Being inspired, maybe – 63


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


And, then, the words:


How had it come to this?

I looked around the Spartan furnished, rather austere hotel room with s degree of disdain, my eyes finally resting on the sole suitcase standing in the middle of the room

The remnants of 56 years of life, work, and marriage.

How had it come to this?

A friend of a friend or a friend of Amy's had considered it her moral right to inform her of her husband's infidelity.

What had Amy said in her quiet but furious voice, " you were caught canoodling with a woman who is barely older than your daughter."

I said I could explain.

No, you told me a lie about where you were supposed to be, all I can expect is more lies.  Please leave, now, before I do something I'll regret.

All I could do was shrug, and say, with more effect than I felt, "you're making a mistake.".

It sounded hollow and ineffectual.  Yes, I lied about where I would be that night, but I'd never given her reason to think that I was one of those cheating husband's.

I was not.

But one woman's misinterpretation of a situation, which, on the face of it, looked quite damning was anything but what it seemed.

And it was an odd assumption from a woman I'd known all my life and one who I'd always believed would never jump to conclusions, or listen to third party gossip.

Or was it an indication of something else?

So, I made myself a cup of coffee out of one of the sachets, hoping it might actually taste like coffee, and sat down to reflect on my predicament

Who was the mysterious woman I'd met and who was described as being barely older than my actual daughter?

Another daughter, by a woman I had known long before Amy, Danielle.

Yes, I just discovered I had a child from a relationship prior to meeting and eventually marrying Amy.  The mother hadn't told me, not because she feared what my response would be, but she had used the pregnancy as leverage to marry the man she really wanted.

All of these revelations came in a letter, one to me and one to her daughter with the proof of the deception, letters that were delivered after her mother had died.

Then I'd spent three months thinking about whether I wanted to see her or not, thinking the past might be better left in the past, and also remembering the mother was a woman Amy had hated with a passion, simply because she had made Amy's life at school and for a short time after, absolute hell.
Another letter that said my daughter would understand if I didn't want to meet her, but she would be visiting my city for a few days.

With the benefit of hindsight, it may have been better to meet her in her home town on the other side of the country.  Even so, there was no guarantee someone would have seen us, come to the same conclusion, and told Amy.  She had friends everywhere.

I guess the unfairness of it got to me, and I'd called Danielle.  I told her that we'd been seen and someone who had told Amy. 

She seemed amused that anyone would have considered our meeting as anything other than between a father and daughter, but she didn't seem to realise in a world that viewed men as predators that there was no such thing as presumption of innocence any more.

It was sad the world had come to this, but it was what it was.

It was also obvious that her mother had told her about Amy, and it surprised me that she was not exactly complimentary.   It also had one revelation that explained a great deal.


I'd fallen asleep on the setee, and woke not to the shrill sound of the alarm clock beside the bed at the usual 5:30 am, but 8:45 am, still in the clothes I'd been wearing when sent away.

It took a minute or two to remember why I was there and not at my desk, and another to revel in the almost silence, and utter lack of activity.

It was odd how unforeseen circumstances could lead to such a seminal moment.  And to make a life-changing decision.

Well, several actually.

I made a call to my legal friend, then to the bank, and finally to where I worked.  Perhaps that call was the most satisfying. 

I'd been there 30 years and not really achieved anything.  It was probably more because of my total lack of ambition, but now, in the moment, it seemed that I had just wasted the last 30 years of my life metaphorically treading water.

Then I showered, changed, and went to breakfast.  The last time I'd been in a similar situation was the last time we'd gone on holiday.  Three years ago.  It had been Amy's idea, and now, given what I had been told, I knew why we'd gone there.

I guess naivety went part and parcel with good nature and lack of ambition.

I was just starting on the compote of fruit when the phone rang.

A call I'd been expecting.

Amy.

It was an interesting first line to start a conversation.  "It seems I've made a mistake."

"We could have avoided this if you let me explain.  What changed your mind?"

"Danielle called me when she heard what happened.  You should have told me that you'd just found out you had a daughter. "

"I was still trying to come to grips with it all.  I thought I would go see her and gauge what her intentions were.  It seems she has none, which is a surprise these days."

"So, what are you going to do about her?"

There was an edge to her tone, one that indicated a degree of concern.  I was not surprised that she might have some concern, considering we had two children of our own.

"Still thinking about it.  Being asked to leave, whether it was a misunderstanding or not, has given me pause to consider what it is I want to do in the future."

"That's not up for debate.  You're future is with us, your obligations are to us."

Except that she had demanded I leave, so it was obvious to me she had an alternate plan for safeguarding their future.

"Then if you think that's the case, why did you tell me to leave?"

"As I said, I made a mistake and acted hastily.  I'm sorry."

"It's a bit late for that.  It seems to me that people who call out their partners for cheating, do so because they expect of others what they're doing themselves."

Silence.

Guilt or considering her options.  Danielle had told me in an off-hand manner that Amy had kept up her relationship with a former boyfriend, James MacIver, since schooldays and according to her mother, been seeing him back home over the years.

It could be an affair, or, more likely, a contingency plan, though I could be wrong.  The good in me wanted to see the good in her, but recent events had cracked that good nature.

"What do you mean?"

"Tell me about James MacIvor?"

"There's nothing to tell.  He's a friend I see from time to time.  What are you implying?"

Defensive.

"It's over.  I suspect it's been over for a while, only I didn't see it."

"You're not implying that I've been having an affair are you?"

Her tone was an octave higher.  I was not an expert on reading signs, but it seemed to me that she was now under a little stress.

"It's over, Amy.  For whatever reason, you gave me a moment to reconsider everything, and, possibly, it was the worst time to do it."

"It can't be over.  Not after one little mistake that I've apologised for.  You can't possibly be angry over such a small incident, the only incident in 25 years.  You can't be serious."

Tone change, more placatory.  Perhaps she suddenly realised who had the most to lose.

"Goodbye, Amy.  Don't call me again."

I disconnected the call and then switched the phone off.  It would be the last time I'd use it, because, quite simply, there was no one on the contact list I could call my friend.

Another cell phone rang; a different, blander ring tone, that of an ordinary phone.

I took a deep breath and answered, "Yes."

"It's me.  I did what you asked.  How did it go?"

"Difficult, but it's done."

"I'm at the airport, the plane leaves in three-quarters of an hour.  Shall I see you tomorrow?"

"Yes.  See you then."




© Charles Heath 2019

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Was it just another surveillance job - Episode 42

A story inspired by Castello di Briolio - Episode 41

I've always wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt - Part 53