Heathrow airport was busy as usual and it took forever to find my way through the terminals and back into the car park. My dad was sat in his car waiting for me and as soon as he saw me he got out and ran over. My arms wrapped around his shoulders and he squeezed me tight, I couldn’t breathe but I didn’t care. Dad wheeled my luggage back to the car and it was only a few minutes later when he said his first words.
“I’ve missed you so much,”
“Join the club Dad,” I smiled back, happy to be back.
“The house has been very empty but you’ll be pleased to know I’ve managed to keep it clean,”
“Good,” I smiled. Dad looked across and began to say something but then stopped. I waited and a couple of moments later he began again.
“A lot has happened since you left,”
“Oh yeah? What kind of things?”
“I planted a vegetable patch, redecorated the living room and Mr Parker moved house. We’ve got the Patels living next door to us now, they’re very nice. He’s a doctor you know… But there’s some more serious news,”
“Is it Grandma?” I asked worried,
“No, no, Grandma is fine. I met someone,”
“Oh cool, like a new friend?”
“She’s called Beatrice, but we all call her Bea,”
“Is she nice?”
“Does she live close?”
“Does she have a husband?”
“…No, I don’t know if you’re getting this Ella,”
“Getting what? Dad I’m just happy you’ve made a new friend,”
“She’s more than a friend to me,”
“What, she’s like…like your girlfriend?”
“But what about Mum?”
“What about her? She’s dead Ella.” My heart faltered and I sat back in my seat, how could he go and date another woman who wasn’t Mum?
“Don’t you still love Mum?”
“I do, I always will, but you’ve got to move on Ella,”
“I know that, but not so soon…”
“It’s been over a year, a lot can happen in a year and I love her,”
“Are you going to marry her?”
“I’ve already asked her,” Dad said quietly, he knew I’d erupted and I did. I yelled at him all the way back home and when he pulled up at the house, the yelling turned into an argument.
“You didn’t even think to tell me? Ask me if I was alright with this?” I cried,
“It wouldn’t have changed anything!”
“Out of decency?!”
“Well if I remember rightly, it was you who kept avoiding my calls!”
“I didn’t want to be reminded of home, I was trying to get over Mum and it was obviously a lot harder for me than it was for you!”
“Ella, you’re being unreasonable!”
“You hypocrite!” I threw a pillow at his head and he ducked,
“Please, give her a chance?”
“Why should I? I don’t want a replacement of Mum!”
“She’s already a mother; Beatrice has two lovely girls who are your age,”
“What does that change anything?”
“What happened to their real dad? Has she been married before?”
“He went off with another woman…”
“See, she obviously isn’t nice!”
“Nice people separate everyday Ella; you can’t come to these conclusions. Just give her one chance?”
“Fine!” I cried, my dad took in a deep breath to argue back but then stopped as he heard my resolve.
“And if I don’t like her?” I asked,
“We’ll cross that bridge if it comes, which I’m sure it won’t because she’s lovely.” Dad went back and picked up the pillow, he neatly put it back on the sofa and smiled softly. “We’re hosting a welcome home party this evening; you’ll meet her and her daughters then.”