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Chapter 24: Andrew Tries to Explain

"Uncle Cal?" Jeannie asked. 

"Yeah, Jeannie," Andrew said.  "Let me tell you all about him.  Hell, you should have known about him by now anyway, and maybe then, you'll get a clue that not everything that went wrong was Father's fault."

Jeannie looked shocked and fell silent.  "Uncle Cal" was someone she had never heard about, and she had a strong feeling she was not going to like what Andrew had to say.  She ran her index finger along the rim of her tea cup.  Did she want to hear this?  She knew the answer.   She prided herself on her ability to reason logically, and that always required knowing all the available facts.  She looked at her brother.  "Go ahead."

Andrew tried to choose his words carefully. "I think I was about three or four, and Father was sent on an ISA assignment.  He disappeared for awhile."  Andrew did not mention Shane's "death," because that came later.  "Anyway, while he was gone, Mum met this guy Cal.  I remember him taking me to the park and showing me his helicopter -- he was a helicopter pilot, had been during the Vietnam War.  And he was always around the house.  I mean all the time."

Jeannie interrupted him.  "Whoa.  Wait.  You're saying Mom had an affair?  With this Cal?  When they were still married?"

Andrew shrugged.  "I don't know.  Maybe.  I was just a little kid, but, looking back, what would you think if there was a guy around the house all the time?  And yet . . . I don't know.  And then, a few months later, we were told Father was killed."

"What?" Jeannie cried out.  This was complete news to her.  "I've never heard that."

"I guess they figured there was no reason to tell you seeing that it was before you were born.  But it was horrible."  Andrew remembered the day Mum told him that he would never see his daddy again.  "Mum was a mess.  She tried to put on a brave face, but she spent most of the time staring at pictures or holding pieces of his clothing.  Crying all the time."  Then Andrew remembered something else.  "You know, the day Mum told me, Uncle Cal was at the house."

"But what happened to Dad?" Jeannie asked.  "He wasn't really dead."

"No, of course not.  He'd been in an explosion and they couldn't find him, and I guess he lost his memory.  He was gone for months, who-knows-where, but we didn't know.  And when he finally came back. . ."  Andrew smiled a little.  "Right before Christmas.  I remember thinking Santa brought Daddy back, but it was different when he came back.  He'd lost his memory and couldn't remember us."

"Now you've gone too far, Andy."  Jeannie shook her head in disbelief.  "Have you been watching soap operas again?" 

"It was bloody real, Jeannie," he snapped.  "You have no idea what it was like.  First losing him, having to hear Mum crying all the time, and then having him come back but not know us.  He'd pretend he knew me, so I didn't get too upset, but. . ."  He fell silent, as Jeannie reached over and squeezed his hand.  Andrew calmed a little.  "It was all real, Sis, and during all that time Mum thought Father was dead, there was always Cal around.  And if she wasn't already together with him before Father died, she got together with him after."  He paused, trying to figure out how to say what he knew would be the real shock.  Finally, he decided to be straight and direct, like Jeannie always was.  "And just after Father came back, Mum was pregnant.  With you." 

Jeannie's teacup shuddered and she struggled to right it.  Some of the tea sloshed over the brim and onto the wood floor, but she barely noticed as she looked into her brother's eyes.  "Are you saying what I think you're saying?  Are you saying this Cal guy is my father?"

"No."  This was so confusing.  Andrew had just been a little kid when all this happened, and their mother was the one who should be explaining it.  "I don't know exactly what happened, but I don't think Father thought you were his.  I remember Mum left for awhile and I didn't see her until you were born, and it wasn't 'til later, much later, that they told me we were really all family, that you were Father's."  He was struggling to piece it together.  "I don't know exactly, but I think it was too much for him to take."

"Why?"  Jeannie set the cup on the table.  "If they loved each other like you say. . . ."

"I don't know."  Andrew sighed and looked back at the ceiling.  "You've got to remember that Father had been through hell, and he came back to find that Mum had moved on to some other guy.  Or maybe he thought she'd been having an affair before he died.  But whatever it was, Mum being pregnant with what they thought was Cal's baby was too much.  And by the time they found out the truth, it was probably too late."

Jeannie looked out the window at the ocean.  The afternoon sun was sending a bright gold stripe across the water.   "So . . . I get it."  She sighed, still looking out into the distance.  "It's my fault.  I destroyed their marriage."

"No," came a voice from the stairs.  Andrew and Jeannie both turned to see their mother, her face flush and her expression hard to read.  "You didn't destroy my marriage.  Your father and I did that all on our own."

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Sep. 29th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
Wonderful chapter
Another excellent chapter. Poor Jeannie feeling like it's her fault. I can't wait to see what happens when Kim joins this conversation.
jwsel
Sep. 29th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Wonderful chapter
Thank you. The next part of Kim/Jeannie/Andrew is a few scenes away. We have to jump back to Salem briefly and then to see what's happening with Shane in prison. I hope you'll be patient and enjoy what Kim has to say.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )