No More Heroes
The Last Goodbye
My life has been crazy the last couple of months. Mother became very ill shortly after my 28th birthday. She’s been in
hospital for 3 months. There’s no sign of her getting better. I’m so afraid of losing her at 62 years. Thankfully my best friend and her boyfriend Nicky have been there for me. I don’t know what I would do without them.
Today is one of those rare ‘normal’ days. I and Jess are watching TV while Nicky was on his phone in the other room. No phone call… yet. Every second I dread the phone ringing.
Nicky joined us on the sofa and Jess asked ‘Who was that?’
‘Mark,’ said Nicky ‘It’s about the band. I don’t want to bore you.’
Jess smiled and sweetly said ‘You know what pleases me.’
‘Of course I do darling.’
Nicky kissed her gently on the lips. I had to look away. It was just natural. I like seeing them so in love. I just can’t watch them kiss. Anyone in that matter. I was in a perfectly good relationship until my boyfriend decided to go out with someone behind my back. Kelly… just you wait!
‘You ok Sally?’ asked Nicky
I snapped back into reality and saw Nicky and Jess looking at me. So much pity in their eyes. And concern.
‘I’m fine.’ I managed to say with a false smile
‘Things will be alright.’
‘Which ones? I still haven’t forgiven… I feel like I might lose her today. I can’t bare that. She’s been my hero all my life…’
Nicky put his hand on mine, a way to comfort me. A lump came to my throat. I’m not going to cry. I’m not! The phone started ringing. I closed my eyes and allowed the ringing to continue. Then it stopped. I heard Jess’s voice.
‘Miss Hart’s house, Jessica speaking. How can I help?’ I heard her say. There was a pause before I heard ‘I’ll tell her. Thank you very much for calling.’
When I heard the phone go down, I opened my eyes. I didn’t like what I saw in her eyes. Sadness. My mother.
‘I’ll cancel.’ Said Nicky ‘You need us.’
It took me a few seconds to work out what he meant. Then I remembered… Shane’s dinner party was tonight.
‘Don’t!’ I nearly shouted ‘You’ve missed out on so much because of me lately. Go tonight. You’ve got your own lives to live.’
‘Positive Nicky. I’ll be alright.’
‘Ok, I won’t cancel but I will keep my phone on. If you need me or Jess just call, don’t hesitate.’
‘Good. Come on I’ll take you to the hospital.’
‘I haven’t said who was on the phone or what they said Nicky.’ Reminded Jess
‘Your eyes said everything darling. Let’s go.’
The journey to the hospital was a quiet one. We all stopped talking as soon as we were in the car. Jess and Nicky were having a private conversation through their minds. I also knew what they were talking about. Me.
I’m 28 years old and I’m living in my mother’s house. I had to leave my job to be able to look after my mother before she went to hospital. For the last three months, I’ve been back and forth to the hospital.
My mind almost drifted into memory lane. But I stopped it. The memory it wants to play is… I can’t say it’s a happy one, nor a sad one. It’s in between…
Nicky parked the car and we walked into the hospital. Chloe, my mother’s nurse, was waiting for us. Like always. She looked up when she heard us approach. More sadness. It was in her eyes.
‘I’m sorry for calling,’ said Chloe ‘Your mother wishes to see you. As much as I hate to say this, your mother feels this is her last hour. She wants you there.’
‘Of course. Thank you Chloe. And don’t worry; I know where I’m going.’ I said
‘Nick and I will stay here.’ Said Jess
I slowly walked away and made my way down the corridor. When I got to my mothers door, I stopped. I couldn’t go in… but I needed to. I reached for the door handle and allowed my hand to rest gently. Then I slowly pushed the door open. When there was enough space, I walked in.
When I closed the door softly behind me, I stood still and looked at my mother. So helpless. There are days when I wish God would end her suffering, but he won’t. I’m not a believer but I feel like someone controls when we die. They will decide if it’s quick and painless or slow and painful. This someone has decided to make it a painful death for my mother. Pain is in her eyes when she
wakes. Pain is on her face when she sleeps.
I moved slowly to her bedside and sat down on the chair. I placed my hand on hers. It was cold. No heat at all. Tears came to my eyes. I let them fall. My mother, my last hero, has finally gone to a peaceful place.
‘I love you mother,’ I said through my tears ‘you can rest peacefully now. Don’t worry about me… I’ll be fine.’
An hour later I was with Jess and Nicky. I didn’t have to say anything. They just came up to me and hugged me. We stayed like this for over an hour, and then we left. Simply left.
Chapter two- Shane’s Dinner Party
I can’t believe all the plans we’ve made. Now none of them can happen. What you did was so hurtful that… I can never forgive you for what you did. I had some news to give you but with the car accident… I can’t tell you now.”
She never did tell me her news. I’ve been re-reading an old girlfriend’s letter the last few days. Surprisingly I have only had two girlfriends. It should have been only one… they say you learn from your mistakes, I know I have.
“I’ve always loved you. Even when Westlife came in your life. I’ve been there through thick and thin. How do you repay me? All I can say now is, I hope you have learnt from your mistake. I’m sure you and your new girlfriend have a happy life. I won’t be a part of it…”
She won’t be part of it… that’s how she ended her letter. I wish I could let her go but I can’t. She’s friends with Nicky so he gives me updates. Why did things turn out this way? Car accident and Kelly? One other person was involved… Richard. I hurt Richard just as much as my ex-girlfriend. A relationship and friendship destroyed by one night. Am I happy?
A knock on the door interrupted my thoughts. I quickly put the letter under a
magazine and said ‘Door’s open!’
The door opened and Nicky came in.
‘We need to talk.’ He said
‘What about?’ I asked but I felt I already knew
‘Things have gotten worse haven’t they?’
‘You can say that. Her mother, Mary, passed away earlier today.’
‘Oh man! How’s Sally taking it?’
‘Very hard. She needs friends…’
‘Forget it! I’m dead to her.’
‘There’s nothing to explain Nicky! She doesn’t want anything to do with me. And who can blame her?’
‘Ok. If you change your mind you know where she is. In the mean time, your guests are waiting.’
And with that Nicky was out the door.
Roughly half an hour later I walked down the stairs. Westlife and our partners are staying in a grand house that has been made into a bed and breakfast hotel. I have rented the dinning room tonight for a party. Believe it or not I have invited Sally. Of course she declined the invitation.
Kelly was waiting for me outside the dinning room door. She was beautiful.Wearing a black dress that had short sleeves and was just above her knees. Her hair was in a tight bun. Her beauty always took my breath away. Tonight was no different. I placed my hands on Kelly’s stomach and kissed her softly on the lips.
‘You’re beautiful Kelly.’ I said
‘Thank you.’ Kelly said ‘You look very handsome.’
Handsome? How many times has she seen me in a suit and sitting on a stool? No, seriously!
‘You excited baby?’ I asked Kelly
‘Very. Also nervous.’ She said
‘Everybody’s reaction. Nicky, Kian and Mark haven’t exactly forgotten what happened.’
‘Maybe but they have forgiven you. Once they saw how happy we were… they put everything aside.’
‘How do you think they will react?’
‘I don’t know. Hopefully they will be happy for us. Why don’t we find out?’
Kelly smiled. We linked arms and I opened the door. When we got in we were taking away. A Christmas tree fully decorated was in front of the wall sized window. The table itself was long. It could have 100 people sitting around it. Tonight there was only 60 people. The men were wearing suits or tuxedos while the ladies were wearing dresses. It certainly is a site to remember.
Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at us. Nicky and Jessica were the only ones sitting at the table with full glasses of red wine. Kian and Viv were standing in the left hand corner of the room. Mark was standing with Tina. I looked at Kelly, fear was in her eyes. She’s not used to being the centre of attention.
‘Not that I’m not enjoying this party but… what’s going on?’ asked Mark
‘Why the rush to find out?’ I asked him
‘We’ve been waiting for two hours Shane.’
My heart suddenly stopped beating. Two hours? That’s how long I’ve been reading the letter…
‘Shane,’ Kelly said ‘Tell them baby.’
I looked at her. Why did I feel frozen? Maybe because of the icy stare I’m getting from Nicky. I swallowed and said to the crowd ‘Well… Kelly and I have invited all of you here tonight because we have got a special announcement.’
‘Get on with it!’ everyone shouted
I couldn’t hide my smile but I continued anyway ‘Kelly and I are expecting our first child.’
I looked around and saw shocked faces. All but Nicky. Anger was burning in his eyes. I looked from him to Jessica. She was happy to hear the news. What have I done to anger Nicky? A thought came to me… He hasn’t forgotten has he? When he talks about Richard and I’m around, he never tries to hide the hurt. How was I to know Nicky was Richard’s cousin. Richard never told me…
People started to come over and congratulate us. I couldn’t stop looking at Nicky. He was showing anger but I know, deep down, he was hurt. An old wound never healed…
Chapter three (sally)
When my head touched the pillow, I was asleep. A memory was playing like a silent movie. It involves Shane, Kelly, Richard and I. Shane and four other lads have signed a contract. Westlife was born. In this memory we were in the park, the place we always go…
Shane, Kelly and Richard were sitting on the swings while I was sitting on the bench behind them. I had my hand on my stomach. One night of passion with Shane… two weeks ago.
I haven’t told Shane our news. Only Richard knows. He took all of the pieces of the puzzle and put them together. For a boy of 18 he was smart. He was the one who took me took me to the hospital. I’m due for the hospital in an hour. I didn’t want to break up the excited chatter but I had to. I didn’t want to be late for my second appointment. The thought of seeing a second scan was too
I got of the bench and walked towards Richard. When I was inches behind him I tapped him on the shoulder. He stopped talking and looked at me.
‘Time to go?’ Richard asked
I nodded my head and he got of the swing. I looked at Shane and I had to go over to him. So I did. I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him. A long passionate kiss. When we pulled apart I saw sadness in his eyes. Like always when we say goodbye. I quickly gave him another kiss, and then I went to Richard. We all waved goodbye and Richard and I left.
The sound of the doorbell wakes me up. I reached for my dressing gown and got out of bed. I put the dressing gown on and I heard the doorbell ring again. I left my room and walked down the stairs. When I got to the door I could hear excited chatter. My three girlfriends, Tia, Jess and Viv. I opened the door and they stopped talking.
Then they practically shouted ‘Merry Christmas Eve!’
I couldn’t help but laugh. Those three girls always knew how to make me laugh. The friendship circle is missing only one person… Kelly. 10 years ago Kelly and I used to be best friends. Used to be. Now I’m not part of her life.
‘You alright girl?’ asked Jess
‘Yeah. Sorry, went into day dream mode again.’ I said ‘Come in.’
They walked in and went straight to the sitting room. I looked outside and saw a car parked outside my house. I knew the car, I knew the driver. Where was he? I closed the door and went to the kitchen.
A hot chocolate for Jess and Viv. A cup of tea for me and Tia. A plate of shortbread biscuits for everyone. I put everything on a tray and walked to the sitting room. The girls were already sitting down. I placed the tray on the table and gave the girls their drinks.
‘A hot chocolate for you Jess.’ I said
‘Thank you.’ Said Jess
‘A hot chocolate for you Viv.’
‘Thank you.’ Said Viv
‘And a cup of tea for you Tia.’
‘Oh thank you! You didn’t even ask us.’ Said Tia
‘When ever I ask you, you always say yes. Jess, where’s Nicky?’
‘He saw someone he knew outside.’ Jess explained ‘He won’t be long.’
Half an hour later the door bell rang. Must be Nicky. I left the girls and answered the door. Yes it’s Nicky. We hugged each other and he came in.
‘Where’s the girls?’ Nicky asked
‘In the sitting room.’ I Said ‘What’s wrong Nicky?’
He’s just like me, never able to hide our emotions. His eyes were full of worry. And he’s hesitating. He never hesitates!
He took a deep breath and said ‘I saw Richard outside.’
‘Richard? You mean your cousin Richard?’
‘He’s the one.’
‘What’s he doing here?
‘The estate company he works for… the house has been sold.’
Sold? How can this house be sold? First I get told that Kelly’s expecting her first child and now this! Deep down I’m happy for Shane and Kelly, really I am. But this house being sold? When did this happen?
As if he read my mind Nicky said ‘Apparently Mary sold the house while she was in hospital. At least that’s what Richard says.’
Mary’s my mother’s name. How could she sell the house? I left my job and sold my flat to be able to look after her. Now what am I going to do?
‘Why don’t you come to Shane’s Christmas party with us?’ Asked Nicky an hour later
‘No.’ I said
‘Do I need to explain it to you? You should know?’
‘It’s not good idea for you being on your own. And it’s Christmas Eve!’
‘Sally, come on. Come with us, even if it’s only an hour. You need to get out, meet new people. You don’t even have to be any where near Shane.’
‘Sally, please? Do it for me and Jess? I can’t remember the last party you went to.’
Of course he can’t. The last party I went to was the one when we celebrated Westlife’s first number one. About 9 years ago. Really that long? Maybe I should go… but it is Shane we’re talking about. I can do it for Nicky and Jess can’t I?
Chapter 4- Shadows
I looked at myself in the mirror. I saw myself wearing a black dress which went down to my ankles. Always black. I need to put some colour into my life. Lilac? I had my charm bracelet on that my mother gave me for my 18th. That year was not a good one. Who’s to blame? Shane, that’s who! I love Westlife but I put them out of my life… the music anyway. I can’t listen to Shane’s voice, not after what happened.
The door bell rang and I looked at my watch. 8 o’clock, right on time. I left my room and walked down the stairs. When I got to the door, I waited for a second before opening it. I’ve been battling with myself all day. I’m actually pushing myself to go tonight. It’s been so long since I’ve been out and enjoyed myself.
I opened the door and saw a handsome Nicky standing there with some flowers in his hands.
‘For you Madame.’ He said, his Irish accent so clear
‘Thank you.’ I said and smiled
A little birdie told me to put a vase with water out ready for tonight. That little birdie never fails me. I took the flowers from Nicky and put them in the vase. They were Lilly’s, my favourite flower and just right for the current event.
Nicky in his pure black tuxedo, held his hand out and said ‘Your carriage waits.’
He was sweet. Jess is so lucky to be in a relationship with him. I shut the front door and locked it. Then I took Nicky’s hand and we started to walk down the path. The sky was clear and stars are shining. So much for a white Christmas.
We turned the corner and I saw a white limousine that had gold tinsel goingaround it. I could hear music and laughter and I start to wonder who was in there.
‘Everyone.’ Explained Nicky ‘Well… except Shane and Kelly.’
‘It’s their party.’ I said ‘And besides, I’m out for a good time. I’m not letting the past ruin my night out.’
‘Good to hear it. Takes an hour to get to the House from here. We’d better get going.’
Nicky opened the door for me and I got in. The talk quietened down a little bit and Nicky joined us. I looked at Kian because I felt his eyes on me.
‘What?’ I asked, a little bit annoyed
‘Nothing,’ said Kian ‘It’s just…’
‘Strange to see you coming to a party. I mean…’
‘Forget it Kian, I know what you mean.’
A look of relief came on Kian’s face, but I sensed there’s something he needs to say so I asked ‘What is it Kian?’
He looked me with a puzzled look for a second, then realised what I meant.
He said ‘Chloe’s coming.’
‘Chloe? You mean my mother’s nurse Chloe?’
‘That’s the one.’
‘Why is she coming?’
Kian looked at Nicky and they both nodded at each other.
‘Chloe and Kelly are related.’
‘They’re cousins. We only recently found out ourselves.’
Cousins? Kelly and Chloe? There is so much Kelly hasn’t told me. So much I never told Kelly. I’m hiding the biggest secret of my life… from everyone. I’m just as bad…
An hour later and we arrived at the Grand House. It hasn’t changed a bit! I spent a lot of my childhood here. It’s the place where I met Shane at 8 years old. He was 10 and he loved getting into trouble.
A girl was running my way and I recognised who it was. Chloe, my mother’s nurse back at the hospital. Jess, Viv and Tia came over when Chloe was standing in front me, clearly out of breath.
‘Hi.’ Said Chloe ‘Give me a sec.’
‘You didn’t have to run.’ Said Viv ‘We don’t go in till 9:30 and you know that girl!’
‘I know… I wanted to catch Sally before I lose her.’
I smiled. Chloe and I have become good friends over the past months. She’s helping me with the funeral arrangements as well as Jess, Viv, Tia andNicky.
‘I’m not ready to go in just yet anyway.’ I said
‘I was surprised to hear you were coming, but it’s nice to see you here nonetheless. It’s good for you to get out.’
‘You sound just like Nicky.'
‘Great minds think alike.’
‘Great minds?’ I raised my eyebrow at this
Chloe smiled and said ‘Just remember the past haunts Shane and Kelly just as mush as it haunts you.’
‘Find it hard to believe.’
‘Sally… just don’t let the past ruin tonight.’
‘I’ll try Chloe.’
‘Good. I’ll you girls inside.’
And with that Chloe headed inside.
Shortly after Chloe had gone inside, we went in. All sorts of memories came
flooding into my mind. Only one I allowed to play. A happy memory. The first
time I met Shane Filan…
It was a clear night. Clear but freezing cold. Everyone was inside and all the kids were tucked in bed, waiting for Santa to come. All but me and one boy, Shane Steven Filan. Our parents had introduced us earlier and told us to play with each other. And we did. It was now around 11 o’clock and Shane and I crept down the hallway. We wanted to see what everyone was up to. We found a spot were we could see and no one else saw us. ‘One day I’ll host my own Christmas party.’ Said Shane ‘And it will be better then this.’
‘I’m sure.’ I said ‘You’re sure we won’t get into trouble?’
‘Of course! You’re such a baby.’
‘Are! Watch this.’
Shane took out the knife he got in his cracker and started to carve something in the banister leg. When he was finished I read ‘S.S.F & S.A.H’.
The rest is vivid. I wonder if that carving is still there?
Chapter 5- Christmas Eve Entertainment
‘How did the scan go today Viv?’ Asked Chloe
‘It went fine. You should have seen Kian’s face when we were told that we’re having a baby girl.’ Said Viv
‘A baby girl? That’s so sweet Viv. Any idea on names yet?’
‘Not yet Chloe. Now we know what we’re having we can start thinking about names.’
‘You going to let Kian name the baby?’
‘No! If it was a boy then yes. But we’re having a baby girl, so I’m naming her.’
‘Poor Kian! But I can see the logic in that.’
As I approached Viv and Chloe, I heard them laugh. Viv was six months pregnant now. I was slightly surprised to hear Kian and Viv were coming tonight, considering they came last night.
‘Hi girls.’ I said
‘Hi.’ They both said
‘You enjoying yourselves?’
‘Yes thank you Shane.’ Said Viv
‘How about you Chloe? You haven’t spoken to me since this morning.’
No response. Chloe isn’t the kind of person who gets over things quickly. We had an argument this morning and we haven’t talked to each other since.
‘What’s going on between you two?’ asked Viv
‘We had an argument this morning, that’s all.’ I explained
‘What are you two like?’
Chloe stormed of. If you haven’t met someone who can hold a grudge for something stupid, you have now. I wonder how long it will last for this time? Last time it lasted for a whole week! Hopefully no that long again, considering tomorrow is Christmas.
‘Excuse me Shane.’ Said Viv ‘But I have to go.’
‘Of course.’ I said
Viv smiled and left. I looked around the ball room and saw everyone was having fun. Everyone on our guest list was here, even Sally. Though I haven’t seen her.
10 minutes later and I was talking to Tia. She was saying how much she’s hoping Mark would ask her to marry him. Every Christmas it’s the same wish forher. I know enough to say she might be lucky this year.
‘What is she looking at?’ Tia asked
I looked in the direction that Tia was pointing at. And that’s where I saw her. After 10 years apart, I see Sally again. I knew what she was looking at. Something I did back when I was 10 years old. It’s still there, I’ve checked myself. I’m surprised she remembers and the fact that she’s looking at it.
‘Shane?’ Tia asked
‘Sorry.’ I said
‘Do you know what Sally is looking at?’
‘Yeah I do. Something I did back when I was 10. I never realised that you could see from here.’
‘See what from here?’
‘Never mind Tia, it’s a long story. Something between Sally and I.’
‘Now don’t you go bringing up the past.’ Kelly said
I didn’t see her come up to me and Tia. I kissed her and placed my hand on her stomach.
'I’m lost!’ said Tia
‘Never mind Tia.’ Said Kelly ‘It shouldn’t be brought up anyway. At least not tonight of all nights.’
‘Better stop talking before I’m really lost.’
‘Just enjoy yourself Tia. I know the entertainment tonight well be worth waiting for.’
‘Kelly,’ I said ‘You’ve given to much away already.’
‘You just have.’
‘I think I’ll leave you two love birds alone. I’m really confused at the moment.’
‘You get confused easily.’ I said
‘Shane!’ Kelly said and hit me in the chest.
Tia walked of and joined Viv, Kian and Mark.
‘What?’ I asked Kelly
Kelly rolled her eyes and walked of. It was true; Tia does get confused very easily.
‘Can I have everyone’s attention please?’ Said Kelly into the microphone
Everyone stopped talking and looked at Kelly. I, Nicky, Kian and mark were standing behind the curtain wearing ridiculous customs.
‘Thank you. It’s now 10 minutes to midnight and we’ve got entertainment that’s worth waiting for! We all know them, we all love them! So ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for Westlife!’
The room exploded. None of us wanted to move, we were too embarrassed. Kelly ran to use and the next thing I knew I was being dragged onto the stage. The others followed and everyone laughed. Why wouldn’t they? Westlife were known to sit on stools and wear suits. Not wearing little elves customs! Complete with the little hat, ears and the red socks that just reaches the knee.
‘I’m going to get you back for this Kelly.’ I promised
‘Then don’t do it in a way that us girls will love.’ Kelly pointed out
‘Why do we have to pick the four sexiest girls around?’ I asked Mark
‘Because we’re dumb.’ Replied Mark
How right he was! Even if he was joking. Kelly left the stage and the music started playing. What song were we singing dressed up as elves? Simple… I wish it could be Christmas everyday!
Regardless of what we were wearing, we enjoyed ourselves. The crowd definitely enjoyed themselves. Everyone was singing and dancing. While I was looking around, I couldn’t see Sally anywhere. Where was she?
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