Tickets - Novella - Chapter 8b

    So, no post, then?  None on the table.  None according to Angie.  There must be none, then.  Either forgotten, or left to... not chance.  "Ah!  Really?  Really?  It's like you do this just to piss me off!"  What's she found now?  Must be urgent if she's running down the stairs like that.  She better have put Alice down before she came screaming.  Keep chopping.  "Is it really such an impossible task to put your filthy underwear into the basket instead of throwing it all over the bedroom floor?"  She didn't put Alice down, and now the poor child is howling, frightened for no good reason.  Just take her.  Take her in your arms and off to a quieter place.  "No.  No playing.  You'll go up the stairs and clean up the mess you always make every time you enter that room, because..."  No is right.  You hold on to that child as if you're the only one who can lay any claim to her.  As if you're the only one who can care for her. As if you're the only one who loves her.
    Go.  Go out of the kitchen.  Out through the hall, out the door.  Out of this place.  Don't turn back.  Not for the cries, not for the screams, not for the accusations.  Just get out before you hurt Angie.  Before you hurt yourself.  Before you hurt Alice.  Don't act, just go, get out.  Keep walking.  Keep walking.  Suddenly half way down the road.  Suddenly closer to the other future you could have had.  Suddenly aware of the thing you've been trying to forget.  Trying to ignore.  Suddenly wondering: which door is it?  Suddenly realising there is a knife still in your hands.
    Angie must have been terrified when you turned round in such a rage before walking out.  Alice must have been yelling her little heart out.  What must she think of daddy?  But it's too late now.  It's done.  But thank god it was only that.  Even further down the street now, still with the knife, but less anger, less frustration.  More distance.  And more.  Wondering now about every door.  Behind one of these holds a different life.  Completely different woman.  Forgotten no longer.  Edging back into the head.  Into the heart.  Let's go.  Right now.  Let's go to Penzance.  Forget waiting two weeks.  It's already been five years.  Wasted five years.  And what did she think all this time?  Was she waiting for that moment to be reunited?  Did she think about it at all?  She must have if she's playing with all these reminders now.  If she kept all those tickets for all those years.  What a crazy thing to do.  But then Tanya was always different.  A little unpredictable.  A little dangerous.  But safe too.  Easy, but exciting.
    Maybe it's not all chosen.  We make choices every day and some people choose to follow their heart even if it hurts everyone around them.  Even if it gives them a bad reputation and leads to everyone talking about them.  But at the end of the day at least they're happy.  And they made that choice to be happy.  What is happiness?  What is it worth?  Is it that peace that comes when you've made the right decision?  That peace like right now, knowing that however mad or confused you've made someone else, at least you've gone by that instinct that told you to get out before you did something terrible.  You would never hit Angie.  Never.  But what would have happened tonight if you hadn't walked out that door?
    Past all the doors now.  Onto the street.  Still walking.  Walking to Penzance.  Could do that.  Could just keep walking to the train station and buy that ticket for the first of April.  If you want.  It's an option.  Still walking.  Well?
    Chip shop.  Go in.  Buy some pies and go back to the house.  Good plan.  Saved.  Just go back.  Like nothing happened.  Back to normal.  You had your break.  Just needed a walk.  And to fix dinner.
    Why is it so hard to enter the door, though?  Breathe.  Take a breath and go in.  Keep breathing and keep going.  This is the only way.  The only decision that needs to be made.  There is no choice.  You made it long ago when you first said no to Tanya.  You broke her heart, but she didn't give up.  Not until you broke it again with another girl.  But maybe not, not even now with the extra little girl.  But she's your choice, if not by yourself, but still yours because of that first refusal to change anything all those years ago.  And then everything did change anyway.
    That's it, key in the door and into the warmth.  And chatter.  "Jacob?  Where did you go?  You had me worried sick."  Chatter.  And crying.  And chatter.
    "You alright, man?  We've been calling you, but you didn't pick up."  Didn't take the phone.  Keys were just in the pocket by chance.  Don't remember how.
    "I got some pies for supper.  Messed up the dinner, so I just bought some from down the road."  There, that sorts it.  No need to look strangely in disbelief.  Wow, Janice is good with Alice.  Angie's in full stress mode still, but there's Janice playing with Alice, making her laugh away.  How does she do that?

    "You really have a beautiful baby girl, Jacob.  Children are so precious.  They just bring hope and peace into a home.  Don't you think?  And love.  A little bundle of pure love that you'd do anything for, hmm?  Your daddy and mummy love you.  No matter what you do, eh, Alice?  She knows it."  Giggling away.  Like never before.