Sorry for slightly prolonged absence, been having a bit of a struggle with the black dog.
They arrived before daybreak. Settling their little Fiesta tight up against the fence. She was asleep on arrival and continues to be so, in ignorance of how the day will unfold. Of how she wants it to unfold.
The silence becomes too much for him and as he watches her trouble-free relaxation he tucks the cover more tightly around her and gently strokes the old skin of her face
”I don’t think I can do this Leyla. I really, really don’t.” Marcus Delaney whispers. His eyes are full of tears.
She stirs, wrapped in an old blanket she stares out at the lake and the mist starting to rise from it as the day takes hold.
”Yes you can Marcus. You have to. I will do it myself somehow if I must. But it will be done.”
Leyla turns and smiles at him. She is so beautiful. Despite everything there is still an inner glow that radiates and fills the car with warmth.
”We came here to remember my darling. Let us talk of the happy times when the children swam and we picnicked over there by the big old oak. I wonder if our initials are still visible. You should go and look. Will you?”
”I don’t want to see them Leyla, not without you by my side.” He sounds like a bad tempered child but she smiles and reaches for his hand.
”Please darling. I want to know.”
Pushing the blanket from his knees Marcus does as his wife of forty years bids him and reaches for the door handle.
The grass is damp beneath him and his feet leave a trail as he walks towards the tree.
Suddenly the mist lifts and he sees a red and white chequered cloth laden with sandwiches and fruit drinks. Leyla is sitting, legs crossed with a small child, Alex he thinks, balanced in the middle.
Susie and Adam are chasing each other round and round the tree and the air is full of laughter.
This is a time before Lucy came to them, and then was so suddenly gone. There is no pain etched on Leyla’s face. No notion of the terrible turmoil destined to come into her life.
The vision vanishes and Marcus has reached the tree. He reaches out to the rough bark and trails his hand gently around the trunk. There, suddenly is what he is looking for. Very faint and worn with age but quite clear if you know it is there. MD loves LD.
He sees them three days after their marriage, so many years ago. Leyla laughs in delight as he makes their inscription with his father’s old penknife. The memory brings a rare smile to his old face and he recalls that this was the day, most likely, that Adam was conceived. So very long ago.
Leyla watches him, this man, the love of her life, her Marcus, and feels her heart shift with the knowledge of his pain. He has tried so hard to be strong for her at this time, and before, all those years ago when Lucy was first lost, he held them all together.
She sends up a silent prayer to a God she doesn’t believe in and asks that he will help the children to understand. That Adam, Susie and Alex will take care of their father and know that he did what was right for all of them. Right for her.
The sun is rising in the sky as Marcus slips back inside the car. He rearranges the blanket on his knees and turns to Leyla.
”It’s always been the not knowing, hasn’t it? Do you think if we had known we would have coped better, understood even?”
”No Marcus. The not knowing is what gave us hope and the will to carry on believing. And you must continue to believe that she is out there somewhere. Our Lucy. Alive and happy.”
There is silence now in the car and Marcus knows that the time has come. His beautiful Leyla chose this day, the day Lucy was taken, as the day to end her pain.
She reaches for his hand and smiles at him. The illness is clear to see in her tiny, tortured face.
”I’d like to drink that coffee now” she says.