Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Prompt 45.6: Promise and Condemn/Writers Muses

He should have sensed something was wrong sooner, should have heard it in her voice during the phone calls when they had been separated the first time.  This was supposed to be their chance to strengthen things between them, a chance for him to show her the world he had come from. Instead he was left wondering if he even had a marriage to strengthen, and of all the things that might have happened, he had never expected anything like this.  Sure, he could have missed the signs of her drinking, how hard would it have been for her to conceal the effects during their phonecalls? Or even regulate when and how much she was drinking so that it didn't interfere with the calls at all.  Yes, he had the excuse that he had been distracted during most of their conversations.  As much as he missed her and Joe, it still didn't change the reason for his being there.  His father was ill, as far as he knew she and Joe were perfectly healthy except for Joe's fall, he had every right to be more concerned about what was happening with his father. Never in a million years would he have thought Abby capable of anything worse then that, but, she was, and she had. Even as he scooped Joe up, Luka knew he should stay and talk to Abby, but, the stronger urge was to put as much distance between him and her as he could, and it was that one which prevailed. 

As he buckled Joe into his carseat, he could hear the sound of Niko's voice as his brother tried to console Abby in the house. He'd be lying to himself, and to her if he wasn't affected by what this was doing to them. This wasn't him falling back into old habits despite what Niko had said, he wasn't running away again, he just needed time to think, and the only way he could do that was if he put space between them.

"Ready to go for a ride, Joe?" With his son settled, Luka walked around the car and climbed behind the wheel.

What had happened to the promises they had made to each other? The question was one of the last he had asked of Abby before he had walked out the door, and one which she had in turn thrown back at him.   After all they had been through, after all the times she had run to her own mother or brother's side when they needed her.  Who was she tocondemn him for choosing to be at his father's side during what proved to be some of the final month's of his life? But, what if she was right? Was there guilt that was rightfully his to claim in all this? Then again, even if he accepted part of the blame as his, was it enough to have led her not just to begin drinking again, but to think that sleeping with Moretti would somehow make things better.

It was all too much for him to wrap his head around and perhaps that's what led him to drive without really having a set destination in mind. How often had he and Danijela done just that in the early days of their relationship?   Time off had been such a luxury for him, and time alone for the young couple even more so before their move to Vukovar. How many times would they borrow a car from one of their parents, bundle Jasna up, pack enough food for the day, and set off just to be by themselves?  As Joe fell asleep and he found himself hypnotized by the monotony of the highway, he wasn't surprised to find his thoughts returning to those days.

It wasn't until he caught sight of the sign announcing his approach to Vukovar that he realized just how much of a pull back to his past his thoughts had played on him. His first instinct was to immediately stop the car, to turn around before he even entered the City.  He hadn't been back since the fall of the City, so why now? His eyes shot to Joe, and he found himself looking for similarities in the boy's sleeping face to the two children he had lost all those years ago. Was that it, was the threat of losing Abby and Joe so strong that it would bring him back here when nothing else had been able to before this?

There was no question of where he had to go now that he was here and while he couldn't quite bring himself to stop the car, he at least slowed as he passed first the hospital, and then the site where the apartment had once stood.  There was no question of his stopping as he reached his final destination, and with the car parked, he reached over to free Joe from his carseat.

"You want to go for a walk, Joe? Let's go get some directions." He sat his son on the ground before taking his hand and starting toward the office. Seventeen was hard to believe so many years had passed, but, just driving through the City he had seen the changes, he couldn't have expected things to standstill, it was a lifetime ago. Following the directions in his hand he led Joe between the rows of tombstones, so many lives cut short. Too many, as he neared those for his family he stopped to pick his son up, needing his closeness now, more then ever.

There were no fancy headstones here, no stone monuments with elaborate floral displays, just row after row of markers identifying too many who had died before their time. As he finally located his family he regretted not having thought to have at least stopped for flowers for them.

"Tata, cry?" It was only when Joe touched the wetness on his cheek that Luka realized he was doing just that. Instead of answering, he kissed his son before sitting him on the ground so he could approach the graves on his own.

Danijela Kovac...Beloved Wife and Mother 1968-1991
Jasna Kovac...Beloved Daughter 1986-1991
Marko Kovac...Beloved Son 1989-1991

Seventeen years since he had lost his first family, and now he stood the chance of losing another if he didn't find a way of coming to terms with what had happened. Sinking to his knees at the end of the graves he motioned Joe to him before pulling his son into his arms and closing his eyes. Something had drawn him back to this place, the answer had to be here, it had to be.
"Talk to me Danijela, tell me what to do."




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