Fear of Going HomebyMoondrift©
Kellie Fraser opened her emails and her heart gave a leap, there was one from Jack. She opened it hurriedly and read:
I feel somewhat guilty for not contacting you for more than six months, but as I said when I left home I felt I needed time to find myself.
In case you're wondering I can tell you that I'm fine, in really good health. As I told you when I left home, I intended to move around for a while picking up what jobs I could. It worked out quite well, but I only got as far as the Riverland where I picked citrus fruit and other things, and then I struck lucky.
One big property I've worked on is owned by a guy called Ted. What he doesn't know about growing citrus isn't worth knowing, but the poor guy was really struggling with the accounts and paperwork. There's quite a lot of that on a place this size and his wife had always seen to that side of the business, but then she died and things got into a mess.
I told Ted that I'd done some business studies at nigh school and if he would like me to I might be able to sort things out for him. He was a bit doubtful at first, I suppose wondering if an eighteen year old high school graduate could be trusted with that sort of thing, but he took a chance.
His wife had obviously been good at the way they used to do these things, and there was a computer but I could see she hadn't used it much, and when she had she'd made a bit of muddle. It took me a while but I eventually got it sorted and now all the accounts and stuff are on computer, and Ted is really pleased with smooth way that side of things are running.
I still do some outside work and the open air life has made me really fit, and I'm quite happy, but I really do miss you.
Well that's me, what about you? I think of you often and wonder how life is for you, so if you can forgive me for being so tardy in writing to you, reply and let me know how things are.
Your loving son
* * * * * * * *
Kellie reread the email and sat thinking for a while, and then she hit the reply button.
My dear son,
Have you any idea how anxious I've been about you, not knowing how and where you are? As for forgiving you for not writing, well, I suppose I shall have to or you won't write again for another six months, but then, you could always get under my skin and I think I could forgive you almost anything.
Something I've never understood is this thing about you finding yourself. If I could have understood why you needed to leave home I might have felt a lot better about it, but I suppose you have to find your own way, and mothers can be a bit of a stumbling block when it comes to that.
You and I have always been close, but I suppose what I missed most about you was what a comfort you were when your father died. I'm sure it was your love at that time that proved to be the most healing.
Although I tried not to show it at the time, I knew that if you left home it would leave a big hole in my life, and that is what it's done. I don't blame you for this since like many sons and daughters you had to do what you needed to do.
That man Ted you are working for sounds like a good sort, but then those rural people often are, and it's good that you've got something worthwhile to do.
As for my health and general well being, things are fine, so you need not worry on that score. I miss you of course and hope that one day you'll feel able to come home, but I won't press you on that one -- no mother blackmail.
Thinking of blackmail, I don't think I've ever told you this, but when I became a teenager my mother constantly said that if I got pregnant before I was married she'd die of a heart attack. I really believed her but I did get pregnant before I was married and she didn't die of a heart attack as you know. There's a bit of maternal blackmail for you!
I promise that your absence won't give me a heart attack or a nervous breakdown, but I do miss you, so please, don't leave it another six months before you write again.
Your loving mother.
PS. There is something I have not written because I find it difficult, but I feel as if I should ask it. Was it me; was it something I said or did that made you go away?
Kellie pressed the send button
* * * * * * * *
Kellie had noticed that Jack had not given his location apart from saying he was in the Riverland, and she wondered why. Was it because Jack still needed a bit of space between them, because that is what it had seemed like when he had left home.
She did not anticipate an immediate response to her email and was pleasantly surprised when within a day she got a return email.
Yes, I'm sure you must have been a bit bewildered when I tried to explain why I needed to leave home. You see, it was difficult to put it into words and I suppose saying I needed to find myself, although true, it left out the details which at the time I simply couldn't express. I don't think at the time I really understood those details, and I'm not sure I will ever be able to put them into words.
Mum, there is something I would like you to be certain about, it was not something you said or did that made me leave home, far from it, it was about me. I had to sort out something about myself, and I can't really say more than that.
On another subject, I didn't tell you that when I took over Ted's paper work he had me move into his house. There's only Ted and his young daughter and he let me have the spare bedroom, so I'm living very comfortably with free meals and a reasonable salary.
I've been getting Ted and his daughter up to speed on the computer; the girl, Prudence, is only eleven but she's as quick as lightening when it comes to learning computer. I think I can see the time coming when I shall be surplus to requirements, and nice guy that he is, I can hardly expect Ted to keep me on once he and Prudence can handle the "infernal machine" as he calls it.
Of course I could follow in the footsteps of that farmer's boy in the old song and marry the farmer's daughter, but I think she's a bit young for me (just joking). Do you remember that song granny used to be always singing or humming; it had a line in it that I think went like this, "They're either too young or too old," well that's how I feel.
You were quite right when you wrote that we have always been very close, and I think that can be part of the problem. You can hear a lot about mothers having difficulty letting their kids go, you know, the "empty nest syndrome," but it can sometimes be just had difficult for the kids to let go. When you wrote that my departure left a big hole in your life, I can relate to that; being separated from you makes me feel the same.
I think I'm getting a bit maudlin and that's not good, so I'll simply say that I love you and miss you.
* * * * * * * *
On receipt of this email Kellie spent even longer mulling it over. She found it disturbing, not so much for what it said, but for what it did not say. It was as if Jack had something he needed to say to her, but couldn't. It took some time before she pressed the reply button and put fingers to keyboard.
My dear son,
Ever since you were little I have always thought that you could talk over anything that was on your mind with me. I realise that a lot of teenagers tend to get secretive as they try to grow beyond their parents, and I suppose it's a bit arrogant of me to think that it could be otherwise with you and me. On the other hand, and without putting any pressure on you, I would like you to know that I'm still here to listen to you, whatever it is.
I am telling you this because in your last email I thought I detected something that is, or was, troubling you, something you felt you could not share with me, but at the same time you wanted to share it with me.
I do understand that feeling, having experienced it myself. No doubt you will think, "Physician heal thyself," and you would quite right. That's the trouble with we humans, we often do not say or do the things we should say or do and we hope they will go away, whatever they are. Instead they can fester away inside us and can even spoil our lives. I suppose that sounds a bit melodramatic, but it can be that way.
Oh dear, I am getting heavy, and I didn't mean to.
On another subject, if Ted does have to let you go or "downsize" you -- or whatever they call it these days -- would you consider coming home?
I don't think you should marry the farmer's daughter, not yet anyway, because there's still the matter of your studies. Before you left you did say that you would eventually pick up on them, do you think it's about time?
Another thing, are you eating properly and changing your underwear regularly?
Your loving mother.
* * * * * * * *
How you made me laugh over eating properly and changing my underwear; typical anxious mother. Yes, I am eating properly, Ted sees to that by feeding me gargantuan meals which are often cooked by Prudence. She does this so well I'm thinking I might marry her after all. As for my underwear, yes, clean everyday, so not to worry.
As for my studies, I will pick up on them, but when I don't know. There are things I still have to sort out.
You know mother, I've often thought that you have X-ray eyes or ears, or something like that. You always seem to be able to know what's going on in my head. Of course I always knew you would listen to me but there are some things one can't say to anyone, not even to a mother, or especially to a mother.
You are also right about it festering inside you, but what can you do when you know that sharing it with someone might shatter one's relationship with them? That, I'm afraid, is why I cannot come home yet.
I was curious when I read that you have experienced this yourself, and wondered what on earth there can be that you cannot talk about. You have always seemed so open, and I can't imagine what it is you feel you need to conceal, but then, we often don't know what's going on inside another person, even one you are close to and love. That sounds tragic doesn't it, being unable to share something that is perhaps one of the most important things in your life with one you love?
Now it's me getting heavy, so I'd better change the subject.
Ted is still hanging on to me and says I can stay until the next picking season is over if I want to. I'm not sure I will stay because I'm getting fond of Ted and young Prudence, and the longer I leave it the harder it will be for me to part from them.
I don't believe I can come home yet because I don't think I've really come to terms with -- well, whatever it is I must come to terms with. I think my saying that may hurt you, but believe me; I would come home if I felt I could.
Mother, there is something I must say, even if I shouldn't, I love you, I love you too much.
* * * * * * * *
There were tears in Kellie's eyes as she finished reading the email. It had touched her deeply, especially that last sentence, but instead of reducing her anxiety it had increased it. What did Jack mean, he loved her "too much"? How could you love someone too much?
It took her several attempts to write her reply email, and even as she sent it she felt she had not said what she wanted to say.
It is not true that I've always know what is in your head, but at this moment I wish I did, but as you say, we can never know everything the other person is thinking.
Frankly my love, it sounds to me that you have not come to terms with whatever it is that took you from home. Is there something you are trying to tell me without actually saying it, because that is what it seems like?
You said you cannot imagine what I have to conceal because I've always been so open. Had it ever occurred to you that what I conceal might be not so different from what you feel you must conceal?
Most of all Jack, you say you cannot come home because something you could tell me would shatter our relationship. For heaven's sake, what could you possibly tell me that would do that? I suppose I can imagine some things that would certainly rock our relationship, like if you'd murdered someone, but mothers do not shatter as easily as you seem to think, as witness mothers who stand by sons who have done heinous things, but I feel sure that you have done nothing heinous.
I feel as if we are both standing on cliffs, one each side of a dark chasm. We look across the chasm, I wanting to join you on your side, and you wanting to join me on my side, but both of us fearing that if we make the leap we will fall down into the chasm, and so we remain staring across at each other.
Perhaps you find that piece of imagery a trifle ridiculous, but that is how I feel. You will not come to me, and I have noticed that you haven't given me an address. Is that because you don't want me to come to you? Well, my darling, even if I had an address I don't think I would come to you, not because I don't want to, but because I believe you would not welcome such a visit.
Now there is something else. You wrote that it was nothing that I have done or said that caused you to leave home, but clearly your leaving did have something to do with me. If that is so, then my love I have to say something to you I never thought I would say; I do not want you to come home until you are ready to tell me what this awful barrier between us is all about. If you did come home unwilling to talk, then I think that would put a great strain on our relationship because we would both know it was lurking there.
I feel I have written terrible things to you, but if it's any consolation I too have things I would have to tell you.
My love, I can't write any more now. Only know that I love you, you are the dearest person in my life, and you will always be just that.
Your loving mother.
* * * * * * * *
Having sent the email Kellie wanted to instantly call it back, but of course it was too late. Whatever Jack's response -- if he did respond -- it would have to be borne.
Two days passed and then three and there was no email from Jack. Kellie checked her emails a dozen times a day until she came to believe that what she had written to Jack had brought about the very result she had tried to avoid.
On the fourth day his email arrived, and Kellie hesitated to open it for fear of what it might have to say.
My dear mother,
I should have known you would see right through me, and perhaps deep down I've wanted you to.
Yes, there is something I have not told you when I perhaps should have. Your imagery of a chasm between us is very apt because that is how I feel, and this I believe is the time I must take the leap and risk falling.
What I have not said, either when I left home and up until now, is that I had to leave because I could no longer endure the sexual feelings I had for you.
There, I've said it, but I think I should give you some explanation of how those feelings got started.
I was fourteen when one day I came into your bedroom. I think I'd come to ask you about something, a shirt or something like that. You were standing there naked, the only time I had seen you like that, and you looked so beautiful.
The weird thing was that the way you were standing looked almost like that print we have in the lounge of Pierre Bonnard's painting "Model in Backlight." I believe the model was in fact Bonnard's wife.
Just like her you looked like a real woman, not one of those digitally enhanced pictures of women they use in advertising, but a real flesh and blood woman. You looked so like Madame Bonnard that I could even see your left breast and you had your buttocks thrust back just like her.
As you know, I have always loved you, but seeing you like that love had an added dimension, a sexual dimension. Young as I was I wanted to make love with you more than with any other woman I've known since. I suppose you could call it a sexual coming of age?
Fortunately you didn't see me looking at you and so - I suppose it was after about half a minute -- I crept away. I've often wondered what you would have done if you'd turned and seen me; admonished me for not knocking in that gentle way you have, I suppose.
That should have been the beginning and end of it, but it wasn't. I couldn't get that scene of you standing naked out of my mind. Every time I looked at that picture in the lounge I saw, not Madame Bonnard, but you.
To make matters worse, father was still alive, and I became eaten up with envy that he had you in bed with him and I didn't.
I suppose it's one of those things of which people say, "He'll get over it," but I didn't, it only got worse, especially after father died and I had you to myself, and that was the worst time. You started to fill my dreams and daytime fantasies until, as I've said, I knew I had to leave home or I might say or do something that would make you hate me.
You will probably hate me now, knowing what a lustful, incestuous son you have, but at least you may be able to understand why I had to leave home. I had to get away to try and overcome these feelings I have for you, but I haven't; if anything they have got worse and I don't think I shall ever "get over it."
I don't think I can write any more mother except to say that I'm sorry I couldn't have been a better son for you.
If you decide not to write to me again I shall understand. After all, what can a mother say to a son who wants to commit incest with her?
There is one as thing I want you to know, even if you can't really believe it. I love you, I always have and always will.
* * * * * * * *
Kellie sat for long weeping over the email. There was no question of her not replying, but the form that reply would take was difficult for her to decide.
Jack, having had the courage to say plainly how he felt about her, she finally decided that she must be equally courageous. Nevertheless there was much deleting and rewriting before she sent the email on its way.
My darling boy,
How could you think that I could ever hate and reject you? Why should I when it is well known that sons often have sexual desire for their mothers? Yours was a natural response to what you saw, and in a way I am flattered that you should feel the way you do about me. So what does that make me, an evil incestuous mother?
You have confessed something that must have been appallingly difficult for you, and that took courage. Now I must try and be as brave and make my confession.
Firstly, that time you saw me naked in the bedroom I knew you were there. The mirror over my dressing table is situated such that it reflects the door. I saw you there, that's why I stood still for so long. I wanted you to see me, I wanted you to desire me.
I suppose there is some justification for my wanting you to desire me. As you know your father had a long illness before he died. During that long illness he was unable to perform sexually. I am a very sexually needy woman and the lack of sex left me utterly frustrated.
Despite the fact that you were only fourteen seeing you gazing at me, I was almost willing you to come to me, to touch me, to put your arms around me, kiss me. God knows what would have happened if you had! Imagine, a mother making love with her fourteen year old son!
As it was you went away and so the danger was averted, or at least I thought it was. I thought you did not like what you saw; how wrong I was. You wrote that you couldn't get that image of me naked out of your mind - and I must admit that your comparison of me to Madame Bonnard is very flattering -- but like you I couldn't get the image of you out of my mind.
It got worse after your father died. There was the very physical comfort you gave me that never failed to sexually arouse me. As well as that, I suppose with your father's death I felt freer. If anything happened between us it would still be incest, but no longer adultery.