"Jesus! You would swear they were giving away something for free at that damn supermarket. The whole town was in there. Oh yeah, Gwen told me to tell you 'hello'--" Faven finally shut her mouth and took a second to stop and acknowledge her non moving sister.
"Mae?" Faven slowly eased around to see her expression, but that was difficult due to her stance. What she could see did catch her off guard. A glass of wine and a unfolded letter. "What's wrong Mae?" Faven nearly whispered as she placed the bag of groceries on the kitchen table. The last time Shirley had touched a drink was the night Micah left. She knew whatever it was couldn't have been good.
Snapping out of her frozen state, Shirley raised the glass of wine to her mouth. Finishing her sip of the rest liquid, she slid the note into the middle of the counter so that Faven could get a clear view. Watching her carefully, Faven looked between her sister and the sheet of paper and slowly walked over to it. Once she was within reach, she grabbed the uneven paper and stared that the scribbled words across the paper.
"Dear Shirley, My love. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me for my long absence. You don't understand the guilt I have lived with since leaving you all and it is ultimately my greatest regret. With Christmas slowly approaching, I hope that you will accept my offer to join me in Barcelona during the holiday in hopes to starting over and beginning on a very long journey to get things back to normal. I know it will never be the same, but I will try with every breath in me to ensure it will be damn near close. Inside the second envelope are 5 plane tickets set to leave December 23rd.
P.S. I miss you Shirley so much that it hurts. Here's a song to show you that you were never a shadow in my life.
From your husband, Micah "
Faven placed the letter back on the counter and took in a deep breath. She turned to look at her sister, who was still staring blankly out the window. Patiently, Faven waited for her to gather her thoughts and speak.
"What am I going to do? How am I even going to break this to the kids? It's been eleven years and he's just now saying something?"
"Mae this is all left up to you. If you want to go, then you will have to leave the choice up to the kids, but if it's a mute point then I wouldn't even entertain it." Faven paused. "Do you want to go?"
Shirley just nodded. "Well then you know what you have to do then." With pain deeply swelling in her eyes, turned towards her sister.
"I'll call the kids." Faven whispered into her sister's neck as they hugged.
"I know you are all wondering why I called this meeting so randomly, but I have something I need to tell you all about." At the same time, everyone who sat on the couch, sucked in their breaths and waited for the uncertain news.
"Did someone die?" Gabe signed from behind the couch.
"No," Shirley smiled and signed back, "no one has died." She intertwined her hands once she was done signing and looked down at the floor. Taking a few deep breaths seemed to keep her calm, but her calmness only masked the intense worry coming from her eyes. She quickly looked up when she felt a warm, soft hand on her shoulder. Faven looked at her sister, her eyes urging her to continue.
"Just this morning," Shirley began, "I received a letter from...your father." She stopped talking, and waited for the harsh retaliation she had been afraid of. No one spoke. No one moved. The only thing that made any type of noise was the soft hum of the dishwasher in the kitchen. She stated back at the children who were blankly staring back at them. Although they said nothing, their eyes screamed everything they wanted to say.
"What did it say?" Isaiah's deep voice was the first one to break the ice.
"He wants us to come and visit him on Christmas."
"I know this may seem like a lot to take in," Faven quickly interjected after seeing the denial on her nephew's faces, "but you all agreeing to come would mean a lot to your mom. Much more than you realize--"
"To hell with that!" Isaac quickly jumped up from the couch. "I wouldn't want to see the sad excuse of a man if Jesus himself told me to do so! Why now? Why does he wait eleven years to want to see us now? That a bunch of bullshit!"
Faven quickly defended her sister, who was currently frozen in a state of shock. "Isaac, you may not have much respect for your father, but you will respect your mother! You hear me?"
"Whatever man. I am a legal adult and none of your can make me go. I will move out if I have to." Abruptly, he stormed out of the living room and rushed up the stairs. The silence throughout the room was suddenly met with the slam of a door.
Faven sighed and stepped from behind her sister to talk to the remaining people. "Isaac is right about one thing. We can't make you go, but it would mean a lot if you all did go." There was still a lot of tension lurking through the room.
"I'll go." Gabriel spoke finally. It was like his voice rose her from the dead. Her frozen place turned into a smile and she nodded her head. "Thank you." she mouthed. Once Gabriel's answer was final, everyone's attention turned toward the second twin standing behind the couch.
"Isaiah, what do you say?" Faven leaned closer to him, hoping for a positive outcome.
"I....I don't know." suddenly, the front door blew open as he ran out of it. They all waited for the door of his truck to slam, but nothing ever came.
"Well I guess we have our answers." Faven mumbled. She turned her focus on Ellyn suddenly and smiled.
"You know Ellyn, if you want to come, there are two extra tickets."
Ellyn's eyes grew wide. "Really? I mean, I'm not a part of the family and I don't want to intrude--"
"Nonsense!" Shirley said. Her voice was livelier than before. "You are a part of the family not just as much as anyone else, but no one of forcing you to go."
"No! I would love to go! Thanks so much for thinking enough of me to ask." Ellyn suddenly grew bright with happiness and sprang up to embrace Faven and Shirley.
Thanksgiving eve flowed on quietly and calmly. Faven and Shirley moved about the kitchen baking a and seasoning a few things for tomorrow. Gabe and Ellyn sat quietly at the dining room table, talking about nothing in particular. Ellyn looked away from Gabe for a second an glanced at the window behind him. Isaiah's gray truck still sat outside. She couldn't help but be worried about him. After their encounter with the gifts from his father, Ellyn felt almost obligated to go convince him to go and support his mother.
"I should go talk to him." Ellyn mumbled suddenly. She was still gazing off in the direction of the window.
"It's no use. He never listens to anything when it comes to out dad. It's like talking to a brick wall." Gabriel signed back.
"Well I can at least try. I mean this time could be different."
Gabriel let out a deep sigh. "Well can't say I didn't try to warn you. Give it a go." Ellyn brushed her hand across his and smiled before she stood up from the table and strolled out of the front door.
Without considering it, she rushed off towards the stables. She knew him well enough to know that he would be hiding there.
"Isaiah?" No answer. "I know you're here. I'm coming whether you like it or not."
Sure enough, there he was sitting in front of the stables with his knee up and his hand pressed against his forehead.
"What do you want?"
"To try to talk you into going to see your dad."
"And what do you think I've been doing for that past two and a half hours?"
"How's that going so far?"
"Not too good."
Ellyn took a seat next to him. "Come on Isaiah. I think you should go, for the sake of Shirley."
Isaiah began to shake his head. "Why now Ellyn? What made him just want to suddenly come out of the blue and be a dad. I mean he's been living his life as a single man, why does he suddenly want to be family man? I want nothing to do with him."
Ellyn shrugged. "I can't speak for him, but he can! Which gives you every reason to go. At least he had the guts to do it now. It's better late than never. And you know," Ellyn paused. "You can always ask about that garage key."
His neck quickly snapped in her direction. Isaiah looked as if he was going to counter with more denial, but he just turned his head away from her. "I don't know El...I don't even know how to say to him. I don't know who he is anymore."
She let out a soft smile. He was giving in. "Well I'm pretty sure he's the same man you called your dad eleven years ago."
He looked up and crossed his arms at Ellyn and smiled. "You're right."
"I know I am." Ellyn chuckled and nudged the man next to her.
"It's getting pretty chilly out here. We should get back inside. Don't need you making anymore hospital visits." He hopped up from where he sat and offered his hand to assist her. She accepted and once her legs were straight he pulled her into a soft embrace.
"I'll take this as a yes?" She said still wrapped up in his arms.
He just merely nodded."Thank you for coming and talking me off the ledge."
"Sure. It's what friends do." He and Ellyn shared a gentle laugh.
Suddenly, Isaiah began to sink into the hug a little bit too much.
"Uh...I'll see you inside." Ellyn mumbled.