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Authors: D C Grant

Tags: #Pregnancy, #Young Adult Fiction, #Social issues, #World War, #Anzac

What Love Is

BOOK: What Love Is
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What Love Is

 

 

 

D C Grant

 

What Love Is

By

D C Grant

 

Published by Standfast Publications Ltd

 

Copyright D C Grant 2014

 

http://www.dcgrant.co.nz

 

 

ISBN 978-0-473-2710
9
-
1

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or means, electronic, mechanical or digital, including photocopying, recording, storage in any information retrieval system or otherwise without the prior written permission of the author

 

All characters in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental

Dedication

 

For Keeva Sadie Molloy

 

who grew at the same time

 

as this story

 

Table of Contents

 

  1. Bevan has Vanished
  2. Heading to Jail
  3. Nonna’s Unit
  4. The War Has Ended
  5. A Prisoner of War
  6. The Rastrellamento
  7. A Room for Nonna
  8. A Courier for the Partisans
  9. Wedding Day
  10. The Only Real Home
  11. Christmas Day and Nico
  12. Photos
  13. My Brother The Executioner
  14. I Killed a Man Today
  15. Weep for Italy
  16. Part of our History
  17. Final Waiting Room of Life
  18. A Vision
  19. Sins of the Father

Bevan has Vanished

6 August

Bevan has vanished. No one knows where he is, not even the police, and they have good reason to want him found. It’s like he’s ceased to exist. He’s not answering his phone and no one’s seen him since he drove away from the liquor store.

I suppose it’s me that’s responsible; it was me that went to the abortion clinic and because of that he has disappeared. How can I tell him that I still have the baby; that I didn’t go through with it? I can’t believe that he would kill himself, and I’ll never be able to live with myself if he has. What if he’s crashed the car? What if he’s lying in a ditch somewhere, or at the bottom of a cliff?

Why doesn’t he answer his phone?

Both his mother and I tried ringing him as soon as she collected me from the clinic, but he didn’t pick up and then it went straight to voicemail, as if he’s turned it off, or worse, it’s been smashed up in whatever car wreck he’s involved in.

“You can stay here tonight,” his mother said as it got late. I was glad of that, because I didn’t want to go back to the house I shared with my flatmates. I didn’t think they’d understand why I was so worried, and besides, I wanted to avoid my own mother – it was she who had persuaded me to get an abortion. I was mad to listen to her! Man, you should have seen her face when I told her that I hadn’t terminated the pregnancy. That’s when I got the receptionist to find Bevan’s mum’s number. She came around straight away. Thank goodness, my mum was frightening me. I certainly don’t want her pitching up at my place and having another go at me. I’m safer here, at Bevan’s place where I can wait for him to come home.

If
he comes home. Last night I told myself that he’s just out somewhere drinking and getting wasted with his mates, but now I know that’s not the case. It’s way worse than that, as we found out when the police came to the door in the morning. When I saw them there I almost lost it, certain they’d come to tell me that Bevan had been involved in a car crash and that he was badly injured, or worse, dead.

They both refused to say anything until we were all sitting in the lounge.

“What’s Bevan done now?” his father said.

“We’re looking for him in connection with an armed robbery at a liquor store last night,” one of them said. I thought I’d misheard
– my heart was thudding loudly in my ears. “We’ve caught two of the suspects, but they say it was Bevan who put them up to it.”

“They’re lying!” I said. I could guess who the two suspects were – Mitch and Scott. “He wouldn’t do anything like that.”

“I’m afraid he has. We have his picture on a CCTV camera outside the store. He didn’t go in, but he drove the suspects away.”

“How come you caught those two?” Bevan’s dad asked.

“It appears he forced them out of the car a few kilometres away and then drove off. We caught them soon afterwards but at first they refused to say anything. By the time we’d got the car’s details we’d lost the trail. We suspect he’s lying low somewhere. We’ve come to ask for a recent photo that we can put in the newspapers. Would you be able to provide us with that?”

I noticed his mum and dad look at each other with expressions of concern on their faces.

“How bad is this?” his dad asked quietly.

“The shop owner was beaten with a wheel spanner. The weapon was left at the scene. While it wasn’t Bevan who did the beating, the spanner came from his car. He drove the other two suspects away from the scene and from what they’re telling us, he’s the one who planned it, so I would suggest that you contact a lawyer if you have one, Mr Campbell.”

I could hardly believe this. I mean, Bevan isn’t exactly a saint but he’s changed since his accident, when he lost his left leg below the knee. He almost died, and it seemed to give him a different outlook on life, like he’s got a conscience, and he would complain about all the bad stuff Mitch and Scott were up to, saying it was all getting too heavy for him.

But then he was very, very angry when he left the clinic, and in a state of mind to do anything, even rob a liquor store. I burst into tears then, and Katie, Bevan’s sister, put her arm around me which made me cry even more.

“I’ll find a photo for you,” his mother said with a sigh as she got up from the couch. I watched as his father ran his hands through his hair and then banged his fists onto his thighs in frustration.

“Damn it!” He looked over at the policemen. “How is the shop owner?”

I held my breath as I listened to the policeman. “He’s badly injured but not critical. But it is a serious assault that could have ended badly, and we want to make sure we have all the suspects in custody. We can’t have this happening again.”

His mother returned with a recent photo, one taken just before his accident in January.

“Thank you, Mrs Campbell,” the policeman said as he slotted it into a pouch inside his clipboard.

“When you find him, you will let us know?”

“If we find him, we’ll be placing him under arrest immediately, Mrs Campbell, and you will be informed as soon as is practicable.”

I didn’t see them leave. I went at once to Bevan’s room and threw myself onto the bed and cried. This was all my fault. I’d got myself pregnant, I’d listened to my mother instead of Bevan and now he’d turned into a criminal. What kind of life was I offering to the baby growing within me? Either Bevan would never be found and I’d be left alone to look after the baby, or he’d be found and end up in jail.

Maybe I should have had that abortion after all!

7 August

Another day gone and still no word from Bevan. The worry is making me sick, at least sick
er
than I’ve been. Damn this morning sickness – it just lasts all day. Who’s the idiot who called it
morning
sickness? I’m so tired, but I can’t sleep. This has got to be bad for the baby.

“Don’t worry, Gina,” Katie said as she gave me a hug. “If Bevan were dead, we’d have heard by now.”

“Well, if he isn’t dead, then where is he? Why doesn’t he answer his phone?”

“I think it’s turned off – it just goes straight to voicemail.”

I know that by now the battery will have died if he doesn’t have a charger with him. I can’t get this image out of my head, of him lying undiscovered in the car somewhere, dead or badly hurt.

The police came again today. Bevan’s mum answered a knock at the door, and my heart starting thudding in my ears when I saw them standing in the doorway. They looked grim. I found that I could hardly breathe.

“Have you found him?” Bevan’s mum asked anxiously.

“No, Mrs Campbell, we’re here to ask more questions so we can figure out where he might have gone. We’ve had no results from the picture in the newspaper – no one’s come forward to say they’ve seen him.”

I’d hated seeing the picture of Bevan in the paper under the headline
Third suspect sought in aggravated robbery.
That was my Bevan they were talking about as if he had already been proven guilty.

They sat in the lounge with their notebooks and asked all sorts of questions.

“Gina, has Bevan ever talked about going to hide somewhere?”

I shook my head. Bevan had never needed to hide anywhere, until now. I remembered him talking about the strange dreams that he had had, the ones in which he was a Maori warrior fighting in some kind of war, but I wasn’t going to tell the policemen about that. They would think he was crazy, or on drugs, which he could have been I guess, but not so that he would rob a liquor store.

“What about Scott and Mitch?’ I asked. “They were there with Bevan – don’t they know where he’s gone?”

“No, he just told them to get out of the car and then he took off.”

“So maybe he didn’t plan it, maybe he didn’t know what they were going to do and that’s why he told them to get out.”

“I’m sorry, but until we hear from Bevan that’s all we’ve got to go on.”

I wondered then whether to tell them about Bevan’s dreams, and how I had a feeling that if he had gone somewhere, it would be to one of the places in his dreams – but which one? Then I had an image of them surrounding him with guns, like they did on the TV, and decided against it. I just had to believe that he was lying low somewhere and he’d contact us when he thought it was safe, even though it was never going to be safe.

I wish I could rewind time and undo it all. Go back to that first time I met Bevan at Katie’s party, the moment I first saw those dark eyes with the cheeky sparkle that intrigued me. If I’d known then what I know now, would I have gone up to him and introduced myself? Maybe not. I fell for him the moment I saw him. So much has happened since then – Bevan’s accident, my pregnancy and now this robbery. What a mess!

Where the hell is he?

9 August

Bevan’s in jail! I’ve just come back from seeing him. The first person he called was the church minister, Mark, not his parents. Then Mark called us and we immediately went to see him in the police cells. It was an awful place, and even more awful seeing Bevan in there. He didn’t want to see me because he thought that I’d gone through with the abortion, but Mark had told him that I hadn’t and I was allowed in. It was such a relief to have his arms around me once more.

“It’s all right, Gina, I forgive you,” he said to me when I told him how sorry I was.

“Where have you been?” I asked him.

“At a place called Rangiaowhia, near Te Awamutu. I met this guy called Henry and he showed me some of the battle sites there, and I found out that Haki died at Orakau.”

“Haki, the Maori guy from your dreams?”

“Yes, but Henry reckons that this is more than a dream, that it is my ancestors showing me the past.”

“That’s weird.” I said. I looked at him closely and could see that he’d changed. I knew that whatever had gone on at that place was what had done it. Had he found religion again? “Are you into this God stuff again? Like before the accident?”

“Yes, I’ve told Mark that I want to be baptized as soon as I can get out of here. Don’t pull a face, Gina, I’ve decided that’s what I’m going to do.”

I’d left him at the beginning of the year when all the religious stuff had got too much, but I don’t know if I can do that now I have a baby coming. I can see that he’ll never again be the bad boy that I loved so much. Do I love this new Bevan? I’ll have to learn to love him for the sake of the baby. I hope to God that I can. God? That’s crazy, I don’t believe in God, not like Bevan does. Who do I turn to then? How do I deal with the mess I’ve got myself into?

12 August

Bevan’s home at last. I thought it would be easy – he’d sign something at the police station and he’d come home, but no, the police didn’t want to let him out in case he ran away again. In the end he had to appear in front of a judge for a hearing, and was granted bail, but Bevan’s dad had to fork out a lot of money. I know that Bevan’s family is loaded, but even his dad is amazed at the amount.

But at least he’s home, where I can see him and touch him and pretend that none of the bad stuff has actually happened. We sat on the couch after his family went to bed, and held hands. Held hands – like we were a couple of kids on a first date! The TV was on but the sound was down. The house was quiet. I think his family wanted to give us some time together.

“Why’d you do it, Gina?” he asked me. “Why did you agree to go to the clinic and have that abortion? I thought we had everything sorted, I thought you agreed we’d have this baby.” His voice was low, soft, not the loud hard angry voice I’d expected.

I swallowed the lump in my throat. I knew that I’d have to explain at some stage, but I still wasn’t ready.

“I was scared,” I said. Even to me my voice sounded small, without conviction.

“It’s just a baby, not an alien. It’s not going to burst out of your stomach.” He smiled when he said it, which made me relax a little.

“It was my mum that made me,” I said. “She knew that I wanted to study to be a beauty therapist. She said having the baby would put an end to that. It was hard enough trying to save for Tech while I was working, without having a baby to take care of as well. She said I’d have to forget about beauty school if I had the baby, that it was better to get rid of it and get on with my life.”

I saw Bevan clench his jaw and waited for the explosion. It didn’t come. He let out his breath in a long exhale. He turned to look at me.

“There are two of us here, Gina. I said that I would look after you. Didn’t you believe me?”

“I … I didn’t think you’d stick around. I thought you’d be like my dad and run off and leave me alone with the baby.”

I felt tears build up in my eyes and I wiped them away. I know how much he hates it when I cry. He turned to me and took my face in his hands. “I’m not your dad, Gina. I’m not even the old Bevan any more. I promise you, I will not leave you.” Then he leaned in and kissed the tears from my checks. I was so astounded that I was speechless.

Now I’m upstairs in his bedroom, alone. He’s downstairs in the rumpus room that is now his bedroom. It’s easier for him to mobilize down there since he lost his left leg. I wanted to sleep with him, but he sent me away.

“It’s not right, Gina,” he said when he sent me upstairs. “Not when my parents are home.”

I stared at him in disbelief. “But they’re upstairs, asleep. We can do whatever we want, they won’t know,” I said

“I’ve put them through a lot lately, Gina, and it’s going to get rough further down the track. I want to do the right thing by them and it feels disrespectful if we sleep together while we’re under the same roof as my folks. I know it seems weird, but so much happened while I was away and I need to get my head around it all. Besides, we’re both tired. Go to bed, Gina, we’ll talk more in the morning.”

It’s all a bit strange; he’s a bit strange. I’m going to have to find out what the hell happened while he was away.

BOOK: What Love Is
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