Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Exotic (08/08/13)
TITLE: Wedding Bells
By Graham Insley
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"Actually, I'm neither of those. Terrified to death and shaking like a leaf is what I am."
"Will you be okay or should I hang around?"
"No Pop, I'll be fine. Look, thanks, but honestly, I'm just going to go up there and knock on the door."
"I love you, son. I'll be waiting up when you get home."
"If I'm lucky, I'll be home late."
"Just ring me and let me know, okay?"
"Go on; clear off Pop, before I lose my nerve." Johnny stepped back from the driver's door and watched his father pull away. Slowly he turned and moved towards the front stairs of the apartment block. He didn't get very far.
Strength failing, he sank onto the third stair and sat with his head in his hands.
Thoughts of panic and the pain of yesteryear came flooding back. What makes me think she'll even let me in, let alone talk to me? Why can't we ease each other's pain instead of blaming each other? Lord, how could everything go so wrong?
Why did we ever go on that holiday? Wasn't it her that wanted such an exotic holiday in the first place? I'd have been happy with a week-end in the country, but oh no, not Missy Miss Want To Travel. She had to go exotic and cruise the South Sea Islands. Well look what it cost us..."
"I thought I'd find you here."
Johnny's head lifted. Tears streaked his face and his bloodshot eyes revealed the road map of painful memories.
Pop sat down beside his son. "You don't have to go through with this you know. If it's too soon let's just go home."
"You know Pop, ever since little Jimmy died, I've accused Sue of blaming me. But I've been the one who screamed "It was you who wanted to go to that stinking place!" I was thinking, if she hadn't wanted 'exotic' we would never have gone, Jimmy would never have been run over and our lives wouldn't have been destroyed. I blamed her Pop, and that's not fair; it wasn't her fault"
Pop's wrapped his arm around his son's shoulders.
"You know son, your mum and I learnt it is really easy to blame each other. Now, the hard thing, why, that's forgiving. Yes sir, it's really easy to point fingers, but to hold out arms, that's real courage and real strength."
"But I've been blaming her all along, Pop. How can I expect her to forgive me for that?"
"Stopping the blame is your choice, son. Forgiveness? That choice belongs to Sue. But the loss of a child is hard enough, without beating up on each other as well."
"Pop, I know it's not her fault. It was an accident and I was a fool to keep carrying on this long; but the pain was..."
Both men spun their heads around to look in the direction of Sue's voice.
"Is that what you're saying, Johnny. Because I know how unbearable it was."
Slowly Sue walked down the few stairs and sat on the step above them. "It was unbearable. Still is. But it wasn't my fault. It has taken me a long while to deal with the pain; especially the pain of our not supporting and helping each other."
"Sue, I'm so sorry. I know that was my fault. I just couldn't..."
The woman reached out a gentle hand and placed it on Johnny's shoulders. "Stop. Why don't the both of you come upstairs and I'll fix us a cup of tea. I want to tell you about a church I've been attending and something..." Sue stopped when she saw the two men smiling at each other.
"Sue, that's why I'm here. I want to tell you about forgiveness and what it has come to mean to me."
The divorced couple looked at each other and then at Pop as he started to rise.
"You two go on. Just give me a ring when you're ready, Johnny."
The old man smiled as he headed back out to his car. I fancy I hear wedding bells.
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