If Only...!

If Only...! by David Wilson

There’s nothing more uplifting to the spirit than the love of one human being toward another, more so, when that love is returned in equal measure. That’s how it was with Paul and Sally; a happy couple who, throughout their marriage, found pleasure and comfort being in each other company. Then, because of one solitary and misleading incident, their paths diverge; forcing each to tread very different paths to the one they had been used to. One day their paths converge again, due to Paul, seeking his wife’s whereabouts. He has been confronted with an innocent explanation to the incident that provoked his distress; that had him walking away from the marriage without a word. He seeks his wife out and pleads for her forgiveness, it’s only then that the realisation of their love for each other is as strong as ever. They recount those years they’ve been apart; almost six and a half years; poignant, turbulent years that often had them wishing: If only! But their stories create a consequence, setting off a culmination of events that will have a deep and lasting impact on their future life together.

Prologue

From that very moment when we take in that first lungful of air allowing us to herald our arrival with a protesting bellow, is when we begin our fateful journey along the road of life; a journey that only ends when we die.

There are some who, through the grace and favours of privileged upbringing, greater awareness of destiny, or simply sheer luck, find the going quite smooth with few diversions to snare them during their journey through life.

But, for many of us, there are forks in this road that we might—inadvertently or with purpose—travel upon. They are paths that, with the gift of hindsight, we would have been ill advised to follow.

Whether it’s a snap, impulsive decision or one of careful deliberation, a different route is chosen because it appears to show a good, clear road ahead. We may think the abundant fruits of life are waiting for us around that corner, or simply choose the diversion because it seems to be a handy short-cut, enabling us to realise our ambitions and achieve our objectives much faster.

Reality can be very different from what we expect, and we often encounter instead a long, arduous road blighted with rocky terrain; or discover bitter fruits around that corner; or realise the short-cut has pitfalls along the way. We then come to regret the choice we’ve made.

I have a name for any such path unwisely ventured upon. It is, in my view, an “If Only…!”

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Back page blurb

"The moment you walked into our bedroom and saw me in his arms, our eyes met. I saw the look of disbelief and pain on your face and could only imagine the plethora of thoughts rushing through your mind."

A happily married life dissolves in one afternoon as Paul walks away and doesn't return.

One day he is confronted with evidence that gives an innocent explanation to that heart-breaking scene and Paul is determined to find his wife and seek her forgiveness. He manages to track Sally down, and both discover their love for each other is as strong as ever.

But six years and five months have gone by since that fateful afternoon and they feel compelled to give each other an account of those 'lost' years; poignant, traumatic years that had plagued them both and had them often wishing: If Only...!

Their dramatic stories create a crossroad to their lives, setting off a culmination of events that will have a deep and lasting impact on their future life together.

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Excerpts

She looked down at his hands, feeling their caress. The impact of the moment, his readiness to forgive, his words, it was all too much, and she was powerless to prevent the surge of emotion rising up inside her. She placed both hands over her face to hide the tears that were starting to fall; stupid tears she could not contain.

Sally nodded, smiled, and slowly placed her glass back on the table. She let the memories roll in, and then slowly began reflecting out loud about the life she’d lived since that day; that regretful day when her husband walked away from her.

After a while, I cuddled up to you and listened to your soft snoring. My body was lying close to yours, but my spirit was up there among the stars. My twenty-ninth birthday, ten years later, was going to be so, so different. But of course, at that moment, I couldn’t have foreseen such an awful day, could I?

Then things began to get scary. I made the mistake of suggesting he might be drinking too much, and with that, he thumped his whisky down on the table and came at me with both hands clenched into fists…

She smiled up at him, and then frowned. “You behaved like a rampant beast last night!”
“Oh, did I? I’m sorry about that.”
“Sorry, my arse!” Sally quipped. Suddenly Paul started chuckling at her rude comment and then Sally began to giggle. Soon both were laughing hysterically and the waves of laughter brought tears to their eyes….

A voice full of derision interrupted her thoughts. “Sally, you must be kidding! If Paul plays his cards right, he’ll have you in bed before you can shake a stick.” She shook the idea from her head, finished rolling on her tights, took one more glance in the mirror, then…

The judge asked if the verdict was unanimous and the foreman replied that it was. At that very moment the bottom fell out of my world. The judge asked me to stand. I struggled to my feet, my legs shaking, barely able to support my weight. He told me I had been found guilty of the crime put before him by the Crown and would be given a custodial sentence…

And you know what, Sal? I think I must have been one of the happiest people on the promenade that day. It’s hard to express my feelings. Being incarcerated for over two years and suddenly being released into the real world. Just walking along with a south-easterly breeze in my face, seagulls cawing and wheeling as they flew into the wind and ordinary men, women, and children with smiling faces crowding all around me….

My hands felt sweaty and my heart was pumping as you began walking in my direction. And then you saw me! You stopped and raised your hand to your mouth as I approached….

“You’ve got to be kidding, Gerry! Let me tell you something. I was judged and condemned by the media, my friends, and even my young sister long before being found guilty by the jury. And believe me, even though I’ve served my time, people don’t forget. There will still be those who would judge and condemn me for what they presume I’ve done.”

Jack Kincaid was particularly concerned about the rapid rise of child abuse in his borough and was determined to find ways to eradicate “this evil virus” (his words). He set up a mini unit within his local force under the title of PACA, an acronym for Protection against Child Abuse.

Rambo: But the man had a rare talent; he could hack into far-reaching places in the cyber world with the ease of an impresario playing some classical piece on the piano.

Jack Kincaid had enormous respect for the woman he’d just seen off in a taxi, not that he wanted her to have the luxury of knowing it. It had little to do with her Queen’s Counsel status, but rather her uncanny recognition of the truth….

She still had strong feelings for him—dangerous feelings that could easily scupper her relationship with her husband, and she was determined not to allow that to happen. No, seeing Jack Kincaid on the odd professional occasion was enough, and if it bothered the man…well, stiff cheese. He’d once had his chance.

Gloria: Softly. “Then what?”

Gwen: Speaking slowly and softly as if trying to recollect the moment. “But then, as he turned to go, he looked back with this terrible crazy expression on his face and said if I ever went to the police, sooner or later he’d…he’d come back and kill us both.”

The words confirmed in Sally’s mind his reason for keeping her concealed. She recalled again the words of warning in Jack’s email…they will go to any lengths to remain undetected, and the thought of what that meant frightened her more than ever…

“I need the girl’s clothes, please.” John Richardson paused a little before responding.
“Forensics might need to—”
“I don’t give a damn about your bloody forensics. I want them now,” Officer McKinley ordered, lifting the girl up into her arms. “I’m not having this poor kid going home to her mother like this.”

. “Brian, let me tell you something. I didn’t see them as sixty-year-old men. In my eyes, they were two frightened, vulnerable young kids, talking about being sexually molested by their carers…bastards who had been systematically abusing these parentless youngsters and others like them, over the years.”

She lay there and soon heard the soft rhythm of his snoring. It evoked memories of another time: It was the night of their engagement, well after their lovemaking had come to an end, when she listened to the same sound she was hearing now…

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Publication Date: Jun 17, 2015
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