A companion story to Ghosts
Whether it was simply the fatigue of travel catching up to them, or the combination of that and the leftover feelings from the park, it was decided that the balance of the day would be spent in the hotel. After sharing a light supper of thick soup and warm, fresh baked bread, the family now lay in the dim light offered by the flickering television screen and the shadows of approaching darkness.
Times such as these were ones both Luka and Alenka cherished. The comfort of a child curled into their arms, the slow rise and fall of their chests as their breath seemed to merge with each other. All those years they had lived with the void of being without times such as these.
Maja turned onto her side to face her mother, the movie losing her interest as she began to feel the pull towards sleep."Mama?" She spoke softly, her words meant for none but her mother as she fingered a lock of the woman's hair.
"I'm listening, Beba." Alenka coaxed the small girl closer, recognizing the indicators of approaching sleep even as she tightened her hold around her.
"Will we go tomorrow?" The question came still quieter, as if she wasn't sure that she really wanted an answer to it.
"Go?" It took Alenka a moment to register the deeper question and as she did her hold on her small daughter tightened even more. "I'm not sure, how would you feel if we did?" As she waited for the reply, Alenka looked across the room to where Juraj lay curled against his father. While she couldn't be sure they hadn't heard, the fact that both still seemed drawn to the movie reassured her that the conversation remained private.
"I don't know." Maja's indecision came honestly.
"Would it help if I tried to tell you why Tata and I need to do this and why we want you and Juraj to share it with us?" Alenka found her hand rubbing slow circles over the girl's back as she spoke.
"Maybe." She curled the hair she held tighter around her finger with the reply, then released it.
"Tata and I told you how hard it was to lose our families...what things were like after they died, and how hard it was to leave them behind to move to America. You remember that don't you?"
"Yes...Tata said it felt like he lost them twice." He voice remained solemn as they spoke.
"That's right, Beba...it did feel that way. If we had stayed here we could have visited them...we could have spoken to them..."
"But they wouldn't have answered?" Maja's question held a hit of fear that needed quelling.
"No, they couldn't really answer, but when we could talk to them it made it seem like they were still alive, at least on the inside." Alenka spoke carefully, hoping her daughter wouldn't hear the catch in her voice as she let the old feelings surface.
"You could talk to them through God though."
"In a way...but it wasn't the same thing...and Tata was angry with God then..." She wasn't sure how far to take the discussion and paused as she treaded on delicate ground.
"Because Tata blamed God for making them all go with him instead of letting them stay." Maja's words held the truth as she knew it.
"That's right...Tata blamed God for not saving them." Alenka let her line of sight shift past her daughter so she could see her husband before looking back.
"Tata isn't mad at God anymore though." Her words came as a statement seeking confirmation.
"No..not anymore...he understands he did all he could do and that God didn't take them to hurt him."
"Did you get mad at God too, Mama?" Maja let her eyes come firmly to rest on her mother.
"Not really, Beba...I was hurt...but I was glad they were with God if they couldn't be with me...and in a way knowing that made me want to be closer to him too." Alenka found the conversation touching on the deeper emotions of her faith. "By coming back to say good-bye we can both finally put the past to rest...and we want you and Juraj to share that with us."
"Will that mean you and Tata won't be sad when you think about them anymore?"
"I can't promise that, Beba...but I hope so...I really hope so."
to be continued...