Hy-Breasail: The aftermath. Chapter 3
Published Aug 12, 2015

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Part 3: Ghosts from the past

Part 3: Ghosts from the past Davis and Wilkie pottered around their gardenware store in the morning sun. The day ahead was going to be warm, it had just passed 7AM and they prepared themselves for the long hours ahead.

"Remember we start that job at the Flanahan Asylum today" Wilkie reminded Davis for the fourth time that morning, it was their first business venture outside of their store and they were equally excited and nervous.

"I know" Davis said as he inspected a newly arrived stone lion in their outdoor statues department. "We close early today, 2PM, but really 1:50 so we can re-check we've loaded everything we need into the van for the umpeenth time. I know the drill, Wilkie"

"Good" Wilkie said, "Now quit staring at that statue and come make us both a good cup of tea, but you'll have to go to the shop for sugar first". He laughed and Davis laughed too. He felt content. Their business was expanding, everything was going right for the first time in years.

He was entirely unprepared for what was about to happen next.
Wilkie went back inside and Davis followed a few seconds later. He had hardly reached the doors when he heard a man call out behind him.

He recognised the voice instantly.
"It couldn't be" he said to himself, he was in disbelief. Right in front of him stood his father. He was frozen to the spot with shock.

"I'm looking for a picnic table, I said", the man repeated himself, "can you hear me? I want to buy a picnic table!"
Davis studied his father's familiar face as he moved closer to him. It was certainly him, though the years hadn't been kind to him - he had aged all right, and not very gracefully.

Davis remembered every line, blemish and crease on his father's face, but of course his father didn't remember Davis.

"Are you listening to me?", his father's voice brought him back to the present. "Why are you looking at me like that? What is the matter with you?". He had heard it all before.
"Follow me please" Davis finally said, pulling himself together. "Our outdoor seating section is round this corner"

He longed to tell his father who he was but he knew it was useless. Davis had a new life now and the last thing he and Wilkie's business needed were rumours of a mad-man working there. He would never believe him.

Still, it was the first time he had seen a member of his family in years, and the thought of all the lost time killed him inside. He tried to act normal but on the inside he was in turmoil.
Davis suddenly stopped in his tracks and faced him. "Here are the picnic tables" he said. "Thank you" his father mumbled and went to walk on, but Davis didn't move. He couldn't leave it like this.

What had become of his family? His mother? His brothers? All the people he loved who had no recollection of him ever existing?

"I recognise your face, sir" Davis said. There was no other way to say it. "I was, uh, well you don't remember me, I knew your sons. We grew up together. A long time ago now"
"Uh huh" his father said, "that's all very interesting, but I am here to purchase a picnic table. I didn't come here to chit-chat with my children's childhood friends about times gone by"

Davis felt his heart sink a little. He was the same father he remembered; rude, uninterested in other people, sharp and cutting.

"I, well, I just wondered how they are? That's all. And your wife?"
"All but one of my son's immigrated to the states. The remaining one is a stay-at-home-father of five, and my wife passed on nearly five years ago. Does that satisfy your nosiness?" said his father. Davis froze in shock for the second time that morning. He couldn't speak.

He failed to notice Wilkie walking past from the corner of his eye. He didn't notice his father's mouth continue to move, the world around him stood still.

"What is the matter with you?" his father shouted, "Snap out of it, you are the strangest shop assistant I have ever met in my life!"
Davis walked off aimlessly, his heart ached. He didn't hear Wilkie defending him or his father berating him.

So much had changed over the years. He had never felt more miserable about Hy-Breasail turning his life upside down as he did today.
Wilkie found Davis ten minutes later sitting alone, he had returned to their home just a stone's throw away from their gardenware store.

"There you are. What was that guy's problem? Who was he?" he questioned Davis.

"Nobody, Wilkie. He was nobody" Davis said.
"Didn't sound like nobody" Wilkie remarked, he sat down. "You look like you've seen a ghost, lad"

"You could say that" Davis told him, he tried to put on a brave face. "A ghost from my past, you might say. We've all got them, haven't we? People who we haven't seen in years who pop up again at the most unexpected of times"

Wilkie didn't answer. "Why don't you get some rest? Kick back and watch some television before we start work at the asylum later? I can handle things at the store. You don't seem like yourself today, relax for a little, won't you?"
Davis opened his mouth to tell Wilkie he couldn't do it. Not today. Not now. He just needed to be alone today, to be on his own to grieve the life and family he had lost.

"Wilkie" he started, but then he looked at the old man's face. No, he couldn't let him down. Their job at the asylum was too important to Wilkie. It was their chance to prove their business worthy and themselves to be reliable businessmen.

"Just call me when we're ready to go" Davis said.
When they arrived at the asylum they waited in the reception area for a staff member to guide them to their place of work.

"Nervous?" Wilkie asked Davis, "this is a big job for us, it's okay if you are"

"I'm not" Davis said. He noticed that Wilkie had washed his work apron, he had never seen it so clean before. "I'm eager to get started". It was true, he hoped that keeping busy would shift his focus for a while from the dark cloud hanging over his head.
"Hello folks. I'm Doctor Matheson", a tall, skinny man entered the room and stood before them. They shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.

"I'll show you the site just now, but first, we have some rules that I must ask you to follow, as all visitors to this facility must", he went through an exhaustive list of do's and don'ts. Davis felt his mind wander back to his troubles. "And finally" he vaguely heard the doctor say, "we ask that you don't engage with the patients. This rule above all you must observe"
The doctor led them to an empty plot of land, it was about the size of a football field, here and there some weeds had popped up on the grass but the area was flat and workable. A blank canvas.

"And this is it" the doctor said, "Good luck with your work, gentlemen, I look forward to seeing the result"

He went back inside and Davis and Wilkie immediately set to work.

They didn't stop again for several hours, not even for a glass of water.
By the time the sun was beginning to set they had made significant headway. They had dug out two large flowerbeds, built small curbs around them and began to replant. It may not have looked like much to the untrained eye but the two men had worked tirelessly and now as they surveyed all they had done they weren't without a sense of pride.

"Why don't you go get the van started? I'll sweep up the soil I've spilled here. You've done enough. I'll be out in a minute" Wilkie said.
Davis disappeared into the building without argument. He was exhausted.

In the silence and tranquility that belongs only to a summer's evening, Wilkie watched him go.
A second later the silence was interupted. Wilkie turned around. It was the sound of someone running. And then at the bottom of the lot he saw her. The first patient he had seen all day. Evidently she was out for an evening run around the grounds.

Part of him envied her as he watched her glide by, he wished he had that sort of energy, that his knees wouldn't click and crack. His youth had faded faster than he had realised.

"Good evening" he called out. "Lovely night for a run"
Kim stopped. She looked at him. Patients and contractors didn't speak to one another, that was the rule. Surely he knew? She looked at him curiously before briefly nodding toward him and jogging on again.

The sun was getting lower in the sky and her appointed nurse would be wondering where she had gotten to if she lingered.

She approached her own living wing soon after and slowed down into a walk.

The moon had risen behind the trees now, another day had ended.

She wandered back inside, blissfully unaware of just how close she had come to a life changing moment.
To be continued. Thanks for reading..

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