uu 48 – to marcus 11 (valediction)

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09 September 2016 – And then there’s Delilah. The long drive. To recap: she has been summoned to the family farm by her grandfather, Peter. Who’s in the midst of pulling up stakes to better care for his terminally ill wife, Mary, and needs someone to look after 15-year old Johnny. Things have been strained between Peter and Delilah, mainly due to her life choices and her subsequent absence, yet for the sake of Johnny their differences are set aside. Delilah and Johnny hit the road. The opening leg of their journey is pensive as they figure out how to talk to one another. Delilah has to adjust to the fact that he’s no longer a kid. As for Johnny, foremost on his mind is why she’s been absent for over three years.

To this point the narrative is pretty straightforward. In the notebook however I added a scene that flashed back to the night (and following morning) before setting out to Bridge Farm. While it reveals certain details about Delilah (that she’s recovering from drug and alcohol addictions, may have prostituted herself, and has made preparations to move on), the scene also hints at criminal behaviour (the bag of money) and the possibility that she is on the run—a tangent I won’t be pursuing, if for no other reason than I haven’t the time or the energy to get into it. And really, for the purposes of the story, it’s sufficient to know that Delilah’s past is full of demons and that she has been presented with an opportunity to make good on leaving her old life behind.

The rest is a road story. Pure and simple. The details are in the journey. Nothing else matters. Just Delilah and Johnny getting to their destination. They have their ups and downs. Literally, figuratively. They drive through mountains and lowlands. Have to deal with a flat tire, an overheated radiator, inclement weather, sections of closed highway, a trucker who won’t take no for an answer. There are periods of silence, misunderstanding, impatience, anger, but also the little victories of overcoming these emotional obstacles. Delilah lets Johnny drive. He chooses the movies they watch. They laugh about grandpa’s country ways and how he’ll cope with living in the city. There are tears. Johnny describes Mary’s illness. Delilah shares memories of how things were before their parents died (though the narrative is never to refer to them as such, the presumption is that Johnny and Delilah are siblings). They knock down barriers. Delilah fights to maintain an even keel, to control her urges. Johnny allows himself to accept that Delilah has had a hard go of things, begins to comprehend that she is heading towards a place where she can start fresh. In short, they are stuck with each other (in the van, in motel rooms). This is their situation. They are getting to know one another again. Learning to accept, forgive, trust. This is their journey. The long drive.

So far as I’ve sketched the scenes, the story doesn’t end at their destination (an addictions recovery centre on ‘The Island’, where Delilah will be given room and board while being taught how to assist those in need). The conclusion happens on a ferry. They are on the upper deck. Facing the island—still distant but visible and becoming more distinct. They have been on the road about a week. It is windy. A little chilly. The sun is beginning to set. Over the island are clear skies. Behind them dark clouds obscure the distance to the mainland they can no longer see. Delilah puts her arm around Johnny. There is a deep silence. She is about to say something. Johnny looks at her. Says, ‘It’s okay, I know…mom.’ He puts his arm around her shoulders. They both smile and look at the setting sun.

A Road Story. Should I ever get around to revisiting Delilah and Johnny at least I’ll have a working title.

Griffin is off to get us take out. (We embark tomorrow morning.) The house is quiet. I have plenty of time. The envelop and the candle are ready. I can’t think of anything more to add—save a quiet wonder after who, if anyone, will break the seal.

The moment has arrived.

Your everloving sister,

Gwendolyn

uu 47 – to marcus 10 (little mysteries)

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06 September 2016 – Collected Sonora from airport after work. We were like schoolgirls who hadn’t seen one another all summer. Stopped for coffee on way home. She told me about meeting up with her ex. That he looked really good. Had a fresh attitude and a new lease on life. Quite different from the puppydog antics of recent months. They’d only been talking a few minutes when he suddenly started shaking his head. His eyes became solid glass. A grimace dug a dimple into his cheek. His nostrils flared. ‘You say such hurtful things,’ he said. Then got up and left. A confident and composed exit, even if the reason for his departure was less than immediately clear. She was so stunned she simply sat there, in a paused state, mouth open, wondering what had just happened. It slowly dawned on her that this was his way of closing the door on their relationship.

And then she noticed his travelmug on the table. She couldn’t help snickering. Imagined him around the corner debating with himself whether or not to go back. Poor guy. All that effort to be brave and resolute, only to be faced with the dilemma of saving-face or retrieving the travelmug. Whatever the reality of his situation, she sat for a while longer. Pondering the significance of the travelmug. How it represented their inability to move on from one another. Each time they tried, one of them somehow managed to leave something on the table.

With that in mind, Sonora handed the travelmug to one of the staff and went off to be with her mother. She’s not upset about how things transpired, or even surprised. The only thing she can’t figure is what she’d said that could’ve been so hurtful.

Little mysteries that make the world go in different directions.

Speaking of, chatted with dad this evening. His holiday was a smashing success. Separated a shoulder on second day—bodysurfing, if you can imagine. Said it was just what the doctor ordered. Forced him to chill (and eat and drink way too much). And get this: him and the ladyfriend had such a grand time relaxing they decided to live together on a trial basis. One week at her place, the next at his. Alternating thusly until they either figure out which place suits them better or they drive one another bonkers (dad’s words).

Dad also mentioned a couple of letters addressed to mom that were in the pile of mail when he got back. One from a catering company, the other from a notary public. He hasn’t opened the letters and doesn’t know why they were sent to his address (everything in her name is supposed to be forwarded to the lake house). I didn’t say anything to dad, but my immediate reaction was to ponder the possibility of her getting married again.

Myttle listeries.

07 September 2016 – When I got home and set my things by the stairs, hair still damp from swimming, I saw Griffin in the den, facing the open window, leaning back in chair, hands clasped behind head. I said hello and walked over to him. He had an easy look about him. Relaxed, calm, lucid. Blissful. I stood there beside him. He smiled, but continued looking out the window. I asked what he was looking at. ‘Everything,’ he said. I tousled his hair, noticed the pen in his fingers, then looked for and picked up his foolscap from the desk. Read the last lines. ‘Living silently in loud times. In dark times living lightly.’ I asked if everything had anything to do with loud or dark times. His smile grew. ‘Sort of,’ he said. Then went thoughtfully silent. As he practices them, such silences indicate he’s formulating a way to word something. The words he came up with: ‘They led me to an idea.’ I sat in his lap. He wrapped his arms around me and proceeded to tell me about a character who’s had enough of being abandoned by his author and takes it upon himself to tell his own story, insofar as he knows it. I asked if the character lives silently and lightly. He kissed me and said he wasn’t sure yet. ‘But the character definitely has strong opinions about his writer.’

08 September 2016 – Griffin and I went out for dinner. The waiter asked if we’d like our bill together. Whenever someone says ‘together’, Griffin’s automatic response is to say, ‘to get her.’ He can’t stop himself. One of his many amusing idiosyncrasies. This evening the waiter was momentarily perplexed. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘Was that together?’ Griffin did it again. I laughed and helped the poor girl out by saying one bill was good.

Afterwards, we shopped windows. In one was a display of heart-shaped padlocks (these days it’s hard to find a chainlink fence that doesn’t have a ‘love lock’ on it). As we wandered towards the car, Griffin mentioned that padlocks are appearing everywhere on campus, not just on fences and other lockable connections but on tree branches too. It’s gotten so bad the management are in discussions about purchasing bolt cutters for each crew, so they don’t have to drive back to the service yard everyday in the hopes of securing the one pair the department currently has. We laughed and locked our elbows. I told him the heart-shaped padlocks reminded me of the diaries you used to give me for my birthdays when I was a girl. They almost all had a tiny lock on them made of cheap metal and I always managed to lock the locks and lose the keys before I could write anything.