A Year In France – Episode 61

Supplied © A Year In France illustration by Mandy Dixon

The morning of the day Travis Edgar was coming to lunch, Julia was on edge.

After she’d decided on a simple menu for lunch – soup followed by bread and a selection of cheeses, with a tarte tatin to follow with coffee – she couldn’t stop pacing up and down.

“What about wine?” she said suddenly to Philippe. “Red or white? Or just water?”

“Wait and see what Travis prefers,” Philippe said. “We have both. Are you going to have another look through the papers before Travis gets here?”

Julia hesitated, but before she could answer they heard a car arrive.

“Too late. He’s here,” Philippe said. “Do you want me to let him in?”

“Let’s do it together,” Julia said, knowing that having Philippe at her side as she welcomed Travis to their home would help banish the mixed feelings she was currently harbouring.

As they opened the front door, Travis was lifting a large potted plant out of the boot of his car.

“I was going to bring you some flowers,” he said. “But then I thought a plant for your new garden would perhaps be better.”

He looked at Julia nervously, waiting for her reaction as he placed the plant on the ground.

“You didn’t have to bring anything,” Julia said, bending down to cover her confusion at the unexpected gift and reading the label attached to the main stem.

“I love bougainvillea. And this one is going to be a deep burgundy colour. I know just where I’m going to plant it on the terrace. Thank you.” It was a nice gesture. “Come on in.”

“I’ve brought some papers and photos, too,” Travis said, following her into the house holding a package close to his chest.

“Mum’s papers are in the sitting-room,” Julia said, leading the way.

Travis placed his papers on the coffee table alongside Julia’s box before turning to face her.

“Before we start, can I just say I didn’t come to cause trouble or to make you unhappy. I simply wanted to find my sister.

“The sister my father didn’t tell me about until the last few months of his life.” He stopped talking and ran his hand through his hair. “After today we don’t have to see each other again if you don’t want to.”

“Did . . . did Dad say why he’d never told you about me?” Julia asked quietly.

Travis shook his head.

“Just that he really regretted being estranged from you. He made me promise to find you.”

“Mum said she was sorry to me as she died. I thought she was referring to the accident, but now I’m sure it was more for the things she’d done in the past. And things she’d left unexplained.”

“Why did you finally decide to meet and talk to me?” Travis said.

Julia took a deep breath.

“I found the decree absolute in an envelope last week, so I knew you had to be telling the truth about my father not dying when I was led to believe he did.

“So I figured I needed to know the whole story – or as much of the story as we can piece together. Whether I like it or not,” she added quietly.

“Then, when I went through Mum’s papers. I found this letter from her.” She picked up the letter from the table and handed it to Travis.

“I think her regret and guilt increased as the years went by. You can read it if you like.

“If only I’d read it a couple of years ago, it would have been me coming to Australia to

find . . .” She hesitated. “To find Dad. The sad thing about all this is that he would have been alive then, too. I could have met him.”

“He left you a letter,” Travis said, opening the package he’d placed on the table and taking out a sealed envelope. “I was told to hand this to you in person and to answer any questions you have when you’ve read it.”

Julia stared at the envelope with her name Julia Edgar written in perfect script across it.

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.