A Series of Improbable Events
Abe rapped his fingers against the steering wheel as he sped along the road. He checked his rear view mirror as a car honked loudly behind him.
In the split-second it took him to do so, a figure stepped out in front of his car. A loud thud rattled the car.
Pulling to a stop, he scrambled out of his seat.
An old woman –and that was all that Abe could infer about her before light appeared and swallowed her whole, blinking her out of existence.
His heart began to beat in triple time. She’s got Henry’s condition, Abe thought, feeling half-crazed.
How is that possible? How many people have it? Who was she?
Abe makes a snap decision; he is going to go down to the East river to investigate. Yes, that’s what he’d do.
Arriving there, he retrieved the tracksuit and towel perpetually stored in his boot. Soft dirt gave way under his feet as he picked his way down to the water line hesitantly.
Huddling there in the water, a young woman who looked an awful lot like – no, couldn’t be. It’s not possible. No.
His mouth hung open in shock.
The young woman nodded, blonde tresses sticking to her back. “I don’t know how I got here.”
She grabbed her throat suddenly, a dazed and confused expression crossing her very young face, “What happened to my voice?”
“Uh, I’m not sure how to say this but you’re . . .” he gestured in the general vicinity of her body, causing her to look down and a small squeal of surprise escaped her lips. She floundered in the water for a moment.
Taking mercy on her, Abe woodenly handed over the towel he had draped over his forearm, which she quickly wrapped around herself.
Swiftly drying, she slipped on the clothes that Abe offered her.
“Sorry, they’re a bit big; usually they’re Dad’s.” Abe startled himself; he hadn’t called Henry ‘Dad’ in a long time.
Thoughts raced through his head at lightning speed;how was it that he managed to get two parents that were immortal? How the hell was that possible? What the hell was going on with his life?
“I guess this isn’t the weirdest thing to happen in this family,” Abigail murmured, Abe laughed at her plucky statement; just what he needed to shake the blanket of incredulity that had settled over his shoulders.
“No, I guess it’s not. Come back to the shop, we’ll get you some real clothes.”
“Henry, Abe just called,” Jo declared as she entered the morgue. “He said there’s a visitor who you would probably like to see – definitely like to see.”
“Hmm,” Henry said, striping off his gloves, “And who might this visitor be?”
“I don’t know, but he said you should come home right away.”
Henry froze – what if it’s Adam? His body ran hot and cold for a moment. He quickly dismissed this notion after the recession of fear allowed rational thought to enter his brain; Adam left the country. But just to be sure – “Did he seem in any kind of trouble, Detective?”
“Nope,” she said, popping the ‘p’. His body relaxed with the assurance.
“Good, then,” he said as he began to quickly tidy up his things.
“Why would he be in trouble?” Henry continued packing up. “Henry?”
“No reason; just being cautious.” He replied smoothly.
Jo perused him dubiously for a few seconds before dismissing it as another of Henry’s idiosyncrasies.
“Do you want a ride? I need a break from paperwork.”
“That would be wonderful, Jo!” he agreed heartily, accepting the change in topic far too readily.
Abe ushered Abigail up the stairs after setting down the phone. “Let’s get you into some real clothes,” he said, echoing his earlier statement.
Abigail wandered around the living room as Abe left to scrounge up some clothes, touching different pieces on the mantel piece as she went, smiling at a picture of Henry and Abe arm in arm in front the antiques store.
Continuing, she noticed a few pieces from their home; the lamp that she used to read under until late at night when Henry’s shift ran longer than hers, the mini wooden clogs from Amsterdam, the clumsily constructed vase that Abe had made as a teenager that had a ubiquitous presence in any house they inhabited.
Abe returned with one of Henry’s dress shirts, his slouchy knit jumper and a skirt that appeared to be her own from many years ago.
“Thank you, Abe,” she said warmly.
Abe stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her tightly, “I’ve missed you, Mum.” His voice was gruff and strained.
“My dear Abe,” she breathed, returning the hug, “I’ve missed you with every piece of my heart.”
When Abe finally let go, he swabbed his fingers under his eyes as Abigail did this same.
Clearing his throat, he said, “Let me show you to the bathroom.”
The door jingled as Henry stepped through.
“Up here,” Abe called.
“Would you like to come up?” Henry asked Jo.
“I wouldn’t want to impose,” she said easily. “From the way Abe spoke it seemed like it was someone pretty important.”
“No, I insist; let me make you a coffee for your troubles,” Henry pushed good-naturedly.
Jo acquiesced with a roll of her eyes and followed him up the stairs.
“Hello, Abe,” she greeted.
“Oh . . .,” he said, sounding uncertain. “Detective . . . thank you for bringing him home.”
“So, who is this very important visitor?” Henry piped up.
Abe rubbed his hands together as if trying to work up to something as he glanced awkwardly at Jo and turned to Henry, lowering his voice. “Henry, I don’t think you really want Jo here to greet . . . our visitor.”
“Well, who is it?” Henry replied obstinately “I promised Jo a coffee.”
Abe stared at him as if trying to communicate some unspoken message.
“Henry?” came a sweetly familiar voice from the hallway, one that he had not heard in very many years.
Henry’s head snapped up and his eyes locked on the figure in the doorway.
“Abigail,” he breathed. Someone had planted a jackhammer in his heart; it thudded around his chest cavity, destroying everything in its wake and threatening to drill a hole through his ribs. Abigail – Abigail. How? She looked to Henry’s eyes to be all of 30.
Not removing his eyes from Abigail’s face, he said to Abe, “Please tell me this is not some grand illusion.” Henry felt his whole being constrict with hope and disbelief.
Abe tore his eyes away from Jo who had begun scrutinising his mother the second Henry said her name, and brought his eyes up and rested them on Abigail.
“No, it most certainly is not,” he said softly. Clearing his throat he said, “I guess you could say I bumped into her on the way home and then we went for a – walk, by the East river.”
Henry nodded vaguely to convey that he had heard – even if he didn’t understand - unable to tear his eyes away for fear that she would be taken away by some cosmic power.
As if in a trance, he drifted towards Abigail. Once within reaching distance, he held his hand out as if to touch her face but stopped just short. Abigail cupped his hand and pressed it to her cheek, leaning her face into the gentle warmth and familiar lines of his hand.
“Henry,” she sighed at the touch of his hand.
Henry reached out the other hand to finger the curling ends of her wet hair.
“Does this mean what I think it means,” he said, with a surprising intensity.
“I don’t know, Henry,” she murmured, grabbing the hand that was playing with her hair and stepping into his space. “We can only hope.”
On instinct, Henry brought his arms up around her shoulders and squeezed gently. His lips rested against the soft wispy hairs along her hair line.
“My darling Abigail, there are no words to express how deeply I’ve missed you,” he intoned, the vibrations from his words sending sparks of electricity skittering across her skin.
Silent tears of happiness began to drip down both their faces.
After a few minutes passed, Abigail spoke: “You kept my skirt,” she laughed wetly.
“You kept my heart,” Henry replied with a corny grin, resting his forehead against hers.
“You’re always so dramatic Henry,” Abigail said with a sniff and a giggle. “It’s okay, though; I love you anyway.” She sniffed and rolled her lips between her teeth in an attempt to compose herself and Henry couldn’t help the smile that broke across his face as he looked at her with complete adoration and love.
When she turned her head to the side, she saw Abe standing by himself with a wide smile and a damp face. Henry continued to lean his forehead against hers, but Abigail gestured for Abe to join them.
They wrapped themselves together – as one unit, just as they were meant to be – and Henry felt the stone of grief he had carried around for 30 years dissolve into dust to be replaced by pure sunlight, otherwise known as one of Abigail’s purest smiles.
When they broke apart minutes later, Henry looked around. “Where’s Jo?”
Abe dug around in his pocket and proffered him a note.
You looked pretty caught up.
Don’t worry; I’ll get coffee off you another time.
- Jo :)
I’ll let Leui know that you’re taking a personal day tomorrow.
Henry smiled at the small act of kindness and turned back to Abigail. “What say you, you stay here tonight? We talk about the future?”
Abigail nodded and pressed a chaste kiss against his lips; a promise of more to come.