My thanks go to LadyCibelle and my friend SH for proofreading and editing this tale of woe.
Of course I was expecting the doorbell to ring, after all I knew she was coming and I'd even heard the car pull into the drive, but it made me jump anyway. I suppose I must have been day dreaming again; whether I like to admit it or not, old wistful memories of the good times kind-a creep up on me unexpectedly, and sometimes, nostalgia for what once was, can be a real pain in the arse as well.
I really had wanted to play it cool, as if her visit was nothing special. Because to me, it wasn't, but after all the years we'd spent together ... shit, there were some feelings there in my heart for her, whether I liked it or not. I'd always known that Miranda's visit was going to stir both anger at her, and the residual affection that still (even after all she'd done) lingered buried deep in my heart.
Also I had no idea how the children were going to react to her sudden re-appearance. Since Eda and her children had arrived on the scene, my children appeared to have sort-of transferred their affection to her, even more so, once Eda and I had tied the knot. It was to Eda they went to with all of their minor ailments, little disagreements and all the other things that children normally require their mother to sort out for them. I had to wonder how Miranda was going to take to that knowledge.
I took my time getting to and opening the door, maybe because I wanted Miranda to wait, as she'd made her children wait to see her, or possibly because I felt some trepidation concerning her visit.
As I did open the door I was asking myself. "After all this time, what kind of fall-out is your showing up here going to have for our new happy family, Miranda?"
I must admit that I was surprised to see Karen's face smiling back at me, as she stood behind, a rather annoyed and impatient looking Miranda.
"About time too; you took long enough didn't you? Jesus you knew we were coming and "we" are right on time." Miranda blustered, stomping past me into the house without a by your leave."
Miranda had laid emphasis on the "we", but I had had no idea that Karen was coming along as well. But a glance at the car they'd arrived in, told me exactly why her stepsister was there. It was Karen's old banger, the one I'd helped her buy several years before. I suppose that I deduced from that, that Miranda could no longer afford to run a car of her own.
Miranda having charged past me into the house, Karen stepped up to me, and placing her arms around me and gave me a big hug at the same time that she kissed me gently on the cheek.
"Hi handsome. I'm afraid that our favourite silly bitch, is a little emotional today!" Karen whispered in my ear.
"Hi Karen, god it's so nice to see my favourite sister-in-law again. I miss you and Benjie you know; so do the kids. Where is he, in the car?"
"No Harry, he's with his father this weekend. I'm sure he'd have loved to have come and seen his favourite uncle and cousins, but I'm not sure he'd have enjoyed the journey very much. Someone has spent most of it trying to justify her actions. Why she keeps going on about it so much, I don't know, but she really does drive me up the wall sometimes. I think she's trying to convince herself that she didn't make the biggest mistake in her life." Karen said quietly.
"Where are my children?" Miranda's voice demanded from behind me.
I'd forgotten my manners, probably because I was so happy to see Karen; we were still standing on the doorstep talking. I assume that Miranda must have made a quick search of the ground floor in that short time, probably expecting to find the children sitting there waiting to welcome her with baited breath. She was in for a surprise on that one; the children had hardly reacted when I told them she was coming that day.
Honestly, I had no idea how the day was going to go, but I feared things were not going to go quite as Miranda expected. I just hoped and prayed that there weren't going to be any fireworks. After giving Karen a look that I hope portrayed the frustration I felt with Miranda, I turned to face my ex-wife.
"Miranda this is what ... the third, no sorry, the fourth time you've bothered to come and see your children, in over three years." I replied, I suppose a little more sharply than I should have done under the circumstances; considering that I wanted to keep things as ... er ... as amicable as they could be. "it's a sunny day out there, and the children wanted to go play in the pool. I have no intention of keeping them locked up in the house waiting, just in case you might deign to actually show up this time. I can't count the times you've cancelled at the last minute."
"Well if you hadn't moved away from town to this godforsaken place in the back of beyond, it wouldn't be so damned inconvenient to get here!" Miranda retorted.
"Don't try to give me that bullshit, Miranda; we've been through all this before. It only takes two hours on the train, and you know that Eda or I would pick you up from the station whenever you want, you know that damned well!" Miranda's face had screwed up a little when I'd mentioned Eda, but she made no comment. "Now, all the kids are around in the walled garden, with their ... with Moeder, in the swimming pool. I'll show you the way."
Shit, I nearly put my foot right in it, I had been trusting to luck, that Miranda would have no knowledge of Dutch. Since Eda had come over to live with me — and eventually marry me — our children had kind of developed a language of their own. By that time my children spoke Dutch, and pretty well according to Eda. On the other hand Eda's two children had absorbed English amazingly quickly; all four children had rapidly become bi-lingual.
However, in the house together - and with Eda and I - they spoke a confusing mixture of the Dutch and English, that could be pretty difficult for the uninitiated to understand. I'm pretty sure they purposely used it to confuse their teachers at school as well. But one thing that neither Eda or I had ever been able to find a way around, was that my children - very soon after she moved in - had taken to addressing Eda as Moeder, just as her own children did. I was vaguely hoping that Miranda didn't pick up on the fact.
Yeah, I know, it's pretty obvious to you and me, but I really hoped that Miranda wasn't going to work out what it meant. I figured that if I also called Eda, Moeder in Miranda's presence, then she might think it was some sort of nickname. There was a vague possibility that she wouldn't, and to be honest, Miranda isn't really that bright a light, or she'd never have got herself hooked up with Sven, would she?
"Nice house you've got yourself here, Harry!" Karen commented looking around, as I led them through my once dilapidated Victorian mansion. "Jesus it's massive!" she added as we passed into yet another room.
Miranda, although she took a very critical look around the house as we went, remained silent on the subject.
"Almost derelict when I bought it, but the price was right and that was all that was important at the time. Moeder and I have had a lot of work done on it since."
"I can see you have. God Harry, what I would give to live in a house like this." Karen went on.
I stopped walking and turned to look at Karen over my sunglasses for a moment.
"Yeah, don't say it, Harry; I know I had my chance!" Karen said with a wistful smile on her face.
Miranda - who also stopped when she heard Karen's words - gave her sister — and me - a very black look indeed. I just grinned back at Miranda, wondering how much she did know about what went on between Karen and I after she walked out on us. The "us" I'm referring to here, being our children — Miranda and mine - and myself, by the way.
I should add, that nothing untoward ever happened between Karen and myself. Well, whilst Miranda and I were married, anyway. After the divorce Karen and I were technically free to get all, "up close and personal" with whomever we wished.
Not that I suppose you would ever convince Miranda of that fact. It served Miranda's purposes far better to paint me as a heartless, unscrupulous womaniser.
I should add, that I had been quite a close friend of my ex-wife's stepsister at one time, well before I'd ever met Miranda in the first place, or even knew she existed. You could say that Karen and I had always got on well - very well — together, but that special spark had always been missing. I think it was a real shock to both of us sometime later, when my then new fiancé -Miranda - introduced me to her family.
Oddly — considering what she has told me since of her own opinion of Miranda's character — Karen has always been very supportive of her stepsister. Later, that possibly had something to do with the fact that they are now both orphaned, consequently they only have each other left. But from my perspective it's always been a very one-sided arrangement, even before their parents passed away.
Even if there is a part of my heart that will always love Miranda, I have to admit that my ex-wife is a selfish cow, and can be a complete bitch. Well I should imagine anyone should be able to work that one out, what mother other than a selfish bitch walks out on her husband for another man and leaves her children behind without a second thought.
Just to ensure that no one misconstrues Karen and my relationship I think at this time I should explain exactly what it was.
.... There is more of this story ...