Chance Meetings and an Awaited Phone Call
By Marilyn & Meggie
Standing back and taking a wide look around, Meggie smiled. She had spent a good half of the morning unpacking her belongings to transform the once disorganized, box-ridden space into a warm living room. The softness of the cream painted walls with her light beige sofa, rocking chair, and other personal items, helped numb some of the pain from earlier. Meggie would see about getting some new curtains for this room, and the others, as she tackled each one gradually. But right now, she was tired and hungry and simply wanted to get something to eat.
After showering, she quickly changed into a pair of jeans and a soft blue blouse. Brushing her hair, she pulled the long brown locks into a ponytail before heading outside to her Jeep. Ten minutes later, Meggie saw the tall white building with the wooden sign "Millie’s" on it and pulled up in front of it. As she walked inside, she noticed a lack of voices or noise. Looking around the room, she was surprised to find no one there, and had just decided to leave when she heard a voice behind her.
Humming to herself as she made her way down the stairs Ivy Braddock was in a world of her own. She and Jim had scheduled a phone call for later that day and she was happy. Heading into the dining room, she thought she heard someone. "Hey Andy is it too late for tea and toast" she called out. Arriving at the entrance she found Andy was nowhere in sight. But a young woman with long brown hair pulled back into a ponytail was. "Oops you’re not Andy" she said acknowledging her. "He might be in the kitchen, I'll go check." heading to the door of the kitchen she called out again. "Hey Andy..."
"Tea and toast again?" Andy asked her as he met her at the door.
"Yeah. Don't want to confuse anything by changing now," she laughed.
"Hey there is someone else here. In case you didn't hear her come in." Ivy pointed towards the dining room. "I'll see you in a few."
Coming back into the dining room Ivy noticed the girl was still standing.
"You can have a seat Andy will be out in a minute or two. You could sit with me if you aren't waiting for someone."
Smiling, Meggie followed the woman to a nearby table. Sitting down, she marveled at how beautiful and happy she looked…her eyes sparkled and her face was glowing. Realizing she had not introduced herself, she spoke.
"I’m Meggie, Meggie Ward. I just moved here to the Glen a few weeks back. I live in the big yellow house," she added, nervously laughing. She was always nervous meeting new people.
"Here you go, Ivy," Andy said placing a tray loaded with tea and toast on the table next to her. "And what can I get you, miss?"
Embarrassed at how hungry she was feeling, yet not able to ignore her stomach anymore, Meggie hesitated before responding. "Well…actually I’d love to have a hamburger and fries."
"No problem! Have it out in a few tics," Andy said, smiling as he turned to head back to the kitchen area.
Meggie returned her focus back to the kind woman. "Thank you for letting me join you. I had actually just planned on getting a quick bite to eat before heading back home to unpack a few more things. It’s very lovely here…so peaceful."
"Ivy Braddock, pleased to meet you. I haven’t actually explored the Glen much so I have to admit so I haven’t seen your house. Yellow is an inviting color for a house though." She could tell Meggie was a little nervous. "Don’t worry no one here bites and I am alone here myself for now anyway." A shadow of loneliness crossed her face as she added honey and lemon to her tea.
Wiping away a brimming tear Ivy looked at Meggie with a half smile. "I am glad to have the company. So what are your plans for your new house?"
Meggie noticed the bit of sadness that filled Ivy’s voice and her eyes, the tear that threatened to fall down her face. "Ivy, that’s a lovely name. It’s good to meet another Glen resident. I’m trying to get everything unpacked so it feels more like home. You’re welcome to drop by anytime, Ivy. I’ll make sure to get the boxes cleared out so you can find your way inside," she added, laughing and hoping to help cheer the woman up.
Alone for now? Meggie wondered about that and hoped whoever it was returned soon. No one should have to be alone. At that moment, Andy returned with her dinner and a drink. After taking a bite and sip of her drink, Meggie’s attention returned to Ivy. She was trying her hardest not to cry about something, and Meggie wished to help her someway without appearing nosey. "Thank you for the company, Ivy. I hope I’m not keeping you from anything important."
"Nope, not me not anything important at all," she said as she tore a piece of toast in half .
"Actually I'm not a resident of the Glen. Just a visitor. My friend Toni Stanley lives here and she invited me down." Nibbling on her toast she looked at Meggie."
"Meggie I am going to be honest with you. You seem nice." she took a deep breath. " I came here with my husband Jim on our honeymoon. Now he is back home in New Jersey and will be returning a few days before Toni and Richie get married. Have you heard about the wedding? Anyway that is my story in a nutshell." the tears came almost as fast as the rush of words. She used a napkin to wipe her face."
"I'm sorry I was going to be good and not cry today. Jimmy is supposed to call today," she attempted to smile. "I really am not good company at all am I? I'm not like this usually. Well I guess I am since Jimmy left but......Oh heck. I must be making the world's worst impression on you right now. I'm a train wreck since he left. Just ask anyone. I almost knocked down Jeffrey yesterday."
The rush of Ivy’s words, emotions, and tears left Meggie speechless for a moment. At the mention of "Jeffrey," she suddenly felt overwhelmed herself over the thought of him. Surely he isn’t….not after everything said.
Meggie reached out to touch Ivy’s hand. "Ivy, Ivy, it’s all right," she responded tenderly, pushing her own pain aside to comfort her new friend. Squeezing her hand, Meggie could feel Ivy shaking from the pain and sadness. "You miss your husband…and I’m sure he misses you just as much. But he’ll be back here with you soon and everything will be right again. You know what…my dumb old boxes can wait to be unpacked. How about we go for a walk or something? Or back to your place and we can just talk until he calls. How’s that sound? I’m very good at listening," Meggie added bringing her right hand up to gently touch Ivy’s shoulder, hoping her words soothed the woman’s broken heart.
Ivy nodded as she closed her eyes and breathed deeply. "I can’t leave I’m not sure when he’s gonna call. But I really don’t want to be alone. I should let you finish your lunch though…." Ivy looked at Meggie’s half eaten lunch and then at her own toast. "I’ll tell you what. I’m upstairs at the end of the hall on the right. Let me go straighten up and that will give you time to eat your lunch. If you decide you still want to come up when you’re done I should have things somewhat in order." Standing up Ivy stopped for a moment. "Meggie, I understand if you decide not to visit with me. Well see ya round." Ivy headed off towards her room.
Meggie started to say she didn’t mind forgetting about her lunch, seeing how Ivy needed some comfort and a shoulder to lean on. But she could tell Ivy needed a few moments to simply be by herself. "I promise to be up shortly, okay? And don’t you worry…we can talk or just sit or do whatever to help make the time go by faster, okay?"
Ivy nodded and continued to head upstairs. Looking down at her sandwich, Meggie felt rather guilty finishing it when her friend needed comforting. Taking a few more bites, she pushed her plate aside and stood up. Andy, who had noticed Ivy leaving, waited a short time before heading over to the table. "How was everything?"
"Very good, Andy. Thank you so much. How much do I owe you?
"Ah, it’s on the house. No problem!" he replied, smiling. And then his face turned more serious as he continued. "Oh, Ivy. She’s really having a difficult time right now without Jim."
"Don’t worry. I’m going to go up and sit with her for while, at least until her husband calls. Help cheer her up for a bit."
"That’s a great idea. She’ll love the company."
Smiling at Andy, Meggie hoped she wouldn’t be too early for Ivy. Heading around the corner, she found the old wooden staircase and climbed up to the second floor. At the top, she realized she didn’t know which room Ivy was staying in, and had decided to check with Andy when a door suddenly opened off to her left.
Her heart stopped, nearly causing her to gasp for air. No, no it couldn’t be. Slowly, she turned to the voice and saw Jeffrey Wigand standing in the doorway. He looked terrible, Meggie thought. Eyes filled with sadness, his face showing signs of stress and pain. Speechless, she just stood there, staring at him for what felt like eternity. She felt paralyzed, emotionally and physically, just like in her dream.
"Meggie, we need to talk," Jeffrey softly uttered, beginning to take a step towards her.
"I think we’ve said enough all ready, at least you did…Jeffrey," Meggie finally managed to say, fighting the urge to cry and run into his arms, or just simply walk away.
But before she could do either, he was beside her, his hand gently touching her face. "Meggie, I’ve missed you." The pain evident in his voice, his blue eyes searching her face for some response.
She pulled away from his grasp, and turned her back to him. No, she couldn’t, she wouldn’t go through this reenactment again. Not the same lines to be said, the same answers given, the same pain ripping through her as if it was the first time. She shook her head, still not facing him. "Jeffrey, I don’t know why you’re here. Or what you think we have left to talk about."
Seeing her standing there, stiff with pain and sadness made him feel worse for what he had put her through. However, he needed to explain, to make things right, if that was possible, so she could start over. "Meggie, I came down here looking for you. To apologize for what happened…for what was said. I," he slowly took a step towards her, reaching up and touching her shoulder and hair, to turn her around to face him. She did, slowly, and he could tell she was both angry and hurt. "Meggie, can we go somewhere to talk? In private?"
"Apologize? For what?" she quickly said, looking at him with disbelief and yet with a small sense of hope. Had he finally realized and accepted what she had been telling him for so long, that they could be together?
"Yes, I…" he nervously pushed his glasses up on his nose. "What happened…I take full responsibility for it. I hurt you terribly, and I’m sorry. I should never have let things get as far as they did."
"As far as they did? Did it mean nothing to you what we shared…all that time?"
He grabbed her hands, clutching them tightly. Then he touched her face, realizing what needed to be said had to be done quickly, not just for himself, but for her as well. "Meggie, those moments will forever be cherished in my heart. But I still think it’s better if you had someone who could love you without so much mess and baggage. I came here to tell you that, to try to fix things and wish you a lovely brand new start here. I know you’ll…."
"You still can’t see it, can you? I don’t…."
Another door opened, and Meggie and Jeffrey turned to see Ivy standing just inside her room. Meggie pulled her hands away from Jeffrey, a sudden thick wall going up around her heart for protection. With every ounce of strength she had, Meggie kept the tears from running down her face and her voice void of emotion. She still couldn’t make him understand…and the pain was too much at the moment for her. "I can’t talk right now. I think we’ve said everything there is to say. I know you have made it perfectly clear. You shouldn’t have come all the way down here, Jeffrey. It’s over, I get it, finally."
Meggie quickly walked past him to stand in front of Ivy. "Goodbye, Jeffrey."
"Meggie…," he whispered. "I’m sorry, I really am. But I still want the best for you."
Grateful he couldn’t see her, the tears began to swell in her eyes. "Ivy, are you ready now?" She desperately wanted away from Jeffrey and hoped to find some sense of shelter from this storm in Ivy’s room away from Jeffrey.
Ivy stood to the side to let Meggie in, but walked out into the hallway after Meggie had done so.
Looking at Jeffrey, Ivy shook her head. "Jeffrey you have been here for days. Too afraid and self loathing to go see her. Now she comes here and that is what you come up with?"
"Do you have any idea how all this works? None of us get to choose who we love. Love has a way of making us listen and if we ignore it… If we ignore the message or push it away this is what happens. Everyone ends up miserable. Jeffrey, you have told me several times how much she means to you. Why can’t you accept that? Why won’t you tell her why you really came all the way to Australia? It wasn’t so she could start over. She was doing that on her own already. You came here to find a brand new start for yourself. The sooner you admit that to yourself and to her the better off the two of you will be." Ivy was shaking with anger, her face flush.
Ivy pointed him towards his room and when he continued to stand there, she walked over and gave him a shove towards it. "I hate to act like your Mom or something, but go to your room and think about what I’ve said... and stay out of the bottle!"
Closing Jeffrey’s door behind her she took a moment to catch her breath. This was turning out to be a heck of a day. She returned to her room to find Meggie standing inside crying and looking more than a little shell shocked. "Sorry Meggie. I didn’t put everything together when I met you earlier." Motioning Meggie to sit in the chair, Ivy walked over to the head of the bed and removed a green button down shirt from under one of the pillows and slipped it on, before sitting down on the bed herself.
"So Meggie. Do you think the weather will hold out?"
Taking a deep breath and wiping the tears from her face, Meggie looked up at Ivy. "I’m sorry…about what happened out there," and then turning slightly in the chair, she stared at the closed door, still trying to grasp what had happened. Realizing she had come to help Ivy, Meggie turned back. "Weather? I don’t know, really. That’s a lovely photo of you and your husband, Ivy," she commented, nodding towards a framed photo in the room. "I’m sure when he returns soon, you both will be eager to continue your honeymoon and enjoy being here. It’s quite lovely…I’ve heard there are some beautiful places to visit and also see in Coffs Harbour."
"Meggie, look you don’t have to talk about the weather….it was sort of a diversion. A bad one at that. I didn’t realize that you would be "the Meggie" he has been talking about ever since he got here. My head really hasn’t been here, ask Toni. Look, I heard what he was saying to you out there. That was his head talking. His heart is wounded, from the look of you, yours is too." Ivy picked up a half empty box of tissues and handed them to Meggie then sat back down on the bed. She looked at the photo Meggie had been talking about and smiled while absent-mindedly bringing the sleeve of the green shirt to her face. Realizing what she was doing Ivy lowered her arm. "It’s Jimmy’s shirt," she said apologetically.
"I know this is really none of my business but Jeffrey does care about you. He wants you to be happy he just doesn’t realize…" Ivy let her sentence hang as she looked at Meggie. "You need him don’t you?"
Taking a couple of tissues, Meggie set the box down beside her. She wiped her eyes and sat there for a few moments, fiddling with the tissues. Ivy’s question was what she kept asking herself over and over, ever since she had told him goodbye. "I do…did. But he’s made it very clear that it wouldn’t work between us. And I just don’t have the strength or will anymore to keep holding on to a dream that slowly dies with every new day."
Rising from her chair, Meggie slowly crossed the room to gaze out the window overlooking the Glen’s rolling green acres. She shared the story of when she first met Jeffrey, and how they had begun to see each other regularly. Meggie described the day in the park, their first sweet and passionate kiss, and how she knew her life would never be the same again. Then the doubts came, his lack of confidence and ability to believe in something so powerful and beyond control and reason. "At first, I told myself he was still dealing with losing his wife, his two girls, and being personally attacked and picked apart by the media, by B&W, and by the public. I did everything I could to make him see I loved him, despite his past, despite whatever would happen, I loved him. As simple as that."
Shaking her head, Meggie slowly turned around and returned to the chair across from Ivy. "In the end, love wasn’t enough, or I wasn’t enough, to make him see, to understand. Maybe he’s right. The age difference and everything. Whatever it is, it’s too late for us now. Jeffrey’s mind is made up, and there’s no undoing that. He’s probably packing as we speak to return home." She paused, not quite sure she wanted to know the answer to her next questions. "How long has been here? Has he been drinking much again? He really talked about me?"
Reaching out to Ivy, Meggie gently touched her hand. "Ivy, I’m sorry for rambling on like this. You have enough to deal with. Plus I owe you a fresh box of tissues," she said, half laughing as she held up the empty box.
" I used the first half…so I’d say it was well used. He has been here the better part of the week and yes he’s been drinking. He has talked of almost nothing but you since he arrived. He has been trying to muster up enough courage to go out to your house." Ivy looked at Meggie. "Wait here a second," she said as she got up and opened the door closing it behind her.
Ivy knocked gently on Jeffrey Wigand’s door. "Jeffrey are you in there? I promise not to yell anymore. Please open the door." Hearing footstep come toward the door Ivy stepped back from it. It opened slowly and Jeffrey appeared in the opening. "Jeffrey I am sorry for how I spoke to you earlier. It just made me mad, the situation I mean. I have heard you talk about her since you got here. You love her and your going to sabotage yourself more than anyone else ever could do it for you. She loves you and wants a life with you. You need to let her. You need to accept that she doesn’t want to hurt you. Won’t you come talk to her. Just ask her about her house. Let her show you what it can be like here, for both of you." Ivy reached out and caressed the side of his face. "Jeffrey age is nothing unless you let it be." His blue eyes misted with tears he nodded. She took his hand in hers. "Come on let’s go get your girl."
Returning to her room Ivy opened the door. "Meggie I have someone who wants to see you." She pushed the door open the rest of the way to let Jeffrey inside.
Meggie turned to towards the door. She saw Ivy…and Jeffrey standing there. Slowly, she stood up, gripping the arm of the chair for support.
"Meggie…" Jeffrey softly said.
"No, no more. There’s nothing left…."
"Meggie, I’m sorry. I want…we need to start over. What I said before was wrong. Please," he begged, taking a step towards her with open arms. He could tell she had been crying again.
She froze. Did she dare try again, hoping yet again they could have a future? His face was filled with anguish and pain, while his blue eyes revealed the same depth of sorrow and heartache she felt in her own soul. Slowly, the wall that had protected her from pain despite blocking any light or hope from entering began to slowly crumble inside. Piece by piece, the wall tumbled down until Meggie could feel the rush of emotions flooding over her. She looked at Ivy, who smiled and nodded back at her.
Meggie quickly went to Jeffrey, feeling his arms wrap protectively around her and holding her close to his chest. He could feel her tremble as she cried, her head buried against his chest. Slowly, tenderly, he caressed her back until she stopped shaking. Jeffrey relaxed his hold, looking down at her face and wiping her tear streaked face with his hand.
At that moment, he longed to kiss her, to see the sparkle and glow that once filled her eyes and radiated from her body. Cupping her chin with his hand, he tilted her head up slightly to meet his lips. Softly, he kissed her until he felt Meggie respond back with a deepening kiss. Jeffrey’s arms went around her waist, pulling her closer to his body. After a few moments, they stopped to stare into each other’s eyes.
"Jeffrey, can we go somewhere to talk? Maybe take a walk down to the creek or…."
"Actually, I’d like to see your new home, Meggie, if that’s okay with you?"
She nodded. Turning to Ivy, Meggie reached out to embrace her friend. "Ivy, thank you. I was supposed to be cheering you up. Jeffrey," she said looking over her right shoulder, "please give me a few minutes with Ivy. I want to…."
Just then the phone rang and they turned to look at the table.
"You two go ahead I'm sure I'll see you soon. Remember play nice" Ivy smiled at Meggie and Jeffrey. The phone rang again and Ivy picked it up waving to the couple as they left the room hand in hand.