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She was late. Again. Every month she was never on time. Patricia wished her
grand daughter could be more conscientious and realise just how much she wanted
to see her. However Sylvia was only fifteen, what sense of time did a fifteen
year old have, especially where she was now. Patricia often wondered if Sylvia
missed her. Did she think of her often? There wasn’t a day that passed she
didn’t wonder about her, if she was being looked after properly, whether she was
loved, if she was happy, if she had friends and were they the right sort of
friends. Before the accident Sylvia was so different, she was never late; she
always rang her on her mobile phone just to let her know she was on her way, now
there was silence, no bright voice at the end of the line, no ridiculous text
message which her grandmother could never understand.
As Patricia sat, the bench was hard under her legs and back, the bunch of yellow
tulips bled water on her freshly ironed cotton skirt; her hands ached from
holding them far too tightly, so she loosened her grip and continued to wait.
Today was Good Friday and the park was already busy even thought it was only
nine thirty. It was promised to be a beautiful day, warm with a gentle breeze
which blew the scent of damp grass. Within the cool shadows the dew which had
not yet evaporated, it shimmered in the early morning sun, a golden path of
daffodils dominated the carefully manicured lawns and the heady smell of
hyacinth and tree blossom made Patricia’s eyes water. She sighed heavily and
looked at her watch; Sylvia was already fifteen minutes late. A group of excited
children ran past her, leaving their parents behind, each child carried a canvas
bag crammed with plastic toys; footballs were bounced and the children were
filthy, it was obvious that they had ice cream for breakfast as their faces were
bright pink blotches. Patricia frowned at the noise; her brow knitted together
until they almost kissed. The mother gave the elderly woman a viscous stare and
then took a step towards her, perhaps to challenge her; she was stopped by her
husband who placed a hand upon her shoulder.
She glanced at her watch again.
Had she done enough? After the accident Patricia had cared for her grand
daughter the best she could, even though she no longer lived with her, Patricia
listened to the child’s fears and pain, bought her flowers and a kind smile,
However it was evident months later Sylvia became more and more unhappy, the
sunshine that once glowed in her eyes was becoming over cast.
‘Nana,’ she said one day, ‘I’m so tired, please I need your help. I want you to
go and see him.’
Sylvia held her grandmother’s hand; one was much colder than the other and much
thinner. She couldn’t even look at her grand daughter. She could not understand
why Sylvia wanted her to go to that boy’s house and knock on his mother’s door
and say that everything was all right, that she had forgiven him for what he had
done. The fact was Patricia wasn’t sorry, that it was his fault and a part of
her, the part that was darker than light wanted him to suffer as much as
possible. Patricia had even written to her M.P to try and get Theo’s sentence
increased, eighteen months for what he did was not enough, she wanted at least
eight years, eight years for him to rot in prison, enough chance for him to be
beaten and suffer all the possible indignities. Her request was denied, the law
had reached its maximum limit and there was nothing else to be done. Then last
week Theo was released after nine months due to good behaviour. Good behaviour
after what he had done! Now this Theo, this boy, was back at home, where he was
fed home cooked food, drank beer, watched television and ate takeaways and if he
wanted to could drink and dance the night away. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair
because her beautiful grand daughter was now lost, beforehand, she was stunning,
golden haired and in her eyes the moon never rose, there were no dull days, no
freezing cold mornings only the sun.
Yesterday – Thursday - Patricia had composed herself, taken a deep breath and
walked, head up, one foot after the other to walk down the road to where he
lived, her shoes felt so heavy and how her legs ached as she paused at the gate,
there she stopped, she could not bring herself to walk down the path to the red
painted door. How long did she stand there, long enough for the front curtains
to flap open and see his face at the window. They stared at each other, he had
lost weight and was pale and she had grown older and less forgiving. So there
was no reconciliation, she just couldn’t do it. She had failed.
Good Friday and Patricia had returned to their usual meeting place and waited,
now Sylvia was half an hour late. Perhaps someone was preventing her from
arriving, perhaps she was watching in the shadows for someone else to take her
place; someone familiar. And that other person had just sat down next to her.
‘You asked the Home Office to increase my sentence,’ said Theo.
Patricia wanted to shrink away from him, to be at such close proximity to
Sylvia’s killer was more than she could bear. ‘I wanted you to suffer’.
‘You killed her. See this,’ she pointed at the brass plaque nailed to the back
rest behind her – Sylvia, daughter, grand daughter and friend 1994-2009. ‘This
is her place’.
Theo inhaled, ‘I was convicted of careless driving, it was my fault I was
driving too fast, I didn’t see the other car until it was too late. What do you
want me to say? Ask and I will do what ever you want’.
‘There’s nothing I want, except her.’ Patricia glanced at him, she wanted to see
a monster; however all she saw a boy, eighteen years old and far too thin.
‘If I told you that I have seen Sylvia every month since she died, would you
think I was senile?’ she asked him.
Theo smiled, it was thin and weary, ‘no, what would you say if I told you that
for seven months she sat on the end of my bed and cried. And when I awoke this
morning she was there, watching me and told me to come here.’
They sat in silence, Theo reached out with his left hand and placed it upon
Patricia’s left; she did not shrug it off. They were stared at, mistaken for
mother and son.
‘I’m sorry’. He said.
‘I know,’ she couldn’t forgive him, not yet. Nevertheless it was a beginning.
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