? That had to be the biggest joke yet. Their house was not a home without Andy. And how could anybody be expected to rest with the press pounding on the door and the phone constantly ringing?
When the medical staff finally left she sat on a chair beside the bed and gently took Andy’s hand in hers.
‘Oh, Andy. It didn’t have to be this way. We could have weathered this together. We said “for richer, for poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health”, remember?’
His open eyes stared, unseeing.
Summoning all the optimism she could she pressed his cold hand to her cheek.
‘We could have got through it. Take my word for it, within a few days you’d have been old news.’
Echoes. I forgot how much things echo here. Here. Here. Here thoughts bounce around my head. Head. Head. Head further in, I’m still too close to the surface. Face. Face. Face the music Andy, you’ve been a bad boy. Boy. Boy. Boy! No. sir, please sir, I didn’t mean too. Too. Too Two wrongs don’t make a right. Right? Right! Right, I must get past this level get deeper to where there is nothing. Thing. Thing. Think of Matilda. Da. Da. Da. Dadda, no! No! Know, Matilda must never know. No. No news is good news. News. News flash - thirty years ago the man we know as Andrew Caldwell, entrepreneur and philanthropist, embezzled millions of dollars from a superannuation fund, abandoned his young family and. And Andrew Caldwell, thirty years ago. Ago. Ago Andrew Caldwell. Well. Well? Well, what have you got to say about it? It. It’s not supposed to be like this. This. This is supposed to be a place I can escape to. To. To oblivion. On. Bon voyage. Andy?’
‘Andy? Can you hear me Andy? I always knew you to be an honest man. Keeping all this secret – I’m surprised it didn’t destroy you earlier. I don’t know what desperation drew you to steal and desert your family. We’ll sell the house, cash in our stocks and shares, pay the money back. Then I think you should try to settle things with your family back in Ireland. Andy, I whatever happens, love you.’
You, you stupid boy! The echo has gone, at last. I must go deeper. Idiot. Failure. Miscreant. I duck and weave away from the pain. The memories. The reality of who I am. I am nothing. I am nobody. I have failed. I…
‘I AM WHO I AM, Andy.’
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