I continue to sit staring at my Father like a dumb idiot. Even though I have heard a lot said about him over the last 24 hours, and have been getting used to the fact that he is still alive, seeing him actually standing there is quite a shock to the system. Seeing again the man who I have believed has been faded since I was 12 years old, just does not seem possible. He remains standing there stares at me, as I stare back.
He suddenly starts to laugh at me after what feels like an eternity of silence.
"It is unlike you not to have something to say Granny!" he laughs
Still I sit there like a dumb idiot.
"I think your brother is in shock boys!! I have never known him to be this quiet!!" he chuckles as he glances between Thyme and Silt quickly before he looks back at me.
"I can't say I blame him really." Thyme mumbles "It would be like Mom walking through that door for us."
"Oh well, I guess Granny will find his tongue soon enough ... then I'm in trouble!!" he starts to laugh
"I am glad you are finding this funny ... because I am not!!!" I snap at him
"Give us some space will you boys, please." he smiles at Silt then Thyme. "Me and Granite have got quite a lot of talking to do."
My brothers get up and quietly leave the room, they both look back nervously before they walk through the door and out of the room. I wander who they are the most worried for, him or me?! I watch silently as Shale Rock shuffles the short distance to the chair next to mine and sits down. He smiles at me without saying anything.
I can't help but notice how old he is looking, the wrinkles on his tired and well worn face remind me that he is now in his late sixties or even early seventies. I think about all the years that have been wasted and taken away from me while I have been lonely and oblivious of his existence along with my extra four brothers and sister. I start to feel angry.
"So come on let's hear it!! I want to hear your feeble excuse for faking your death and leaving me thirty four years thinking you had faded!!" I snap at him "If this had not happened would I have ever known about you still being here?!"
"Granny ...." I jump in and don't let him speak
"Do you know what hurts the most, while I have been so totally alone, I have brothers and a sister I never knew about ... a sister who I am never going to know thanks to you and your evil brat!! I am left out in the cold while your precious brat has known you have been alive!!" I snap "And STOP calling me Granny!! I am not a child anymore!!"
"This has been far from easy for me Granite!! Don't think I don't love you and I have not thought about you every single day!"
"Yeah Whatever!!" I snap at him.
"It has damn near killed me not being able to see you all this time, I had a very good reason for doing what I have done, and once I explain I hope you will understand and one day soon you can forgive me!"
"Yeah right!! How can you ever justify what you have done to me?!" I snap at him "I have not seen my Son for twenty years, because I did not know he even existed, now that is the kind of excuse you can forgive. You however, walked away from your son, knowingly, you left me all these years believing you had faded ... what kind of man does that!!"
"A man who had no choice but to walk away when it was the only thing I could do to keep my family safe!!" he raises his eyebrows at me. "I believe you thought you had to do exactly the same thing yourself! And you walked away even though it nearly destroyed you ... the same applied to me, I did not want to walk away, I was left with no other choice!!"
He starts to get upset, to the point where I can see tears welling up in is eyes.
"I know that you hate me, but I don't think you even realize ... you have always been the special one, my precious little miracle. I went to hell and back watching you fighting to stay in this world, then I had to fight like hell just to keep you. I had to sacrifice everything that I have ever wanted, on more than one occasion, just because it was the best thing for you, and I did it all because I love you. More than I could ever love any of the others!! You have a special place in my heart, you are ingrained deeply within me because of everything, only me and you, went through together in your early days ..." I laugh sarcastically at what he is saying "Gravel has never been my favourite like you think, not that I have favourites because I love all my children equally, but it has always been you, even still, and it almost destroyed me having to walk away from you in particular ..."
"Stop!!" I put my hands up when I can't take any more. "Stop talking crap, it just sounds like a load of garbage to me!! You hated me!!"
"I have NEVER hated you Granite!!" he pulls a face at me "There is a lot I need to explain to you before you will fully understand. I need to start right back at the beginning, before you was even born, and unfortunately that includes me saying things about your Mother that you are really not going to like, but unfortunately they have to be said, and you have to let me say them, without you going off on one!! Can you do that for me?"
"I can try." I mumble
"Maybe if I had spoken to you about these things when you were a child, it would have opened your eyes to the truth and you wouldn't have been so hard on me!! Your Mother was far from the angel that you thought she was, and I am not quite the monster that you think I am!!"
He shuffles uncomfortable in his seat a little and opens, what I can now see is a photograph album and stares at the photographs on the front page for a moment. He pulls one out and hands it to me.
"You can not see from that photograph, but that little boy is completely grey." he smiles at me "His name was Slate, and he was born two years before you, in fact you share the same birthday, 2nd March." I stare down at the photograph for a while before I frown at him, because I thought he was showing me a picture of me as a baby.
"So who is he?" I frown at him
"Slate was mine and your Mother's first child ..."
"What!?" I choke "So where is he?" I ask stupidly.
"His grave is in the cemetery here in Sugar Valley. He was a happy and healthy little boy, however, he faded when he was only six months old. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome ... you are a doctor I guess I don't need to tell you anything about that." he mumbles quietly.
"I'm sorry!!" I mumble, now embarrassed that I ask such a stupid question without even thinking.
"You looked just like him at the same age, you both take after your Mother facially, and I guess if he was here now, he would look a lot like you."
He smiles at me before he stares down at another photograph of the little boy that is in the album that is lay open on his lap. I stare numbly at the photograph in my hand again. I see the smiling little boy and am totally shocked because I did not know this ... yet another brother I did not even know existed!!
"How did I not know you had another child before me?"
"We never talked about him, it was too painful. However, if you had paid attention or even bothered to visit my grave after my funeral, you might just have noticed the little boys grave next to mine. It should have caught your attention because of his name, Slate Granite Rock. I switched his names around which I gave to you."
This makes me laugh for a moment
"Isn't that funny, exactly what Gravel did when he gave my Slate my switched around names!!"
"Yeah, I was far from impressed when he told me what he had named that little boy. He knew about my Slate fading and I thought he was doing it in twisted spite, just to get at me, you know what Gravel is like, there is usually an underlying spiteful motive to most things that he does. Yet again he didn't fail to disappoint, there was an underlying motive to him calling the boy Slate Granite Rock, but not the motive that I originally thought!!"
"Knowing Gravel he had a good laugh at that ... he was probably getting at the both of us!!" I mumble, surprised to hear him bad mouthing Gravel finally. He had always given me the impression when I was a child that in his eyes Gravel was the golden child and he could never do no wrong.
"Did you never noticed the boys grave when you visited your Mother's grave?" he ask me thoughtfully.
"No, I never looked at your grave." I mumble "I hated you!! After your funeral, I never went back to the cemetery again until Mom faded."
"Well at least you are honest." he chuckles "I'm surprized your Mother didn't point it out or put flowers on his grave at my funeral, for you to see."
"Mmmm ... has Gravel never told you, she didn't actually make it to your funeral, she drank herself stupid and ended up in hospital."
"No he never said." he chuckles "That really does not surprise me, that is the kind of thing that Raven would do!!" he seems very amused by this which puzzles me.
"So Slate was two years older than me."
"Yes, exactly two years." he mumbles quietly "It nearly destroyed the both of us and I think Slate's fading is what started the real rot in mine and your Mother's relationship ..."
He starts to explain that from the moment that he set eyes on my Mother, he fell in love with her instantly. Forget the colour code ... In his eyes, Raven Grey was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, even still, he has never found anyone who even comes close. He soon learned that beauty is only skin deep and you should never judge a book by it's cover!! Falling for the cover was the biggest mistake he ever made, because what lay inside was neither pretty or nice!!
When they met, she was a heavy drinker, he thought at the time she was just a wild party girl who knew how to have a good time, and for him at first it was great, they had so much fun and the most amazing times. He thought he was the luckiest man on the planet, especially that she felt the same way about him. Both of their familes were livid because of the colour mixing and especially when they ran off together, to Sugar Valley and got married, like a pair of stupid teenagers. He tuts at himself which makes me laugh.
He hands me a photograph of my Mother.
"You can keep that ... Mace has told me you don't have any pictures of your Mother." he smiles at me.
He continues to tell me that they had talked about having children and he said they wouldn't start trying for a baby until she had cut out the drinking completely. However, accidents happen and Slate was on the way. She did cut down the drinking and as far as he was concerned at the time she had completely stopped, however she did later admit to still drinking on the sly all the way through her pregnancy.
Life was fairly good until the day that Slate faded.
After that she hit the drink again, pretty badly at first while she was grieving, and before the year was out she started saying she wanted another child. He told her there was no way they would have another baby until she had stopped the drinking permanently, he even blamed Slates death on her drinking while she was pregnant. He told her that he couldn't carry on with their marriage if she continued to drink, so she went to rehab to get herself clean. After rehab she drove him crazy, especially when Aqua was pregnant with Forrest, pushing and pushing for another baby, he thought it was too soon but she proved she was clean so they started to try for one. Me. He thought it would help her to get over Slate as well as keep the alcohol addiction away.
The first five months of the pregnancy were fine, she was completely sober and happy. Out of the blue one day, she just started drinking excessively again, he came back from work and found her totally hammered. He didn't realize at the time that they were only a few months away from Slates birthday. He would have been 2 years old on the 2nd of March that year, and he thinks that is what set her off drinking again.
"Every day I came home from work and found her hammered, I was petrified, she was pouring whiskey down her neck like it was water!! I asked Spicey and Lemon Muffin for some medical advice, they scared the hell out of me telling me what her drinking might be doing to the baby she was carrying. I tried everything that I could to stop her from drinking, but she wouldn't listen and totally went off the rails to the point where she was uncontrollable. I used to have to go to work with black eyes and split lips ... I was so embarrassed, everyone knowing my wife was a violent drunk and I couldn't control her!! You don't know how desperate I got because it is no fun trying to stop an alcoholic from drinking!!" he stares down at the photograph album and starts to get upset.
I laugh then because for a second he almost made me feel sorry for him. I tell him that he does not need to tell me, I am an alcoholic if he doesn't already know. I used to see how desperate Forrest got sometimes trying to stop me, there is nothing that anyone can do or say to stop an alcoholic from drinking. An addict will not stop unless they really want to stop themselves.
He continues to tell me that he was scared because of the damage that she could be doing to the baby that she was carrying, me, and his fears became a reality when she went into labour after a drunken fall while she was totally smashed out of her head and only seven months pregnant. She was so smashed she didn't even know what was happening to her, her waters broke and there was blood everywhere, she didn't feel a thing because the amount of alcohol she had drank must have numbed the pain. He realised what was happening and called an ambulance. They could not stop the labour and she was so smashed that she had to have an emergency c section, for two reasons, because of the state that she was in and to give me a chance of surviving.
He flips a few pages of the album and takes a handful of photographs out and hands them to me. The sight of them makes me gasp out loud and I can hardly catch my breath. Photographs of me as a tiny premature baby in an incubator, tubes and wires everywhere. I am a doctor and it not like I have never seen a premature baby before, but it a sight that I don't like seeing, and it makes it that little bit more shocking knowing that tiny premature baby is me.
"That is what your Mother did to you and what you looked like when you arrived." he smiles at me "You was so tiny, you fitted in the palm of my hand and you weighed no more than a bag of sugar. Lemon Muffin, she knitted you a load of tiny clothes, because you was so small, we couldn't find even dolls clothes to fit you at first. I actually still have all of those tiny clothes, I will have to show you sometime." we both laugh for a moment, but I wander why nobody has ever told me any of this stuff?! "Not only did you have to contend with being premature, you were showing signs of having Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as well as having to go through the withdrawal process because you were born with a dependency on alcohol. You was born an addict. All the alcohol that she swallowed while she was carrying you, was going through you and you was getting intoxicated along with her. They really didn't hold much hope of you surviving and it was a miracle that you did, you survived against all the odds!!" he smiles at me "That is why I said you are my special little miracle! You surviving also saved me, I think I would have lost my mind if I had had to bury a second child so soon after the first."
He doesn't give me a chance to say anything before he starts to explain to me then that because of how critical I was, I was moved over to Raspberry Hill General because they were far better equipped to deal with my condition there. He moved over to Raspberry Hill and stayed in a grotty motel close to the hospital where I spent the first six months of my life and he was there with me every single day.
"So where was Mom?" I frown at him
"Oh your Mother was uncontrollable at that point, and I was past caring, too busy concentrating on you!! She was permanently off her face, fowl mouthed and reeking of booze, to busy drowning her sorrows because of it being Slates 2nd birthday. I don't think she even realized for a few weeks that you had even been born, or that I wasn't there!! She did not come anywhere near the hospital to see you at first." he tuts "When she did bother to grace us with her presence, she ended up getting herself arrested and locked up for a few months ... I bet you don't even know that your mother has done time do you?!" I shake my head in denial, pretty shocked by that. "Yeah .. she came into the baby unit, a bottle of whiskey in her hand, so drunk she was sluring her words and falling all over the place, she could hardly stand. Berry knows how she made it from Sugar Valley to the hospital in Raspberry Hill. She actually tried to take you out of the incubator ... she nearly faded you trying to disconnect all the tubes and wires!! It took me and quite a few doctors and nurses to get her away from you." My eyes widen with shock. "They phoned the police, who dragged social services in ... then I had a hells game!!"
He starts to explain that social services became involved because the hospital had informed them that they were worried about my future. It was my Mother's fault that I was born in the condition that I was in due to her excessive drinking, and also being an alcoholic, she was in no fit state to look after a baby, especially a premature one fighting for its life, that she had nearly just faded. The situation, for Social Services, became a lot more serious because as soon as Mom was released from prison she went straight back on the booze.
"They are very sly and heartless those Social Services people!!" he snaps "I nearly faded, I turned up at the hospital as I did every day, it was the 2nd of September, and the berry holes had taken you during the night!!" he sits there shaking his head "The doctors had told me that you were close to being discharged, and there was me thinking I was about to take you home, and they stole you from right under my nose!! I nearly got myself arrested kicking off!! It did not help, the day was not a good one as it was, the anniversary of Slate fading, I though I was going crazy, my second child taken away from me on exactly the same day two years apart!!"
"Social services took me away?"
"Yes, I didn't know where they had taken you to at first, because they wouldn't tell me or let me see you. It took me over two months of hell and fighting to get you back!! You might find this amusing, you had been placed with a foster family in Cherry Hill. I had to fly out to Cherry Hill to get you back."
"Straight up!! Cherry Hill, it is a little ironic that you should settle down there later in life, don't you think!" he smiles at me "I suppose it was the logical town to place you in when you was a baby, you being a mixed berry, and they couldn't have placed you out in the coded world, or in Sugar Valley."
"Where exactly was I in Cherry Hill?"
"Butterfly Walk." my eyes widen and he laughs at me. "Yes, Mace tells me that is three streets away from where you are living now." he laughs at the expression on my face.
"That is messed up!!" I laugh with him "So what did Mom think about me being in care and fostered out?"
"Honestly at the time, I don't know. Mine and your Mother's relationship was done, as far as I was concerned, I stayed in Rasberry Hill while I was fighting to get you back. Raven was permanently hammered, in Sugar Valley, so Aqua kept telling me. I don't think she had a clue what was going on with you, or even that it was all her fault. Social services had taken you away because of her and they would not let me have you as long as she was in the picture."
"So what did you do? How did you get me back?"
"I had to get your Mother completely out of my life, if there was any hope of ever getting you back. So I kicked her out of the house and got her sectioned and applied for a court order to remove all of her parental rights to you and an injunction to keep her away from the both of us and filed for a divorce. Luckily that satisfied social services and they gave you back to me, eventually" he rolls his eyes "Mind I had them watching me like a hawk everyday for six months. When they were satisfied that I was taking good care of you on my own, and your Mother was not around, they finally left us alone."
"So Mom, played absolutely no part in my life for the first 12 months of my life?!" I am shocked.
"No, it was actually a lot longer than that, you was close to two before she reappeared full time again. Up until then, I was a single parent and she saw you only once, the day she nearly faded you removing you from the incubator." his face twists "I still have flashback and nightmares of that day, even now, of her drunk and taking you out of the incubator, tugging at the wires and tubes like an idiot sluring her words saying she was taking you home. All the alarms were ringing like crazy on the machines!! She actually disconnected you from the ventilator by ripping the oxygen tube out of your nose, there was blood coming out of your nose and mouth because she tore the inside of your delicate little nose open, and of course you couldn't breath for yourself at that time. You cried for a second then went deadly silent and I thought she had faded you. There was all sorts of panic going on with the doctors and nurses while they tried to get you reattached to all the machines and stabilize you. They even warned me that she might have caused brain damage, starving you of oxygen, but thankfully that didn't turn out to be the case."
I sit there just staring at him, wide eyed and shaken, struggling to believe it of my Mother, the woman that I have idolised and always put on a pedistal for the whole of my life.
"Turmeric is only a year younger than me. So where did T come from, while all this was going on with me, only 12 months after I was born?"
He laughs for a moment.
"Fudge Knight, was an old girlfriend of mine, I actually dumped her for your mother, in my stupidity!! While I was in Raspberry Hill with you, I bumped into her. At first, we were just friends. Aqua, Atlantis, and Spicy used to take it in turns when they could to come over to Raspberry Hill and sit in with me to keep me company and so did Fudge. She also used to sit alone with you, when I had to go back to work, so you were not alone. After she left prison, I was always scared that your Mother might turn up when I was not around, and try to take you out of the incubator again." he rolls his eyes "I was an emotional wreck, and Fudge helped me through a very hard time, I don't think I would have got through it without her. I moved out of the grotty motel and in with Fudge temporarily, and I guess it was very easy for us to fall back into our relationship, we got a little too close as well as carried away. Turmeric was a stupid accident on both our parts." he sighs "I made life harder for myself because I had no choice but to return to Sugar Valley with you."
He shows me a picture of Fudge, Turmerics Mother, actually holding me at the hospital. I laugh because I can see that Turmeric looks very much like her facially.
"I don't get it, if you had Fudge, and Turmeric on the way, why didn't you just move back to Raspberry Hill, because obviously you didn't!!"
"You see I had a problem, you being a mixed berry, on the outside you might look like a pure berry, but underneath you have grey genes." he laughs then "If I had known you was going to turn out gay, I would have risked it and done what I wanted to do, taken you into the coded world and let you live your life out there as a pure berry. Fudge was quite happy to take you on and adopt you." he laughs for a moment. "However, I expected you to be straight, and it wouldn't have been fair on you, when it came to dating and having children, you wouldn't have been able to unless you returned to Sugar Valley, there was always the chance of the grey coming out in your children and besides you having Mixed Berry stamped all over your medical and birth records, there was no getting away with it."
He tells me then when he finally got me back off social services, he took me back to Sugar Valley because he was scared of getting too comfortable in Raspberry Hill with Fudge where he really wanted to be. Fudge had to keep a low profile because of social services sniffing around, they worried that Turmeric's care might be scrutinized like mine was, so they kept right out of the picture, but we went over to visit them quite often. He tells me that he had lots of help with me from Aqua especially, she used to look after me when he was at work. He laughs when he tells me that I became obsessed and emotionally attached to Forrest from a very early age. There was only a month in age difference between me and Forrest, development wise Forrest was up and off way before I was, but in a way spending so much time together, he helped me to progress quicker than they expected me too being a premature baby, because I was constantly trying to copy everything that Forrest was doing. He tells me that I used to cling to Forrest and follow him around constantly, and Forrest was like a Mother hen, he used to talk for me, and do everything for me and I used to constantly cry after him when he was not around. This amuses me a little, but it also makes me think.
He says we had over a year together alone, just the two of us, before my Mother started lurking around in the background after she came out of another stint in rehab, demanding to see me. She was clean and sober and a lot more like her old self and he made the mistake of feeling sorry for her. He knew how Slates fading had affected her and how desperate she had been to have another baby and to now see me. He made the mistake of letting her come to see me, at first just once a week. He was finding it very hard, he became very paranoid, and got to the point where he would sit and watch me all the time that I was sleeping, too scared to sleep himself in case there was a repeat of what happened to their first baby and I faded in my sleep, and there was more chances of it happening with me being premature. As there was no sign of her drinking at all and everything was quite amicable she slowly managed to worm her way back into our lives. She started coming more than once a week and used to sit and watch me while he slept and visa versa, she moved back in and for a short time their relationship, friendship wise, was better than it had ever been.
"So you got remarried?" I frown at him
"Oh no!! Me and your Mother never got remarried!!" I raise my eyebrows at him,
"So all the time we thought you were married you weren't!!"
"Yes." he laughs "I have only been married twice, once to your Mother, which last only four years, and then Fudge not long after I ... err ... was supposidly faded."
He quickly starts talking again and explain that my parents only stayed together and living under the same roof because of me. If I had been a pure berry, me and him would have been long gone, but being mixed he was stuck in Sugar Valley. Raven was even more stuck being grey and me being brown, it was not like she could have left Sugar Valley with me either, not that he would ever have let her, because she actually had no parental rights where I was concerned.
"Fudge and Raven both knew that I was living a double life of sorts, there was nothing I could do, and they just had to put up with it. Fudge, who I was in a romantic relationship with, understood that I was tied down to Sugar Valley because of you. Raven, who I was not having a romantic relationship with, knew I did not want to be here. She had killed our relationship and that if it was not for you I wouldn't have been there at all. I kind of got myself backed into a corner, and your Mother liked to keep up the pretense to everyone that we were still happily married and she chose to keep Fudge and my other two children a secret."
He passes me a photograph, a copy of which I have seen only recently, at Forrest's when I was looking for pictures of Amber for Slate.
"This photograph is from the day that you actually met your Mother properly, for the very first time."
"Yes. I had Aqua, Atlantis and Forrest round that day, because I really did not know how it was going to go. At the time me and Raven had argued for so long, I still blamed her for everything and if we had been alone, I was worried that we would end up kicking off and upsetting you. There was also how you were going to take to your Mother, you did not do strangers very well at all. You had a lot of problems because of being premature and the FAS and you was quite delicate as well as very temperamental." he smiles at me.
"So how did it go?"
"Not good. At first, you really struggled to bond with your Mother. You were only really comfortable with me, Aqua, Atlantis, Fudge, Lemon and Spicey back then. You clung to me desperately and watched your Mother quite warily. I am not sure you liked her at first, and you wouldn't go to her, you screamed the place down every time she went anywhere near you or tried to speak to you or pick you up. You actually thumped her and swore at her quite a few times that day." he laughs "It took you a few months to get used to her completely. I actually thought about cutting her contact with you a few times, because it was upsetting and unsettling you. However, I know how it is to grow up without a Mother, and I could not rob you of yours if you had the chance of having her in your life. I had to give her her dues at the time, she was really trying and keeping clean, just so she could be your Mother."
"I don't believe it, or get it!! How did I get to be so close to my Mother and hate you so much if you are telling me the truth?"
"It took me quite a while to figure that one out too!!" he rolls his eyes "By the time I figured out what was going on with you, it was too late to undo the damage."
"You switched from me to her virtually over night, it was pretty drastic. It really upset me when you became very niggly around me, you didn't want me and you became very clingy with your Mother. You had a lot of problems when you were very young especially with your behaviour, you was a hyperactive, stubborn, cantancorous little monkey, I couldn't take my eyes off you for a second when you was awake, because you would be into all sorts of michief. You got yourself banned from playschool after only one week because of your bad behaviour, they couldn't handle you!! I'm not sure how, I suspect Forrest learned it from playschool and passed it onto you, but you knew ever swear word in the dictionary by the age of two and a half and you used them constantly when you was upset or in a bad mood, which was most of the time. You always had a right viscous little tongue." he chuckles "You was a total nightmare to control sometimes, and I just put the sudden switch down to the FAS and its problems. You had already formed, what I thought, was a very unhealthy overly obsessive bond with Forrest and I thought you was doing the same thing with your Mother. However, you weren't, she basically brainwashed you, when you was a toddler. You didn't want anything I tried to give you, especially your bottles and you used to scream the place down if I tried to pick you up or go anywhere near you. It was not because of anything that I had done, it took me quite a while to realize that she had brought your sole with her dirty booze!!"
"She was giving you alcohol."
"Please tell me you are joking!!"
"No I am being deadly serious!!"
"Your Mother was giving you alcohol. Only small amounts in your milk and juice, but that small amount was enough because she had you hooked on alcohol again and totally dependent on her. She was a vindictive cow in my book, she knew exactly what she was doing, she knew that you was born with an alcohol dependency, but still she went ahead and messed you up totally by giving you alcohol again. She did it just so that she could suck you in because you was all me, you really were not bonding with her and she didn't like it. To you at such a young age, she was a means to make you feel better, I did not give you the alcohol so you didn't want me, you used to throw the bottles and cups that I gave you because I didn't feed your craving. You clung to her desperately because she was feeding your craving."
I stare at him wide eyed not quite believing what I am hearing. I am so shocked by what he has told me, I am speachless. I just sit there with my eyes closed while my brain goes into overdrive.
"I know you don't want to hear this, but the way she manipulated you into loving her, it was twisted, your mother was pure and downright evil!! You think Gravel gets it from me, but it is her he got that from!! Gravel inherited her poisonus side, and the way mine and your relationship went before I left, I used to think you both had ... but now I can see, by the kind of person you have turned out to be, thankfully you didn't inherit any of her evilness!!"
"So she must have been drinking again to give me alcohol." I frown at him
"Yes she was, but it was only in moderation, it never got as bad as it had been. As soon as she had got her feet under the table and had wormed her way back in to our lives, she started drinking again. I was a stupid fool to fall for her shit so many times!!"
He explains that when he discovered that she was giving me alcohol, that is when their serious fighting started, he was in a desperate hole, he couldn't ask anyone medically for help because if the social services had got wind of what she was doing they would have definitely taken me away permanently. He said he kicked her out and had a hells game to get me off the booze again, he had to ask Aqua for help because he could not do it on his own.
"We had months of total hell trying to get you sober, which I think is what built up your physiological hatred of me. I took away your Mother and the alcohol, and I guess in your tiny mind I was making you go through the withdrawal process by not giving you what your Mother had been giving you ... that is why I think you hate me so much. You used to take a mouthful of your milk or juice, know it didn't taste the same, then you used to scream, throw the bottle or cup and kick off royal style. It broke my heart having to watch the pain and frustration you went through, you was just a toddler and I doubt you even understood what was really going on. You should never have had to go through it. "
"So why take her back because you obviously must have done, because there is Gravel, and I honestly don't remember her never being there!" he laughs for a moment
"You were probably too young to remember and you was too busy screaming the house down, hurling abuse and crawling the walls while you went through the withdrawal process. When you started to get better and a little calmer you spent a lot of time with Forrest to distract you and it worked, sleepovers and a few weeks out in Sandy Shores, I had to take leave from work and keep you totally occupied with any fun thing that I could find for you to do to take your mind off the alcohol and craving."
"What kind of things?"
"Circus's, fun fairs, the zoo, sea life centre, swimming baths, you loved the indoor adventure playground in Sugar Falls. We travelled all over the place trying to find you entertainment, sometimes with Fudge, Turmeric and Thyme, who was just a newborn baby then. You loved the sand and sea, but being so far from the coast, I had to improvise." he chuckles "I had a few tonnes of play sand delivered and a huge paddling pool ...you had your own little seaside and adventure playground out in the back yard, you spent hours playing out there. And I got you that puppy, who used to love playing in the sand and water just as much as you did." he starts to really laugh "I wander if you can remember what you wanted to call that dog?" he looks at me in amusement.
"Spot I should imagine as that was his name."
"No. It took me hours to convince you to call him Spot." he starts to laugh again "You wanted to call that dog 'Shithead'!! Shithead was your favourite cuss word at the time." we both sit laughing for a while.
"You didn't tell me why you let Mom come back, after everything she had done."
"I had no intention of ever having your Mother back. We were done as far as I was concerned, we weren't married, she had no rights to you, and you would be better off without her, if she was going to keep feeding you alcohol. Me and Fudge were in the process of sorting out a move to Cherry Hill so we could be a family, put distance between you and Raven, and have a clean start. However, your Mother, she played a blinder, she had been gone for nearly four months when she turned back up on the door step very visibly carrying your brother!!" he tuts "I was so bloody stupid, it was not like we even had a sex life, from way before you was born, our relationship was purely platonic ... one stupid moment of madness three years down the line and I slept with her. Once!!"
"But you used to sleep in the same room, the same bed." I frown at him
"Not at first we didn't ... we actually had separate rooms. It was well after Gravel was born, when you became old enough to really take notice of things, and we only shared a room for your two's benefit. I guess you would not remember, but you have never slept in a cot, you always slept with me, you used to scream the place down if I so much as sat you in a cot. The only place you would sleep was in bed with me, and when you stayed over at Forrests you ended up sleeping between Aqua and Atlantis, you wouldn't even sleep in a cot with Forrest. I had a hells game to get you to sleep in your own bed, and the only way you would do that is if the dog slept with you."
"So why sleep in the same room and bed as Mom if you were not having a sexual relationship?"
"Your Mother was hell bent on making it look like we had a marriage and we were a normal family ... so it didn't upset the pair of you." he laughs "Just because we shared a bed, it doesn't mean we were sleeping together!!"
"So ... Mom turns up on the doorstep pregnant with Gravel ... then what?"
"What else could I do? It blew our plans to move to Cherry Hill right out of the window, which didn't go down too well with Fudge as you can imagine, especially the baby, she was furious with me!! A baby was the very last thing that I wanted or needed, another child with your Mother, it was a nightmare waiting to happen unless I took control of the situation!!"
"I threatened her, I told her she could move back in, but if I caught her drinking or giving you one drop of alcohol, she would lose both of her children. I waved my police badge at her, and told her I would have her locked up, strip her rights to the second baby like I had done with you and the three of us would dissapear. I'm not sure if my threats worked, but with Gravel she was different, she cut the drinking right down to nothing all the time she was carrying him and the pregnancy was fine. I used to breathelize her all the time to make sure she was not drinking." he chuckles. "I think she might have at least learned some lessons from you, what she did to you as a baby and not being able to have any contact with you, it did really cut her up when she was sober enough to rationalize it. She knew with the second baby, she well and truly had me trapped there and she was over the moon when he came out visibly mixed. At first I wasn't even sure the baby was going to be mine, I slept with her just the once and I hoped I had not been that unlucky!! As soon as he was born I had a paternity test done just to make sure, not that I needed to, he had my brown skin as well as my damn nose, just like Thyme!!" he sits laughing for a moment. "After Gravel arrived things settled down, she didn't try any of the tricks she played with you, because of course he was born a normal healthy child with no addiction or FAS. She did start to drink again after he was born, but it was minimal and bearable again. I think you have both always known she had a drink problem."
"Yes we knew she was an alcoholic."
"I could never quite work out if she was feeding your craving again, I suspected she was sometimes because of how much you continued to hate me and how much you still desperately clung to her constantly, but I never caught her actually doing it." he frowns at me "Tell me something, when did you consciously know you was drinking alcohol, or realized you craved it."
I sit there with my eyes closed for a moment while I think. Suddenly it hits me, I thought my alcohol problem started when I was a teenager, but it didn't, now I can actually see it started a hell of a lot earlier than that.
"I ... I think always. When I was a child she used to let me drink out of her glass when you and Gravel were not around. She also used to tip some in my drink, on the sly, if I had one. It was our secret." I look at him sheepishly "I used to know all her hiding places, and when nobody was looking, I used to help myself. She caught me a few times, but she didn't actually tell me off for it. I remember I used to feel crappy all the time, and just a mouthful of her booze used to make me feel better, but I didn't understand why. After you ... left, she didn't care, she used to let me drink and smoke openly ... of course I was just a kid, I thought it was clever back then ... but even then, I am not sure I realized I also had a drink problem. It wasn't until I became a teenager and Mom faded, that I realized. My alcohol supply went with her, that is when it really hit me."
"Bitch!! I should have known she was still up to her tricks with you." he snaps "Do you know if she was doing the same with Gravel?"
"Not as far as I know and I doubt it, he was all you, he hated it when you was away working, or wherever you was, for time. He was not close to Mom at all, like I was, she used to treat us totally differently, just like you did. To Mom Gravel was almost like an irritation to her most of the time. I think if he had a mind to, he could have drank like I was, but he didn't ... he was a little nerdy when he was little, hanging around with Mango and they always had their heads stuck in books." I laugh "Gravel has never been a big drinker, even when we were grown up. " I frown at him "FUDGE!! She did brainwash me, didn't she!! It is her fault I am a raving alcoholic!!"
"You have cured yourself of that now haven't you?!" he frowns at me
"No, not really, and I am not sure that I ever will. I abstain from drinking alcohol, but even now after 20 years of not touching it, I still crave it, but I've learned to control it. I only have to smell it and I get red eyed ... "
"I did not realize just how bad an addict you was, I thought you had grown out of it. Of course I have seen your criminal record, and I lost count of how many times you got yourself arrested for being drunk and disorderly, but still I was a little puzzled at first when Forrest told me he was shocked you had fought your addictions, both the drugs and the alcohol. Forrest never thought you would stop ... he told me you was totally uncontrollable at times."
"Yeah, I am surprised I never gave myself alcohol poisoning. I was particularly bad after we got married, especially with alcohol, he drove me too it most of the time with his nagging ... Mace is the only person who has ever been able to ... take ... my ... mind ...off it completely." I say the last part of the sentence slowly while I am thinking about what I am actually saying. The reality of what I have just said without thinking, hits me.
"So you don't crave the drugs anymore?"
"No just the alcohol." I mumble "I am still a raving alcoholic deep down, and I used to think it is because I am weak. I guess now I know, I have my Mother to thank for that!!!!"
"Yes, like I said, she bought your sole with her dirty booze, and yes she turned and kept you an alcoholic!! You were so dependent and close to her, you could not see the truth and if you did you was not old enough to understand it. You only ever saw the good in her, you used to take her side even when she was wrong, you hated me from when you was a toddler and it used to really hurt me that I couldn't get close to you and Gravel made up for it. I know I spoiled that boy when I should have treated you the same but you would not let me. You was so headstrong and verbal with all your behavioral problems because of the FAS, it was hard for me not to lose my temper with you, especially as you got older, because your behavior and especially your mouth got worse. I know I made a hell of lot of mistakes when you two were growing up and if I could roll back time I would do it all differently."
He sits quietly for a moment, and even looks upset.
"You should have told me ... why hide it all from me?"
"You was just a young child, you would never have understood at that age ... only now as an adult, I think you can actually rationalise it properly. In the past you would never have had me say a single bad word about your Mother without you losing it. How could I have made you see the truth, when I doubt you would even have listened to me." he smiles at me
"How do I know you are not just making this all up because Mom is not here to defend herself?"
"What would be the point of me making it up?" he frowns at me "There are your medical record, which I am surprised you have never looked at, and I have plenty of legal documents, especially from social services, to back up what I am saying. Besides Atlantis and Spicey will tell you exactly the same story."
"Okay, say I believe you, but none of that really matters now does it, when you left us anyway!! You walked away and you let me think that you had faded, while you have been out there happily getting on with your life!!"
"I am just getting to that ..." he laughs