UKArchive ID: 25945Going back by chrissytotoro
Originally published on January 28, 2011 in Fiction

Sometimes life is interrupted by things outside our control. Circumstances can combine to change us totally.

Going back

I have this dream. I’m sitting on a bus. It’s night and we’re driving along a quiet country road. Suddenly a deer runs in to the road. The driver swerves. There’s a car coming towards us. We hit it. And then I wake up and I’m sitting on a bus ...

Nicco examined the spot from a short distance away. People had left flowers and, because there had been reports of children being being involved, there were toys amongst the rain sodden blooms. The police tape fluttered from the broken fencing in the light wind. He wondered if he should put on a coat but he wasn’t cold despite the wind and the rain and anyway, he didn’t have a coat with him.
He spotted Ben walking towards him on the grass verge just by the the police accident notice, hands in pockets, looking a bit miserable. Not for the first time, Nicco, questioned the wisdom of bringing the boy with him.
“Is this it?” Ben asked as he drew level with the accident site.
“Feels lonely.”
“Yes, it does.”
“I wasn’t expecting .....”
“To feel like this. To feel anything really.”
Ben was twelve years old, intelligent and quite mature in some ways. He leaned forward to read the cards people had left. Some he couldn’t manage; the rain had washed the ink into an unintelligible blur but others had been carefully placed in plastic covers.
“Why do people do this?”
“It’s become the thing to do. Television I suppose, It’s like a fashion. I think it started with the Princess of Wales.”
“’I didn’t know you, little child,’” Ben read out loud. “’But I grieve for your loss.’ And it’s signed by Muriel Collins.”
“Sometimes, people find it easier to feel things from a distance. They find it less painful. You understand?”
“No, I don’t.”
Nicco looked at the boy and then across the road to the huge stone slab that ran with small waterfalls of rain water. Why here? Why this place?
“There’s one here from Collin Burk. He’s a teacher at my school.”
Nicco looked at his son. “Do you want to go home?”

I keep dreaming, the same dream. I’m on a bus. It’s night, dark. I have a suitcase and a big tapestry bag. We’re driving on a country road. Suddenly a deer runs into the road. The bus driver swerves. There’s a car coming towards us. We hit it. I wake up and I’m on a bus....

The house felt empty. Even with Ben lying on his stomach on the floor watching something on television, the house felt cold and empty. There were smells that Nicco had never smelled before or had never noticed and there were cold spots where there could be a draught that he had never felt before.
He leant forward and touched Ben’s shoulder. “Do you want something to eat?
“No. I’m not hungry.”
“Neither am I but I think we should ...”
“Look, Ben, we should try to maintain some kind of normal ...”
“What is normal about this, dad?”
“I don’t know. I just think we should try.”
“Why did she leave you?”
“I don’t know. Maybe she left because I didn’t want to go and live in London.”
“Do you think she’ll come back?”
“She might.”
“I miss her, dad.”
“So do I.”
“I didn’t think I would feel anything. I thought it would all just stop but I still miss her.”
“Don’t look to me for guidance, Ben. I’ve no idea what’s happening to us, what we should or shouldn’t feel. Do you understand me, son. I’m lost and I feel like I’m going mad. If that frightens you, I’m sorry, but it’s how I feel. I’m confused and frightened and I just want to understand, to help you to understand and I can’t.”
Ben looked up at his father. “If we went to London, could we find her?”
“I’m not sure that’s possible. We could try, I suppose but I don’t even know where to begin to look for her.”
Ben stood. “I’m going to bed.”
“Alright. I’ll be up soon.”
For a while after Ben went upstairs, Nicco sat watching the TV but the images made no sense to him and the words even less. This whole thing was so far outside his experience that he had no idea what he was doing or meant to be doing.
In twelve years he had spent virtually no time alone with his son. There had been odd days when they had gone fishing or to football but the time was so short. He always busy and Ben didn’t seem to want to spend time with him.
There was a big distance between them and Nicco knew that he had very little chance of bridging that distance now. No matter how much he thought he should want to.
Why was it he always came to things too late? It had been the same with his own father. They had no sort of relationship. Maybe that was the problem. He had nothing to learn from, no guidelines to follow, That was the easy explanation and he knew it.
He switched off the TV. He had to go through the motions.

Is there nothing else? Just the dream? Just the never ending being on a bus, the deer, the swerve, the crash and I wake and I’m on the bus and everything starts again. I have to wake up. Some time, I have to wake up. I have a life.

“You should eat something.”
“I’m not hungry. Why did she leave me, dad?”
“She didn’t. She left me.”
“Dad, she could have taken me with her. If she couldn’t stand to be with you anymore, why did she leave me?”
“Well, maybe she’s coming back. Maybe she hasn’t left, maybe she just needs time. People do stupid things, Ben. Sometimes even adults do very stupid things. There are times when life doesn’t make a lot of sense and you just have to step away.”
“She’s my mum. She’s supposed to love me, no matter how good or bad I am.”
“I’m sure she does...”
“Then why leave me?”
Ben was on the verge of tears and Nicco knew that he should hold him close, comfort him, say all the reassuring things but he couldn’t do it. He didn’t have the answers anymore than his own father had all the answers when his mother died. He couldn’t be strong for his son when his own world had fallen apart. It wasn’t in him. He caved in, as his father had caved in, and wept.
“Dad, I don’t blame you.”
“Well maybe you should because it is all my fault. Something I did or didn’t do drove your mother away from us.”
“It could be just her. I mean, maybe she’s found someone else.”
Nicco looked across the empty kitchen table at his son. The boy had a wise head on his shoulders. Maybe too wise.
“It’s on TV all the time; people fall in love with other people, families break up. It even happens with boys at school.”
“I would have had some idea of that, Ben. If she had found someone else, something inside me would have told me. I love your mother, I really do and I promise you, if she really didn’t love me, I would know.”
Ben was silent for a moment and then asked; “Do you think we could try to find her?”
“I don’t know where she would go in London, who she knows.”
“You could try her ‘phone again.”
“My ‘phone doesn’t work.”
“Try the land line.”
“I’ve tried.”
“Maybe I could ...”
Nicco reached out to his son and held him close. The closeness of the boy gave him strength and comfort.
“Maybe if we just think about her. Sometimes, when I was working away from home, I would think really hard about your mum and you and sometimes the ‘phone would ring and it would be you, or your mum. We could try that.”
“Anything’s worth trying.”

I want to wake up and not be on the bus. I want to open my eyes and see something different but it’s always the same. I open my eyes and the night is passing the window. At the bac of the bus two girls are giggling, the woman just behind me is talking to her husband in Welsh, most of which I understand but I’m not really listening .
I’m in my own head, listening to my own thoughts, trying to make sense of things, trying to work out why I’m doing what I’m doing ... And then there’s the deer, big , dark, startled. It stops still, the driver swerves, the road is slippery. We skid across the road; the car is coming towards us. We hit it. I hear the bang, the crunching metal and the screaming breaks. The breaks screaming, the people screaming and then nothing. Silence, blackness and then I wake up and I’m on the bus...

Nicco looked across at the phone. It was ringing but he knew it wasn’t her. Head in hands he listened to the ringing and eventually it went to the answering service.
Depp inside, he knew it wasn’t her and he couldn’t take the disappointment of not being able to answer it.
The reality of his situation was starting to bear down on him like a very heavy weight. There were new limits; things he could not do, places he couldn’t go, people he couldn’t communicate with.
He thought about Emily, his secretary. She was in love with him or she thought she was. There was nothing he could do about that. Never had been.
And then he thought of his mother and thinking about her, remembering her, it was suddenly like she was in the room with him or like he was standing in her kitchen instead of his own.
Quietly he said; “I wish ....”
“Be careful what you wish for,
wishes can come true
and sometimes what you wish for
is not so good for you.
Be careful what you ask of life;
an end to pain, to sorrow, strife.
Take care in what you wish for,
for wishes can come true.”
“I know that, mama. I’ve always known that, just sometimes you want a different outcome.”
“And sometimes there will be a different outcome but you have to give it time.”
“I just don’t want to be as useless for Ben as papa was for me.”
“Then you must reach inside you. You must find what strength there is in you. You can’t always pass on your responsibilities to someone else. Ben is your son, he is not you and you are not your father.”
“Who are you talking to?”
Nicco turned around and smiled at his son. “Dead people.”
“That’s not funny, dad.”
“No, sorry.”
“Did I hear the ‘phone just now?”
“Yeah. It wasn’t your mum.”
“Who was it?”
“Work, I think.”
“You think?”
“Yes, I think it was work but I know it wasn’t your mother.”
“Who wee you talking to? You weren’t on the ‘phone.”
“I told you ...”
“Dead people?”
“Your grandmother.”
“You’re losing it, dad.”
“When I was your age, whenever something bad would happen, I would always say; ‘I wish’ this or that hadn’t happened. I would think how can I change this or is there something I can do to make this different. It was always ‘I wish’. Your grandmother made up a poem and every time I would say ‘I wish’ she would trot out the poem.”
“Be careful what you wish for?”
“That’s it.”
“What were you wishing for?”
“What were you wishing for that made you think of grandma, that made you talk to dead people?”
“I just wished things could be different for you. I wished I could be different for you.”
“Wishing won’t change this, dad.”
“I’ve just about figured that one out for myself.” He looked down at his hands. “But we have to figure some way of going forward, of moving on.”
“But you said she might come back.”
“And if she does then that will resolve things one way but if she doesn’t, then we have to come to terms with what’s happened and move on. We have to, son.”

Inspector Carol Lewin looked down at the documents. The passport was the most interesting. She opened it and looked inside.
“Bloody hell,” she muttered as she examined it. “Francesca Scolari.”
She shivered involuntarily.
For three days they had wondered about the identy of the woman in the coma, had wanted to know who she was. Now they did know and it made her uncomfortable.
She checked the DVLC record again. There was no doubt. The name, the address all the registered keeper’s details for the Range Rover matched.
She shivered again.

I’m sitting on the bus, It’s night but the lights make it not so bad. I’m going back. I’m going home. I want to go home. I love my husband and my beautiful son. I want to be with them more than I want to be alone. I feel stupid but it will change. I know I can make it right. If only I can wake up and not be on the bus....

“Mum!” Ben ran towards his mother and hugged her. “I knew you’d come back.”
“So did I darling. Where’s daddy?”
“I’m here.”
“Oh, Nicco, I’m so sorry.”
Nicco held his wife and son in his arms. There was a wonderful feeling of warmth.
“Doesn’t matter. We’re all together and that’s all that matters. We can sort it out now.”

“Inspector, it’s the hospital.”
She took the ‘phone and listened to the words she half hoped she would hear. She had not been looking forward to having to face Mrs Scolari if she woke and tell her that her husband and son were dead.
“Thank you,” she said eventually. “I’ll inform my team.”
She put the phone down and turned to the expectant faces.
“Erm that was the hospital. I’m afraid the RTA death toll has risen to four. Mrs Francesca Scolari, ‘coma woman’ died ten minutes ago and I believe that the Range Rover was driven by her husband and his passenger was their son, Benjamin. Thank you.”

© chrissytotoro (chrissy on OLD UKA)
UKArchive ID: 25945
Archived comments for Going back
orangedream on 28-01-2011
Going back
A good twist at the end, Chrissy, which I didn't see coming.

The dream sequence was something that was puzzling me, as intended I believe, which ultimately fell beautifully into place.

An enjoyable read. Thank you;-)


Author's Reply:
Hi Tina, much thanks for taking the time to read and comment and I'm genuinely pleased you enjoyed reading this.
When I submitted it I was going to put it in as a ghost story but a good many times I've been 'told off' about being too obvious and leading the reader too much so I thought just put it in as drama and let the rader come to their own conclusions. Glad you came to the right one:-)