Thursday, August 16, 2018


Our word for today is secrets.....So I guess I have to be "out" about this. I have been secretly writing a book. It's not really one of those straightforward books, it's being written in chapters here and there. Every once in a while I post a paragraph or two to see how it looks in public. Here is a short passage.

It was a grey day in November when Tessa called to say she had given birth to a boy, whom she would name, Liam. Would I come to see him? I didn’t hesitate. I threw on some clothes and caught the central line at Ealing Broadway. My two hour ride to Epping Forest gave me time to think about Tessa and her situation. Tessa was 28, unmarried and Catholic. The first time she had ever had sexual intercourse was with the father of her child. He was a friend of a friend, in from out of town and asked, if he could stay at the flat. This was not an unusual request. We often put people up in the living room. What was unusual was that Tessa fell in love with him, almost immediately.

Patrick knew he had charm and used this charm on women. Tessa was just one more notch in his belt. On the other hand, Tessa's life was Patrick. When she realized she was pregnant, she wrote to him. He did have the decency to come to London and talk. 

Tessa was thrilled to see him. She wanted to fall into his arms and be told everything would be all right.

He began by saying, "Well, this is unfortunate, isn't it. Have you considered and abortion?"

Tessa was stunned, she couldn't speak. 

He droned on, "I believe, they're in the neighbourhood of £100.00" I could offer you the money".

When she finally found her voice, Tessa, stood her ground, "You said you were in love with me. I think we should be married."

It was Patrick's turn to be dumbfounded. He cleared his throat and with a slight rasp said,"I, I don't think that's possible. You see, I'm already engaged."

Tessa didn't see. In a blind rage, she screamed, "liar, cheat, coward. You told me you had no one and you needed me. I believed you. You weren't interested in me, just yourself. Abortion is out of the question. Take your filthy money, and your filthy body out of here. Just remember that a child of yours will, one day, wander the earth looking for you."

He left. A month later, we heard through a friend, that Patrick had married and moved to Tanzania.

I spent days consoling Tessa, commiserating with her, willing the pregnancy to end. She spent those days in and out of tears, both loving and hating Patrick, wondering about the child she was carrying, and worrying about herself. It was one of the saddest times in my life.

I arrived at Epping Forest and took a taxi to the convent. It was a quiet home both for the Sisters of Charity and for unwed mothers. It was not the Magdelene Laundries. Tessa took me into the nursery. She had been crying. 

"I know I have to do this for him," Tessa said. "I've signed the adoption papers. I love him too much to have him grow up without a proper home. He needs a father." She sobbed again.

When I saw this newborn in his crib, I could have cried too. I have never forgotten the moment. He was a beautiful child and she was going to have to leave him there. I hated Patrick for creating all this grief.

I often wonder, if the child had been a girl, would Tessa have kept her. 

Years later, I was at a rugby match. We were playing a visting team from Britain. Suddenly, I realized that one of their coaches was Patrick's father. Rugby, even international Rugby, is a small world. People know each other. I stood across the room, while he give a short  speech and thought, you probably don’t know that you have a grandchild, who was adopted at birth. I wonder if Patrick has had children and if our speaker has grandchildren. The irony, of course, would be, no. 

How many people know things about you or you know things about other people that can never be told. Perhaps it's the secrets we carry through life, that bind us to one another.

The pictures? This is not a picture book :)

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