I have decided to do something. To post a novelette on my blog. In installments, of course. One chapter per post, once every four-ish days. Now, you may not care. You do not need to read these. But you may like it. So there you go.
(Small warning: this story does mention a case of rape at some point. Of course it is handled delicately (and it's not talked about in detail etc.etc.) but if you are younger than 13 you may want to ask your parents if they're ok with that.)
So, last time we ended with:
“Basically,” he sighed, “Miley’s mum got – raped, when she was – I don’t know, however old she would have been when she became pregnant with Miley. She doesn’t go into much detail. Obviously extremely painful for her to talk about. And, what’s more, Miley’s father doesn’t even know about it. He thinks – that Miley’s his daughter. But Miley’s the result of –”
“Oh no,” I moaned. I felt queasy. “That’s terrible. That’s just terrible.”.
I sent Miley the blog link via email. I knew she’d want to read it alone. Benjamin was right; it was going to very hard for Miley to read that blog post. It was filled to the brim with love and sadness and stories that should have never happened. It wasn’t very long, but it was one of the fullest blog posts I’d ever read. There was one paragraph in particularly, that brought tears to my eyes.
“When I discovered I was pregnant with you, Miley, I admit I didn’t want you. Daddy was overcome with happiness – he cried with joy when I told him I was pregnant; said it was an answer to our prayers. I shed my own tears on his shoulder, out of his eyesight. Tears that he thought were happy ones, like his.”
“Not telling my husband about all this was the biggest mistake I’d ever made. Please don’t ever keep secrets with whomever you’ll get married to, darling. Once I decide not to tell someone something, there is no going back. This is why I’ve never told him, although I wanted to, every single day of your life. I was scared; scared to take away his happiness and scared about everything. I was scared you’d come out looking like the man and not Daddy, but you look like me. Don’t leave Daddy, Miley. He isn’t your biological father, but he is your Daddy, and he’s an amazing one. And Miley, as soon as you were born and I saw your beautiful eyes, I wanted you with every inch of my body. And that has never changed.”
After I’d read it, I curled up in sadness. I cried about all the sad things in the world and then I cried in happiness about all the good things in the world. Life can be a mushy thing.
The next Sunday I went to Miley’s house. I had to ring the doorbell three times before her father opened it. His eyes were swollen and the traits he had before his wife’s death were buried with grief. My heart ached for him, especially after what I’d read in the blog post. Part of me thought it was his right to know – but then, I couldn’t even imagine how upset that would make him. He was overcome with grief already.
“Hi,” I said quietly.
“Hi. Miley isn’t here.”
“Oh,” I said. “Where is she?”
There is nothing more heart-breaking than watching a grown man burst into tears. He buried his face in his arm and his sobs came out loud and rough and sound. I didn’t know what to do so I gave him a hug, which he responded to by clutching onto my shoulder and crying on it. It was so sad there was no space for awkwardness. I closed the front door and had him sit down.
Miley had left him. She had packed her bags and left to live with her mother’s parents. She had told him that he wasn’t her biological father and just a burden and that had been it.
“Don’t worry,” I told him. “She’s just overcome with grief. She doesn’t know what she is saying.”
Miley’s father stared at the carpet. It needed a good hoover, but nobody cared. His sock needed to be washed too, but obviously he didn’t have the time to think about stupid things like that.
“Did she – show you the blog?”
“Yeah,” Miley’s father whispered.
“Oh, it must have been such a shock – to read – after all those years.”
“Yeah.” He wiped his nose with his sleeve. “It was. I never ever guessed. I feel like a fool. It must have been hell for her! And I wasn’t there to – well, I was – but I was just being stupidly happy.”
“You should not feel bad about anything. You have done nothing wrong.” I said. “Nothing at all.”
I left with Miley’s grandparents’ address in my pocket and went straight to the bus-station to go there. In the bus I also discovered a slip of paper in my coat pocket, with Benjamin’s email address on it. On the back he had written: “I think we should send each other emails. And yes, I fully realise this sounds extremely creepy.”
He had probably tucked inside when he took my coat in the pub. It made me smile and God knew I needed a smile today.
Miley’s grandparents lived in a long, tall house with long, tall windows. Their front door had a plain Christmas-cone wreath on it. The red paint on the door was peeling off because of old age and the doorbell was one of those real bell ones. Miley’s grandma opened – she wore black trousers and she seemed tough. As well as adorable.
“I’m a friend of Miley’s,” I said. “I need to speak to her.”
“Bless you, child,” Miley’s grandma smiled. “She definitely needs a friend.”
“How do you know??” Miley exclaimed when I came inside the room she was sleeping.
“I know,” I said. “Because your lovely father told me, in tears, that you’d left. Miley! You can’t just do that! You have to stick together, especially now your Mama died! You read the blog post; she asks you to stay. He is your father, no matter who your biological one is.”
“Yes talk,” I snapped. I sat next to her and put my arm around her shoulders. “Darling, you are going through one of the hardest – hopefully the hardest – time in your life right now. Reading that blog post must have been heart-wrenching and I’m desperately sorry about all of this. Your mama died – that is ghastly. But all this doesn’t mean you have to leave your father. Can you imagine how he must be feeling now? You have to go through this together, dear.”
“There is no need to explain,” I smiled. “I know we all do stupid things in sadness. It’s okay. But let’s go back home and you can go and give your Daddy a big hug.”
Miley burst into tears and wept on my shoulder. I told her everything was going to be okay.
“Now I feel so bad,” she said. “I’m a terrible person.”
“No, Miley. It’s okay.”
“I need to go home right now.” She jumped up and stuffed her clothes back into her bags. She was completely flustered. She kept on asking me if her father would forgive her and I kept on reassuring her that it would all be okay in the end. Watching her fingers tremble made me doubt my own statement, but I kept on saying it till she calmed down next to me on the bus.
“Mama and I – we were – well we loved each other – but – but there were times when I didn’t want to be her friend,” Miley suddenly said. She seemed to be ashamed of herself and didn’t look me in the eye when she told me.
“And I said things like – like mama you don’t know what it’s like to be sad – when she didn’t let me do some things. And – and – the look in her eyes – the look she gave me – now I know what terrible things she’s gone through and – and, like, the way she hugged me – now I know why she always seemed k – kinda – sad. I never was nice enough to her and – miss her so so much, Anna.”
“I know, darling,” I whispered, squeezing her hand. “I know.”
The next and last chapter comes ON MONDAY!