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A New Beginning

A Mother’s wish

By Gerald HolmesPublished about a month ago 10 min read
Top Story - April 2024
29
Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Tony couldn’t sit still, crossing and uncrossing his legs, trying to calm his trembling hands as Clara stood at the office window deep in thought. The airline ticket in his shirt pocket moved to the beat of his heart¬– each beat bringing back the nightmare causing memories of the words he’d spoken over ten years ago. Thanks to Clara he’d finally gained the courage to buy that ticket.

He thought about how this office had become a safe place and how grateful he was to have found his way to Clara Holden. He’d felt comfortable with her from their first meeting. She was close to his age, maybe a few years older, and seemed to have a deep understanding of who he was. She was his third therapist in two years and the only one who truly understood him. The others were older men that spoke to him as if he was a child and handed out drugs like candy. But Clara never talked down to him or treated him like a broken man that needed to be on a never ending supply of prescription drugs. She treated him as an equal– almost like an old friend or a family member that needed help.

Tony envied his friends and workmates that had come from normal families– families that loved and cared for each other in times of trouble and heartbreak. He remembered, as a child, hiding in his bedroom closet with his fingers in his ears as his parents screamed at each other in the living room. He’d hide in that dark closet alone, holding his stuffed bear like a lifeline until the yelling and crashing sounds stopped. How many times in those early years had he sat in that closet, trembling with fear, wishing he had someone to hold him and tell him that everything would be ok?

Clara’s concern was evident. He knew that his news had surprised her and that she needed a minute to digest that news and gather her thoughts before giving her opinion. She was nothing if not thoughtful and careful with her words.

He felt doubt creeping in as she stood at the window, for a few minutes, before returning to sit across from him. Removing her glasses, she spoke with compassion in her eyes,

“I can’t tell you if you’re ready for this, only you know the answer to that question. But what I can tell you is that you’re not the only person that needs to be ready. You can’t go back there and act as if it never happened, Tony. When you break someone’s heart with your words, no amount of regret or apologises can undo the damage you have caused. All you can do is ask for a new beginning and hope that she understands and can see that you are not the same person you were ten years ago.”

Clara’s words pushed him back to that day– the day he’d spoken the words that’d broken his mother in every way. He was only seventeen at the time and filled with anger and rebellion. That anger had grown, for months, after his father had left and he’d blamed his mother for the breakup and everything else that went wrong in his life after that day.

Now sitting in this chair, his legs and hands shaking, tears filled his eyes as he thought about how easily he’d believed his father’s lies. Looking through the lens of age he could see the truth. How could he have been so blind to the fear in his mothers eyes back then? He’d seen the bruises on her body but believed his parents when they said she was just clumsy.

He would never forget the day his father was arrested. How could he? In his mother’s words, that was the day he started to become his father. He didn’t understand then, as he did now, that she was right to speak those words.

His father had taught him to punch first and ask questions later, which was exactly what he did at school that day. His neighbour, Billy Murphy, had been laughing at him and calling his father a drunken wife beater before he’d lost it and sucker punched Billy in the nose. It was the third time in as many months that he had punched someone so it took the principal less than a minute to expel him for the rest of the school year.

As he walked up the gravel driveway to their house that day, he didn’t care about being expelled– if anything he felt good, knowing his dad would be proud of him. His feeling of pride disappeared quickly, when he saw the cop car in front of the house. Two officers were pushing his father into the back seat as he approached and saw his mother on the front step, watching them take his father away. As the car pulled away he ran to his mother and asked her what the hell was going on. She didn’t seem to even know he was there as she stared at the cop car with fear and hatred in her eyes.

He grabbed her shoulders, shaking her asking, “What the hell mom? What’s going on?”

She looked into his eyes, not speaking for a minute, before he gave up and jumped on his bike. He peddled as fast as he could, following the cop car to the station, where his father would fill his head with the lies that would lead to the words that destroyed his mother. His father had told him that he’d come home early and found his mother on the neighbor’s porch, hugging Frank Murphy.

He said, “It wasn’t a friendly hug, Tony. They were hugging like lovers. I had a feeling she was screwing around but had no idea it was with that fat shit next door. I ran up and punched him before dragging your mother to the house. She went crazy, Tony. She started yelling and screaming and tried to punch me but she missed and fell, hitting her face on the kitchen chair on the way down. I didn’t touch her, man, you have to believe me. That prick, Murphy, called the cops and said I was beating her and when they showed up your mom told them the same pack of lies. She’s a lying, cheating bitch son and don’t you believe anything she says.”

His father never came back after that day. Apparently, after being released the next morning, he’d hitched a ride out west with a trucker buddy of his. As the days turned into weeks and then months with no word from his father their home became a battlefield. Tony did everything he could to provoke screaming matches with his mom.

The worst day was about a week before school started, when his mother sat him down and read him the riot act. He’d told her that he was done with school and wasn’t going back no matter what she said or did. She had fire in her eyes as she started yelling in his face.

“You are going back to school, Tony. I won’t let you ruin your life because of your father; a man, by the way, who hasn’t called you in months. You’re seventeen and living under my roof and if you want to remain here you’ll do as I say.”

Tony rocked back and forth in the chair, trying to stop the memories, as he looked into Clara’s eyes. The unrelenting regret of what happened next had consumed his every waking moment and lived in his dreams for years. He raised his head and stared at the clock over Clara’s desk, trying to stop what was coming. It felt like he was back in that moment as the memory played out in front of him.

He remembered glaring at his mother with contempt for a minute, his anger rising like a volcano about to erupt. All the pain, anguish and fear that he’d been holding inside for years exploded to the surface like hot lava as he jumped to his feet and pushed her to the floor. He stood over her shaking and screaming,

“Fuck you! I don’t give a shit what you think anymore. You’ve destroyed this family. Dad was right about you. You’re nothing but a lying cheating bitch. You think I don’t know the truth? Everybody in this piece of shit town talks about you, saying you’ve always been nothing but a slut and a whore. I don’t give if fuck if I ever see you again. In fact I hope I never see you again for the rest of my life. You’re dead to me.”

He remembered running out of the house that day, with tears in his eyes, and never looking back.

Clara’s voice brought him back, sweating and shaking, to the present. She was asking him a question, “Are you okay, Tony?”

He stuttered as he tried to answer, “I’m, I’m … trying to be okay, Clara, but it’s just so hard. The guilt is killing me.”

Clara reached out and took his hand, “I think you’re ready, Tony, but the big question is if she is ready.”

“Yes, I know you’re right, Clara, but I need to do this for both of us. I’ve tried to phone her but her number is not in service anymore and anybody I know from back there is no longer around. I don’t know how to contact them. But maybe that’s a good thing because this needs to be done face to face. I’m just going to show up and beg her to speak with me.”

Clara, looking concerned, paused for a second before speaking, “I’m proud of you, Tony. You’ve come a long way and this is a big step. But you have to understand that this may not go the way you hope.”

“Honestly Clara, I think you’re right and this will be a complete failure. She’ll probably have me arrested, for Christ sake. But I need to try.”

Clara wrote something on the back of her business card and handed it to Tony.

“This is my cell number, if this goes bad or even if it goes good, if you need to talk just call that number.”

Tony stood and hugged her before leaving, “Thank you so much, Clara, god how I wish I had someone like you in my life back then.”

Three days later Tony stood less than a mile from the cold north Atlantic, in the Holy Mary graveyard with his heart broken in half. He’d arrived earlier that day at his childhood home, only to find the house abandoned and falling down around itself. Feeling lost and not knowing what to do next, he went inside and stood on the musty old carpet staring down at the last place he’d seen his mother– his heart filled with guilt.

He stood there for several minutes, trying to gain courage, before finally walking outside and crossing the divide to the Murphy’s front porch. He knocked on the door and heard light footsteps approaching from inside and couldn’t hide his surprise when a beautiful young woman opened the door and said, “Hello, how can I help you?”

Tony forced a smile before answering, “Oh, I’m sorry. I was looking for someone who used to live here, Frank Murphy.”

She stared at him for second, “Who are you and why are you looking for Frank?”

“Sorry, my name is Tony Grant. I grew up in the house next door and I’m looking for my mother.”

The woman put her hand to her mouth before speaking, “Oh my god. I’m Tina Murphy, just wait a second I’ll get my husband.”

She turned and ran down the hallway to the kitchen, returning in less than a minute with Billy Murphy beside her.

Billy stopped in his tracks and stared at him with disbelief for a minute, before speaking,

“She’s gone, Tony. She died six months ago. I’m sorry man.”

The force of Billy’s words knocked the air from his lungs as he tried to speak.

“What? How?

“It was cancer, Tony. She fought for months. I think she was holding on in hopes of seeing you.”

Tony, shaking uncontrollably, turned to leave, saying, “Oh my god! What have I done?”

Billy stopped him and spoke with understanding in his eyes.

“Wait a minute, Tony, she left something for you. I think she knew you would come here someday”

**

Now as he stood at his mother’s grave staring at the envelope that Billy had given him, he could feel the cold bite of regret entering every fibre of his being. With trembling hands he struggled to open the envelope to find a single piece of paper.

My dearest Tony;

First let me say that I’ve loved you with everything that’s in me, from the first moment I held you in my arms. No words spoken in anger could ever change that. I can only hope that with age, you’ve come to see that now. Everything I did back then I did to protect you from him. Maybe I was wrong to hide things from you but I was so afraid and didn’t know what else to do. I know you wished you had a brother or sister to hold you in those painful, scary days. But I couldn’t bring another child into that home.

All of that is in the past now, Tony, and there’s nothing I can do to change it. But maybe I can bring some happiness to your life by giving you the only thing I have to give– the truth.

**

Tony fell to his knees, crying ten years of tears, as he read the end of his mother’s letter.

**

You see, you’re not alone in this world, Tony, you have a sister.

She was born four years before I met your father, when I was fifteen years old. My parents forced me to put her up for adoption and she was taken from my arms as an infant. Your father knew this but wouldn’t let me tell you. He said that if I did he would take you away from me and disappear. I’ve wanted to tell you for years but couldn’t find you.

A few months ago I received a letter from the adoption agency, informing me that my daughter, your sister, wanted to find her birth family. As I lay in this hospital bed, writing this letter, my greatest wish is that these words get to you somehow.

I don’t have a lot of information about her but I will end this letter with what I know.

She lives somewhere in Ontario and is some kind of doctor or therapist.

Her name is Clara Holden.

I really hope you find her, Tony.

With undying love,

Mom

**

CONTENT WARNING
29

About the Creator

Gerald Holmes

Born on the east coast of Canada. Travelled the world for my job and discovered that kindness is the most attractive feature in any human.

R.I.P. Tom Brad. Please click here to be moved by his stories.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (22)

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  • C. Rommial Butler20 days ago

    Well-wrought, friend! How is there so much beauty in tragedy? Maybe because there needs to be for us to go on... Glad I had the time to read this with my morning coffee. It touched me deeply.

  • Anna 29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    Congratulations on Top Story too!!!🥰🥰🥰

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    Emotional and remarkable twist !!! Loved it!!!💕❤️❤️

  • KJ Aartilaabout a month ago

    Another gorgeous story, Gerald. 💖

  • Christy Munsonabout a month ago

    Congratulations on TS! I thought this was headed in a romantic direction for doctor-patient for a moment -- so glad it didn't go there. Difficult enough to discover one's therapist is one's own half-sibling. Great job with story telling.

  • Nono Fabrice about a month ago

    Wow heart touching bro.

  • ROCK about a month ago

    Oh man, this was brilliant. IRL I have found I have two unknown half siblings and it means a LOT to me but not as much to them. It would be weird if they were my therapist! eeek!

  • Shikder Bappyabout a month ago

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzdvEk8AKvI

  • D. D. Leeabout a month ago

    Nice plot. Congrats on Top Story!

  • Carol Townendabout a month ago

    This is a heartbreaking yet brilliant story, but lessons can be learnt, and one thing I have learnt today is that I never want to be a victim of abuse ever again. I feel for your character. I believe his behaviour was learnt from his parent's situation, and the stress, fear and anxiety caused him to explode. In the end, the consequences are painful but very much understandable on his part. You have written this well, and I think many like me can relate to this story.

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    Congrats on the TS.

  • JBazabout a month ago

    awesome as always Gerald. This is a wonderfully written, the opening was perfectly written, and you left little teasers throughout the piece and your finish was sad but hopeful. Congratulations

  • Judey Kalchik about a month ago

    Came back to congratulate you on the Top Story recognition! 🏆

  • angela hepworthabout a month ago

    Whoa what a twist! Great work here!

  • Annieabout a month ago

    this was fantastic - captivating and brought me to tears. great work!

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    Oh, and CONGRATULATIONS on TS.🎉

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    Great story. I didn't know UNTIL the "I don't have a lot of information..." Nice job.❣️

  • Judey Kalchik about a month ago

    OH oh oh oh oh! I did NOT see that coming. Gerald, I hope you know that I recognize you as a gift writer. THIS is one of your very best. Incredible.

  • Alex H Mittelman about a month ago

    Very well written!

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    This story brings tears to my eyes. Well done, Bro.

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