Monday, 1 June 2015

An Excellent Daughter

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

Throughout most of the angriest marital argument that Elijah and Janette d’Israeli had ever had both parties were fully aware that their anger was completely unfounded. Their other half deserved much better than this they both knew but at the time each could not stop the hostility. The fight was the natural result of either fear of the unknown or a long pent up release after decades of carefully and conscientiously raising a family. Their twin girls had been easy enough to raise but it was naturally still a very, very hard job to bring them up as worthy citizens, eager to contribute to society. The youngest daughter, Maria, had flown the nest two years ago and had fallen into bad company. Her parents had had absolutely no contact with her for the past nine months, despite their best efforts. The eldest of the two, soon after her twentieth birthday, had flown the nest a few hours ago and neither of her parents could secretly see the sense in now fighting over the most suitable restaurant to celebrate their having their lives finally back under their own complete control.
     Their fight was interrupted by a very loud, urgent knocking.
     ‘Don’t you worry, Eli,’ said Janette on the way to the door, ‘If we’re not going to Domenico’s I’ll bloody well go there on my own!’
     Janette didn’t initially recognise her eldest daughter, carrying two large, full sports bags in each hand, looking expectantly at her from the doorway. It was the last thing Janette was expecting.
     ‘Blanche!’ she exclaimed when she did recognise her progeny. ‘What are you doing back here?’
     ‘May I come in, Mum? I’ve been having the most horrible time.’ Janette stepped aside to let her daughter enter. ‘Hello, Dad.’ Elijah was coming up the hallway, also not able to believe that it was Blanche at the door. She put her bags down.
     ‘But you’ve been gone only a few hours, sweetie. There must be some really cataclysmic reason why you’re back here so quick,’ continued her mother.
     ‘There is.’
     ‘Well, let’s have some tea and talk about it,’ suggested Elijah.
     ‘Can I stay here for the night?’ Mum and Dad were silent. ‘Please.’ Elijah allowed her mother to speak.
     ‘Only for tonight, darling. Unless you’ve killed somebody you’ll be leaving in the morning.’
     ‘And if you have killed somebody we’ll ring the police to come and take charge,’ pronounced her father.
     ‘I haven’t killed anyone, I . . . Let’s have some tea, I can’t talk about it yet.’
     But over the tea Blanche was still unforthcoming and her parents suggested she make an early night of it and see if she was able to talk about it in the morning. They would help her all they could with her obvious distress, falling short however of allowing her back to live with them. So Blanche agreed on the early night, feeling tired anyway after the stress which she was unable to vent.
     Her room was unchanged and Blanche got into bed with her clothes on, the first time she had ever consciously done that. Her parents left her to herself and Blanche fell off to sleep without expecting to.

*

Blanche did as a result feel able to tell her parents why she had returned at the breakfast table the next morning and while Elijah was cooking. When everything had been laid out, Grace said, Blanched opened the conversation with,
     ‘Satan visited me soon after my great flight.’ Her parents remained cutting their breakfast, looking at Blanche quizzically. ‘Soon after moving into the new place I decided on a nap. That way I could stay up all night for a good party.’
     ‘You know dreams aren’t real, sweetie,’ said her mother.
     ‘Well this one was. He showed me that you were going back to your Speaking Nights, both of you prophesying and preaching on random street corners, like when you both first met.’
     ‘We are.’ Her parents both replied.
     ‘Well, Satan told me that for your preaching to be really truthful you must also preach Evil, the only thing that defines Good. The Two rely on each other.’ Her parents paused in their chewing. She had a point. She had a point.
     Elijah sipped some orange juice, to counter,
     ‘But Satan is always lying.’
     ‘Dad, that dream was so real, able to touch, to smell, to see, to hear. I was there with Satan just as I’m here with you, that’s how real it felt. In Hell. Unable to leave. It was the worst experience I had ever had because it was so real: stuck in Hell, with its screaming, stinking, vile, hot and scorching beating, Satan himself beating into me that you were both doomed if you went back to preaching because of basic logic. Satan may have been lying, or he may not, to define his lies with counterbalancing truth, but it sure felt like he was revealing a secret.’ Blanche paused a short while, gathering herself.
     ‘And he does have a good point. Dad, Mum, if you both go back to your Speaking Nights you will have to do the work of Lucifer as well. Good and Evil are the only things that define each other; you can’t have one without the other. Your efforts may sum to nought, counterbalancing each other. You would cease to exist, logically, during these Speaking Nights and their consequent, dependant times. I too then, and my poor sister, Maria, will be nothings, all the d’Israelis since we’re all interconnected, products of each other. So that’s why you’ve got to let me move back in. To protect you.’
     ‘No way!’ exclaimed her parents, unanimously again. Certainly not as the result of lies in a dream.
     And try as she might she could not convince Janette and Elijah to allow her to return. She was only able to manage an extra day’s stay considering that her parents, always very religious and upstanding, found it all too easy to believe that she was petrified of meeting Satan in a dream again soon. They easily conceded that she needed a bit more time to learn to fly.
     With that settled Elijah and Janette easily settled back into the old ways of home, also being aware that their nasty argument of yesterday was utterly meaningless. Blanche unpacked her bag after breakfast.

*

‘Do you both plan to resume your kerbside preaching using home as a base, or travelling around?’ Blanche had awoken to the feeling, the next day, that this question over the family breakfast may lead to what she sought: a safe, yet varied life, with no possibility of the Devil. She doubted that he could penetrate her parents’ home.
     ‘We’re really going to travel around Aus, maybe the world if there’s still time.’
     ‘Won’t that be uncomfortable? Living in a tight space. Living out of a van, basically. Where’ll you get your running water?’
     ‘We’ll manage. Sure things’ll need to be organised more but we’ve got plenty of time to do that.’
     Blanche suddenly realised the answer she had gleaned upon waking. ‘If you let me travel with you I’ll take care of everything, everything and anything that’s involved in travelling around the country in a motor home. You are getting a motor home?’
     ‘Yes,’ replied Elijah. ‘The best way to travel in comfort.’
     ‘Well if you have me along you’ll have guaranteed comfort. I’ll hand over my entire dole, to pay rent and for my own upkeep in general. I swear you’ll never want for a thing on the road.’
     Blanche’s offer was surprisingly vaguely tempting to her parents, and vaguely reasonable. After all the first thing they had talked of when discussing hitting the road was how inconvenient everything would be, and how thus they’d come to hate travelling but would be stuck with it. They could of course have asked Elijah’s parents to reinstate his Trust Fund but that would be very embarrassing at his white-haired age. Elijah had asked his parents to cancel his Trust Fund allowance because he wanted to raise his own family himself, not have it done by his parents. And, Elijah just now realised, this was the only time he had regretted cancelling that easy money.
     Janette expressed this mutual tentative, possible interest with the question,
     ‘Wouldn’t you miss the young men, Blanche? You’ve always loved a good time and bringing forth life with someone special may be the most joy you could wish for.’
     ‘I can raise the child with you. And if I do marry it’ll be while I’m still young and so the man too will be young. He should then have no ties to cut loose from and be well able to travel in order to be with me.’ Her parents didn’t quite accept this last point but romance was something that could never be planned for anyway, or accounted for in any way, come to think of it.
     Naturally though Elijah couldn’t let their eldest daughter give them all her money, let alone any of her money. And anyway how was Blanche to legally receive the dole if she was simply travelling rather than doing the required search for work to qualify for the dole? She’ll have no choice but to work, not then being able to fulfil her guarantee. Mind you if she stopped off in a town every two weeks for ten minutes and looked for employment from two employers she’d technically qualify for regular dole payments. Yes, certainly something to consider. But then again if they travelled overseas Blanche would definitely need to work. But if Blanche somehow managed work and travel, again, how she could look after them as greatly as she promised?
     ‘I’m sorry, sweetie, it’s just not possible. The dole is not much money and probably couldn’t support an uncertain lifestyle. It’s impractical,’ Elijah pointed out to her.
     ‘Would you accept all of my dole payments every two weeks if I told you that I would be gaining stability whilst also learning new things? Sure I’d still be at home with my parents, but I would also be travelling new somewhere every day. Always learning. Adapting. Growing. For the experiences I’d gain the dole money would be very, very well spent.’
     Again, she had a point. Travelling along with them throughout Aus would mean that Blanche simultaneously remained in the family nest as well as was always flying from it and learning new realities. Her new skills would teach her the art of budgeting well on her small dole. And who knows, maybe the welfare would be a bounty, what with Blanche always indoors, not needing to go out as the outside was coming to her.
     ‘I don’t know about you, Eli, but I’m now tempted by the offer. She has a point there. And a bit of extra help on the road would be great from what I’ve heard. You?’
     He mused inwardly briefly. ‘Very tempted, Jan.’
     And it was soon settled. They had no argument in choosing a restaurant to celebrate their new arrangement and they spent the next eight weeks in preparing for the road. Blanche was of course of tremendous assistance, making preparations virtually effortless. Her parents though refused to let her drive the new motor home as they said it was being behind the wheel that the whole trip was about. Apart from that Blanche was true to her word during the first few days of all their wilful wandering. Things certainly looked promising.

~~~

If you've been enjoying Denis' stories here his previous such stories, from September 2013 to February 2015, are also available as a Kindle book, Amongst the Ways of God, at http://amzn.to/1IcruuX, which also includes several completely new ones. You may also enjoy his debut novel, This Mirror in Me, which tells the story of how Tonia achieves her life's fundamental aim of having her home as a social hub, by staring at herself in the mirror. It is also available as a Kindle book at http://amzn.to/1gXGF9h Denis also has a short non-fiction book available, King Street Blues, which is an encouraging tale of Denis' willfully chosen five years of homelessness in the inner cities of Sydney and Melbourne. It too is available as a Kindle book at http://amzn.to/1xwiVGb. If you don't have a Kindle you can download the Kindle app for free onto your smartphone, tablet, or computer through your local app store.

     

No comments:

Post a Comment