Milly sped home to work with the information gleaned on her desktop computer. She felt happy with her morning’s activities but noted Katy was beginning to fret. The child needed to be home resting.
When finished she smiled proudly. Not a bad morning’s work she thought. She liked being busy. She emailed her finished work including attachments to Eric, and for good measure messaged him that he should check his personal inbox.
Eric groaned when he read the message on his cell phone and opened his email with its attachment. Then he smiled and shook his head. His little wife was a wonder indeed! How did she do this?
That evening at the gym he handed printouts to Roger as they were dressing to go home after showering. Roger whistled.
“This is impressive, it’s a start. I need a woman like that because my wife Bridgit left me two years ago as you know, and I need a Milly. Let me know if you two decide to call it quits as I’m first in line for her.”
“In your dreams pal. Now I know what you’re up to I’ll be very vigilant when we get together in future. Besides Roger, she needs a real man and that’s not you. I think you need to ask your secretary Rhonda as she thinks all your jokes are funny. No other woman would do that, so you better get your act together quickly or she’ll go looking for someone else.”
Roger went into fits of laughter. “ Rhonda and I are dining out this evening, so I better get myself home and changed to make a good impression. I’ll let you know who Maria should contact after I’ve had a word with them, and we’ll see if Maria is employable.”
That evening as they enjoyed quiet time together Eric reported on his activities with Roger and his preliminary response. Milly nodded in appreciation. “I knew you’d work on Maria’s problem and that’s why I made your favourite food for supper. Keep up the good work and you get my best cooking for a week.”
Eric shook his head in disbelief. “Only a week?” They both laughed.
“Don’t harass Roger like you do me when you get a bee in your bonnet Milly, let him work on the problem peacefully.”
Next evening at the gym Roger renewed the topic as they were preparing for a workout. “We have a problem Eric, I found someone in one of our schools who was willing to give Maria a trial as teachers aid and evaluate her competency in that her English is good but in checking with immigration it appears the family protection visa is in danger of being withdrawn and them being placed back into detention. Perhaps you should talk with your brother there and confirm that. I can’t proceed unless immigration clears that her current permission to work will not be withdrawn soon.”
Eric whistled in surprise. “I can’t ask my brother for that kind of information Roger. You have an excuse as you have a job for the woman and you’re dealing with people above my brother. Can’t you tell them you need her services and urge them to clarify their continued status under protection visa, or better still give the family residence status?”
Roger gave him a wicked look in jest. “If I solve this for Milly maybe she’ll have more interest in me than she does you? Are you sure you want to take the risk?” He gave the V for victory sign.
Eric snorted. “No risk there, Roger she’s a one-man woman and that happens to be me for keeps. Now get your mind on the job and take Rhonda out for another meal tonight and propose to her.”
Both men laughed, then Roger spoke “Eric what I’m telling you is confidential so don’t share this with anyone including Milly in the event things don’t work out as she’d like them to do.”
Eric headed for home mentally on his guard against disclosing anything Roger had told him. He thought it better to take the initiative as soon as the usual welcoming committee at home prodded him for information. Soon he was coming up the driveway but decided not to press the horn to announce his arrival this time. He opened the door and Milly looked around the corner from the kitchen.
“You didn’t alert us today Katy is going to be so disappointed as she always meets you at the door.” Just then Katy came running down the corridor pouting at the change in this evening ritual.
“Why didn’t horn?” Disappointed as she was she ran to her father who dropped his briefcase and picked her up.
“Sorry Princess, Daddy was distracted by the radio.”
Eric moved toward Mildred to greet her as usual and she studied him as he moved in her direction with Katy. “What did Roger say?” She studied his face carefully looking for clues.
“He’s looking at possibilities still, what’s for supper? You promised me your best cooking for a week.” Eric hoped that would divert his wife, but she read he was holding something back.
Mildred shrugged. “So, he hasn’t done anything, why didn’t you just come out and say it rather than me having to pry it out of you. Wait until I see him when he comes over this weekend to swim and have lunch with us. Sad that Bridgit divorced him as I thought she was OK.” She accepted his hug then went back to the kitchen thinking. Helping the family was a compulsion now and she needed to apply herself more diligently to that task. She’d check out the newspaper help wanted ads next day.
But when Mildred went to her new neighbour’s house with Katy next morning there was no one home. Strange, Maria said she’d be home, perhaps she’d lucked out on a job. Mildred smiled at the thought. Never mind she’d return later in the afternoon as Maria would have to be home when the children returned from school. She went home and busied herself around the house enjoyed lunch with Katy then kept looking at the clock and peeping out the window now and then to look for children home from school playing in their back yard below. Eventually they arrived home and Mildred collected Katy from her room and headed for the neighbours hoping to hear good news.
But when Mildred arrived at the front door and knocked she was met by a very distressed woman. It came out they’d been summoned to immigration and their story had to be repeated in minute details and checked against immigration records. Apparently there was something on file in immigration that was causing scrutiny and it had come from a source in Maria’s war-ravaged country.
Mildred noticed Maria’s husband sitting on the back porch dejected and her heart went out to the family. “Maria have you told me the full story? I want to help you but need to know the truth.”
Maria sobbed. “I think some of our relatives may have survived and are now in the hands of insurgents who are in control of the country. Maybe they are being forced to lie about us the rebels want my husband back as he knows a lot about administering the country and they’re trying to organize now. They will use him for his knowledge then discard us, probably kill us like they did my son. If we are forced to return they’ll take our children use and abuse them and I can’t bear to think about it. We’ve told them that in immigration, but they don’t seem to listen. I’m frightened. My husband was an important man in our country but here without English he’s nothing and I fear for what he’ll do to himself.”
Mildred comforted the woman then hurried home not wanting Katy to be disturbed by what she was seeing. She’d have a lot of explaining to do in a way the child would understand.
When Eric arrived home, he made sure to sound the horn and was not disappointed as Katy met him at the door. As was his custom he then made his way to the kitchen to greet his wife but was met with unfamiliar rejection.
“Immigration is going to put these poor people back into detention Eric. You haven’t contacted your brother Gary to see they don’t do that so that makes us equally responsible for their plight.” The anger flowed on and on and Katy clung to her father’s legs in surprise at her Mom’s outbursts. Eric’s efforts to comfort and reason with her were rebuffed so he picked up his daughter and took her to her room so she could do her customary review of the day activities. But Mildred followed on venting until he gave up and dialled his brother to see if he could find any information which might comfort his wife. For the first time in their married life he could feel anger welling up inside at her unreasonable attitude. Sympathy was OK, he also had sympathy for their plight. But neither of them had the other side of the story and it was wrong for her to place blame without hearing the other side. Perhaps there was a good reason they were under scrutiny at immigration. It was also wrong of him to ask his brother to disclose information which only the government should be privy too.
Gary picked up the phone and Mildred took it out of Eric’s hand pouring out her frustration. There was silence on the other end until she ran out of breath.
Gary spoke and his voice was uncharacteristically cold. “First of all, you don’t have your facts straight Milly, I happened to be in the interview with these people today. I’m not at liberty to report what and why immigration makes decisions but I can say there’s good reason for every interview and the care we take to vet anyone asking to stay in this country, specially when they’ve bypassed the legal way to enter in the first place. So, I’m hanging up on you Milly and don’t want to hear from you again under any circumstances unless you are prepared to apologize for your unwarranted anger and total misunderstanding of the facts.” The phone clicked off and Milly stood staring at the phone. The days activity and evening encounters flashed rapidly through her mind and she turned to her husband in confusion. The way she’d acted in her quest for a resolution to the neighbour’s problem was wrong, very wrong. Gary said she didn’t have her facts straight, who was lying immigration, the neighbours or was it just an unfortunate misunderstanding? What damage had been done in her outbursts.
But as she turned Eric was no longer there. She sped down the hallway to comfort her daughter, to apologize to husband but to no avail. She sped to the front door to see if the car was there. It was. She rushed to the window overlooking their back yard and there they were Eric pushing Katy at swing. “Supper’s on come and get it!” she shouted uncertainly.
Both appeared from the internal stairway in the basement and sat silently at the table. Katy chattered through the meal as usual but all attempts to engage Eric in conversation were met with silence. The ritual of bath and story time followed then Eric murmured he was tired and headed for the bedroom. Mildred sat in the family room in her favourite chair and cried herself to sleep there.
To be continued.
© Copyright 2019 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved
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