“Mum, it’s me”…her voice faltered as she heard the older woman on the other end of the line fumble with the handset.
“I…I don’t know how to say this so I’ll just… say it – I’m coming home. I mean I, er, I want to come home.”
She tried to picture her mother’s expression. Smug? Disappointed? Amazed?
She thought she heard a sigh – exasperated?
It had been almost eighteen months since they’d spoken and then it had been words of anger.
Since meeting Kenny, Melissa had had only one thing in mind – to be with him for the rest of her life. She knew from the first look, the first word, that he was the one. Like, the one! Her mother felt otherwise. She had taken him home after dating him for only a few weeks and was sure that her mother would adore him as much as she did. How wrong she was!
At first mum said nothing but Melissa saw her sizing him up during dinner. Kenny was, as always, charming and chatty and seemed to blend right in. Mum was pleasant but not as overly enthusiastic as Melissa had hoped.
Some weeks later, when Melissa eventually announced that she was moving out and going to live with Kenny, her mother was mortified.
“You hardly know him! How can you live with a man you’ve only just met?”
“Mum, it’s been five months and we love each other. This will be a great opportunity to really be sure before we get married.”
“Married? Has he asked you to marry him?”
“No, not yet, but he will. We are made for each other”
“I don’t know what your father would say if he were still here. He’s probably turning in his grave!”
“Don’t bring dad into this; he would support me 100% and you know it!”
The conversation deteriorated from there until it became a screaming match culminating in Mellissa throwing a few belongings into a suitcase and storming out the door.
In the eighteen months since then Melissa’s dream had at first blossomed into a living heaven. She and Kenny were so in love. But gradually Kenny began to show his true colours. The heavy drinking, the late nights when he didn’t come home from work until after eleven, explained away as ‘drinks with the boys’, not to mention his worrying gambling habit which was the cause of more than one argument.
It was during one of these late night arguments that things had gotten out of hand and Kenny, the worse for drink, grabbed her by the hair and pushed her face into the sofa seat. He held her down and, unable to breathe, she thought she was going to pass out. That had scared her. Of course, he was all apologetic the next day and blamed it on the drink. He came home from work that evening with an expensive bunch of flowers and they’d made love right there in the kitchen and everything seemed like it was fine again.
But it wasn’t.
It happened again and again and soon it was almost a weekly thing. Melissa was starting to hide the bruises from her friends and neighbours. Thank god he hadn’t hit her in the face. Until last night.
Now she was trying to disguise a split lip and bruised cheek with makeup but it wasn’t working. She’d decided that was enough and, with no one else to turn to, had swallowed her pride and now stood here with the phone in her trembling hand, throwing herself at the mercy of the one person she found it hard to speak to after that last almighty row.
“Melissa? Is that really you?” She sounded older, tired. The daughter’s heart felt like a stone in her breast.
“Mum, you were right. It didn’t work out with Kenny and I just want to come back home if you’ll have me.”
“You’re my daughter; of course I’ll have you. Your room’s been waiting for you ever since you left.”
Both women burst into tears. Melissa was coming home.