SHADOWS ON THE WALL
(CHRISTMAS 2007 STORY)
He looked up at Joelle a film of tears across his own eyes.
He took the last photo frame from the wall, and added it to several others in a small box on the table. He looked around the room, then back at the box.
Was that it?
Three years of living with Jane, fitting into one small cardboard box, and a few shadows on the wall where the pictures had hung. His eyes wondered to a small dent in the wall near the kitchen door… No quite all!
He shook his hand remembering how in his rage he'd punched the wall.
It was three months ago, since that day he'd come home early to find the woman whom he had thought was the love of his life, in bed with a complete stranger. She had not even tried to disguise what she was doing, just laid there with a smirk on her face.
"Now you know." Was all she'd said.
He'd turned and walked out, but not before hitting the wall so hard with his fist, he'd broken several bones in his hand.
After a night lost in various bars, he'd arrived home to find Jane gone.
Over the next few weeks several friends, or at least a people he'd thought as a being friends, had told him, that Jane had been "playing around" some time. Like a jigsaw puzzle, small items from the previous months had fallen into place, and he realized just what an idiot he'd been.
Weeks turned into months and the shops started to fill with the glittering sights and sounds that can only belong to Christmas. His house still remained empty, except for memories.
One night he was sitting in the chair sipping a drink, looking at the shadows left from where the pictures used to be.
Had he ever known love, true love?
His mind went back five years to the summer he'd spent in France after graduating from college. Yes he had known love, known it and lost it.
It had been a wonderful time, the cares of studying over, the pressure of a job not yet begun. Six months lazing about in the sun in the south of France. Then there had been Pascal.
He'd been sitting in a bar next to the beach when she'd walked in, the sun had been setting seemingly surrounding her with a red glow, that matched the copper tinge of her hair, making her look almost on fire. Like in all good romance movies there eyes had met across the crowded floor… But in his case, she'd looked at him, then turned and walked back out the bar.
That brief moment of eye contact had though, left a message written across his heart, setting him a challenge, which over the next couple weeks he'd taken up.
Ten days from the moment their eyes first met, they'd laid in each others arms, bodies, hearts and minds joined as one.
For the rest of the summer they had been together, until he'd had to leave, even then phone calls and emails had kept their romance alive.
Then one day she'd told him on the phone that she would not be contacting him any more, she did not give her reasons, and her last words of "I will always love you." had just left him confused, as well as heart broken.
Yes he thought, his eyes once more straying to the shadows on the wall, he had known love.
His thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the front door bell. When he opened the door, there stood a woman perhaps a little younger than him, with dark hair. She handed him a letter, written on the top envelope was his name.
"Please," the woman said, with a slight hint of a French accent "you have to read the letter."
He went to open the letter then noticed a small face peering from behind the woman, her curly red hair only half hidden by her hat. Something about her seemed familiar.
"Please," he said opening the door, "come inside."
He led the pair into the living room, where they sat while he opened the letter.
"Peter," he read "if you receive this letter, I will no longer be with you. I have been very ill, and I know my time in this world is not much longer."
He looked up at the woman, and noticed the dark rings under her eyes.
He read on.
"My love, I have never forgotten you, and saying goodbye to you over the phone like I did was the hardest thing I've ever had to say."
A shock of reality hit him. He looked up at the woman, his lips mouthing one word… "Pascal?"
The woman nodded.
"Oui... I mean yes she sadly passed away two weeks ago, but made me promise to bring you the letter before she died. I am Joelle, Pascal's sister." He could see the tears starting to swell in Joelle's eyes. Not knowing what to say he want back to the letter.
"I had to say what I did, I know now perhaps it was wrong, but at the time, I did not want you to hate me."
How could he ever have hated her?
"I was confused, embarrassed and scared.
Later I realized that I'd done was wrong and that you, of all people would have understood, but by then it was too late. The words had been said, the deed had been done. Peter, a few months after you left I found I was pregnant."
The room seemed to spin, a myriad of emotions swept through him like a tidal wave. The rest of the words seemed to swim before his eyes until he got to the last line.
"Please don't be mad at me, and remember I will always love you."
He put down the letter his hands trembling, a thousand questions springing to his lips each remaining un-asked.
Joelle, ushered the small girl towards him, a package clasped in her hands.
"This," she said, her eyes now filled with tears. "Is Pascal's daughter, her name is Angela. She has a gift for you."
"Me.r..r..y Christ..mas.." Angela said, her face breaking into a smile of pleasure that she had managed to say the words correctly.
"Thank you, Angela. Bonne Noelle to you" he said taking the package from the small hands, now noticing how much she looked like her mother.
The child gave him a small smile, her fingers just touching his for a moment.
Slowly he opened the package; there were two pictures, one of Pascal and one of Angela. Written on the bottom of Pascal's picture were the words.
"To the Man I will always love."
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