sunset valediction.jpg

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

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