Bonding Over Fish & Chips

“Thanks for taking me to the Festival,” Chelsey said to Gideon when they were sitting in the restaurant.

“You’re welcome.”

“This is a nice joint. Very warm and cozy.”

“Yes, and they serve the best fish and chips.”

She smiled. “It has been a long time since I’ve had that.”

“Believe me, you’ll be happy you do.” He signaled the waitress and place their orders. “What would you like to drink?” he asked Chelsey.

“A Coke, please.”

“And I’ll an Iced Tea.”

“You love my mother, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do.”

“And does she love you?”

“Yes.”

“She didn’t love my father, you know.”

“I’m sure she did–“

“No, she didn’t.”

“If she didn’t love him, why did she marry him?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because Daddy had money and she wanted to be financially secure.”

“That doesn’t sound like your mother at all.”

“I know she comes across as a saint sometimes but you don’t know her as well as you think you do. I’ve known her much longer than you. And I know that she didn’t love my father.”

“I’m truly sorry to hear you say that and I’m really hoping that you’re mistaken. I believe that love should be one of the reasons for people to marry. I was never married until I met your mother. All these years I had been waiting for the right woman. One look at your mother and I was head over heels. I was thrilled when she agreed to go out with me and completely blown away when she accepted my proposal of marriage.”

“Didn’t it matter to you that she was married before and had a daughter?”

“No. It didn’t. I was madly in love with her and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. And I was thrilled to have a daughter. I wanted to adopt you but you didn’t want that.”

“I’m sorry for the way I treated you in the past, Gideon. I thought you were trying to take my father’s place. He was the only father I had. We were so very close.”

“I know. Your mother told me how devastated you were when he died.”

“Yes. I felt as if my whole world had collapsed around me.”

“She mentioned that you were the one who found him.”

“Yes. He was slumped over his desk in the study. He had suffered from a heart attack.”

“I’m so sorry, Chelsey. What a dreadful shock it must have been for you.”

“Yes, it was. I was ten years old at the time.”

“It was the after he had been away on a business trip. I was so excited that he was home after not seeing him for a whole week. The night before he died, he and my mother had a nasty row. I was in my room and I heard them. They were in the living-room and then, me father went into his study. Shortly afterwards, as I was coming down the stairs, I saw my mother go out. I heard her car pulling out of the driveway. I went to the study to see if my father was okay and found him dead.”

“You poor kid.”

“I called 999.”

“What about your mother? Did anyone call her?”

“The female office asked me for her number and she tried to reach her but there wasn’t any answer. Since I was only ten, I had to call my Aunt Elizabeth who came and stayed with me until my mother came home hours later.”

“It must have been a shock for your mother especially after having a nasty row with your father. It’s terrible when we exchange angry words with a love one and we can’t make up with them because they are dead.”

“I wish I knew what the fight was about. I asked my mother many times but she never wanted to talk about it.”

“I guess we can’t blame her for that. Talking about it would only brought back very painful memories for her.”

“I wonder where she went that night.”

“Have you asked her about it?”

“Yes. I did and she told me that she went for a long drive.”

“Well, then, there’s your answer. She went for a long drive.”

“She was gone for a very long time.”

“Why do I get the feeling that you still don’t believe that she really did go for a long drive?”

“Why didn’t she answer her cell? What if it was my father calling to apologize and to ask her to go back home or what if there was an emergency and we needed to get in touch with her?”

“I don’t know, Chelsey. Maybe she didn’t hear it ring. Maybe she was out of range. Maybe she forgot to turn it on. Or maybe she wasn’t in the mood to talk or maybe she was on the phone with someone else. Or maybe the charge was low and she needed her phone for an emergency”

“You know what I think?”

“What?”

“I think she said or did something to upset my father and that’s why they had that awful row.”

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“Chelsey, I think you need to put all of that behind you. You, your mother and I have a chance to be a family. Let’s try to have a happy Christmas. I’m sure it would be what your father would want.”

“You’re right, Gideon. Do you mind if we go to Waterloo Bridge before we go home? It was my father’s favorite spot. He used to say that it was one of the most beautiful places in London. He especially loved to views of Southbank, the Eye, Westminster, Canary Wharf and the city at sunset.”

“Sure. I used to go there a lot when I lived in the Canary Wharf.”

“You lived in the Canary Wharf?”

“Yes.”

“I have always wondered what it would be like to live there.”

“Well, when you graduate from university and find yourself a job where you earn good money, then, I will help you to find a good flat in Canary Wharf.”

“Who knows. I might end up living in your old flat.”

Gideon chuckled. “That would be very interesting, wouldn’t it?”

Chelsey smiled. “It would be.”

They finished their fish and chips and then headed down to Waterloo Bridge where they spent a while just admiring the views. As Gideon watched the lights shimmering on the river, he couldn’t help but think that Ruth would have enjoyed being there with them. He wondered what she was doing at that very moment. Was probably curled up on the sofa, reading her novel as she sipped hot chocolate. He smiled. He couldn’t wait to tell her how well the evening had turned out and how for the first time, he felt his relationship with Chelsey was finally on the right track. Tonight, he was a father enjoying quality time with his daughter and it felt terrific!

Sources: Paired Life; Thrillist

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