A walk by the sea (59)

…finally, here is the update.
It’s not cloudlessy happy, but it is one step forward from hell.
Thank you all for reading!
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The way his hand had grazed his cup of coffee seemed so careful that she wished she could be invisible. Her son had been subdued and apologetic that morning, despite not uttering a single word to let her know he was sorry. She suspected Eileen had talked to him earlier on, and she had felt so sad for him, and herself, too. He was not to blame, but she couldn’t blame herself, either: even though she knew it was all her fault, she had to stay strong against self-remorse if she wanted to survive.

Sitting in Andrew’s car, being driven to a fancy reception in the cool evening fog that resided over the city, she recalled that morning against her will. She wished she could forget, but images and words, sounds and emotions kept returning to her, projected as ghost-film on the dew-covered windshield.

She prepared his breakfast, as Eileen was busy with the baby; Jo was leaving shortly after, and the only way she could apologize now, after all she had done to him, was by pouring him another cup of coffee and placing a toast on his plate wthout a word. No questions, no tears, no hugs. They were strangers to each other and she knew they would stay like that for good, but at least a kind of truce, or resigned understanding of each other’s needs could be possible between them.

They stopped at an intersection and her glance fell on a young couple, with two children standing between them, tiny hands in larger ones, waiting patiently for their time to cross the street. They looked like a happy little family and she watched them wistfully as they crossed before them. She could not remember a time when she had ever held Joseph’s hand, and really felt it in hers at the same time. She had always taken care of him, she had always catered for him. Watched over him, looked after him. But it was never a real mother’s love.

Arranging some plates in the cupboard had felt like a relief after the horrible night she spent suspended somewhere between life and death. To touch objects that are there to make a human being comfortable was like impossible divine grace, and she drank some coffee to stop the shaking in her limbs. So much had been said, so much had been understood, and yet, she was alive. It was strange how the burden she had thought impossible to carry was not weighing her down, after all. Perhaps it was true what they said: after a while, hardships only get easier.

Andrew was driving in silence, the same Andrew who had been asleep in her room, the same man who had literally kept her alive. He had never stayed the night, but after the endless hours of hopelessness that he struggled through to help her, exhaustion had overcome him and she was grateful he was there. She knew she could go back to him for the comfort she had grown used to, any time. After Jo left and Eileen took the baby for their morning walk on the misty, curiously illuminated winter day.

The family had crossed and they drove on, still in silence. She watched the world go by, physically, as in her imagination. Life had taken a U-turn and she was standing on the sidewalk, unable to follow the dangerously curvy line. All that should have been inside her, memories of a time when she was a mom, was lost, forever. She had no memories of those times, and she did not deserve to have them, either.

Jo had sat on the chair with his back hunched, his fingers holding the morning paper, his other hand on his cup. She wanted to believe he was not reading at all, she wished so hard to believe he was unable to focus, that his brain kept re-winding the events and words of the previous day. She had no right, but she would have given half of her remaining years to know that he was shattered just as much as she was.

-Are you hungry? –Andrew asked her, and she turned to him and reality.

-No, thank you, Andrew –she replied, so grateful for his presence.

He smiled at her tenderly and kept watching the road. His forehead and nose formed a perfect curve together, above which his thinning hair rested, combed in an orderly fashion. He was wearing a light grey suit, very elegant and informal, which almost made him look athletic. Only his pudgy fingers betrayed his real build, but she watched those thick and heavily knuckled fingers with affection. They had held her with gentleness she had not thought possible from such chubby hands.

-We’re almost there –he said after a while.

She wondered what he had in mind. He hadn’t disclosed the surprise, and insisted that she go with him. He only said, she needed the distraction, and she relied on his judgement more than she relied on her own. Had it been her choice, she might have walked out to the ocean at night and would have taken the road she had once strayed from. With such ease.

-Sara is coming tomorrow, right? –he asked, careful to keep her thoughts busy and distracted.

-Yes –she replied, feeling a tiny flicker of happiness and at the same time, remorse. Two people would have been miserable had she decided to end her life: Andrew and Sara, her only friend. –At two-, she added.

-I’ll pick her up –Andrew offered, and brought tears of gratitude to her eyes. She wanted to say thank you, but words failed her and she wiped her cheeks, staring ahead mutely.

She was watching the road as it disappeared under their car, foot by foot, yard by yard on longer avenues, and the twists and turns they had to take when crossing short streets. She was lost in a world of uncertain sadness and involuntary resignaton to a life that she knew didn’t, couldn’t hold any more happiness for her.

His hand was on hers, squeezing it reassuringly, as if reading her mind, and she broke down again.

-Can we… please go home? –she asked between two sobs.

He stopped the car on the corner of a deserted street and turned to face her.

-No –he said gently, holding both of her hands in his. –I know you’re hurting and I’m hurting with you… but I want you to give you something that will take your mind off things tonight.

-I don’t deserve it –she said, looking away.

-You do –he coaxed her gently. –You can’t go punishing yourself for some mistakes you made ages ago… when you weren’t really sure what you wanted from life.

-I deserted my own child –she pulled her hands away and buried her face in them. –What kind of a mother does that?

He leaned closer and embraced her, holding her tight.

-One who was uncertain about many things –he said softly, stroking her hair. –One who turned out to be a wonderful person, one who realized her mistakes and feels sorry about them.

-He will never love me –she sobbed, not really hearing what he told her.

He stroked her hair and rocked her gently, as if aware that whatever he said could not register, and that a simple touch would help so much more. Her pain gushed forth in an unstoppable flow, and she let it drown her, pull her under, all the time feeling how safe she was in Andrew’s arms. He was her rock and she rested wearily in his powerful embrace, slowly letting her pain grow weaker.

When she calmed down, he let her sit back in her seat and looked at her sideways.

-I can’t tell you everything will be alright… –he said slowly, looking for every word that left his mouth. –I wish I could take your pain, Mary… but I know that nothing happens in vain. Your pain is not for nothing, the events from your past happened for a reason… Joseph is a strong man, and he loves you despite his own wishes to ignore you. Trust me.

She kept silent and swallowed the tears that threatened to burst from her eyes again. She had to trust him, she had nothing left to trust any more.

-I promise you will enjoy tonight –he added in a happier voice. –We’re almost there.

She was so lost in her thoughts she noticed they had indeed arrived to their destination: he stopped the car in a large parking lot. She stepped out of the car only when he opened the door for her, not because she expected him to be gallant, but because with every moment lived in the present, she was taken back to events she could not change, and which caused her pain each time she faced them. Each moment took her in between past and present, forcing her to analyse and try to comprehend why things happened.

He led her and she followed him blindly, across the parking lot, towards a richly illuminated building surrounded by tall trees, neatly aligned. She walked up a flight of stairs and she found herself in a painfully elegant hall, with chandeliers above her head and a marble floor under her feet. He took her coat and disappeared for a moment, but before she could wonder where he had taken them, he was back.

-Come on –he said, and gently took her hand.

They went inside a dimly lit, large room, befitting kings and queens. The deep, rich colours decorating the walls blinded her artistic eyes and for a brief time she revelled in the sight, her heart beating fast. Tables were aligned with four chairs each, all of them taken, except two, where he led her. She sat down blindly, noticing a small stage: between their table and the stage there were only a few tables. She clearly saw the dark piano and the deep red curtains behind it, and the deep velvet piano stool before it.

She looked at him askance.

-I’m told tonight’s performer has the most amazing voice –he said with a confident smile, and he pushed the ice bucket that contained a bottle of champagne a little further from his hand.

She gasped inwardly. It was not possible. Did Andrew know?

Before he stepped forward from behind the red curtains, the impossible had become a certainty. Her heart felt so tight in her chest she didn’t dare move; luckily, she didn’t have to, as her chair was facing the stage.

-Good evening –the man with shoulder-length hair and a short beard said when the polite applause died out. He had discreetly nodded, then he sat down and faced the tables with the microphone in his right hand. –My name is Joshua Morgan and I’m your entertainer tonight… I happened to taste the food here earlier and I can assure you it’s top quality. I’m hoping to live up to it –he added with a pale smile that broke Mary’s heart.

There was subdued laughter and a little clapping, during which she tried to glance at Andrew, who was clapping and smiling at the young man. It only struck her then that he had no idea whatsoever who the beautiful singer was.

He looked so pale… his wrists were thin, his back was slightly more hunched than the last time she saw him. He took a few moments to settle on the chair and place the microphone back onto its place. He seemed unsure about himself, and his hands lingered above the keys a little before his fingers pressed into them, sending a soft melody straight into her shattered soul.

(tbc)

8 Comments

  1. IntellektuElli
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think you just answered to all our prayers! What a magnificent chapter. This is so delicious. Will he spot her from the audience?! Will she stay until the end of the performance? Will they talk to each other!?!?!?! I think I just lost my sleep because of all these questions. 🙂

  2. helga
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Yeah!!!!!! Exactly ^^^^^^ what Elli said!!!!!! Krisz, promise you won’t keep us hanging long for the next update, please, please, pretty please???????

  3. Alexandra
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Let me be the –uh— THIRD to say YAY!!!! Joshua!! Look into the crowd and see Mary! I can’t wait to see what happens next- although she is still in a dark place, it looks hopeful! Thanks for the uplift!!! (more soon, please!)

  4. Lory
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Oh Krisz!!!! My heart started beating faster from the time Andrew said “I promise you will enjoy tonight…” Ah, poor Mary. Can her heart take any more?

    I have to echo everyone else – more, soon, please!!!

  5. CutePi314
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    Looooord Krisz what am I gonna do with you? I’m running out of compliments and rants and raves. Every one of your stories is just so raw and emotional. I’m so glad to see an update on here after so long. It’s like running into an old friend and finding that, after years of being apart, you can pick right up where you left off. Beautiful
    Laura

  6. Posted February 9, 2008 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Elli, my answer to all your questions would be ONE word I can’t disclose now… only with the next update. Sorry for causing insomnia… 😀

    Helga, I can promise an update REAL soon because now that I’m out of hell with Mary, I can weave the storyline faster.

    Alex, you are welcome, it was a huge relief for me, too… ah.

    Lor, can you believe MY heart was beating like crazy?! 😀 Picturing Mary try to cope, and thinking of what state J is in (more on that in next update) and picturing you guys heave a sigh of relief 😀 it was joyful.

    Hi Laura! Welcome here my friend 🙂 I am so honoured to have all of your comments in here, you really are all my friends. Everyone is who feels my stories…
    Thank you for your kind words and I promise the next meeting will come sooner. 🙂

  7. Posted February 18, 2008 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Oh Krisz!!! I totally hadn’t realized you had written more…!!
    OMG!! Wow…he has to see her now!!! I didn’t check to see if there is more written so will go and look to be sure….
    Big Hugs,
    Robin

  8. Posted February 18, 2008 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    (((Robin))) no problem. I still have to read yours… I just came out of my cave today and I need to catch up on a lot of things…
    Thank you for coming by and reading and- yes, he should see her but- not yet. 😉
    Soon. 😉

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