Solace ~ h.s.

If he weren't there... I don't know what would have happened.

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44. ⪻ 44 ⪼

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“Is this it?”

Harry and I stand outside the small Scottish cottage that shares the same address as the one on Harry’s phone. I can’t help but admire it’s vintage beauty and how well it fits in with the other homes around it. It looks exactly as I had imagined it.

“That’s it.” Harry says, sighing and sliding his phone into the pocket of his skinny jeans.

“It’s cute.”

We must appear like proper creeps, standing across the high street from this person’s cottage. The neighbours, if they were to see, would surely be worrisome about strangers lurking around the homes.

“Okay,” I mutter, shaking all the nerves out of my body that I still have in my body, “it’s like ripping a plaster off. Let’s get this over with.”

I know if I stand outside the house any longer, I’ll change my mind and retreat back to the comforts of our hotel room. It’s now or never.

Walking hand in hand with Harry, we cross the street and meander over towards the front door of the village home. My breathing is getting heavier and laboured as we make the treacherous journey. Harry takes notice, gripping my hand tightly.

“Do you want me to wait outside or come with you?”

“If you think I’m going in there alone, you’re mad.” I tell him, letting out a shaky breath as I raise my fist to the wooden door, knocking lightly as if not wanting the person on the other end to hear.

We’re only left in silence for a couple moments before the door swings open, revealing a woman in her thirties with tired eyes and a frown on her lips. Shocked, my eyes widen and I almost fall back against the firm body standing slightly behind me.

Everything in my body is shaking over the fact that this could very well be my mother. We share the same hair colour, nose shape, and even same shaped face. In that moment I feel like passing out onto the floor or bursting into tears.

“Can I help you?” She asks in a thick Scottish accent, her eyes scanning both Harry and I up and down.

“Uh, I, um, I -” My words come out jumbled, messy, and weak.

What do you say to the woman standing before you who is most likely the woman that birthed you when she was in her teens and then gave you up?

“Hello,” Harry speaks up, stepping to my side to greet the woman before us, “we’re looking for Grace Reid, does she live here by any chance?” The frown on the woman’s face deepens as she takes in Harry’s words, momentarily shaking her head.

“She hasn’t lived here in a long time.” The woman crosses her arms over her chest, leaning against the doorframe carefully.

“Oh, our apologies; we had no idea. Could you perhaps point us in the direction of where she might be?” Again, the woman frowns, her eyes settling on me, though I’ve yet to make a sound. She looks curiously at me, studying me closely before her eyes fit back to Harry.

“Aye, the cemetery at the edge of Kinmylies. She died, four years ago.” Shocked my eyes double in size as my hand comes up to cover my mouth to keep the gasp in that wants to be released.

I knew I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.

My time for mourning my lost, biological mother whom I’ve practically never met is short lived. I could have sworn the striking resemblance between this woman and I was some sort of sign; perhaps she’s related to Grace in someway.

“May I ask who the two of you are?” The woman finally questions our presence, being patient with us thus far into the unexpected arrival.

My mouth opens to respond to the woman, but no words come out. It’s like my ability to speak has just left me.

“I’m Harry Styles, and this is my girlfriend Annabelle.” Harry introduces us, reaching across the threshold to shake the slightly extended hand of the woman who looks to eerily like myself. Whilst still looking hesitant, she shakes his hand politely.

“Did you know Grace?”

“I’m Annabelle Reid Chambers.” My voice comes out of nowhere, my brain making the decision to speak before the rest of me does. The woman nearly jumps when I finally speak, her eyes scanning over me yet again. I can tell she’s noticed the slight resemblance as well. “This may sound completely crazy, but I was born here on the second of November, 1995 and I was -”

And just like that, something in this woman’s brain just clicks. Her eyes widen and her hands fly up to her parted lips.

“Annis?” Nodding my head slightly to confirm my identity, the woman gasps again. “Oh my God. You look just like her.” And like you as well. “I didn’t think I’d, or we’d, ever see you again! I’m Lorna Reid; Grace was my older sister.”

“It’s nice to meet you.” I tell her, shaking her outstretched hand with mine. Her eyes never leave me, looking me up and down all whilst looking as if she’s fighting back tears.

“Please, come in. I’m sorry to keep you out there waiting in the cold and rain.” Lorna says to both Harry and I as she steps aside and motions for us to enter the warmth of the cottage.

The interior of the home is just how I imagined it looking from looking at the exterior, vintage and cozy.

We’re lead into the front room of the home, which appears to be a lounge, fit with a sofa, wooden rocking chair, vintage coffee table, and fireplace. There’s not a television in sight and it’s refreshing to see a home without one.

I wonder how much Edward would hate me if I got rid of the telly. Oh God, how much would I hate me?

“I apologize for my behaviour before, Grace is a touchy subject matter, still is after all these years.” I nod in understanding, knowing exactly how she feels about people bringing up our family members that have passed.

“No need to apologize, I understand that is coming as a shock to you.” I tell Lorna as she motions for Harry and I to take a seat on the sofa across from the rocking chair. I reach back and take Harry’s hand in mine as we take a seat on the plush cushion.

“I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now, thinkin’ you were so close to meetin’ your birth mother and then findin’ out she’s no longer with us.”

“I don’t really know what to think. I wasn’t even sure how this was all going to go over, so honestly I wasn’t expecting much. I didn’t want to get my hopes up.” I admit, lowering my head to eye my hand that’s captured in Harry’s.

“If it’s any consolation, Annis, oh-”

“It’s okay, you can call me Annis.” Lorna sends me a kind smile and nods her head.

“Anyways, your mother would have loved to have met you. She would have been completely and utterly ecstatic with you showing up on her doorstep as a beautiful young lady.” Lorna sniffles and I feel my own tears welling for some reason. “You are so beautiful, everything that Grace was hoping you would be.”

“Thank you.” Lorna nods and smiles over at me, her eyes continuously studying me. “What was Grace like?”

“She was the golden child, always was.” To that Harry and I laugh with Lorna. “I was the younger sister and I looked up to my sister through everything. She was the perfect role model, always studied hard in school, she was kind, funny; she was all around wonderful. She may have been a perfect role model, but nobody’s ever perfect.

“She had just turned sixteen and I come home from a friend’s house to find my mother and father in this very lounge with Grace, who was sobbing. In fact, everyone was crying. At thirteen, I wasn’t blind to what my sister was up to her in her spare time with Edan, Thompson, your father. Anyways, she found out she was pregnant with you.”

Finding out you're pregnant at any age must be hard and scary, but at only sixteen? That’s got to be utter terrifying.

“After the initial shock, Grace was so happy and so very excited.”

“She was?” I find myself asking through tears. Lorna, with tears in her eyes as well, nods her head with a large smile on her lips.

“Aye; Edan was too. She had this entire life for the three of you planned out. Grace, Edan, and you, would live in a small cottage on the edge of Inverness. Edan dropped out of school the year prior and he said he was going to try and get more hours at work. Grace was going to work until you came along and wait until everything fell into place. But things don’t always go to plan.” She says sadly.

“What happened?” I ask, curious for the entire story no matter how painful for me to hear.

“I know this probably isn’t what you want to hear about your father.” I shake my head, wanting the entire truth. “Edan got fired from his job, he was never one to see things through. He was drinking, a lot, and getting into some drug usage. Grace didn’t want you around that atmosphere and she was heartbroken. My parents, as lovely as they are, just couldn’t afford another mouth to feed, and with Grace without a job she didn’t have another option.”

Letting my eyes fall closed, a few tears fall and stream down my cheeks. I knew the truth would be hard to hear, but I didn’t know that after all this time it was cause so much heartbreak. Finding out that Grace, my mother, wanted to keep me, but she was left with no other option than adoption, hurt. And it hurt finding out that my father, wherever he is out there, is quite possibly an alcoholic and drug user. Everything hurt.

“I’m so very sorry, Annis.”

“It’s okay.” I breathe out, sniffling and wiping my tears away with the back of my hand. “I just wish there was another outcome.” Harry wraps his arms around my shoulders, pulling my body into his comforting side embrace.

“What about you, Annis? I only got a glimpse of you on the day you were born. I’d like to know more about you.” I nod my head, sniffling and taking a deep breath.

“Well, I grew up in a very lovely family, with a mum and a dad from Manchester, England. My dad worked in finances at his job and my mum worked on and off whilst I grew up. I was their only child until five years ago when they had my little brother, Edward.” Lorna smiles widely at that fact, probably grateful I grew up in a loving household. “But, um, my mum and dad died back in April, motor vehicle accident.”

“I’m so very sorry.” I nod my head, trying not to start crying again.

“So now I’m raising Edward and I’m dating this one.” I share with a smile, motioning with my head over towards Harry, who smiles and waves. “It’s tricky, but we’re managing; the raising my brother, not dating Harry.” I correct, causing the room to erupt in laughter.

“And what do you do? Are you in university?”

“I went to university, I got my degree in culinary arts, but I really haven’t done much with that degree, because of a lot of factors. I don’t know.” I say, not wanting to explain my cheating boyfriend, my stent at Smith and Carlton Publishing, and now my technical lack of job.

“She’s actually a baker.” Harry interrupts with a happy smile and a shrug of his shoulders.

“You are? That’s amazing.” Lorna praises, smiling happily over at Harry and I.

I would love to talk more about my life, filling Lorna in on the gaps of my childhood and continuing adulthood, but there’s something still bugging me about my parents, or one of them.

“I’m sorry to change the subject, but do you know where he is now? My father I mean.” I question, biting my lip. My hopes are crushed as Lorna’s smile vanishes from her lips and a frown takes over.

“Unfortunately, he died ten years ago, drug overdose.”

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