Bad Things

Of all the men mom had married, there wasn't a single one that could replace my dad. Except one.

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21. Epilogue: 20 Years Later

“I had never expected for the married life to be was wonderful as this. Yes, there may have countless disagreements, and those were all worked out. One of the outcomes of our marriage: two beautiful children. It’s raising them and watching them grow up to become the young adults they are today. It’s finally setting them free in this world in order for the two of them to discover what they want to do with their lives. And you would’ve been so proud. If you were here--”

 

“Mom?” I heard a voice behind me. I look up from the computer screen in the office. My eldest child, aged 18, had entered the room. Rose Styles had eyes reminding me of her father’s, as well as having his dimpled smile. “What is it hun?” I asked her. Of course, she had a remarkable resemblance of me, having long dark hair. Hers was a bit more wavy while mine was naturally straight. I remembered the day that she was born. She was in my arms just moments after with her bright curious eyes gazing up at me. And then, she smiled. “Dad’s home.” Before any questions escaped my lips, I exited the office.

-

18 Years Ago

We’ve been married for two years now and expecting our first child. Our baby turned out to be a girl, except we were still thinking of names. In my mind, nothing was sounding appropriate. Harry was constantly rubbing my stomach, as well as talking to our unborn child. I have only seen this side of him a few times. The way his eyes would light up and smile would brighten up the entire room, especially on our wedding day. We were both in the living room, just quietly watching television until I felt a wetness between my legs. It wasn’t the good kind. It was shortly followed by a sharp pain. All I remembered was pain from the second we left the house until the seconds once our daughter was born. As soon as she was born, I noticed her rosy pink cheeks. Her eyes gazed up at me, curious and probably wondering about the strange person before her. Though I think she knew. She knew I’m her mom. “What are you two naming her?” A nurse asked. Harry and I exchanged quick glances. We hadn’t thought about names at all until the very moment that she was born.

“Rose Anne Styles.”

-

When I arrived at the front door, our 16-year-old had beaten me to the door. “Dad!” Rose had joined in on the hug while I stayed a small distance behind them. Our kids pulled away. Our son, Jason, was the spitting image of his father with the exception of his dark hair. The day we found out that we were having a son was a blessing for sure. I had always known of the perfect name to give him. Jason Jared Styles, named after both of my dads. In some ways, Jason reminded me of my own dad. It wasn’t only the dark hair. It was his attitude towards his approach to life. It was almost as if a part of my dad was reborn in my son, and somehow we were to reconnect again through my son. Of course, Jason had always been a momma’s boy since day one.

Though as soon as our children pulled away from the hug, he stood before me with suitcases and all. While though he may have aged, Harry had the same bright eyes and dimpled smile. His hair was still curly as always. Though these days, it was becoming grayed and wavy. I didn’t mind. He was still attractive to me. “Jay, let’s help dad with his stuff.” Rose grabbed two rolling suitcases. Jason grabbed the third one. They exited the room, leaving us alone.

-

Five Years Ago

“That’s it? You’re leaving me?” I crossed my arms over my chest. Harry was grabbing his clothes and stuffing them into his suitcases. We have a 13-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son. Both of them were doing very well in school. Our lives have been going smoothly until now. “I have to go back to see my mum. She’s sick and--”

“You can’t take us with you? How long will you be in England?”

“I don’t know how long I’ll be over there. Kathryn, I wish I could take you with me. It’s just all too much for us to pack up everything and leave. One of us to stay here.”

“Harry, we promised each other. It’s all or nothing.” I couldn’t believe this. “Is your mother really sick?” Harry hesitated an answer. I knew it. I called his bluff. I had some assumption that he was seeing someone else. There was no way that his mother was sick. This leave had to be planned somehow. Why didn’t he tell me? “Is this your way of running from your problems? After everything we’ve been through, this is what you do to me? I don’t want to tell our kids how much of a disappointment you’re being.” As much as it hurt me to say those words, it was the truth. Harry stopped mid-packing. I could see it in his eyes that he didn’t want this. He didn’t want to leave. Though it seemed as if there had been no way to fix this, to fix us. He walked over and attempted to reach out with one hand. I stepped back. He sighed and brought his hand down. “You’ve made your feelings about this situation clear. I’ll be leaving tomorrow. Tell the kids goodbye.”

When I exited the bedroom, Rose and Jason were at the foot of the staircase. Our voices had carried upstairs. “Where’s dad going?” asked Rose. Being the oldest, she often spoke for her brother. I didn’t know what to say to them or how to begin by telling them that their father wasn’t ever going to come back home. I was suddenly lost. For the first time in a long time, I sank down to the floor. I have been nothing but strong for my kids. I have been nothing but smiles. There were nights when Harry would work late, and I would brush it off as nothing. He would come home drunk. He would come home smelling of some other woman’s perfume. He would come home with an excuse that he was out with some work friends. I would push everything aside. I would pretend none of it bothered me. I would pretend that we will work things out, that we’ll talk about our situation. It had gotten to the point where we stopped talking, where everything had become silent conversations. The kids would notice. They’d notice that there was something wrong. They wouldn’t ask. They didn’t ask about it until now. Rose and Jason both got up to hug me. “It’s okay mom. We’ll still be here for you.” Rose whispered.

-

Those five years without Harry had been the longest. Our children were grown and off to live their lives, but he was home. Harry was finally home. “Kathryn.” said he. He had aged over these five years. He had gone to England, not only for a job, for another woman. He had been talking with this woman for only a few months before he decided to pack up and leave us. He had never given me a reason why he left. He just left. I remember walking up the next morning to an empty bed. He had left me no note, nothing. I had lost my best friend. As he said my name, I reacted by instinct. I approached him and wrapped my arms around his neck. Tears streaming down my cheeks. “I’m sorry.” He whispered. I felt his arms wrap around my waist and pull me into a tight hug. “I should’ve fought for you. I should’ve told you the truth. I should’ve opened up to you about--”

I pulled away, “Are you home for good?”

“I’m here to stay. I walked out on our children and missed seeing them grow up. I missed a part of their lives Kathryn. Being five years away from you, it made me realize that you have always been the love of my life since the moment I first laid eyes on you at 32. I remember being your age when we met. I remember how many things I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to travel and see everything. I wanted to start a business without any help. I built a business from the ground up. First it was just me and five other people, and then I met Louis. He helped me with managing a business. Soon enough, I made enough to expand the business until meeting your mom of course. Though after previous relationships, I wouldn’t have ever thought about settling down and living in one place. I thought I could just move to the next city. When I met you, you… you changed me. You are the only woman I have ever fallen in love with that I saw a future with. As soon as I had gotten on that plane five years ago, I regret every decision I ever made. I went for a job that took me away from my family and because I was seeing a woman, who I’ve previously dated in college. I have no contact with any of my exes. You’ve seen my contact list. She contacted me through my company and offered me the job. I wish I declined. Then that argument we had wouldn’t--”

“Harry,” I paused. “I never intended to kick you out or asked you to leave. You were always welcome to come back home. The door has always been open for you. I didn’t want to call and beg you to come back. I wanted to apologize to you for that night too. Yet, you left. You had to apologize to me. I never forgot about that night, and I appreciate that you have told me the truth about why you did. All that matters is that you’re finally home to be a family once again. I love you, and I’ve always loved you since the moment I first laid eyes on you Styles. There’s not one single man in this world that can replace you. I always had a feeling that you will come back to me. I just never knew when.” I reached up and touched his cheek, smiling softly.

Harry smiled back at me and leaned into kiss my lips. He pulled away with his hands on my waist. “I missed you Mrs. Styles.”

“I missed you Mr. Styles.”

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