Part 1 of this short story can be found here.
* * * * *
When Gabriel opened his eyes again, it was to a white world seen through the eyes of morphine.
He had no way of knowing how long he had been out, but knew from the blur of light that he was no longer in his seedy hotel room.
He waited while his mind finished surfacing from the drug induced sleep that had kept him wrapped in peace.
The one word was little more than a whispered sigh, but it brought a face into his line of sight.
Those tender blue eyes blurred, sending a line of tears running down her aging cheek.
He felt her fingertips gently touching his cheek and wanted to press into that touch that he had sometimes ached to feel again.
“Shhh, Gabriel. Lie still. Your dad will go get the doctor.”
He saw a large man move toward the door, only to return a minute or so later with a nurse. His mother stepped away from the bed to make room for the nurse to move in next to him.
The next few minutes were spent answering questions and being poked and prodded.
Hours later, he had gotten a pretty good picture of what had transpired since the hotel room door had been busted in.
Witnesses had called 911 and he had been rushed to the emergency room. The medical staff had found the piece of paper in his wallet with his parents’ information on it and, when notified of his condition, they had made the flight across country to wait at his bedside.
The list of injuries he sustained in the beating could have killed him, probably should have killed him.
Of course, his dad said that God had kept him alive for a purpose only known to Him.
Gabriel swallowed down his thoughts on that and kept his mouth shut.
No sense in bringing up old arguments after all these years.
He spent the days of his recovery listening to them talk about home …
Was it home still?
Somehow, after all these years, an ache to return to his childhood had surfaced and was making itself felt in his heart.
Then came the morning that the doctor announced that he was well enough to leave, provided he had someone that could help him with everyday tasks for a while.
His mind fought to stay blank as the ache returned in full force.
“Of course, he’ll come home with us,” said his mother.
His half-hearted protest was drowned out by her insistence. There seemed to be another force at work here, and he didn’t seem to have the strength to fight it.
A week later found him gazing at the home that he had not seen in more than ten years. A wave of sadness crashed over him, filling him with regret.
He ran his eyes over the front of the house, taking in the Victorian lines that he had hated all those years ago. They had reminded him too clearly of how old-fashioned and out of it his parents were.
Now, he was startled to see beauty where before he had only seen an old cage. A swelling of tenderness took him by surprise with its intensity. He pushed the car door open and started to slide out just as the screen door swung open to emit a beautiful woman with glowing auburn hair.
His older sister Mary came sweeping down the porch steps and pulled him into her arms before he had stood up straight.
He looked at the tears on her cheeks and wondered at the amount of pain he had caused with his actions all those years ago.
He looked past her to where a man stood talking quietly to his dad. The worried look that came over the elder face as he turned in Gabe’s direction made him move to stand next to them.
“Dad? What is it?”
Joe hesitated, then said quietly, “There were a couple men here last week looking for you. They said they would be back to collect what you owe them.”
** Next Friday … part 3 **
Part 3 can be found here.
Part 4 can be found here.
© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2012