23rd June 2009
The look on Rupert's face when he walked in to see me and our father sitting at the kitchen table waiting for him was priceless. He looked first at me, then at Dad, not able to work out why we were sitting so solemnly in a silent room.
'Is there something wrong?' He asked, his voice wavering.
'Nothing is wrong exactly,' I said, 'we just need to have a bit of a chat.'
'Is everything alright?' Rupert asked desperately, sitting opposite me at the table. 'Has someone died? Are we being kicked out of the house? I can get another job, I promise.'
'Don't worry Rupert,' I said, taking his hand across the table, 'it's nothing like that. Everything is fine.'
'Then why are you looking at me like that?'
'It's still serious.' I looked at my father, willing him to step in and take the lead. He'd promised he would tell Rupert the truth, the whole truth with nothing left out or altered. But now he looked scared, an emotion I wasn't used to seeing on his face. He was often grumpy and irritable and sometimes a bit more cheerful, but I'd never seen him look scared.
'Tell me,' Rupert insisted after a minute of silence. 'Please Evie, you're killing me here. What is it that's so serious?'
'I can't tell you,' I said, cutting off Dad's escape route.
'Dad?' Rupert said, changing his focus from me to our father who still hadn't said a word. 'What do you need to talk to me about?'
'It's- it's about your mother.'
To start with my father's words were rather stilted, like getting every one out was an immense effort, but as he began to tell Rupert about Isabelle his sentences became more fluid and by the time he had finished he was out of breath. Rupert said nothing throughout the whole process. When Dad had finished he just sat staring into space for a while, his brain seemingly unable to process the information he had just been given.
'I want to see her,' where the first words that came out of my brother's mouth when he finally managed to speak.
'Now listen Rupert,' my father said, leaning in, 'I want you to think carefully about this before-'
'I don't need to think about it, she's my mother and I want to see her.' He turned to me. 'Surely that's what Evie has told you too.' When I remained silent his gaze grew more intense. 'You do want to see her, don't you?'
'I don't know Rupert,' I confessed.
'What is there not to know? She's been missing from our lives for all these years because he,' the words came flying from his mouth as he turned on our father, 'lied to her and us. It's time we found her.'
'But what if I don't want her to be found?' I protested. 'We were doing just fine until Lewis came and dropped this on me and I can feel it tearing us apart.'
'What do you want me to do Evie?' He asked exasperatedly. 'Forget that we ever had this conversation?'
'I'm not asking you to do that.'
'Then what do you want from me? You might be able to cut yourself off from this but I can't.'
'I don't want to get hurt. I don't understand why she's decided to come looking for us now. She's had years to find us so why has she left it this long? I can't help feeling that there is another motive behind all this.'
'Like what? What can she stand to gain from meeting us? Apart from reconnecting with her son and daughter?'
'To take us away from Dad. I don't know. I just don't want to be used as a tool for Isabelle to get something she wants.'
'Why won't you trust that she's a good person? A mother who just wants to see her two children. Is that too much to ask?'
'Of course not.'
'Then why can't you give her a chance?'
A tense silence fell on the room as Rupert waited for my answer and I struggled to think of one to give him.
'Rupert,' Dad said softly, 'I think you should back off Evelyn a little. She's been through a lot too.'
'But I want to know why she can't trust her own mother,' my brother insisted, raising his voice. 'What is it that's so hard?'
'I don't know!' I shouted. 'I don't have the answers to everything Rupert and I don't know why you expect me to be there to. You're an adult. You should be able to work things out on your own by now.'
I was shocked at the words that came out of my mouth, and by the looks on Dad and Rupert's faces, they hadn't been expecting that either.
'Fine.' Rupert said, his face tensing as he stood up from the table. 'Give me Lewis' number and I'll sort this out myself.'
'Rupert I didn't mean-'
'Just give me the number.'
I hastily scribbled the number onto a scrap of paper from the kitchen counter and handed it to Rupert who snatched it from my hand.
'Rupert, don't be like that,' I pleaded as he turned to walk up the stairs.
'Don't you dare tell me what I should and shouldn't be like,' he hissed. 'I'll do as I please.'
I watched him as he stormed up the stairs, listening to his footsteps until I heard his bedroom door slam behind him. I collapsed onto a kitchen chair.
'I knew this would happen,' I breathed. 'Why did I think it would be a good idea to tell him?'
'You did the right thing,' my father said, standing up and heading towards the stairs. 'It might not have been the easiest or the best thing to have done, but it was the right thing.'