A Shoebox VII

Posted: September 27, 2010 in #tuesdayserial, A Shoebox

The three girls sat speechless in the front room in which they grew up.  Surrounded by questions, fear and shock they all sat motionless, like wax dummies in a museum.

“I can’t believe this,” Kim said breaking the stillness, “I mean what the hell!?”

“I know,” Gemma said, a selfish sigh of relief leaving her lips, now that the burden was on all three of them.  “The last week has just been like a whirlwind and I haven’t stopped.  I kept meaning to call you both, but each time I came away from one thing, I was lead or pulled into something else.  I just needed to hear everyone’s side of things.  But it doesn’t make it any clearer.”

“I really don’t want to see dad.” Jess’s face starred at the floor.  “I don’t care if he was hurting too, you still don’t just walk out on your family, your whole life.  I can’t forgive him, not ever.”  She was firm and to the point.

“But I need to go back and find out why William’s name is on the birth certificate and not dad’s.  If everyone was so adamant that this was kept a secret, why put his name on there?” Gemma said looking at her sister for reassurance if nothing else.

“I understand,” Jess said looking up from the floor, for the first time since her sister had opened up her world with a giant tin opener, leaving jagged edges and cold steel realisation.

“I’ll go with you Gem,” Kim smiled, “Jess we’ll take each step at a time and respect what the other one’s can and can’t cope with at this stage.  But we can’t leave one of us to do things alone anymore!”  Kim had always been the more levelheaded one.  Their mum believed this was because she was the middle child and often was left to her own devices.   Gemma was beginning to believe her mum’s theory.

*   *   *

Kim remained levelheaded through the entire car journey to their dad’s, rationalising the situation and his possible responses.  However, as soon as she saw her dad standing in the doorway, a sudden surge of emotion exploded from her face.  Tears, saliva and general water works covered her face as the realisation of this moment hit her like a kick to the stomach.

“Oh my god, dad.  Its really you!”  She flung her arms around him and hysterically cried on his shoulder, squeezing him like a childhood toy she’d found for the first time in years. 

Gemma could see the water form in his eyes too and although he fought them at first, tears began seeping down his cheeks.  She didn’t feel she could join in the hug, they’d had their moment and it didn’t feel right then, or now to get emotional.  This was Kim’s moment with him.

They sat in his living room, unlike Gemma on her first meeting with him, Kim sat close to him, occasionally touching his arm in conversation.  Gemma wasn’t sure if this was Kim trying to gain a connection with him, or to make sure he was real and not a figment of her imagination.

They talked briefly, before Kim asked the question they had come for. 

“Dad why is William’s name on the birth certificate?”

“There is a logical explanation for that girls, but I would really rather not get into it.” He said it with a stern look about his brow.  “Something’s don’t need to be delved into, it won’t get anybody anywhere.”

“But dad,” Gemma sat forwards in her chair “Uncle Bill has no idea Ryan exists, that alone that he’s his father.  Why would you have put him on the birth certificate, it doesn’t make sense.”

“Yeah Gem’s right.” Kim said looking at her dad with the mirror image stern look he had given them moments before, “If everyone wanted this such a secret, then why not put your name on it and no-one would have ever known.”

There was silence and their dad whether through, anxiety or betrayal of letting out the remaining secrets, let out a small groan and rubbed his face frantically, as if he needed feeling back into his cheeks.

“We had no choice.”  He sighed.  “You see this was a secret, a huge secret, but someone else knew, well two people actually and they weren’t going to let it lie.”

He sighed again, but this time a more defeated and exhausted sigh.

“Your grandparents knew exactly what had happened.  When your mum and I announced she was pregnant again they had their suspicions.  Your mum broke down in front of your Gran and confirmed that William was the father.  Your Gran then made it her business to ensure William’s name was on that birth certificate, otherwise she would tell him he was the father.  She didn’t advocate what he had done, not at all, but she believed that once he had been in prison and got the help he needed, that he had something waiting for him on the outside, something he could call his own.  If she’d have told him whilst the court case was going ahead it could’ve worked against your mum that she had kept the baby and also given him rights to see Ryan whilst he was growing up.  This way, we all got what we wanted.  Sort of.”

“Gran knew the whole time?” Kim said shocked and sickened at this new revelation.

“How could she have thought that this was best for everybody?” Gemma cried.

“He was still her little boy and it broke her when all his court cases hit at once and sending him down for these awful crimes of assault.  She blamed herself and was convinced her spoiling him like she had, had ruined his entire life.  I suppose she felt this was the one way she could repay him.”

“Repay him!” Gemma screamed, “He’s an evil arrogant, bastard!”

“I know Gem, I know.  I’ve been to visit him before and it’s a cold and harsh reality in there, but he still has no remorse.”

“I know!” she said, tearfully for the first time in front of her dad since she was a youngster.  “I’ve been to see him, that’s how I know he doesn’t know about Ryan.  He’s evil!”

The anger gremlin she had sat on during her visit was back in the room she sat in now.  She felt like her family had been stranded on a ledge, overhanging a volcanic lava spill and the only thing everyone did was to jump off, leaving her mum and sisters to take the brunt of the heat.  No one had thought about them, their mum’s life, Ryan’s life.  Instead they had all taken a small piece of ledge for themselves and got out while the heat was off.

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