It's Gill With a 'G'
Copyright© 2010 by Texrep
I was working again, taking up the new challenge with Melling Services. I got on well with John Ferguson, and we were soon looking at better, more prestigious campaigns with national companies. The icing on the cake was when we were approached by the manufacturer of the chocolate bar that foundered. Their Marketing Director, Brian Forster was a little wary, when he realised that I was involved, and tackled me straight away.
"Why did you change that script?" He demanded. "It was damn good, and then you changed it when it was too late to do anything about it."
"I didn't change the script. I assumed that you the client had asked for the last minute changes."
"No. We didn't." He thought for a moment. I wasn't going to say anything, as now I realised who had changed the script. Why did Wellman do that? I had my ideas but now was not the time to air them. I think that Brian had come to the same conclusion, but would have no knowledge of the undercurrents that inspired the changes. Water under the bridge, possibly but it goes to illustrate the cutthroat business we were in.
I had to put some ideas together for Brian, and obviously I couldn't use the copy I had come up with before, even with the changes it would be seen as spoilt goods. It took me about a week of bashing the vocabulary hard, but I was able to put some submissions forward for consideration.
My cousin Jean came to see mum and dad that week. She was much older than me, in her fifties, and was jokingly referred to as the family genealogist. She had been up in her attic at the house she inherited from her parents, and had found an old suitcase full of photos. She had brought the relevant ones with her, and we had a happy evening passing them around. Yes there were the usual embarrassing ones of various members of the family, including me. Then she produced a photo of my mother. Mum tried hard not to let anyone see it.
"No, give it here. You can't show that to anyone." Dad, Jean and I were laughing. Dad took it first, and told mum he could see how she grew up to be a lovely woman. Then mum looked at it, and of course immediately complained that the photographer had not taken it from the best angle. Then it came to me and I went cold. Mum was eleven in this photo, and it was taken fifty years ago. But the girl that mum was then was the spitting image of Anita. Was that a coincidence? I doubted that as I knew without question that Anita had to be my daughter.
I got up, apologising to Jean.
"I have to go and see someone." I don't know if they noticed that I had taken the photo with me. I arrived at Gill's flat not too late in the evening, so I was sure that she wouldn't have gone to bed. I buzzed her flat. After a few minutes her voice asked who it was. There was trepidation in her voice.
"Gill, it's me, Andy."
"Andy? What are you doing here at this time?"
"There is something important I need to discuss. Can I come up, please?"
"Can't it wait till Saturday?"
"No. Gill let me in. I have to speak to you now." The buzzer sounded and I pushed the door open and went up the stairs. Gill had opened her door and peered round it to make sure it was me before opening it completely.
"Do you want some tea, or is this the kind of conversation that will need something stronger?"
"Tea will be fine." She went through to the kitchen and I followed her.
"Anita says that she had a very nice day at Cannon Hill Park, and if Mr. Andy is happy about it, Alton Towers would be nice too."
"I am sure that could be arranged." I replied. She turned from pouring the tea.
"You really don't need to go to that sort of trouble."
"Why shouldn't I? Any father would do that for his daughter." The tea making stopped dead. Gill stood there silent and immobile for a second or two. Without looking up she said softly.
"You guessed then."
"I didn't exactly guess. Let's say I got a big hint when I saw this photo." I handed her the photo of my mum. Gill took it and her eyes opened wide. "That was taken when mum was eleven. It's quite a coincidence isn't it? Too much of a coincidence really it makes you jump to a conclusion." Gill finished making the tea in silence and with a shaking hand gave me a mug. We went through into the living room. She was obviously not going to say anything so I went on. "When were you going to tell me Gill? Why didn't you let me know? You could have, you know, through the solicitor if you couldn't bring yourself to speak to me. I would have supported her, even if you didn't want me back in your life." I was crying now, tears rolling down my cheeks. "I have a daughter, eight years old, I would have loved to hold her as a baby, but you denied me that. I would have wanted to be there for her as she grew up, took her first steps said mama and dada for the first time, but you denied me that as well. Why Gill, why?" Gill looked up with terrible guilt straining her face and posture, saw my tears and came quickly over and threw her arms round me, adding her tears to mine. My arms crept around her. It took some time for both of us to regain our composure. I got my handkerchief out, thankfully it was clean, and dried her tears. She then took it from me and dried mine. She sat on the settee next to me, blew her nose, and took a deep breath.
"I couldn't tell you Andy. If I did it would look like I was trying to blackmail you into allowing me back. I did want to come back but I had hurt you enough, I couldn't hurt you anymore. I didn't want to live my life knowing I was there on sufferance and every day seeing you hating me. I had sinned, against you and against God's commandment. I had to accept my punishment."
"Gill that was not a decision you could make on your own."
"Possibly it wasn't. But in the state I was in at the time I doubt that I was thinking logically. When I was thinking more logically ... Well it was too late to do anything. It came back to haunt me these last few weeks. Seeing you with Anita, how well you treated her, not as the bastard daughter of a man you have every right to loathe. I saw that and felt so guilty. Here was a Man. Big enough to show compassion to a child who was innocent of her mother's guilt. I nearly told you. But again it would seem as if I was forcing you to take me back."
"You're not forcing me. I want you back. I love you Gill. I never stopped loving you. I want you back in the place where you should be, at my side." Gill was quiet, yet there was hope in her attitude, hope mixed with doubt.
"You can't mean that."
"Can't I? Gill I came to see you all those weeks ago, to try and put you behind me, because you had haunted me all these years. But you are not a ghost. Not now. You are the woman, the only woman I have ever loved, and I know I will never find love like this again." This brought a fresh outburst of tears. Through her sobs she wailed plaintively.
"But can you forget what I did?"
"No, Gill. But neither will you. You have explained what happened, and I can understand that, it still hurts when I think about it, but given the choice of having you in my life or allowing that to spoil both of our futures I have to say I choose you. I know now that you and I are one, we were always meant to be. I love you." I had something else to say, something that was only half-formed in my mind. "Gill, in many ways we were so naïve. You and I were brought up to understand the concepts of integrity, truth and loyalty. We lived those concepts and were not aware that others did not. We have both learned now that people are not always what they purport to be. Perryman took advantage of you when you were drunk, and Alex Wellman shafted me, because he thought I had blackmailed him into giving me a rise. That is why if forgiving is necessary, I forgive, as long as you forgive. Forgetting? No we will not forget, and we shouldn't, as it will keep us on guard for the next unscrupulous bastard that comes along."
"I always loved you, Andy. I tried, because I had messed up, I tried so hard to stop loving you, but I couldn't. Then Anita came along, and she became the outlet for all that love." She turned and threw herself into my arms. "Andy, this isn't some game you are playing? You are not going to dump me when you have had your revenge? Do you really mean it?"
"With my body, I thee worship. I can't remember the rest of it, oh yes the bit about with all my worldly goods, Men will remember that bit, but I am sure we can do it all again. No my darling Gill, I am not playing. I love you and I want you to be my wife again." There was this face in front of me. It was red-eyed, blotchy, wet from tears yet carrying the biggest smile I had ever seen apart from one, that was the day we married.
"If that was a proposal, then the answer is yes." She paused and a soft look of love came into her eyes. "Will you stay tonight?"