Day 16 – Old Bleeding Wounds

Word count: 2151

A blackbird took off from a nearby growth of birch trees and flew overhead at the sound of a passing car along the street. As it did so, the ledge of snow upon which it had been resting its talons on, tumbled to join its brethren in the shrubberies below.

It was one of those perfect suburban gardens. Had it not been February, and covered in a thick fondant of snow, the lawn would have been trimmed to precision, not a weed or patch of moss in sight. There was no car in the gravel driveway at that time and only the tire marks in the snow marked any evidence that there was movement in the house that day. A path had been cleared to reveal large flagstones leading up from the pavement to the front porch. It was a large detached house with two floors and a large sloping roof with a chimney flanked at the side. In the large front window, the curtains were wide open and the life of the living room was exposed for all to see.

It was this that Nick had been staring at from the step by the front door. It was dull and as ordinary as any other suburban home with its three piece suite, flat screen tv and hearth, complete with magnificent mantelpiece. The room was dark, though Nick could see many table lamps and candle holders scattered around the room. This was far from where had had come from.

Nick was frozen. He’d walked all the way from the station – miles away. The train itself had taken four hours and now it was half past two. He would be in physics right now, he ought to be. Nick’s parents would have killed him if they ever discovered he was skipping school; and they’d resurrect him and string him up all over again if they ever found out he was here. But he no longer gave a damn about what they thought any more. They had relinquished that right to him in anyway since the day they began lying to him.

Nick dug out the scrap bit of paper from his jeans pocket that he’d scrawled the address on. Twenty-three. He looked up and saw the brass plated number twenty-three on the dark wood front door, just below the frosted stained glass. It was the right place. He’d seen it on the internet. He knew he hadn’t got the address wrong, but there was a side to him that wished he had. For all the hurt and anger his parents had caused, for all the loving and acceptance that he needed and craved, the answers and yet more questions that lurked beyond this door felt too immense to comprehand and for the first time in his life he thought he wasn’t old enough.

“Their doorbell doesn’t work, you’ll have to knock,” a voiced carried its way across the wooden fence from the garden next door.

It was the neighbour, returning from the shops, laden with grocery bags. Nick waved a thanks, his throat now too nervous for words. But he supposed the time had come for old bleeding wounds to heal and, stepping up to the door, knocked three times.

A swallowing silence served itself as a cold response. Nick’s chest swelled with angst and anxiety. A surge of questions crashed through his brain like a tsunami.

A shadow emerged from behind the stained glass. Suddenly Nick no longer cared for answers. A queasiness was rising up from the deepest pit of his stomach like a volcano. All he wanted to do was run now. Could he? Could he just disappear?

The handle turned. The door began to open. Why could no on not be home? A sweet smell of baking wafted in from the warmth and then he was met with an image he would never forget.

She was homely, a little overweight but her long black hair covered the age in years she’s accrued. The woman looked exhausted and her front was covered in a dusting of flour. She looked blankly at him. Nick didn’t honestly expect more, but he secretly wished there would be that instant recognition.

“I don’t really need anything you’re buying,” she said, annoyance tainting every word.

“I – I’m not selling anything,” he stuttered.

“Oh well I give to charity regularly and I don’t particularly appreciate being hounded for money, especially at my front door…”

“I’m not looking for money.”

“Then what do you want?”

“I’m looking for a Margaret Gosford.”

The colour was sucked from her cheeks.

“I am not Margaret Gosford,” Nick’s heart deflated instantaneously as she said the words, “But I was…. for a while…”

She examined her guest. Nick stared right back at her, biting back the millions of questions now poised on the edge of his lips, determined not to let his emotions be illustrated upon his face.

“Who are you?” she asked, though she appeared to have guessed, and maybe feared, the truth.

“My name is Nick Charles Grayson and I am your son.”

Hi smother resembled the living dead at his words. Her voice trembled when she next spoke.

“You’d better come in then,” watching out for spying neighbours as she invited him in.

The house was warm. Darkly lit, but warm. Nick took his hat and gloves off as he wiped his feet on the doormat. The hallway was wide and open – not at all like his narrow terraced house. A large white staircase led to the first floor. The doors were painted glossy white and pot pourri was deposited in various ornamental bowls around the many cabinets and table nests.

“Come through to the kitchen,” she led the way.

Nick followed and absorbed the pictures in their frames that lined each wall. They were prominent with a husband, a dog and two children. His sister and his brother. Nick’s mouth went dry as he thought how alike they were.

The woman – his mother – didn’t appear to have anticipated his interest in the pictures, for she was already in the kitchen, turning on the kettle. Nick emerged from the hallway into a stunningly modern, open, bright, white kitchen. It was pristine save for the baking going on in the centre island counter. Money was oozing out of every appliance, cabinet and worktop. A conservatory had been built around trhe dining room, with six chairs wrapped around a solid mahogany table.

Nick almost gasped. He didn’t feel worthy to take in this sight. The thought of his own place, messy and in complete disrepair. Dishes, books and random things collected like dust on every available space. This was its polar opposite.

“Tea or coffee?” she asked, professionally.

“Tea, please.”

She opened the cupboard and hesitated. Her hand was hovering over the range of different tea types available. She glanced back at him and then proceeded in taking the most common.

They remained in an awkward silence until the kettle boiled.

“Sugar?”

“Yes, please.”

“Two?”

He nodded.

“How much milk?”

“Just a dash.”

She handed the mug to him and promptly began staring at him. Nick sensed her quietly judging him. He was uncomfortable. Her stare was so intense, he felt as if every corner of his emotions were unravelling for her to view.

“How much?”

Nick almost spat back his tea, “What?”

“How much to make you leave and never return?”

“I don’t want your money?” Nick felt sick.

“Then what do you want?”

“What do you mean, what do I want?”

“You turn up after what – fifteen years? You must be expecting something.”

“Seventeen. I turned seventeen in December.” Nick thought she would have at least had known his age. “I got told. My parents told me just after Christmas.”

“How did you find me? I made sure that you wouldn’t.”

Nick put down his tea. It tasted bitter.

His mother continued, “Listen, dear – what was your name again?”

“Nick.”

“Nick, listen. I have a family now. I have a husband who I love dearly, and who loves me more than life itself. We have two beautiful, beautiful children. I don’t want to jeopardise that. I have spent too long trying to build it up for some spare child to come along. Can’t you understand that?”

“Spare child?” Nick turned away from her. He couldn’t look her in the eye.

“I don’t want to sound harsh, but you seem mature. You need the truth.”

“Do I?” Nick had thought he’d finally got the truth when his parents had revealed his adoption to him.

“Yes. I don’t want you thinking this will be more than it is.”

“Clearly.”

Silence once again returned like the incoming tide. Nick picked up a nearby frame and took in the scene. It was the four of them, maybe recently, on holiday together. They all looked so happy, so carefree.

“You’ll have many questions, I would think?”

“Yes,” though he wasn’t sure he wanted to know their answers any more.

“My name is Alison Redpath and I was only ever Margaret Gosford for four months. I did this so that when I gave birth, there was no trace. Apparently, I was mistaken,” she sipped her coffee as if this were just morning chit-chat. “Now I don’t care how you came by my address or my name. That’s clearly not the issue any way.”

“Why did you give me away?” Nick turned to look her dead in the eye.

Alison was caught unawares, half gulping her coffee down. Clearly, she was expecting to avoid this question. Nevertheless, she sat her coffee cup back down in its saucer and began to explain.

“I expect most mothers would say they were young, inexperienced, didn’t want to have abortion, or left it too late. I belong to the latter camp, I’m afraid. You see, Nick, I was already married. My husband was away on business for extended amounts of time, and I am ashamed to say, temptation go the better of me. Don’t ask me his name, I barely remember his face, but biology did as biology does and I was six months gone before I had it confirmed. By then it was too late and revealing to my husband – who at the time I barely saw – was not an option. I instead decided to give you away, under a pseudonym. My mother’s name.”

Nick was astounded. Of all the scenarios he’d imagined in his head, this had never been one of them. He always imagined a teenage pregnancy, a struggling parent. Never had the thought occurred that he’d been just an inconvenient result of an affair.

“Nick, please don’t take this any further. I can’t offer you anything. You’ll have had a mother – a proper mother, I’m sure. You seem nice. You do. But I have nothing to give you.”

“But you’re my mother? You gave birth to me?”

Alison tilted her head slightly, and Nick could feel the embarrassment she felt for him.

“Bless, my dear. I have two children. Felicity and Darren. I have no need for another.”

“But I exist! I’m here!”

“That I can see. But I’m not your mother.”

Nick was saturated with rage. How could this woman be so casual, so calm about it all? Had she any feelings, any emotions at all?

“I’ve had enough of this,” he grabbed his hat and gloves that he had placed on the worktop and headed for the door.

Her hand caught him as he passed and her lips was composed to say something, but words failed her and her arm fell limp. Nick barged on through, taking one last look at his smiling siblings in the photographs, flung open the door and into the open fresh air.

It had begun snowing again. But that was not the first thing that Nick had noticed. A car had returned to the driveway and a man was getting out. It was a flash car and a flash driver. He had a suave suit and a briefcase in his hand.

“Who are you?” he asked.

Nick’s anger was a damn waiting to burst.

“Are you her husband?” Nick pointed back towards the house.

The man nodded.

“My name is Nick Grayson and I was born on the fourteenth of December seventeen years ago. Ask your wife where she was that day.”

And with that, Nick stormed out of the driveway and off down the road, back to the station and back to the home he thought he’d lost.

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~ by S.G. Mark on October 23, 2011.

3 Responses to “Day 16 – Old Bleeding Wounds”

  1. Ahh you did it … nice one 🙂

  2. woo, a comment before a post! today’s must be good!

  3. It’s very good 🙂

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