Family Values - Part 4
I was sitting in the meadows one day not long ago, at a place where there was a small brook - Family Values introduction. It was a cold day and although not completely winter frost developed on trees and their leaves and ice froze the dribbles of water falling from the river over the stones. My feet were warm inside of the many layers of socks I had put on my feet this chilly morn. I walked back to the little farm cottage. The smoke invited me to the coziness and warm feeling of our tiny cottage. I hadn’t even stepped inside the door and I knew they were fighting.
‘They’, meaning Midge and Daniel, My closest family since mine and issues Mum died. She died giving birth and we were even triplets but we know that the other apparently lives in a big house with a family and husband in Paris where she was brought up. The house was warm when I got back. The table was set for afternoon tea and the tea had already been brewed. Midge ran into the kitchen. She looked at me and hid a white envelope behind her back and slid it into the cupboard. Suspiciously I asked her what was wrong but she replied casually ‘Bills, dear, just bills, bills, Bills.’ She then started singing while she poured the tea.
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I could hear Daniel shouting at Midge from next door ‘leave things as they are, don’t give it to them just leave it.’
He walked through the door and looked at me.
‘A…a….’ he had obviously not noticed my presence by the look on his ragged face. ”Allow.’ He says cautiously ‘Issie’s in her room she wants help with her window, it’s stuck again’ our house is old and we excuse it for its faults.
I tramped up the stairs keeping my mind on both the letter and the cause of Daniel and Midge’s behavior. It was obviously something they didn’t want me to see.
Issie was by her window sitting down with plats in her hair and a big warm, white jumper. Issie and I got cold easy. We have a whole collection of jumpers.
She was reading a magazine and the window is shut. ‘Hay’, she said without looking up. ‘It’s fixed now.’ She looks up from the magazine. ‘Did you see a letter downstairs?’ she asks.
‘Yes, yes. What’s wrong.’
‘I found it. It was addressed to you and me. No, Lorna, no, nothings wrong, nothing. It was from our Mum. Yes, Lorna isn’t it wonderful, our real Mum. She’s been imprisoned for something that she says wasn’t her fault. As soon as I had finished reading it Midge snatched it out my hand and asked how much I’d read. I said nothing and she luckily believed me.’
‘She’s not dead?’
‘Lorna, it told us every thing we needed apart from why she was in prison. She asks if we can go visit’.
‘Issie, this is a big step, I mean, she’s in prison, are you sure we should?’
‘Lorna,’Issie held my hand.’This is our Mum’.
A few weeks later I found myself on the train to Bristol prison. We had told Daniel that we were seeing our friend and would be a short time.
‘Why did she abandon us?’ Issie asks me.
‘Why has she contacted us after all this time?’
‘I wonder what she looks like’
‘I wonder what she’s in for’ I say but as soon as I see the disappointment in Issies eyes I looked away. For in her pretty, big, blue eyes I saw how much she wanted to meet her mum and how much she worried if she’d like her and how horrible I had been about the whole thing.
‘Sorry Issie. She’s innocent, I bet she is. And I bet she’s a wonderful person too.’
I looked out the window. Issie obviously wasn’t in a talking mood but her smile out the corner of my eye pointed to a mother and child on the train. It was a horrible thought. We’d missed 20 years of being with our mum. Our Mum hadn’t seen us for 20 years.
‘I bet she’s really wonderful’, Issie said. Her head still inclined to the Parent playing with her toddler.
We sat down in a light yellow room. It smelt of fish. The light from the window lay over my face. I got up and closed the curtain. The room went dark. A woman around half my height joined us. She had white hair and a soft sweet smile.
‘See, I told you she’d be lovely.’ Issie whispered.
The lady smiled. One of the parole team came over
‘Sorry loves’, she said and looked at the old women. ‘Come on Lindsey lets go and see your Patrick. Look how tall he is………
Their conversation trailed off while a woman, no older than 40 looked at us. You could see her lines and her static curly hair from the little light that shined in. When she looked up her eyes glittered.
‘Hi girls,’ she said warmingly opening her arms. Issie jumped and squeezed her. Mums face creased into a smile and she even laughed.
‘Issie and Lorna’, she sighed ‘ I gave you those names as soon as you were born. I’ve waited for this for almost 20 years, I’m out in a year, you know. Your so pretty she said,’ reaching out to Issies hand.
‘So why are you in’, I said showing no affection what so ever.
‘Please,’ asked issie with her puppy dog eyes.’We need to know’.
‘I’m 34 now. 19 years ago I was 15, the shameful days I’m sorry. I didn’t know what to do.’
‘You were 15?’I asked
Issie frowned at me and looked at mum again ‘didn’t know what to do about what?’
‘About Emily, oh. Sorry. I thought you knew. I was too young to decide what to do. I was in panic, shock.’
‘What did you do’, I said sternly but she ignored me and went on.
‘I even dieted to get the bump to go down’, she laughed at Issie. Issie put on a smile. Mum looked at me and her smile faded. Shamefully she tells, ‘I later ran away’ not knowing where to turn. A pregnant teenager. Frantic to find a place to stay. I tried to get rid of you. I put you in a box and placed you behind a farmer’s hedge in the hope for someone to find you. I didn’t, I didn’t know.’
‘Mum, what happened to Emily’
‘She died of cold. You 2 were snuggled up in the blanket and poor Emily left on her own.’
‘ Stop excusing us’ I screamed.
‘It didn’t mean to come out that way. Sorry dear. Sit down, please. Poor, poor Emily.’
‘I think you should stay in here. She died and it was all you fault.’ I screamed ‘all your fault.’ I sat down and cried.’
Issie looked at me with astonishment. ‘Lorna that’s a terrible thing to say’
‘I don’t need any longer in prison’, she pleaded.’ I’ve served my time even though I didn’t deserve it. I was too young to understand.’
‘ And me and Issie are as well’, I shouted and stormed out the room. Issie followed but left her coat.
It was cold and Issie hugged me. She whispers in my ear ‘You know mum didn’t deserve all that shouting or prison. But she’s still our Mum.’
I walked back in with Issie. Unwilling to talk but willing to stand to listen to her lies and many stories that pleased her so much. But although she said she didn’t deserve it, I think that she did.