12th July 2010
Fear. That's all I remember about the journey I took to London to meet my mother. The train seemed to go impossibly slowly, every minute feeling like an hour as I sat in silence, unable to focus on anything or sit still. Rupert got annoyed with me after the first half hour and told me to stop fidgeting because it was making him nervous.
After what felt like an eternity we arrived into a dark Paddington station. We took our overnight bags with us from the train, wandering out of the station together, both feeling totally lost. I'd hadn't made Rupert tell me about the arrangements for where we'd be staying. With hindsight I can now see that was a foolish thing to do.
But we eventually made it to the hotel Rupert had booked us in to. It wasn't the best place I've ever been, the rooms were tiny and the floor didn't look like it had been cleaned, but I wasn't going to complain.
I was sharing with Rupert and he insisted on going to bed as soon as we arrived to make sure he was awake for the next day. I wasn't ready to sleep but Rupert was going to have his own way and I didn't have the energy to argue. So after the lights were turned out I lay there in the darkness, listening to the sounds of police cars wailing outside the window and the roar of cars all over the city. But the thing I remember most vividly was the fear in the pit of my stomach.
21st August 2009
Rupert and I had gone to the restaurant where Lewis had said we should meet and were sitting patiently. Part of me didn't want her to arrive, the other part couldn't wait.
When I saw Lewis walk into the restaurant I thought that Isabelle had lost her nerve and decided not to come.
"I'm so glad you decided to come," he said coming over and shaking my hand. "You have no idea how much this means to Isabelle."
I couldn't think of anything to say so I just smiled nervously.
"Is she here?" Rupert asked excitedly.
"She's waiting outside, she wanted me to check that you still wanted to see her."
"Of course we do," Rupert exclaimed. "We wouldn't still be here if we didn't want to see her."
"Are you still sure?" Lewis asked taking hold of my arm. "You can still say no if you want to."
"No, I'm fine," I replied nervously. "I'm ready."
"Good," he replied. "But before I bring Isabelle in I wanted to apologise for the way I told you the truth. I didn't handle it in the way I should have done and I'm sorry for that. I put you in an impossible position."
"Don't worry Lewis," I replied, taking hold of his hand and squeezing it reassuringly. "I understand and I forgive you."
I smiled, staring deeply into his eyes, enjoying the feel of his hand in mine. But Rupert was clearly either uncomfortable or impatient because he cleared his throat noisily to get our attention.
"Shall I bring her in then?" He asked. "Do you want me to stay with you when you meet her?"
"Yes," I replied before Rupert could contradict me. "If you don't mind."
"Of course not," he replied. "I'll bring her in now then."
Both of us watched Lewis disappear out of the door, Rupert's eyes glistening with excitement and my hands shaking with nerves. When I saw the woman walking in beside Lewis I couldn't quite believe that she was my mother.
She wasn't what I had expected. I could see a lot of Rupert in her face but she had my red hair. She was slim with incredibly delicate limbs and moved with an elegance I hadn't expected. She looked just as nervous as I felt.
"Rupert, Evelyn," Lewis said nervously. "This is Isabelle."
Even Rupert didn't know what to say as the four of us looked at each other. None of us knew who should speak first.
"Hello," I said, breaking the silence. "I'm Evelyn."
"I can't believe how much you've grown up since I last saw you," Isabelle breathed, staring intently at me. "You're so beautiful."
Yet again I didn't know what to say so left it to Rupert to think of something this time. Eventually he introduced himself timidly and Isabelle smiled warmly at him, saying how glad she was that we had agreed to meeting her.
When we sat down a waiter came and took our orders, relieving the tension for a few moments; just long enough for me to relax. But as soon as the waiter left the tense atmosphere descended again.
"I'm sorry it's taken me so long to find you," Isabelle started. "I was so scared that you wouldn't want to see me. But then I found Lewis here and I knew now was the right time."
"Well I'm glad you decided to find us," Rupert said, smiling like the idiot he was and reaching across the table to take Isabelle's hand and hold it in a familiar way I couldn't deal with.
I could tell Lewis could feel my tension because moments later I felt his hand close reassuringly around mine and I felt a sudden wave of confidence come over me and I knew I wanted to do this and that everything was going to work out fine.