Family Lies Chapter 8: Henry

Drawing of a partly-built brick wall with a sign saying: "Under construction." Caption reads: "Work in progress."

Family Lies Chapter 8: Henry

Emily sat beside her mother at the table.  She noticed Carole had put a towel on a seat for Josh to sit on. Dining chairs so valuable they had to be protected from dirty people suddenly struck her as absurd.  She could remember her three kids running in from outside, having to be nagged to even wash their hands and faces before eating, and then coming to the table thoroughly dishevelled and dirty.

“Hello,” have you eaten here before?” Elsie asked.

“Yes, I have. Quite often, in fact,” Emily answered.

“What’s your name, dear?” Elsie asked.

“I’m Emily.”

“I have a daughter named Emily!”

“I think you’ve told me about her before.”

“She doesn’t come to visit me though.”

“I’m sorry about that.  Have you met everyone else?”

Emily introduced the people Elsie saw five days per week. 

When the introductions got to Josh, Elsie asked: “Is this your young man?”

“No, Josh is the gardener.  He grows those amazing roses, the ones we put in the vase in your room.”

“Roses.  Roses always make me think of my husband, Henry.”

“That’s nice,” Emily said.  “Did he grow roses?”

“Oh no, not him.  Henry never grew anything.”

“Oh, I see.” Emily did not see.

The conversation turned to the events of the past few days, the notes, the threats.

“I can’t believe he, whoever he is, involved a kid.”

“No,” Elsie said.  “He shouldn’t have involved the kid.  Henry should have known better.”

“Henry? He involved a kid in something?” Emily asked.

“She was his student.  He shouldn’t have done it.”

Everyone was looking at Elsie.

“Done what?” Emily asked.

“He got her pregnant, dear,”Elsie said.

“But didn’t you tell me he taught primary school? He taught little children.”

“She was a child.  A child had a child.  Henry shouldn’t have done that.”

“No,” Jenny said. “He absolutely should not.”

“What happened to the child?” Emily asked.

“What child, dear?” Elsie asked.

“Henry’s child.”

“Emily? I think she’s gone outside to play.  I should go and check on her.”

“It’s all right, we’ll check on her,” Emily said.

Everyone around the table seemed to be in shocked silence.

Emily was, once again, glad she had not known her father.  

“What’s you’re name again, dear,” Elsie asked.

“I’m Emily, and these are my friends,” Emily said.

“Oh how nice! My daughter’s name is Emily.  She doesn’t visit me though, I think she might be too busy.”

Emily put her elbows on the table, and put her face in her hands.  She didn’t think she could cope with any more.

Josh spoke up, “Hey Mrs Clark, would you like to come out to the garden with me?  I could show you the roses?”

“Oh yes,” Elsie said.  “Do you know roses always remind me of my husband, Henry.”

“Really?  Josh said, “Well, we’ve got some lovely ones in the garden here.  The Dark Desires are blooming nicely now, and there’s a beautiful Blue Moon but just starting to open.  Then there’s the Perfume Passion as well, they’re really looking and smelling great at the moment.”

He wheeled the elderly woman’s wheelchair out of the back door.

Carole quietly started to clear away dishes.

Jenny put a hand gently on Emily’s shoulder. 

“It all just gets worse and worse,” Emily said.

“Your mother never told you before?”

“No.  She’s kept that a secret all this time.  The other day she was telling Kym and me about a girl’s father coming yelling for Henry.  I didn’t think ‘girl’ meant primary school girl. She had to be twelve or younger.  My father was a monster.”

“And yet you turned out to be so kind you’d provide a lawyer for a kid who delivered death threats to you.  You can’t change the past or who he was.”

“If he had a child, somewhere out there I could have a sister or brother.  This person who sent Jacob really could be a sibling I didn’t know about.”

“Even if they are, any remotely sane person would have sent you a letter, or phoned or contacted you on social media, and introduced themselves.”

“So they’re crazy? You don’t think they might actually believe I knew what they were talking about?”

“Even if they did, they should have gone about it differently.”

“I guess I should tell the police about this.” Emily said. “I think I’ll call Jessica as well.”

Josh wheeled Elsie back in from the yard.

“This young man’s a gardener,” Elsie informed them. “He grows the most wonderful roses. You really should see them.”

“We’ve seen them,” Emily said.  “And you’re right, they are perfect. Josh is an incredibly good gardener.”

“Who is Josh, dear?” Elsie asked, “and what’s your name?”

Chapters of Family Lies

Note, this is the first draft. What eventually is published as a book (if it is published as a book), will be edited, rewritten, and re-edited, and may not have much in common with this first draft.

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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