She sat on a bench in the garden, her pensive face silhouetted by the moon. Her dear mother had been laid to rest that afternoon. She heard footsteps behind her, and turned slightly. “Is that you, ‘Drew?”, she asked. “Mandi!”, he exclaimed, “What are you doing out here?”
“I miss her so much, she was too young to die. ”
“I know. I miss her, too. ” They both knew who the other was thinking of. Unbeknown to them, their father cried himself to sleep that night. They all missed the beautiful, gentle lady they were proud to call mum.
Fifteen year old Mandi and seventeen year old Andrew sat together in silence, each with their own thoughts. Andrew was the first to speak again. “Don’t you think we should go in now?”
“You’re going to get sick, sitting there in only your pyjamas.”
“I don’t care.”
“Look, why don’t we go inside, stoke the fire up and make some hot chocolate?”
Mandi hesitated. “Fine.”
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••Andrew groaned. “It’s only 1:00. I would have thought it would be later than that. Another six, wretched hours to pass still.”
Mandi sighed as she stirred the pot. “Feels like this night will never end.”, she commented.
“May I join you?”
“Dad!”, they exclaimed in unison, “we thought you were asleep!”
“I was having nightmares.”
Mandi sighed. “I was scared I was going to have nightmares, too, so I sat out in the garden until ‘Drew came and made me come in.”
“It was a good thing, too, else you would have caught a bad cold!”, Drew commented.
“Do I smell hot chocolate?”, Dad asked.
“Oh, no. The milk!” Mandi cried. She rushed over to the stove and grabbed the wisk. “Oh dear! I hope it isn’t burnt.” She checked to bottom of the pot. “Phew, that was close! I’m glad you reminded me in time. I don’t think I could have taken it if something else went wrong today.” She sat down and put her head in her hands.
Drew pulled out three mugs from the cupboard. “You want some, Dad?”, he asked.
“Sure, if there’s any spare. ”
The three settled down on the couch and sipped their hot drinks. Mandy tucked her feet underneath her and sighed, “I want to go to sleep but I’m afraid I’ll get nightmares.”
“How about we have a prayer together?”, Dad asked.
“Sure, will you pray?”, Drew queried.
“Ok, if you and Mandy don’t want to.” “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of having Mum all these years. Please help us to trust you, because we know that, ‘All things work together for good, to them that love God’. Please give us a peaceful sleep with no nightmares. We thank you for giving us courage to get through this day. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.”
“Thanks Dad, sleep well.”, Mandy kissed her father on the cheek and leaned to give her brother a hug. “Good night Drew, thanks for the hot chocolate.”
“You’re welcome. Thanks for the company.” He smiled at her.
It was 10:00 o’clock in the morning when Mandy woke up. She heard noises in the kitchen, so she slipped into her dressing gown and slippers, and walked down the corridor.
“Morning Dad.”, She said.
“Morning Honey, how did you sleep?”, he asked.
“Not too bad, no nightmares, praise God.”
“Amen! Drew is still asleep, so I fixed myself some porridge. There’s some left in the pot if you want?”
“Thanks. I think I’ll just have some cornflakes.”
“Ok, up to you. Enjoy your brekkies, I’m going for a quick walk.”
“Yup, thanks Dad. Enjoy your walk.”
Dad walked out the door and Mandy went into the kitchen. “Man, everything’s a mess. I guess I’d better clean up a bit before I have brekkie.”
“Morning Mandy”,said Drew, as he walked into the kitchen rubbing his eyes. “What time is it?”
Mandy glanced up at the clock. “Oh my goodness! It’s 11:30, and I still haven’t had breakfast. Well, the kitchen is basically clean so let’s sit down and eat something. I’m starving!”
Thanks for that, Sis.”,Drew said.
“You’re welcome, “she smiled.
After breakfast and cleaning up the rest of the kitchen, Mandi went to her room and opened her wardrobe.
“Hmmm, what should I wear?”, she thought. “I’m just going to wear something comfy. I don’t care what I look like at the moment.” She decided on a pair of grey track pants, and old T-shirt, and a cosy red hoody. Then she sat down at her desk and opened her laptop. As she waited for it to load, she sifted through some of the sympathy letters they had received. One of them caught her eye. It had a strange look about it. Mandi wasn’t sure what was so different about it. She picked it up and opened it. There was a note inside. She unfolded it and read,” To Mr. Jacob Phillips,
Something that had been in my possession for many years now, that I think may interest you.” There was no name on the bottom so she checked the back of the envelope to see if there was a name there. “That’s strange, no name anywhere. Anyway, I look at the letter. Maybe that will tell me.” With that she unfolded the yellow, faded letter. It read.
17 March, 1997
The journey has not been easy. Mother had suffered greatly with the rocking. There have been many storms and other than a few privileged people, everyone spends their time at the railing. The smell is not conducive to good health, as are the rats. I try and get her up on deck in the fresh air as much as possible, but with her back, the stairs are too much for her. I must go now, as I hear mother calling. Our greatest love to you all,
“Wow! This is a letter from mum.”, exclaimed Mandi,”I wonder where the ship was headed. And who is this Rick?”
As Mandi sat pondering, she heard the back door open. “Dad? Is that you?”, she called. Her father walked down the hallway, puffing. “Yup, it’s me, Honey.”
“Who was Rick?”, Mandi asked. Dad paled slightly, although Mandi didn’t notice it. “Rick, huh? What makes you ask?”
“Well, someone sent us a letter and a note. The letter is a really old one from Mum and it’s addressed to a Rick.”
“May I see it?”
“Sure.” Mandi picked up the letter and the note and handed it to Dad. He as read the note and the letter, tears came to his eyes. “Dad!”, Mandi exclaimed,”what’s the matter?”
“Oh Honey it’s a long story. Is there a name on the envelope?”
“No, and it doesn’t say what town it’s from either. What do you mean, a long story?” Dad sat down on her bed and Mandi swung around on her chair to face him.
“Well, a long time ago, before your mother and I got married, she had a little brother named Rick. He was the baby of the family and the favourite of everyone. When your mother was twenty years old, your grandmother became ill. The doctor thought a change of scenery and a warmer climate would help. So Mum and Grandma went on a cruise to India. Unfortunately there were a lot of storms on the way, and as it turned out, the trip did more damage than good. During the time they were gone, Mum wrote home often, addressing these letters to Rick. However, she never received a reply. And when the reached India, they found a letter saying that Rick had disappeared. It nearly broke your mother’s heart to hear this, and your grandma’s, too. They boarded the next plane home. Well, Grandma eventually recovered, but your Mother continued to look for her little brother for the rest of her life. No one knows why he disappeared. No one has seen or heard from him. And ONLY Rick could have sent that letter.” Dad burst into tears. Mandi hopped up off her chair, sat down next to him and gave him a hug. “If only he had written sooner.”,Dad said.” It would have meant so much to Mum. But it’s too late now.” Tears were running down both their faces. “If only.”
“There must be some way to find him!”, Mandi said to herself. Her father was in the shower after his run. She had heard, for the first time, the story of how her uncle had disappeared, and she was determined to find him. She walked out of her bedroom down the hall to her brother’s bedroom. “Drew? It’s Mandi. Can I come in?”
“Sure, the door’s open.” Seeing her face he asked,”What’s the matter?”
Mandi sat down and told him the story of Rick. Drew looked troubled. Then he spoke. “I’m afraid if it doesn’t show a town on the stamp then there’s no way to track it. For all we know he may have changed his name. I don’t think there is anything to do.” He shrugged his shoulders hopelessly. Mandi groaned, stood up, and walked back to her room and sat down before her forgotten computer. She stared at it for a while, sighed and opened up mail. There were more sympathy emails. A few more arrived. She closed mail and opened up safari. She poised her fingers over the keyboard. Then, for some unknown reason, she typed in Rick Pierce. There were several results for different websites. Then a newspaper article caught her attention. It was about her missing uncle! However, reading the article provided her with no new information so she went back to her original search. “I wonder what he looks like.”, she mused. “I must ask Dad.”
A few busy days went by, during which, the search for her uncle was forgotten. Then, nearly a week later, they received another letter. It held another note and letter. The note read the same, and the letter was,again, addressed to Rick, from Esme. This time the envelope had a stamp saying what town it was posted from. Mandi immediately googled the town. No clues were found that would help her as it was a large town, with a large population. On Sunday, the three of them drove to the town and looked around. It was about an hour’s drive away. They had lunch there and then drove back. When they got home, there was a parcel on the doorstep. They took it inside and, upon opening it, found that it contain several old drawings and an equally old diary. They were all signed, <Captain Spike>. This brought an exciting revelation from Dad, who told them that Rick always called himself that when he was around eight or nine. They went and asked the neighbours if they had seen anyone coming to their house on their absence. No one had. They were disappointed, but they were not going to give up.
Tuesday morning, Jacob Phillips finally managed to convince his daughter that it was still OK to go out with her friends and have a good time. “But Dad”, Mandi protested,” I feel disloyal to Mum then.”
“Mum would have wanted you to have a good time, even after she had gone. She wouldn’t want you to sit around the house doing nothing.”
“Fine. I’ll go, but I won’t promise to enjoy it.”
“That’s my girl. You won’t regret it.”
That afternoon, Mandi sat around a table in the cafe with her friends. On the table sat a pizza, half eaten. The conversation was lively and the company helped Mandi to get her mind onto more cheerful topics. Some of the girls were distracted by a middle-aged man whom they dubbed ‘Cutie’. Mandi rolled her eyes and continued talking with some of the more ‘serious-minded’ of the group. They discussed what had happened at school while she was absent and the latest exploits of the school clown. In the meantime, Mandi kept her eye on the man, who seemed to be staring at them strangely. She shuddered slightly. Time ran by and soon she found herself saying goodbye to her friends as she waited out the front for her father to pick her up. Very soon, her father pulled up, and she climbed in. “So, how did you enjoy your afternoon?”, he asked.
“It was good. No, it was great. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.”
“I’m glad to hear it! We’ll swing by the town to do some shopping. We’re nearly out of most things.” He chuckled.” The way you and your brother go through those carrots you would think there’s a famine coming!”
“Hey, at least it’s better than potato chips!”, Mandi defended.
“It’s alright, kiddo, I was just joking.”
“When do you have to go back to work again?”, Mandi asked.
“This Monday. I was lucky to get as long off as I did. Most people usually only get 2 weeks off. They gave me three. You have to start school on Monday, too, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I guess so. Well, here we are. Lets go.”
The weekend slipped by, and Mandi found herself standing on the steps to her first class. The morning passed quickly, without any interruptions except for the class clown bringing a cockroach into school. At lunch Mandi was swamped with friends. However, she made her way decidedly towards where a boy of about 16 years of age sat. He had wavy, black hair, and wore glasses. Mandi ran her fingers through her own brown, unruly curls.
“Hi Jack!”,she called.
“Oh, hi Mandi, how are you?”, he smiled.
“Not too bad. Trying to remember where everything is here again.”, she laughed.
“Yeah, it’s a bit of a rabbit warren, alright.”
“Say, do you know anything about tracking people?”, she asked, as sat down at the table with him, and unpacked her lunch. Jack looked surprised. “Why do you want to track someone?”, he asked.
“It’s a long story. I’ll explain over lunch.”
“Wow, that sounds complicated. He seems to have covered his tracks pretty well, too.”,Jack commented, as he listened to Mandi’s story of her uncle. “But maybe we could set up a motion camera that you turn on when you leave, incase anyone leaves more parcels, and ask the neighbours to keep a look out for anyone going to your house. That’s my two cents.”
“They are really great ideas! I hadn’t thought of them before. But what about mail?”
“Doesn’t the post office have some way of tracking mail?”
“I think so. But we drove to the town where he sent it from, and we didn’t see anyone.”
“That was because while you were over there, he was over here dropping the parcel off!”, Jack exclaimed.
“I guess so.”, Mandi sighed.”Anyway, we’d better eat up! Else we will have to go back to our classes again.” The rest of lunch passed by quickly as they ate, talked, and laughed. “Oh my!”Mandi exclaimed,” we’re going to have to run if we don’t want to be late!” She crumpled her rubbish together and dropped it in the bin.
“Yeah”, agreed Jack,”Lets run for it. Chat later!”
“Ok, bye!”, Mandi waved, grabbed her bag and raced down the nearly empty halls to her next class. She sat down as the teacher arrived. “Phew, that was close.”, she thought.
After school, Mandi walked with her best friend, Rahel, down to the cafe to get a lemonade. On the way, they talked about the biology class that they both took. “Wasn’t that disgusting, how all those guts popped out when Julie cut open that frog!”, Rahel exclaimed, shuddering.
“Ugh, tell me about it! I nearly vomited. But lets change the subject. I’ve had enough of frogs for the rest of my life. I have heaps of English homework to do. But I don’t mind. I quite like it. What about you?”
“I have some geography that needs to be done. I need some map pencils. Oh, that reminds me! I have to drop in at bakery for some bread. Mum asked me to get some on the way home.”
“How about we grab a lemonade, go and buy the bread and then walk to my house. I think Andrew still has some map pencils. I’m sure he’d be happy to lend them to you.”Mandi suggested. “Ok, let’s go!”, Rahel agreed.
As they sat in the cafe, sipping their drinks, a lady walked up to them and asked if they knew who Mandi Philips was. “That’s me!”, exclaimed Mandi.
“Oh, lovely to meet you Mandi, my name is Claire. I was asked to give you this parcel.” With that, the lady handed Mandi a parcel wrapped in brown paper, with her name on it. Mandi stared at the writing. It couldn’t be. No it couldn’t! “But it must!”, she exclaimed. The two looked at Mandi, with question marks on their faces. “The man who gave you this parcel, was he tall, with sandy-coloured hair?”, Mandi asked Claire.
“Why, yes, he was. Why do you ask?”
“Please, where was he, and which way did he go after he asked you to give me the parcel?”
“Well, I was just sitting in the cafe, drinking my tea, when he walked out of the kitchen, handed me the parcel, explained who to give it to, and then retreated back into the kitchen!”
“Rahel! He must work here. I have to find out.”, Mandi exclaimed.
Claire interrupted.”Who are you talking about?”
“My uncle. He’s been missing for 24 years! And I think I have finally found him. Thank you so much! You don’t know how much this means to me.” Mandi explained. Rahel spoke up,”But Mandi, what if it wasn’t your uncle? What if he asked someone else, who looks like him, to give it to Claire? Maybe he doesn’t work here.”
“That may be. But I’m going to find out!” A determined look came into Mandi’s eyes. A look which her friend had long since learned meant Mandi would not be persuaded otherwise. Mandi hopped up from the table and started to walk over to the counter. “Hey wait you didn’t finish your drink!”, Rahel called.
“Never mind.” Mandi called over her shoulder. Rahel sighed.
Mandi stood at the counter, her heart racing. What would she do if it really was her uncle? And what if it wasn’t? A waitress came to the counter. “Hi, how can I help you?”, he asked. “Um, hi, I was just wondering if you have an employee named Rick working here?” The girl paused.”I’m sorry, we aren’t allowed to reveal that sort of information. But just a minute, I’ll see if I can give you any hints.” She disappeared out the back. Mandi’s heart sank. But then a ray of hope appeared. If she was allowed to give her a hint then maybe he did work there! She would do what it took, even if it meant getting a job there after school. The girl walked back in. “I’m sorry but I’m not allowed to tell you. Is there anything else I can help you with?”, she asked.
“No, no that was all.” Mandi sighed, as she turned away from the counter. She had to try another way. She wouldn’t give up. She couldn’t give up! For Mum’s sake she would find her uncle. She walked slowly back to the table. Rahel saw her face and asked no questions. They paid for their drinks and went to the bakery. After buying the bread they made their way to Mandi’s house in silence. Halfway there, it started to rain. “Oh no! We’re going to get soaked.” Rahel exclaimed. Mandi grunted. “What’s the matter with you, Mandi? You haven’t spoken a word since we left the cafe!”
Mandi and Rahel,caught in a shower, take refuge in a bus stop. Mandi has been quiet since they left the cafe. A plan is formulating in her mind. Now she shares it with her friend. “So you see, if I get a job after school there, I may get to see him! And if he has a different time table to mine, I’ll still be able to ask the others, and they will be allowed to tell me. What do you think?”
“Mandi-“, Rahel paused.”I don’t know what to think. Why don’t you just give up? What’s the point in all this? What good would it do IF you did find your uncle?” The shower stopped and the two girls walked on. Mandi became quiet again, thinking. “I think it would do Dad good. Maybe it would ease his pain, or at least distract him for awhile.”
“But what if it only makes him sadder because Rick appeared only AFTER your mum died?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’m just a stupid, incompetent, idiot.”
Rahel stopped, and turned to face Mandi. “Mandi, look at me. Don’t look at the ground, look at me! You are not stupid. You are not an idiot. Don’t tell yourself that! It’s not true. I’m not just saying this because I’m your friend and I’m supposed to say nice things. I’m saying this because its true.” Mandi blinked back the tears. She didn’t want to cry. She hated crying, especially in public. They were nearly at her house now. Just a few meters and she would be in the privacy of her home, then she could let go of her emotions. But as they climbed the steps to the front door, Mandi froze. There, at the door, stood-
Her uncle. The one she’d been trying to find for months. There he was, standing on her doorstep. “Rahel, what do I do?”, Mandi hissed.
“Say hello I guess.”, Rahel whispered back. Then out loud,”Hi! Nice to meet you, my name is Rahel and I’m Mandi’s friend.”
“Rahel, nice to meet you. Mandi, nice to meet you in person. Is your father in?”, Rick asked.
“Um, I think so, let me check.”, Mandi stuttered, as she rummaged through her bag for her key. Unlocking the door, she called for her father. There was no response, but Andrew popped his head around the corner. “Hi Mandi, Rahel. Man, you’re as white as a sheet! What’s the matter?”
“Drew! Rick Pierce is standing on our doorstep. What do I do? I’m about to go into hysterics! Help me, please!”
“What? Well, you go and call dad and I’ll ‘entertain’ him. Rahel, could you help me? Mandi, when you’ve called Dad, put the kettle on and come join us.”,Drew commanded .
The next ten minutes were a blur to Mandi, as she rushed around doing anything and everything that needed to be done. When her father arrived, she collapsed into his arms, exhausted, and on the verge of tears. Her father soon took control of the situation and made Rick feel welcome and soon they were all sitting around the table finding out the other side of the story.
“When Esme left with Mother, I was 13, as you know. After awhile, the letters she kept sending began to make me feel restless. I wanted to
be able to travel like them. Being the family pet, I was rather spoiled and I thought it wasn’t fair that I be left behind to do the hard work, while they sailed away to distant lands. So I decided that I was going to run away, get a job, and travel! Well, I soon found out that getting a job with basically no education, is no easy matter. But I found work as a cashier at a local supermarket. That satisfied my longing for a job. But after a while, I realised that the job I was in wouldn’t get me any further in life. So I decided that if I was going to get a good job, what I need was an education. But eduction costs money so I needed a job. It felt like an endless circle. But, after many month of saving, I started my education again. I decided I wanted to become an accountant. After 4 hard years, I finished high school. Then I took out a student loan, so that I could go to university. I ended up with a bachelors degree in accounting and managing. And now I own a cafe. It does quite well, too.”
“But uncle Rick,”,Mandi piped up,” why didn’t you want to be found? We’ve looked all over for you!”
“At first I was resentful. Then I was happy leading my own life. But lately, especially after your mother’s death, I realised how much I missed my family. The last reason was, I wasn’t sure if you were upset with me or not. I know it seems silly, but that’s how it is. I’m sorry I caused so much heartache. I wish I had decided to find you sooner. It would have meant a lot to Esme.” After they talked for another hour, Rick stood up, thanked them for their time and then he left, after organising a family gathering. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
After meeting Rick’s wife, Naomi, and his son and daughters, Kacen, Jarrah, and Judi, the two family’s sat down in the restaurant and enjoyed a lovely meal. Mandi and her girl cousins got along like a house on fire, while Andrew and Kacen huddled together to make plans for the next holidays. The adults discussed the past and made plans for seeing one another more often. All in all, they were happy again.
Something i wrote a while ago… doesn’t make much sense anymore lol
18 Mar 2016 Post By Leah