Marking time


“Morning Peter, how is it all today.”  Phil delivered the breakfast tray and drew back the curtains letting in the morning light and the sound of rain on the leaves outside the window.

“Yeah, not bad, fingers are still really sore but apart from that it’s all easing.  I thought I’d come downstairs later if that’s alright.”

He was rewarded with a broad smile from the older man.  “Well, that’s a good sign.  Have your breakfast and then I’ll give you a hand with the  stairs.”

“Great, erm Phil is Dervla here?”

“She’s very busy studying Peter, she should have been back at university by now.  She hung around until she knew that you were going to be alright but she still has to keep up with her work.  She has finals in a couple of months.”

“Well, yes but I just wondered if maybe we could all eat lunch together or something.  She hasn’t been in to see me and it’s three days since I woke up.”

“I know.  There is a good reason for that.  Look, before you spend much more time with Dervla we need to have a conversation Peter.”  The serious look on Phil’s face sent a chill down Peter’s spine.  He fiddled with the scrambled eggs on his plate.

“There’s something wrong isn’t there.  I’ve suspected it for a while.  There’s something hidden here, something that has to do with Dervla and me. I’m right aren’t I?”

“Yes.”

“Okay let’s get on with it then.  No more pussy footing around and guessing and worrying, let’s just get on with it.”

“Coffee Peter.”

“Oh, yes please.”

The gentle patter of the rain and the ticking of the clock underlined the tension in the room as Phil drew up a chair.  For a minute he simply sat  looking down between his feet.  When he looked up his face was serious but he managed a smile before drawing in a deep breath.

“Peter, how much do you know about your mum and dad?”

The question took him by surprise.  “Well, you know just the usual erm I don’t know what you mean.”

“Your dad, what do you know about your dad?”

“He’s an asshole.”

“Why do you say that?”

“He’s always drunk for a start. He’s really mean to Mum.  He’s always on at me, he’s out of work and doesn’t do anything about it.  Anyway he’s gone now you heard Mum and good riddance that’s what I say. What more do you want to know?”

“Was he always like that?”

“What? always like that. Well no I suppose not.  He used to be okay.  When I was little I mean, he was good then mind you he wasn’t at home much.  He travelled with his job but if he was there we used to go out and play and stuff, you know the park, the beach.  But that was then, now well, he’s just a dead loss.  Why are we talking about him anyway, he’s done, it’s over.  He doesn’t care about me, and him and Mum are finished.  I am moving on from that. Look, I don’t want to talk about him right.”

“Your mum then.  Where did they meet, do you know.”

“Look what I really want to know is who is paying for me to go back to school and stuff.  What’s with all the questioning?”

“Bear with me Peter.  Do you know where they met?”

“I think it was when Mum worked for a school or a college. She was a secretary I think or something like that and he was a sales rep. books, paper that sort of thing.”

“How long have they been married?”

“About eighteen, twenty years, why what has thing go to do with anything.”

“How long were they married before you came along?”

“Shit, Phil enough of the questions.  I don’t know okay.  All I know is that he was okay, they got married when Mum was quite young.  He’s an asshole now and the less I see of him the better.”

“Hmm, that went well.”  Phil grinned as Peter picked up his cup and took a drink.

“Sorry Phil but it just doesn’t matter does it.  I go and see Mum every week, she is doing better now she knows I’m going back to school and all the other stuff.  He is no longer on the scene and who knows I may never have to see him again and that’ll suit me fine.”

“So you know very little about their past and consequently your own history.”

“Well I don’t know about that, I knew my gran really well.  I lived with her for quite a long time, she was really lovely and.”  He stopped, he  couldn’t go on.  She would have been so pleased about him being here and going back to school and everything and he couldn’t tell her.  His throat had closed and tears sprung into his eyes.  He coughed and turned to look into the fire.  “I miss her.”

“Why do you think you lived with her, your gran?”

“Don’t know she just looked after me a lot.”

“I think that it would be very good for you to understand more about your past.  I have had a word with your mum and she is happy for me to tell you some things and some of it may be quite a surprise, actually some of it may be a bit of a shock so are you ready for it.  If you don’t want to know we can stop now, go back to where we were before and just carry on.  It is your choice, do you want some information that may very well change your life?”

“Shit Phil, what is this about.  I thought we were going to talk about me and Dervla.  You can’t lay this on me and then say I have to decide.”

“Yes I can.  In fact I must and I need you to think very carefully before you answer.”

“I don’t need to think, if there’s stuff you know about me that I don’t then tell me.”

“Are you absolutely sure?”

“Yes, for Pete’s sake tell me.”

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