Chapter 29: Half-half
Ide had spent the last two days trying to make a workable budget. It still wasn’t working. Adding to the problem was her difficulty in getting full-time work at Waldmeer Hospital. She was an excellent nurse and the patients, often, specifically asked for her. She treated everyone with the same care that she would her own relatives. However, the Matron had been at the hospital almost as long as it had been there or so it seemed. She held onto the full-time positions for the locals. Ide wasn’t born in Waldmeer and so the Matron did not have her on the special list. Besides, the Matron was more than a little jealous of Ide. Not only did the patients love Ide but it did not go unnoticed that Ide’s patients seemed to heal faster and have fewer complications than most of the other patients. Ide was, after all, a descendant of the Clinkers and they have healing in them. Matron didn’t know about Ide’s connection with the Clinkers and Ide, certainly, wasn’t telling her. It would have given Matron more ammunition and she already had enough.
There seemed to be only one sensible solution. “I’m going to have to sell the house,” Ide said to Farkas. “The mortgage is impossible for me.” Farkas didn’t reply. He could see by the expression on her face that she was both serious and upset. At the end of that week, Farkas brought up the topic again.
“That bungalow is too small for me, anyway,” he said as if Ide had only just mentioned about selling the house. “I’ve had enough of living in it.”
“Yes, I understand. You need a proper place,” said Ide with resignation.
“I’ve found one,” said Farkas.
“Found what?” said Ide.
“A proper place,” said Farkas.
“Really?” said Ide trying to sound cheery but feeling that she was losing him faster than she had anticipated.
“There is an old guy not far from here who is recently widowed,” said Farkas. “Apparently, he hates living in the house without his wife and so he wants a quick sale so that he can move to his son’s family.”
“You are thinking of buying not renting?” said Ide.
“I have the money,” said Farkas. “I don’t want to keep renting. The house is fairly rundown. That and the fact that the guy wants a quick sale mean that it is a good price.”
“That’s wonderful, Farkas. You will love having your own home again,” said Ide.
“I haven’t finished,” said Farkas with pretend sternness. “I have the money but I don’t want to put that much money into a house again. Also, it has three bedrooms. Too big for me. I don’t want to rent the rooms out. You know I can’t tolerate people.”
“Yes,” agreed Ide knowing that was all too true and wondering where he was leading.
“So,” said Farkas, “I thought you might be interested in jointly buying the house with me. Half-half. That way, you would, at least, own half a house for you and Christopher.” Ide sat there dumbfounded. “You’re not that young anymore,” Farkas continued with a half-smile. “You have to consider your financial future,” he said more seriously.
Ide didn’t want to make it seem too big a deal in case it made Farkas feel awkward. “You and I jointly own it?” she queried to make sure she had not misheard him.
“Yes,” said Farkas.
“And if, for some reason, it didn’t quite work after a while?” asked Ide.
“Then one of us could buy the other one out or we’d sell it,” said Farkas.
This was a big risk for both of them. Would Farkas be able to tolerate living with Ide and Christopher in the same house? Would Ide be able to tolerate Farkas? In such close proximity, would their relationship fall apart? Could they trust each other financially? And probably most dangerous, what sort of relationship were they actually getting into? Friends don’t normally jointly own homes. Lovers do, but they were not lovers. She couldn’t ask him for clarification. Even if she did, she didn’t think he would have an answer. There were, undoubtedly, many more glaring risks than positives. Ide glanced out the window to break the stream of warnings. She remembered her husband, Fabian, who was now in the Homeland. Did she regret any of the risks she took with Fabian in spite of all the problems? No. Ide became still and a cloak of calmness seemed to float down onto her shoulders. Perhaps, it was Fabian.
She turned back to Farkas and said steadily, “I heard today at work that we are getting a new hospital administrator and, apparently, he is known for modernising everything and getting rid of the old pecking order. There is a good chance that I will be able to get a full-time, permanent position at the hospital. So, if I do, it would be a great time to buy half a house.”
That was all Farkas wanted and needed. He stood up, looking pleased and relieved. “I’ll ring the agent to see when we can look at it,” he said.
The following week, they were signing the contract. As they walked out of the real estate, Farkas reached over and kissed Ide on the cheek. He had never touched her, let alone kissed her. Ide said too quietly for him to hear but, perhaps, he did, “May God help us both.”
Chapter 30: Soft Belly
Teresa ran her hand slowly down Bryan’s back. It was brown and strong. When she reached the small of his back and onto his backside, it changed to white but just as defined. She smiled at the whiteness of the skin not exposed to long days outside on the farm. He was still waking up.
“Now that Thomas has dumped you, I suppose you have no choice but me,” joked Bryan.
“He didn’t exactly dump me,” protested Teresa.
“I’d say he did,” said Bryan. “You were seeing him. He stopped seeing you. In my books, that’s dumping.”
“Oh, okay,” smiled Teresa. She had heard that Thomas had reconnected with his ex-girlfriend, Kathleen. She was glad for him and hoped it worked out. Bryan reached for Teresa and then poked her soft belly. “I have had two children,” she said a little defensively of her belly. Teresa thought she heard Bryan saying that he liked it soft but she wasn’t sure because his words were muffled with his kissing it.
Not surprisingly, Teresa and her ex-husband, Arthur, never had much of a sexual relationship. They were not drawn together in that way and it did not bloom along the way. The little sexual contact they had in the earlier years, shrivelled into virtually nothing. Arthur was Teresa’s first and only serious relationship and so she had never experienced a vibrant and close sexual relationship. Until Bryan, that is. It was a considerable part of what attracted them to each other, how they bonded, and the enjoyment they derived from each other. They were falling in love with each other’s body as much as with each other.
Teresa’s girls were in the city having the weekend with their father. They didn’t know about Bryan. Teresa felt that, at this stage, it was not necessary for them to know. Besides, if they knew then Arthur would, also, know and he had a vindictive side. Bryan was no match for someone like Arthur. Arthur was unlikely to find happiness in another relationship due to his unwillingness to learn and so he would likely be vengeful. Teresa knew her enemy and was well prepared to protect her new life and her new love.
However, Teresa had another seeming enemy that she was not so well-equipped to fight; Bryan’s mother, Clarice. Bryan was the apple of his mother’s eye and she had plans for him. Being involved with an older woman was not one of them. Not least because a forty-year-old woman of Teresa’s life experience would hardly be manipulated by Clarice. Teresa made sure to point out to Bryan that Clarice was not her mother and that he must cope with his mother himself. What made matters worse was that he still lived at home out of convenience of working on the family farm. It did cross Teresa’s mind that Bryan may turn out to be too young for her and might not be mature enough to deal with his own mother but then she would look into his open, transparent, blue eyes and remember that this was his journey as much as hers. They may be learning different things a lot of the time but they were learning together. It was enough to know that.
Chapter 31: Need or Love
Gabriel and Paul were eating dinner at home. “This is delicious,” said Gabriel.
“I knew you’d like it,” said Paul. “You always do.” As Gabriel was about to take his plate to the sink, Paul stopped him.
“Sit down for a while, Gabriel,” said Paul.
“I’ve got heaps of work to do tonight. Can we talk later?” asked Gabriel.
“It’s important,” said Paul. Something in Paul’s voice made Gabriel sit down again and look at him closely. The thought crossed Gabriel’s mind that he hadn’t really looked closely at Paul for a while. Paul looked sad.
“What’s the matter?” asked Gabriel.
“This is hard for me to say,” said Paul as his voice quivered a little. “You see, I really love you.”
Gabriel interjected. “Of course you do and I love you.”
“That’s the thing, right there,” said Paul. “Do you?” Gabriel went to speak but Paul put his hand up and stopped him. “I don’t want to fight about this,” he said. “It’s too important to fight about. Ever since we met, I have loved you. You are, for me, the perfect mate: handsome, creative, smart, kind, and funny. I couldn’t ask for anything more. And I couldn’t have been more thrilled when you started to take an interest in me. At the bottom of my heart, I always knew that you didn’t quite feel the same way about me as I do about you but I was willing to take whatever you wanted to give me. Besides, I have lived in hope of being able to get you to love me more. I don’t think you realise how much it hurts every time you pull away from me. It’s not just about not buying the house. You do it in a thousand different ways. I tell myself that you are entitled to your independence and if I want to be with you then I have to accept that you need a lot of it. Sometimes, I feel embarrassed when I can see other people are thinking that, maybe, you don’t love me. It’s humiliating.” Paul stood up and went and got tissues and wiped his eyes. “I suppose, to be fair,” he said, “maybe, it is need more than love. I say how much I love you. Perhaps, a great deal of it is need. I feel so much better with you in my life and I am, frankly, terrified of losing you. Today, I told myself for the first time that trying to get you to love me is never going to make you love me. That breaks my heart.” Paul stopped talking and nodded to indicate that he was done.
“I don’t want to say anything lightly,” said Gabriel, “because what you have said deserves a proper response. Let me think about it.” He hugged Paul and both could not help but feel the soul of the other intertwine. Paul felt exhausted and went to bed. Gabriel watched him and thought, So much of what he said is probably true. I do push him away but I can’t stand neediness. I would rather be single than feel trapped but, maybe, it’s more than that. Paul rolled over and went into a deep sleep.
Chapter 32: Little Book of Healing
Thomas hadn’t seen Kathleen all year. He walked up the steps of the riverside restaurant telling himself to be calm and breathe. He need not have worried. There was no denying their relationship ended with a rift but Kathleen was not the sort of woman to hold onto such things. Besides, there was still a lot of love between them. They sat outside on the verandah so that they could enjoy the glorious day. There was much to catch up on. They never had a problem talking to each other. Kathleen reached for her bag and Thomas instantly recognised the familiar green cover.
“Are you reading The Little Book of Healing?” said Thomas. “I have been studying the lessons in it all year. I got it from Amira.”
“What a coincidence,” said Kathleen. “So have I. My brother, Aishi, gave it to me, also, at the beginning of the year. He has lots of fantastic books at the retreat centre. It has been travelling everywhere with me in my handbag.”
“Me too,” said Thomas. “Not in my handbag.” His laughter helped him to relax. The thought of them independently choosing to study the same book gave him courage. Perhaps, he thought, we are not as disconnected as I believed. “Kathleen,” he said, “we need to talk about what happened. I’m not asking you to come back to me but we are too old to let a good relationship die without giving it every chance to survive. I don’t care in what way it survives.” He shuffled and lowered his eyes. “Just survive, that’s all. Not die completely.”
Thomas’s directness gave Kathleen a little hope that it was worth the emotional effort to talk about it. “Let’s not have a blame-talk,” she said. “That would only make things worse. However, I do believe that we must be honest with each other. The pain that was caused in the situation warrants an honest attempt to address it, don’t you think?”
“Yes, I do,” said Thomas.
“I, also, don’t want to talk about the details of what happened,” said Kathleen, “or I am afraid, we will get nowhere.”
“Agreed,” said Thomas.
“For me, the bottom line is that I feel I can’t trust you,” said Kathleen. “That may come as a surprise because you, probably, see yourself as a very trustworthy person. In many ways, you are but, in others, you are not.”
“I think that is harsh,” said Thomas.
“Perhaps,” said Kathleen, “but you are asking for my trust and I don’t give it lightly. I must be able to know that the person I am trusting is trustworthy. Otherwise, you will end up betraying me in a thousand small ways, if not big ones.”
“I won’t try and defend myself,” said Thomas. “I can’t even see myself being that way. However, I will trust that you are saying this in goodwill with the intention of helping us both.”
“Yes, that is all I am asking,” said Kathleen. “To look at it. To try. If I feel you are trying then I will be satisfied.” Kathleen said that she would like to go home. As they hugged goodbye, she asked, “By the way, what lesson are you up to in the book?”
Thomas replied, “The one that says, We can learn to use the pain in our relationships to transform us thereby turning them into entities which heal not harm.”
“That was my lesson last week,” said Kathleen. “We are not too far apart.”