Sophie had been driving since the early morning. It was not a morning she had been looking forward to. She could see her mother’s cottage just a few yards away and she slowed down to pull into the drive. She sat for a moment looking at the cottage. This was where she’d been brought up with her brother Beau. Sophie had left over fifteen years ago in a rage after rowing with her mother and vowing never, ever to return. Sophie got out of her car feeling awkward about going inside. Just as she was about to knock her brother Beau opened the door.
“Ah, the wanderer has returned to the fold,” Beau said, looking slightly amused.
“I am here to say goodbye Beau, and I have been back in the UK for over five years now as it happens.” Sophie was determined not to let her brother wind her up like he usually did, or give him any ammunition like she used to.
“I’ve just made coffee, would you like some?” Beau asked.
“Yes please, that would be nice, it has been a long drive from Suffolk.”
Sophie looked around the room, it brought back memories of the argument she’d had with her mother on that awful day. Her father had passed away six months earlier and Sophie had mourned his death deeply. Then she was offered a job with a two-year contract in America, and she’d accepted feeling it was just what she needed to help her with her loss. Her mother had been angry with her decision calling Sophie selfish and only thinking of herself. Her mother’s last words had been hurtful and cutting. Sophie could see her mother’s face of rage as she shouted at her, “Go on, go to America, have a great time and leave me here in my grief and despair, you only ever loved your father anyway.” Sophie had been mortified and also angry by her mother’s words, and answered that she would go and never come back.
When Sophie had settled down in America, she’d thought about her mother a lot and regretted their argument and the cruel words they had thrown at each other. Sophie realised that her mother had been grieving as well at the time, and she had not thought about that enough, and perhaps she should have handled things a different way instead of announcing her departure so bluntly. Sophie had sent letters to her mother, but she had never received one reply, and she put that down to the fact her mother had not, and would never forgive her.
Her brother Beau had been left to pick up the pieces and make sure their mother was okay, and he had told Sophie in no uncertain terms that her departure was not exactly the right time. Beau had said he understood why she needed to go, but she could have been more diplomatic about it. They never kept in touch and Sophie sometimes wished they had been more close.
Sophie and Beau had never been loving siblings, there was a six-year gap with Beau being the eldest, and by the time Sophie came along, he was busy with his friends and other things kids of that age do. There was never ever a sister-brother bonding, and as Sophie got older Beau would tease her relentlessly whenever the occasion presented itself; which he deemed to think was great fun, especially in front of his friends.
The photographs were still there in exactly the same place as Sophie remembered. She picked up a picture of her late father, tracing her finger across his face.
“You always loved your father more,” the voice came from nowhere and Sophie looked around the room.
“No, I didn’t, it’s just that me and dad could see eye to eye,” Sophie wondered why she had answered, there really was no one there!
“Well, the way I saw it, you and your dad were thick as thieves, and I was not allowed into the club!” the voice retaliated.
“Look, dad and I were on the same page, and you were somewhere else on another page!” Sophie could feel herself getting really annoyed, she told herself to stop it there was no one there, she was allowing her imagination to go into overdrive!
Beau came back with her coffee, and sat on the sofa. “Who are you talking to?
Sophie felt a bit silly. “Just thinking out aloud, that’s all.”
“What time is the funeral, you never actually said? Sophie asked.
“We have a couple of hours yet. If you don’t mind I’m going to rest up for half an hour, your old room is ready for you.”
With that Beau made his way upstairs and Sophie followed not long after.
Sophie sat at the dressing table staring into the mirror.
“I’m surprised you have come to my funeral,” the voice said.
“Why would I not come, you are my mother and I loved you,” Sophie said, again looking around the room through the mirror. She was beginning to wonder if she was not going mad!
“You loved me, really, you loved me, as much as your father?” the voice sounded very pleased and surprised by this remark.
“Well, of course I loved you mother, what kind of daughter do you think I am?” Sophie felt quite indignant.
“Well, that has made my soul very happy. Here I was thinking you really did not even like me,” the voice tone was pleasant and happy.
“I often wrote to you mother, but you never replied, not to one single letter in all those years,” Sophie emphasised the five.
“Well, em, I...burnt them without reading,” the voice now took on an anxious tone.
“Burnt, my letters, how could you!” Sophie could feel herself getting really cross, then she told herself to stop, this was all getting out of hand, there was no one there, and she was having a conversation with herself!
“I’m sorry, I should have read them. Perhaps things would have turned out differently,” the voice sounded sad.
Sophie did not answer, she was not going to keep talking to herself, there was no one in the room, except herself, it was simply her own imagination. She checked her make-up, and hair. It was getting nearer the time when the hearse would arrive.
“You look fine Sophie, you remind me of myself when I was your age, we have the same dimple in the chin,” the voice was amused.
Sophie looked at her chin, and indeed there was a dimple, she hadn’t taken much notice before but there it was. Sophie smiled, she did look like her mother quite a lot.
“Aha! I made you smile, well if that’s the last thing I see before I walk the pathway to heaven, I could not wish for anything more!” the voice was beginning to sound a bit more distant.
“Well, mother we are quite alike are we not, both determined, both stubborn.”
“I love you Sophie,” the voice had become a faint whisper.
“Love you too Mum.”
Sophie didn’t quite know if it had all been her imagination, or her subconscious wanting to make peace, but she felt as if her mother was there in the room with her.
After the funeral, Beau and Sophie came back to spend the night at the cottage. They had a heart to heart talk before retiring to their rooms, and promised to keep in touch in the future. For the first time ever Beau had kissed Sophie on the cheek, before he made his way up the stairs.
Sophie was glad of the comfort of her old room and when she went to remove her make-up she found a heart shaped necklace in the middle of the dressing table. She picked it up puzzled, it had not been there before, well she was sure it had not been there earlier on. She opened the heart and there was a tiny image of her and Beau on one side and their parents on the other.
“Thanks Mum, I will treasure this always.”
Sophie could have sworn she saw a glimmer of light through the reflection in the mirror pass over her head, but then she had imagined all kinds of things this past day, or had she?
Sophie had dreaded the day, but it had brought a peacefulness, forgiveness and bonding, and most of all mother and daughter were at last sitting on the same page.