- Vol. 06
- Chapter 01
A WISE CHILD
Even on her deathbed, she wouldn’t tell me. “I did my best for you, Georgina – that’s all you need to know.”
But it wasn’t. If my horrible half-brother hadn’t been hovering I would have strangled her, the mean old bat, cancer or not.
She shifted in discomfort and Jeremy flew to her side. “Can I get you something, Mother?”
“I’m in a draught,” she said petulantly. “Move the screen closer.”
As he repositioned the screen, my gaze roamed over the decoupage which had fascinated me throughout my childhood. A hotchpotch of Mother’s life in photographs, invitations, birthday cards and theatre programmes. She glanced at it before giving me a surprisingly tender look. “I’ve left you the screen – you will find your answer there.”
She would say no more – in fact she barely spoke again – and a fortnight later I inherited the screen.
I pored over it for months, scrutinizing every photograph with a magnifying glass, researching every event she had attended, tracing each name on the cards – all to no avail. Eventually I accepted that she’d played one last mean-spirited trick on me, and consigned the bloody thing to the shed.
The following spring, with the grass growing so fast I could hear it, I went to take out the lawnmower, and the screen almost toppled on top of me.
A winter of damp had done its worst, and much of the decoupage had peeled off, revealing a second layer sealed with clear varnish. Love letters, dozens of them, written in a strong masculine hand. Some made me blush, others reduced me to tears, and the last one finally gave me the answer I’d been seeking for decades.
A WISE CHILD‘The doctors tell me I will die soon. My one regret is that I am leaving you to bear our love-child alone. Till we meet again I am eternally yours – George.’
At last I knew his name – my father, George – she had named me for him.