THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACK

 
 

By Carol Sandford

 
 

Chapter 07

 
 

I watched her walk up the path. Dee had attempted to back the car in, driving over my prized petunia’s as she did do, and left the bumper resting against the picket fence that surrounded the garden. But I didn’t consciously notice any of it. All I noticed was her; the state of her clothes, the blood that was smeared on various parts of her apparel, the way her head hung low as she dragged her feet towards the house. But most of all, I noticed the pain in her face.

I didn’t even have to ask to know that she had been with ’him’ all night. I watched her step into the hallway and throw the keys onto the ornate table. I didn’t care that she had probably took a chunk out of priceless piece of antique furniture, and I didn’t care that she blatantly ignored me as she continued on past me and headed into the kitchen. I knew what she was going to do. Dee was a creature of habit. She walked in, she got a tall glass of ice cold milk and drank it down without stopping until the last drop was drained.

But she surprised me when she simply sipped at it and stared out of the pretty kitchen window. The window that faced the hills. The hill that she’d taken herself off to on more times that I could count. Propped against the door jamb, I spoke softly to her. "Dee, are you alright, honey?"

The slow sway of her head and the tell tale shake of her shoulders told me she was crying, I didn’t have to see her tears to know that. I know my daughter better than I know myself, and right now, she was hurting...badly. Slipping my arms around her from behind I held her close and let her cry. I know she would feel better once she’d done that and sure enough, a few minutes later, Dee took a loud sniff and blew her nose on the tissue I handed her, but she still didn’t turn to face me.

I stepped away from her a little before I asked. I had to know, I think I had a right to know. "What happened last night, Dee?"

It was several moments before she answered. "He’s a pilot. He built his own flying machine and was testing it out over in the valley past the hills. Tonight, he...he had an accident, and I heard it, mom, I heard that awful sound and I had to go to him, I had to see if he was alright, mom."

It was then Dee turned around to face me and the full impact of her night’s horrors stared back at me, they were etched over every inch of her pretty face, but she had begun speaking again.

"I’m sorry, mom, I took the car." she hastily added as an after thought, "But I didn’t damage it, I swear."

Smiling, I stepped towards her and took her in my arms again as I assured her that I didn’t care about the car. I did, but now was not the time, and it least she had got it back home without a dent. Dirty...but not dented. "Its okay, sweetheart, I know it was important to you...was he...was he hurt?"

She pulled away from me a little so that she could look up into my face. My heart broke as I watched her tears build again. " Oh, yes, mom, he was all busted up. I had to take him to the hospital, that’s where I’ve been. I waited to see if he was okay."

I watched her eyes fall as she tried to hide the rest of the story from me. Something had happened between them. I don’t know what, but something had, but as I pieced the story together from what she had already told me, it was clearly nothing sexual had happened. But something had. My baby had had her first experience of love, and heartbreak, all on the same day.

Damn the boy! Damn him for coming into our lives and damn him for not being what I wanted him to be. He would have been every mothers dream come true if he’d have come from the other side of the tracks. All a mother ever wanted was for her daughter to fall in love with a man on the right side. A man who’s love for that daughter was evident within his eyes. Like his were, for Dee.

Damn him for being on the wrong side.

But Dee didn’t want to hear my opinion, not right now, maybe later though...when he had gone. Oh, I know he was going to go, men like him always did, and I guess I should be grateful to him for that. I inwardly shuddered at the prospect of him courting my daughter, turning up at my doorstep in that...crate! Having her come home stinking of oil and other unsavoury things. Watching her become everything that we had run away from.

Becoming just like him.

My blood run cold just at the thought, and I silently prayed that if he was half the man that I hoped he was, he was long gone. I had some stalling to do, if he was going to run, he was going to do it as soon as Dee was out of sight. I figured two hours would be ample before she would make her way back to the hospital. Two hours...Piece of cake, it took Dee two hours just to dry her hair!

"Why don’t you take yourself off upstairs and have a nice long soak in the bathtub, get all that...mess off you. And then if you like, I’ll take you back to the hospital myself."

Lord! What was I saying? Even Dee looked at me rather startled, but it soon turned to one of suspicion. "What are you up to, mother?"

She called me mother. It was then I knew I had blown it. Dee stepped quickly away from me, but her eyes never left my face, I give her credit, she was quick. "You don’t think he’s going to be there, do you?"

I had to think even quicker than she did. I laughed. "Of course he will be darling. Heavens, the man has been badly injured, where on Earth would he go. He can hardly ride his...motor thingy can he?"

Dee pondered that, but within moments she had made up her mind. "I’m just going to change and then I’m going back...on my own."

My heart fell as I watched her hurry out of the kitchen and thunder up the stairs, two at a time. I can’t believe I failed. My daughter was fast beginning to understand the art of deviousness, either that, or she had learned to read my mind!

I was waiting by the car when Dee came outside fifteen minutes later. She came to a halt when she spotted me, putting her hand on her hip as she gave me ’that look’. I ignored her face but couldn’t help notice what she was wearing. Dee had on her favourite dress, it was long a very pretty turquoise blue, and fitted her to perfection, showing off her young womanly curves. A dress that she normally wore for special occasions. Like a date.

Then I noticed her face. Make up! my daughter was wearing make up!...For him!! She never wore make up, in fact, I didn’t even realise that she had any. In that instant, I realised that maybe I didn’t know her as well as I thought. I couldn’t describe how I felt right at that moment, but I know it wasn’t pleasant. In fact it hurt...it hurt a lot.

I also realised that maybe I had underestimated just how far their relationship had progressed. Maybe he was going to stick around, and maybe that, on the strength of the obvious affinity that they shared, he figured it was worth sticking around. Well, I needed to find out, and there was only one way I was going to do that."I’m coming with you, Dee, whether you like it or not...and I’m driving."

Opening the drivers door, I went to sit behind the wheel, until the stench hit my nostrils, and I found myself staggering back from the impact. "Oh my God, Dee!, what have you done to my car?!"

Dee did no more than go to the other side, open the door, wind down the window and get in, slamming the door with finality, "Sorry, I’ll sort it out later. Just open the window, hold your breath and drive."

Slamming the door shut, she waited rather impatiently for me to follow suit. I balked at the idea, but I only had two choices, and letting her go on her own was not one of them. Taking a deep breath, I climbed into the drivers seat, not daring to look at where I was sitting...just in case.

I have never had a journey quite like it. Dee seemed to be oblivious to the smell, but by the time we had reached the hospital grounds, I think I had pulled over to hang my head out of the door at least three times. You would not believe how close I came to making an even bigger mess in the car.

I had barely pulled up in the hospital’s parking lot before Dee flung open the door and raced out of the car. She’d known that it was going to take some time to find a parking space, and she’d known that I couldn’t just ’dump’ the car to chase after her. Knowing I was certain that he would not be there, I didn’t even bother, I sat with the car idling until she came out. I don’t think I even managed to count to 100 before she stepped out of the immense double doors.

I didn’t know whether to be overjoyed at her discovery, or sorry for what my poor little girl was going through. It was an odd sensation, dismay and elation at the same time, to laugh or to cry. But for her sake, I decided that pity was the best option. That was until she got back in the car.

"You knew didn’t you, you knew all along that he wouldn’t be here?"

I studied her profile long and hard as I tried to think of something to say to her, to make it right somehow. I could only think of two words. Two words that could cover everything, I hoped. "I’m sorry."

Dee turned her face to look into mine. I knew what she was looking for. Was my apology sincere, or was I ridiculing her pathetic plight. I didn’t like the way her shoulders slumped, or the way that she turned away from me to stare blindly out of her window. Or the tone of her voice when she answered me. "No your not."

And she was right, I wasn’t sorry. I wasn’t sorry that I had stopped her ruining her life. And I wasn’t sorry to see the back of that hopeless low-life, nor was I sorry that I had put my only daughter through this amount of pain. I know her misery was down to me. If we had’ve stayed at that wedding, they might have been together by the end of the evening. If I had stopped at the gas station, they may have gotten together then. If I hadn’t been such a snob maybe Dee could have had a chance of happiness...of true love, that one of a kind true love that was so rare. So precious.

Was I sorry? No, I wasn’t.

I turned the car back towards home, the silence was thick within its confines, along with the awful stench. Funny how I’d gotten used to it. First thing tomorrow it was going to the garage for a total service. Tomorrow.

Tomorrow, life began again.

Hardly surprisingly, Dee disappeared up to her bedroom as soon as we stepped indoors. I watched her ascend the stairs, and with each step, I watched the spark leave her already unhappy body. I ached to comfort her, to hold her in my arms, but right now, I was the last person she wanted near, and surprisingly, I didn’t blame her...not this time.

*****

 
     
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