11/4 (An Old Love Story)
“Can I ask you a potentially awkward and personal question?” Hamish asked quietly as I put down the letter, “Normally, I would shy away from the social unacceptable questions—but this is a unique situation and, and I mean this with the best of intentions, you don’t seem to have too many qualms about potentially awkward questions.”
“You make an excellent point, and turnabout is fair play I suppose.”
Hamish nodded and then pointed at the letter. “That says Fiona Lucille Carson-Scott, but your mom said to ask for Fiona Carson when I called, and I’ve only heard you introduce yourself as Fiona Carson, so—What happened there?”
“Oh, Well,” I picked at my nails, even though I knew it was a really bad habit, but I just couldn’t help myself. “My Dad’s kind of a dick. When Mom changed her name back to just Carson, I changed mine to Carson as well. I didn’t really want to be associated with him anymore. Andrew is still a Carson-Scott, because he doesn’t believe in denying our past or some other bullshit that he’s got in his head, and he’ll introduce himself as such when on his own, but he doesn’t mind when people assume that he’s just Andrew Carson like Mom and me.”
“Well, if you don’t mind me prying a little farther–” Hamish pressed on. I couldn’t fault the boy for trying his luck. Heaven knows I would have. But still.
“Did Grandpa Dougie never say anything about my dad leaving? He really didn’t like my dad–I thought for sure it would be something he’d ‘I told her so’ to everyone he could after Dad left.”
“He–might have said something.” Hamish was already moving down the row of folders, seeming to follow some organization system that he’d set up earlier. “When was it that he left?”
“Well, that’s kind of a complicated question. Uh–I guess the last time would have been 2003. Yeah, around September of 2003.”
“Two oh oh three, September of Two oh oh–yes–three.” Hamish muttered to himself as he went about folders, pointing at them and passing them over until he came to a purplish folder around the middle of the table, which he opened and began to leaf through. “Ah yes. Here’s something. He mentioned your father here.”
The most beautiful Thunderbird came into the shop today. Charlie let me work on it because he knew that out of everyone in the shop, I would have the strongest appreciation for the old girl. He also really wanted me to impress the owner, because apparently he’s got quite the classic collection, and Charlie would love to be the guy’s go to mechanic for that kind of thing. The guy left with a smile, so I think I did my job well enough. Let’s see if he comes back, though. Time will be the real judge.
I am loving that book you suggested, by the way, so go ahead and get your ‘I told you so’ face on. I know you want to. I’m having a hard time locating the sequel, though—so if you can find it over there in Scotland, feel free to ship it my way. I’ll send you some money if it’s expensive, okay?
My Best Wishes,
P.S. Lillian’s Timothy is gone. He’s been gone for twelve days now. We don’t think he’s coming back. The grandkids are coming to say with me for a little while.
“Wow.” I read the letter over two or three more times, and then set it back down. “Props to Grandpa Dougie, I guess. I mean, I knew he never said anything to mom, I think because he knew she was suffering enough, but I can’t believe he didn’t lord the fact that he was right to someone else, someone removed from the situation or whatever. He tended to be a proud and a bit cocky man my grandfather.”
“Maybe he didn’t want to be right. He knew how much that was hurting your family, and he’d hoped to be wrong so strongly that he felt no joy in being right.” Hamish suggested gently.
“Yeah. Yeah. Maybe. I guess you want to know what happened, huh?” I turned away from the letter and tried my hardest to smile at Hamish.
“I–uh–aye, I’d really like to know. But if you don’t want to tell me that’s perfectly fine. I’ve never been very good at minding my own bloody business.”
“Yeah–neither have I. My dad was never really a settling down type. He was a nice enough guy in the long run, I guess, but he wasn’t any kind of family man. He was extremely superstitious, like Grandpa Dougie hinted in the letter about my birthday. He was a perhaps overly spiritual man, who believed that he should always follow the way the “Winds and Workings” guided him, no matter how inconvenient that might be for other people. He was stubborn, and although he never meant to be, occasionally quite cruel. And, on top of it all, He was a gambler and an adulterer. He’d come and gone a couple of times before in our life following “his winds” to Floyd for a couple of months, or up the coast to Maine for three quarters of a year, but the final straw came when he was supposed to pick Andrew and me up from school. When Mom could finally get free from work to come get us, we’d been sitting on a bench in front of the school for three hours. Four and a half days later, we learned that our lovely father was in Melbourne, Australia–literally half way around the world, and “he didn’t know when he’d be free to come back.” Mom made it easy for him and told him to never get back, there was no way in hell he’d be allowed in our house again. And–he hasn’t–been back or been in our house. I haven’t seen him since. We know he was still alive as of three years ago, because the child support checks came through right up until Andrew’s eighteenth birthday–but that’s all we know. I was so angry–properly angry. I still kind of am. I mean, that was a really shit thing to do to a family. And I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive him if even given the chance. But yeah. That’s what happened to my dad, and why I dropped the ‘Scott’ from my name.”
“Well. Yeah, okay. I can follow that. I think I would have taken the Scott out of my name too.” Hamish admitted gruffly.
I gave myself a little shake, literally, to snap out of it. I didn’t tend to get as angry as I used to about my dad, but it still didn’t make me the happiest person in the world to think about him. “Enough about all that though. What about you, Hamish? Any skeletons in your family’s closet you’d like to share with the class?”