In response to the Daily Post writing prompt Write Here, Write Now.
And in response to Linda G Hill Saturday stream of consciousness prompt Pause/Paws.
She stands in front of the door, breathing deeply. She must take a pause. She feels a little unsettled. The last time… she’s here for the first time in a decade. Maybe it’s not a good idea. Or maybe it is. She’s not sure. She’s here though. She can’t stay here without entering. She has to knock. She lifts her hand, hesitates. Another pause. She can’t. She turns around just as the door opens. And her chance to disappear is gone. The gasp catches her.
The tone almost undoes her. She sighs and faces the woman. She has grey hair, more than her age warrants. And there’s something broken in her eyes; except that it’s mingled with something that could be relief, gratitude, surprise, joy. Lucy doesn’t know. Maybe it’s all of it.
“It is you. Oh my God. You’re alive.”
She steps forward and Lucy steps backward. Not ready for an embrace. She may never be. The woman chokes slightly. There are tears in her eyes, but Lucy can’t give her what she wants. Not now, maybe not ever.
“Come in? Please?” She hesitates. “He’s gone.”
“I know.” She whispers.
The woman’s eyes widen in understanding.
“Joan told you.”
It’s not a question. Lucy nods. Her mother isn’t stupid. Well… marrying that monster… she stops the thought. It’s irrelevant. It’s unproductive. Lucy still doesn’t know whether her mom realizes her second husband’s evilness. Or maybe she’s reduced to a beaten, broken woman. Even now that he’s gone, Lucy can see in her mother’s demeanour that she is no longer the bright laughing woman Lucy remembers from her childhood, before her father’s death. She’s uncertain, she looks scared as if Lucy will hit her.
“Will you come in?” She asks again, her voice tiny and choked.
She does after all. She hasn’t crossed the country to come back without doing what she knows she has to do. She remembers her promise to Joan as well. She remembers her friend’s words too.
“Your mother loves you. She still hopes to find you. Don’t punish her for marrying that monster. She pays it still even though he’s dead.”
So she’s here. And she enters the small home that replaces the house she can’t forget growing up in. Lucy flushes. Anger. Something she feels rarely now. Not always the case. Carlton really continues to hurt her mother. The house is gone, the money too. And now her mother lives in a tiny one bedroom, earning money cleaning rooms and offices. That’s not where she belongs. Heather has a PhD in literature for Heaven’s sake! She belongs among scholars, discussing the words of Joyce or Shakespeare with the passion that fills her soul when she speaks of something she loves. Instead she grovels in front of her daughter like a frightened maidservant. Lucy sits where her mother tells her to. She startles when the cat, grey like her mom, jumps and testing the firmness of her thighs with his paws, settles down on her lap.
“She likes you.”
Lucy pets the cat absentmindedly. It’s hard to start that conversation. Where do you start after ten years? Maybe by letting go of anger. She knows she must. Her psychiatrist keeps telling her that. She sighs. She must start.
“I forgive you, Mom, for not seeing his true nature, for not protecting us.” She pauses. Her mother opens her mouth but she stops her. She resumes. She has to tell the rest. “Can you forgive me for running away and leaving you alone with him?”
Her mother doesn’t cry. Maybe she has no tears left. What does Lucy know of this woman? She is no longer the woman of her childhood but neither is she the woman of her teenage years. But there’s relief and gratitude, joy and sorrow all mingled in her mother’s eyes. Maybe that’s the start.