(Please be aware this story contains adult sexual content.)
That night, after Chinese takeaway and the kids had gone to bed, I went through the journals.
I got Dan to bring the three boxes into the living room and I sat on the floor surrounded by books. For awhile, Dan helped but then he put the TV on and got distracted by a movie. With the journals all neatly dates, it was easy for me to find the ones I wanted. Setting the others back into their boxes, I looked at the seven books before me. There were all fake leather A3 size, two were black, two were blue, one was green, the sixth red and the seventh was a strange grey color. It didn’t seem to fit in with the rest.
I picked it up and double checked the date. 1979, the year my mum went missing. I put it back and picked up the one dated 1973, the year I was born instead. I flipped to my birthday and read my gran’s account of that day. It was brief. She wrote about my mum and her going into hospital at about lunch time and me bring born a few hours later. Everything was fine, but then there was a line about the nurses and doctors asking about who the father was. If my mum was married and if she was actually going to keep me.
They forced the adoption papers into Mary’s hands. I told her it was her choice, but hadn’t I said I would take the baby on myself? This family has had to many lost children. Mary decided to keep the baby, but she wants to raise it by herself. I know it’s going to a street scandal, but this isn’t the 1950’s now! We shall do our best.
I turned the page and read some more. It was another brief entry; my naming, leaving the hospital in the late evening and getting me home. Then something about the fact I was a good baby and slept well.
I went to the end of the journal and read the last page. I was five months old now. My gran had put that my mum still wouldn’t tell her who my father was. She could see the weight of the responsibility weighing down her sixteen year old daughter. She planned to adopt me and send my mum back to school.
I closed the book and reached of another one.
‘Anything interesting?’ Dan asked sleepily from the sofa.
‘No. That was the year I was born, so I wasn’t really expecting anything,’ I replied.
I picked up the next one and opened it.
‘We should go to bed. I’ve work in the morning,’ Dan spoke.
‘I’ll be up in a bit,’ I replied.
He paused then said, ‘come to bed with me now. You’ll lose track of time and be up all night…just like when you were reading Harry Potter.’
I smiled at that without really meaning too.
He got up and came to me. Slipping his hands on to my shoulders and massaging. I hummed a little and let everything go. All the tension and worry I’d been carrying with me and just hiding came to the surface. Tiredness quickly followed and I decided for a change that my husband was right.
I had the journals now and whatever secrets were inside of them could wait until morning. Dan helped me up and we went upstairs.
In the week that followed, I read the journals closely in any spare time I had. They told me very little and so much at the same time. I began to realise though that my mum had never told anyone the name of my father. My gran thought it could be a number of men, including; one of my mum’s high school teachers and an eighteen year old neighbor. I though, my gran wrote, looked too much like my mum.
When I came to read the grey 1979 journal it was very patchy and it seemed pages might have been torn out, though I couldn’t be sure. The date my mum officially was declared missing was Tuesday in late April. She had failed to come home from a friend’s house Monday night. Gran wrote mum never turned up to work her part time job in a shoe shop on Monday or Tuesday. She had asked friends and no one had seen her.
The police said she’d run away from home and or was just staying with a friend. She’d turn up. Gran felt differently though. It didn’t make any sense why Mary would leave me behind, she loved me. Even though Gran had pretty much taken over at this point. Gran wrote that six year old me often asked where mamma was. Gran said she was away and would come home soon. But she never did.
Soon after I finished the grey diary, I moved on and read through the 1980’s journals. Gran and the police were still looking for mum. There wasn’t a lot to go on though. And I stopped asking were she was. Gran was mum now and I had to worry about school and growing up.
‘Diaries turned up anything today?’ Dan asked a week or so later as we lay in bed together.
I snuggled against him, putting my head on his bare chest and listening to his breathing. He stroked my hair and held me close.
‘No,’ I replied, ‘gran was right when she told me she never knew what happened. Mary just vanished one day and the police could never find her. I always thought it was because of me. But gran told me and wrote how much Mary loved me. So that couldn’t have been her reason. I don’t know…Maybe I missed something.’
‘Or maybe that’s it,’ Dan said softly.
I rubbed his chest, feeling the small hairs against my skin. I looked up at him and he was watching me. He kissed the top of my head then I moved and our lips brushed.
‘Do you think I should give up?’ I questioned.
‘I wouldn’t,’ he answered quickly, ‘and your gran never did. The answers are out there somewhere. Tomorrow I’ll read through the diaries too. Maybe we’ll find out together.’
‘Thanks,’ I whispered and kissed him deeply.
To Be Continued…