It had been raining for hours. The type of rain that isn’t heavy but that drenches you to the bone. Slade felt that the rain had even gotten in to his very soul.
Rain in Greendale was a rarity. The township enjoyed year round sunshine, even in the winter. So when Slade woke up to yet another day of rain he felt that it signalled something ominous, something that would alter his life forever.
Sitting on his bed, Slade cradled a picture in his hands – the one picture of her that he had kept, that he hadn’t thrown away or burned in a rage.
He looked out the window as he heard some kids screaming in the street below. They were running to catch a bus and were trying to dodge the raindrops as they fell.
Rain…rain reminded him of the day that she had left, of the day that his life had taken a major twist.
Slade had been 9 years old. He loved life, had fun every day and knew that at night he would be read a story by his favourite person in the world; his mother.
Mom held Slade’s world together. Dad was great but he was away a lot driving and Mom and Slade enjoyed each other’s company. They loved to watch spiders spinning webs and at cats chasing butterflies, at the shapes the clouds made and at the ripples in the pond when they skimmed stones.
Suddenly though, Angie’s mood changed. Up until this point in time she had always had time for her son but over the past few days, Slade had noticed that she had become distant and when she stopped reading him their traditional bedtime story at night, he knew that something was wrong.
One night Slade heard Mom and Dad arguing. Mom was saying something about heading back to where she belonged and that —— was the man who would have known how to treat her.
Slade cried himself to sleep that night and when he woke up in the morning it was raining and she was gone.
Garth was never able to fully explain to Slade what had happened – perhaps he didn’t know himself – and Slade was left to his own devices for a while as Garth tried to pull his own life back together.
Slade became a loner for some months and took to hiding out in the treehouse at night, looking up at the stars and wondering whether his mother was looking up at the same time and thinking of her son.
As any nine-year old would do, Slade began to think that he had been the cause of his Mom’s abandonment, that maybe he hadn’t been a good enough son that he should have picked up his toys when he had been asked to and not been so cheeky.
Confusion soon turned to anger and rage though as Slade lost hope that Mom was coming back and he got rid of any trace of her from the house and his life – bar one picture.
For some reason, Slade couldn’t bring himself to throw away the picture of Mom when she was pregnant with him. She looked at her most happy then and Slade took some comfort in knowing that at least once in his life he had made her happy.
Grace came into Garth’s life and Slade accepted this new mother figure with open arms – he so desperately needed to feel loved and the nurturing that Grace gave him was the antidote to the poison that had begun to seep into his heart and soul.
And it was great to have a sister to annoy! Slade soon came out of his shell and made friends again, taking pleasure in life.
But he still felt that there was a part of him missing and sometimes in the dead of night he would gaze out the window and wish himself away to another part of the country, to wherever it was that would make him feel whole again…
Slade jumped as he heard a car door slam. He shook himself out of his daydream and brought himself back to today. Even with his eyed closed, Slade knew it was still raining, He could hear the pitter patter of drops on the roof.
He sighed – nothing good on TV, computer being fixed, Mom and Dad out for the day, Carla out getting her hair done…
Making his way up to the attic, Slade laughed to himself as he remembered the last time he had ventured up there. He had been 7 years old and had managed to lock himself in. He had been terrified of the wind whistling through the eaves when Mom had heard his sobs and come rescued him.
When she saw her little son all dressed up in big clothes he had found in the trunks in the attic she had laughed so hard that she tripped up and grazed her knee. Garth had found them then, sitting on the dusty attic floor, both with tears in their eyes as he hugged them tightly. Happy times…
Slade started to open up trunks and boxes, laughing at some of the things he found – old pictures he had drawn when he was young, some of Grandad’s clothes that still smelt of Old Spice and hats that had been in fashion a million years ago.
And then, buried deep inside a pocket of a pair of Dad’s jeans, Slade came across a letter…