“Did I see what?”
“Alice. I swear she bloody shimmered again.”
“I thought we’d seen the last of that lot, Al. Talk to her.”
Al looked at his daughter as she walked back towards him, his wife and their son, Alex.
“Did you just shimmer?” he asked.
“I felt a pull, Dad, but I didn’t go anywhere,” Alice replied, “It felt a bit like in the very early days, before I started phasing out and travelling with Albert and Jarvis.”
“What about you, Alex?” he asked his son.
“What about me?” Alex responded, sullenly, “I’m just sat here, waiting for the fireworks to start, along with everybody else.”
“For God’s sake, son; when are you going to stop your blasted sulking?”
“When I’ve got something to be happy about.”
“What have you got to be unhappy about? You’re on holiday, in Spain; it’s summer, it’s a warm evening, we’ve had a good meal and we’re about to see a firework spectacular. What more will it take to shake you out of your miserable mood?”
“I can’t expect you to understand, Dad. You never had what we had; you don’t know how it feels to lose it.”
Alice sat on the floor between her parents and rested her hand on her father’s shoulder.
“I know how Alex feels, Dad,” she said.
“How can you know how your brother feels?” her mother asked.
“Because I feel the same way,” Alice replied.
“So how come you’re not moping like he is?” Al asked.
“I am, inside. I’m just trying not to show it.”
“Because I know how much this holiday means to you both, and I don’t want to do anything that might spoil it for you.”
“That’s all very noble of you,” Madge said, with more than a hint of sarcasm, “but wouldn’t it make more sense to share your feelings with your parents? You never know, we might just be able to help you to understand and deal with them.”
“You can’t,” Alex said.
“You don’t know that,” Madge replied, “Why not try us?”
“Okay, I will. Although we’re surrounded by people—”
“Including the two people who brought you into the world, who love you more than life itself, and who would do anything to ensure your happiness.”
“I know that, Mum; but – and don’t get me wrong, don’t think we don’t understand – but it’s not enough. I can’t speak for Alice, but I feel an emptiness, a loneliness that’s almost unbearable. I feel as though… Oh, it’s no good trying to explain. You’ll never get it.”
Madge turned to her daughter and asked, “Do you feel the same?”
“Yes, Mum, I do. Listen. It’s not that we don’t love you; we do. And we’re happy spending time with you. We thought it would be easy to separate ourselves from the Eddies and all, but it’s not. I just felt them pulling at me, and I sensed their loneliness, too. It’s as if they miss us more than we miss them. I’m fighting against it, but I don’t know if I can win.”
“Are you saying we might lose you again?” Al asked.
“I hope not,” Alice replied, “but I can’t promise anything. I can’t explain exactly how this feels, Dad, but—”
“I imagine it feels a bit like the way your mother and I did when you disappeared.”
“Oh God; I hope you didn’t feel that bad.”
“Probably worse,” Madge said, “we lost our first-born child. We had no idea where you had gone, or how, or why. We refused to think you were dead; we never gave up hope of seeing you again, although everything was telling us that we wouldn’t. If that’s how you two are feeling now, then you should accept the call and go. Do what you have to do. At least, this time, we’ll know where you’ve gone and why. And if you do go, just promise us one thing.”
“Anything,” Alice said, “just name it and it’s as good as done.”
“Just promise us that you’ll visit from time to time.”
“We’ll do better than that,” Alex said, his face looking more relaxed than it had since that day when they broke free of the Eddies, “we’ll be here, with you, always.”
“I know you will, in spirit,” Al said.
“I didn’t mean like that,” Alex said. “There shouldn’t be any need for us to go away for long periods; we can always come back to the time we left.”
“I’m glad that’s settled,” Madge said, “now can we enjoy the fireworks, please?”
“Of course,” Alice said.
“You bet,” he replied, brightly.
During this exchange, the two dogs, Chav and Ixus, had slept on the picnic rug. Or so it seemed. Immediately Alex’s mood lightened, the pair jumped up and swamped Alex and Alice with their love.
I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 113, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.