The Last Flight. Chapter 22

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The next two weeks passed by in a blur. I hadn’t done any lasting damage to my nails and they healed quickly. I had trained myself long ago not to bite them and, although the urge was greater for a while, I resisted and kept them trim. My hands were the reminder of my past, a past I never wanted to return. The Airline had been very good during my recovery and had liaised directly with Françoise, allowing me to be free from worry whilst my mind and body took the time they needed to heal and, even now, they would not be in contact with me until I arrived at the airport in Bordeaux where a representative would meet me and fly back with me. Now that time was near, the Friday of my last weekend. My flight was arranged for the following Monday, the first day of October so I was determined to make the most of what I saw as the last weekend of my Summer. Françoise, Pascale and Dominique had all ensured that they did not have to work or see anyone so that we could enjoy the short time I had left. I wondered if my father would be here too, although I did appreciate that he had a lot of work at the farm and that it may not be possible. But I did hope that he would be here. He promised to be with me at the airport but the weekend would be complete if only he were here. I pottered around the kitchen, helping the girls to prepare dinner for when their mother returned home from work. We expected her about seven so had timed the meal accordingly. I looked at the clock on the wall. Seven fifteen. That’s odd, I thought. Françoise was always home at the same time unless she was delayed at the hospital and even then she would telephone and let us know. I tried to put all thoughts to the back of my mind but, with all the things I had been through I found that to be impossible. I had become a worrier. Something else I had to learn to control! Pascale checked the fish stew simmering in the pan and looked at the clock, Seven twenty-five. She frowned but said nothing. Dominique, however, was more verbose. “Where is she? The stew will dry out if she doesn’t get here soon.” “Dominique!” Pascale bahis siteleri scolded, casting a sideways glance toward me, “She is just delayed, she will be here soon.” I smiled. Pascale would do anything to protect me, even wrap me in cotton wool if she could. “Don’t worry,” I said gently to her, “I am going to be back in the real world soon but thank you.” She blushed as red as her hair but said nothing, grinning childishly with embarrassment. As I spoke I heard tyres scrunching the gravel outside. “You see?” I said brightly to them. “Nothing to worry about after all.” Pascale returned to the stew, picking up a wooden spoon and giving it a final stir as Dominique placed four large bowls on the surface beside the stove ready for her sister to ladle it out when their mother came in at the same time as I sliced some bread. The car door thumped closed twice. I assumed it had not closed properly the first time. Françoise appeared shortly. “Mmm, that smells good,” she said to no-one in particular, “Sorry I’m late, the train was delayed.” “Train?” Dominique asked, puzzled,”What train?” “My train.” came the unexpected reply. “Dad!” I exclaimed as he too put his head around the door frame. I ran to him, throwing my arms around him and holding him tightly. “I am so pleased to see you. I hoped you would be here.” “Hey, hey! Steady on!” he laughed. “As if I would miss your last weekend.” I looked at Françoise. “You knew didn’t you!” I exclaimed. “Of course she did!” my dad laughed. “It is a long walk from the station you know.” Françoise chuckled. “I wanted to surprise you,” she said. “I will get another bowl for you,” I said, “You must be starving!” I turned around and saw that Dominique had already placed another bowl beside the stove. “Erm, just a minute…” I said half to myself as I rubbed my chin thoughtfully, “You knew as well, didn’t you? I thought there was rather a lot of stew for just the four of us!” Pascale was grinning like a Cheshire cat. “I didn’t know!” Dominique pouted as she playfully punched her sister’s arm. I suddenly felt as though it was canlı bahis siteleri my birthday all over again only this was better. For a start, my dad was here and then, I had the sweetest family I could ever wish for. For the next two days we spent our time together relaxing in the sunshine, Françoise and my father sat side by side in the deckchairs, chatting whilst we younger ones played tennis and badminton and generally let the world pass us by. Sadly, in what seemed like no time at all, Sunday night was upon us. The sun began to set, casting an orange glow under the few fluffy clouds which were scattered about the evening sky. Dinner was a quiet affair. We all said very little, not wanting to spoil the last few hours we had together. I was the first to mention the subject. I put my wine glass down on the table and cleared my throat of the lump which was forming as I thought about the coming morning. “Thank you,” I said, casting my eye around each and every person at the table. “You have made me so welcome here, in your home. You have given up so much of your time and lives for me that I cannot thank you enough.” Pascale opened her mouth to protest but I didn’t give the chance to speak. “I know the airline has paid for me to be here but you have given me far more than mere money could ever pay for, you have given me love and all the money in the world would not be enough to pay for that.” “Karen, you don’t have to…” Françoise began but I didn’t allow her to finish. “No, I know,” I replied to her, “But you have given me a life, a future. You have shown me that I was heading for a big fall. Now, I can be happy, even if I am alone for the rest of my life.” At that point, she interrupted me. “Karen, you will never be alone again, I promise you. As long as we are on this earth, you will be welcome here, right girls?” she addressed the sisters who were watching and smiling as she spoke. Both nodded emphatically. “Thank you, all of you,” I said, swallowing back the aching lump which seemed to want to silence me, “I don’t deserve it.” “Yes you do!” Pascale jumped canlı bahis in, “You really do deserve it, and more!” Her face was reddening. “You have been so sweet to me. You have treated me with such respect and I will never meet another whom I will respect as much as I do you!” Her face was glowing now and I could feel mine beginning to turn a matching hue. “I know that you know how I feel about you,” she whispered, “And you have never let me believe that there could be anything between us and, at the same time, you have been my best friend and confidante so it is me that should be thanking you, Karen. I will always be your friend, whenever you need me.” I was lost for words now and blushing furiously. Dominique was just sitting, staring at her sister, mouth wide open. “You mean…? You wanted…?” “Oh shut up Dominique!” Pascale scolded and she snapped her mouth shut. “Your Mum will explain,” I said to her. “It’s OK,” she replied, “I do know of these things, I just never knew that Pascale…, wow.” “Well, you support her, Little One. It is not easy in this day and age.” She looked at her sister. “Oh Gosh, Pascale I am so sorry, I didn’t mean anything. I was just surprised, that’s all.” Pascale took her sister’s hand and smiled. She said nothing but gave a little nod to show that she understood. “Besides,” I stared at her, “I thought it was you who wanted to be close to me.” “Ha! Me? No. Why did you think that?” “Because of how you were with me on my first night here.” “Oh, that!” she chuckled, “Crikey no. I was just trying to help you and make you comfortable. When you stopped me I thought I had offended you, at least for a moment.” We sat quietly for a time, each of us lost in our own thoughts as the room dimmed with the setting sun. Dominique got up to switch on the light and collect the dessert bowls from the table to wash them. It was so quiet that that the gas popped audibly as she lit the stove for some hot water and the gas hissed as the blue flames flickered beneath the big iron kettle. It was Françoise who broke the silence. I had noticed her exchange glances with my dad before she spoke. “Dominique, would you come and sit down for a moment, I want to ask you both something.” The young woman returned to her chair without question but with a look of puzzlement on her face.

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