Being inspired, maybe – 62

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

It was peaceful, briefly.

It was usually a quiet area of the park where people came to contemplate, a place I came to when the walls at home started closing in on me.

Sure, the sounds of everyday life impinged on that sense of serenity, but more often than not  it was far enough away it could be screened out.

All except the sound of planes flying overhead, on those days the park was directly under the landing path of the airport, which was not very often.

One flew overhead now; I looked up and could see the landing gear down and the flaps in position, almost so close one could reach out and touch it.

And then the whining noise of the engines, getting louder and then gradually fading away.  Until the next what seemed a few seconds later, and then another.

It sparked a thought, perhaps I could go away for a while, anywhere but go home.  It wasn't a home, not any more, not since a simple accident destroyed it, and my whole world.

Denise and the twins Danny and Danielle.  Gone.

That moment of utter disbelief when the police came to tell me.  Those moments of hoping against all hoped it would not be them until I had to identify the victims of the crash that had killed them.

Those moments when I woke up every time hoping it had been just a bad dream, and being met but utter silence in a house that was filled with life and laughter.

One year later, and I still hadn't come to grips with it.  Perhaps I never would.

"You can't go on like this Leo."

That tranquillity was sometime also broken by the voice of my sister in law, Della.  She made the trek to London every few months on business and combined it with a promise she said she had made to Denise a long time ago, that if anything happened to her she would look after the survivors.

She meant well, but there was nothing she could do to make me feel better.  I didn't think there was anything in this world that could.

Another plane passed overhead and I waited till it had disappeared beyond the tree line, leaving only the sound of its engines in its wake.

I turned to look at her, looking so much like her sister. Before I had married Denise, I had mistaken Della for her once or twice.  She had another sister, Diedre, but I'd only seen her once, at the wedding.  And not since.

"You're the third person to say that this week."

"I'm sure the others were as concerned about you as I am."

"I told them as I will tell you, there is nothing to worry about.  I just need time.  You know the saying, time heals all wounds."

"But it's been more than a year now, and I've finally come to grips with it.  It was a senseless accident with catastrophic consequences.  I lost a sister, a friend, perhaps my only real friend Leo, and much much more."

I'd known of the close relationship with her sister, and later of the pranks she and Della had played using their similarities, how they were, at times, interchangeable.

There even a few times where I started wondering which one I had with me because at times Denise acted strangely, sometimes forgetting simple things.

"Then you know how I feel."

"Like the next call I get on my cell phone will be Denise.  She used to call me once, sometimes twice a day.  Oh, Leo, I miss her too."

Three planes had passed overhead since we last spoke; there was nothing I could say, or wanted to say.

But little things stuck in your mind, like on the day of the accident, we had an argument over some small event, she was taking the children to a daycare centre, a new job for her before she went to work in s new job, one I thought she had embarked on a little earlier than we agreed.

She would stay home with them until they were both in school.  She had lasted four years and said she'd had enough and wanted to go back to work, and then conveniently had an interview and the job three days later.

It was the cause of the argument.  We hadn't sat down to talk about it, and perhaps she had rightly assumed I would not agree, not unless it was fait accompli, and made it impossible for me to disagree.

Was I disappointed?  Yes.

But at no time did I disagree that she could not return to work at an appropriate time.  I could see her restlessness, and how the demands of the children affected her.  She needed a break.

And it was a direct cause of the accident.  A long night with sick children after a week of long days and little sleep.  She was tired and angry.  And she didn't see the other car coming.

Yes, I blamed myself too.  I could have done more and didn't.  Now I had nothing and it was as much as I deserved.

"But," she said, after the pause, "Denise would not have wanted you to be like this.  You know that as well as I do.  She was one of those people who had to be sure that life would go on if anything happened to her."

That was true too, but it had been a different time then, when there had been no children.  But Della had a point.  Denise would neither be pleased or proud of what I'd become.

"How do I do that?  I think I managed to alienate anyone who may have cared about me in the past."
True to a point.  How many bridges had I burned?  I had unfortunately managed to destroy any goodwill anyone had extended me.

"You still have friends who care."  She took a medium-sized envelope out of her handbag and held it out.  "It a good job, one that you're very familiar with, and it's a fresh start away from here.  You need to make a clean break."

I took the envelope, resisting the urge to open it.  "Why do I suddenly get the feeling this is goodbye?"

It felt like it.

"It's not, but it is far enough away to put the past behind you.  And don't worry, I'll come and see how you're going, just like I have been."

Which was something else that worried me about her, the amount of time and effort she had put into mollycoddling me.  It had left her no time for a life of her own.
"You don't have to you know.  I can look after myself."

"That's what all men say, right before they disappear into the disorganised abyss.  Not on my watch.  Now," she said, standing, "it's time for me to leave you alone, and for you to take the first step on your new adventure."

A hug, a kiss on the cheek, she strode off in her usual purposeful manner, leaving me to watcher her disappear past the tree line.

A new adventure?  I opened the envelope and took out the folded sheet, on top of several other items, one of which was a plane ticket.

The note was short and written in Denise's hand.  "If you are reading this then something dire will have happened to me.  Of course, I'm hoping by the time Del gives you this you will have mourned my passing and be ready for the next phase of your life.  Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to join that mysterious other sister-in-law of mine, Deidre, who was something of a recluse, but also a rather strange missionary, who has an orphanage in Kenya.  She always needs help, and I suspect you might want to get away for a while, so this is the perfect solution.  She's nothing like me, as you will soon discover, but she has a kind heart."

I put the letter back in the envelope, and sat down for a moment, the actual fact if seeing her writing had given me a moment to reflect.  Seeing the writing, and reading her words hadn't affected me as much as I thought they might.

So, Della was right.  I needed a change, and an excuse to see her other sister, the surly one.

And, of course, I did say I wanted to travel.

© Charles Heath 2019


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