A Year In France – Episode 58

Supplied © A Year In France illustration by Mandy Dixon

After the shopping trip with Christiane was out of the way, life began to settle down into a routine at the new house over the next few days.

Philippe disappeared into his study as usual in the mornings; Julia walked Tess and did some housework before starting to catch up with the agency work she’d neglected because of the move.

Once that was all dealt with she took a deep breath and decided it was time to turn her attention to her mother’s boxes of papers. She couldn’t keep putting it off.

Lifting the lid off the first box, she saw the envelope that had contained the decree absolute on top.

She took it out and carefully laid it to one side as she started to investigate the rest of the contents.

She began to go through things methodically.

There were documents relating to her maternal grandparents, her own birth certificate, a baby and toddler record diary – the entries of which stopped abruptly six months after her third birthday.

But tucked into the back cover of the diary was a small envelope with her name written on it, and a piece of paper was folded inside.

Julia drew it out with shaking fingers. It was a letter from her mother, dated one month before her death.

She began to read.

My darling Julia,

Writing this letter to you is one of the most cowardly things I have ever done in my life and I can only beg your forgiveness.

My first cowardly act was not going to Australia with your father. He was the love of my life yet I allowed him to walk away from me and denied you the chance to know the father who loved you, because I was too afraid to take a chance and live a different life.

Writing this letter is the coward’s way out of not being able to tell you the truth face to face and having to watch your reaction when you learn the truth. I know you will have lots of questions.

I should have told you years ago that your father was alive and well and living on the opposite side of the world. I should have given you the chance to connect with him. But I was too scared.

I convinced myself I’d left it too late and telling you the truth would only upset you and make you hate me. Something I can’t bear the thought of.

I’m still not sure when I shall be brave enough to actually give you this letter, but I do know you deserve to be told the truth, at whatever cost to me.

I promise once I’ve given you this letter we will finally talk and I’ll answer your questions honestly.

There has been no contact between your father and myself for several years, but now you know the truth I’m sure he would be delighted to hear from you.

His most recent address is written in my address book.

Please forgive me.

Your loving mother.

Julia blinked hard in an effort to stop the tears that were beginning to flow. Her mother had been going to tell her the truth before she died.

If only the accident had never happened. If only she’d sorted through the paperwork in the boxes earlier, instead of shoving them away and ignoring the contents, she would have known the truth before Travis.

She could have been going to Australia to find her father who would still have been alive.

After fumbling in her pocket for a tissue, Julia wiped away her tears, blew her nose and tried to compose herself.

The truth had to be acknowledged, accepted and lived with.

When her phone pinged with a text from Nicola asking her to call into A Taste Of The Countryside to discuss the promo for the village Christmas fete, she seized the opportunity to get out of the house for a while.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.