Jump to content

To Say Goodbye

Guest Skykat

Recommended Posts

Story Title: To Say Goodbye

Type of story: Short/Medium fic

Main Characters: Original character Anna, plus several Bay favourites

BTTB rating: G

Genre: Drama, angst

Does story include spoilers: it will do for UK viewers

Any warnings: Nope

Summary: A Bay regular returns having spent years hiding from her past, to confront her demons, attend a wedding and say goodbye.

With massive thanks to Eli for proof reading and pushing me to be better.

Two fics in as many days after months off... what is going wrong with me?

Chapter One

“I think we’re a bit on the late side Mum, there’s hardly any queue, see?” Anna Jackson looked away from the airport check in desks to where her mother stood, back ramrod straight, her black hair masking a face that was turned away from Anna, gazing intently out of the large, heavy glass windows at the bleak English weather.

“Mum?” Anna stood next to her and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. Two watery, green eyes turned to look up at her, fear, the overpowering emotion they betrayed.

“I can’t do this.” Her voice was a whisper, broken and shaking. Anna took hold of her hand and held it tight but even from within the restraints of her own hand, Anna could feel the vibrations.

“You can, you know you can and you will. I’ll be with you,” Anna assured her, squeezing her hand tightly, her eyes never straying far from the airport’s electronic notice board.

“How can I go back? I swore I never would!” Her voice was desperate now, lacking her usual self control. Her bottom lip was quivering precariously, just as it always did when she was about to cry. Anna had come to recognise the signs; for years she had never seen her mother show emotion but recently, since the decision was made to take this trip, she had been an emotional wreck.

“That was a long time ago Mum, it’s in the past,” Anna soothed, hating to see the hurt etched in the few but faint lines on her face. Her mother ignored her, she was staring, like a bewildered child out of the clear glass windows, her elbows resting on the hard plastic seats, ignoring everything and everyone around her.

“Not in my head it’s not.” Her voice was harder than Anna had heard it in a long time, the pain in her words, the wistful sorrow was too much to ignore. Leaving the luggage trolley unattended Anna joined her in the window and put a supportive arm around her shoulder but she did not flinch and Anna was worried for a little while that she had lost her. Lost her to her memories, to her past.

“Think of the beach Mum, think of the wedding?” Anna suggested, clinging to the hope that the good things might overtake the bad in her mother’s mind. Anna saw her eyes cloud over and knew she was drifting back into memory, something she did on a regular basis.

Anna had heard her describe the beach so many times and she had seen the pictures, had seen her mother’s eyes light up at the memories of a happy childhood, with parents who adored her and an abundance of brothers and sisters. The way she told it Summer Bay had been a magical place to live , the sort of place that enchanted you with an undeniable magic and made you never want to leave. It was a safe haven, a place of peace and contentment where her mother had been much loved and respected.

Not all the memories were good though and Anna had seen just how quickly her mother’s recollections could take a dark turn. She had seen real tragedies, real hurts in her life that had damaged her and left her broken even to the point where she would abandon her home and her loved ones and run half way across the world to escape them.

Anna watched her, thinking how much she had aged the past few weeks. She was still beautiful but her eyes had been wearing a tired, haunted look for days now. There was something else though, a new light behind her eyes, as if a spark had been reignited inside her. She was still beautiful, still warm and still the same guarded, haunted person that Anna had first met ten years ago and Anna remembered it as if it were yesterday.

At eleven years old, Anna had been mature well beyond her years. She had always known that her real mother had run away and left her beloved father yet she had never known why or how, nor had she ever asked. She had been Daddy’s little princess. His spoilt little princess, she had only had to click her fingers to get what she wanted. In truth she had been a complete madam and had ruined several potential relationships for her father, unwilling even for a moment, to share him with anyone. They were a team, he had said that so often and Anna wanted them to stay a team, they didn’t need anyone else especially not this subdued Australian woman who seemed to have bewitched her father.

Anna was too smart to fall for it though, there was no way she was going to let her father get involved with this witch. She had been determined to cause as much trouble as possible for them and she had tried.

On their first meeting Anna had very clearly warned her off but she had just thrown her head back and laughed, flashing clear white teeth. Then she had told a story about a little girl who’s daddy had died and who really didn’t want her mother settling down with anybody else and who had made life difficult for them. Anna had been sceptical but curious and had demanded to know then ending. Eventually the little girl had come to realise that her attitude was only making everybody unhappy, including herself. So she had given her consent and had got to know the new guy in her mother’s life and had grown to love him and feel good about how happy he made her mother.

The story had been told with such heartfelt emotion that Anna had almost imagined herself as the little girl, had seen her own actions in the story the woman had told and had come to realise she had a point. That afternoon had been one where lots of stories had been shared and Anna had quickly realised that appearances weren’t to be believed and that her father’s new girlfriend was actually a really warm, loving person.

It’s rare in life that you find somebody you instantly connect with. Somebody who, without words being spoken, understood everything about you, somebody you just couldn’t help but bond with. She had been so determined to hate her but it had proved impossible and before her father had managed to put a ring on her finger, she and Anna were inseparable and Anna had started calling her Mum.

If someone had have told Anna when she was eleven that she would have survived her father passing away, she would have told them that it was impossible, she would have laughed at the ludicrously of it. But when her father had passed away two years ago, it was her stepmother who had seen her through the worst period of her life. Night after night she had lain in bed with her, holding her close, soothing her tears, talking through her nightmares and sharing some of her own in return. Her stepmother, Anna realised, had been to hell and back and had seen more tragedy and loss than anybody deserved in a lifetime. Those nights in the aftermath of his death had served to strengthen the bond between the two lost, lonely little girls, both grieving over losses that they would possibly never come to terms with. (GREAT!)

“We’re going to miss the plane if we don’t check in soon, the queues all but gone,” Anna urged, only a hint of desperation in her voice. Her longing to see Summer Bay, the place that had been described to her so many times was beaten only by the knowledge that going back was in her mother’s best interests. She knew it was going to be hard for her to go back, what had happened had been such a terrible, terrible thing and she didn’t blame her mother one bit for running away but it was time to go back. Wrongs needed to be amended, things had to be put right. Her mother needed to face her past.

“You can do this,” Anna persisted.

“You really think so?” There was real desperation in her voice, like a child, needing reassurance and Anna’s heart melted.

“I know you can, you’re strong and I know it’s going to be tough but you have to let go of the past, you have to forgive, move on and say goodbye. You have to go back,” Anna urged.

“You’re right, I know you’re right. It’s time for some closure I think, mend some wrongs. I’ve made so many mistakes Anna, I was so tied up in grieving…”

“That’s why you have to go back. That and the fact that Cassie and Ric will never forgive you missing their wedding,” Anna teased and this time she was rewarded with a faint smile that teased the corners of her step mother’s mouth and she turned and gave Anna’s hand a squeeze.

“Well we can’t miss the wedding can we? And you’re right, it is time to go back.” Shoulders set and with new resolution she pushed the trolley towards the check in desk.

“Names please?”

“Sally Fletcher.” It rolled off her lips almost without her realising and she felt her heart jerk. “Sorry, I was somewhere in the past. It’s Sally Jackson now and my daughter Anna.” With a tender smile for her step daughter, she handed over their tickets and passports.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reviews guys. I never ususally post chapters this quickly but I had it wrote so I thought I'd post. Thanks for the reviews.

A huge thank you to Eli for proofing. :)

Chapter 2

Summer Bay was possibly the most beautiful place Anna had ever seen. The taxi ride from the airport in the city had been long and tedious and the countryside had stretched on for miles and miles. Acres of bush, fields of red sand and orange dirt, littered with off green bushes and weird coloured trees. The lush green of England was now miles away and the Australian terrain was wild and rugged in a mural of yellow and gold, reflecting the colours of the sun which burnt so strongly onto the land.

Finally the taxi had pulled up at The Sands Resort, a sort of fairytale paradise, a luxurious complex of pristine white with neat little, white washed villas with quaint green shutters, precise edges and pockets of very carefully planted and maintained gardens and trees. It was the height of luxury, plush thick carpets, the sort you sank into and a clean, pristine feel that made Anna just want to paint her fingers across the walls as she had done as a child.

After a brief nose around their twin room with it's soft, immaculately made beds, pine dressers and oversized and entirely white bathroom Anna had joined her mother on the balcony. There the view had taken her breath away. The green, blue of the sea stretched out as far as the eye could see only ending as the sky met it, a cloudless, baby blue with the merest hint of haze from the sun. Closer to home the waves formed balls of white foam, like fizzy pop shaken then opened and they crashed onto sand that could only be described as golden. It stretched for miles, a golden mile, broken every now and again by sun worshippers, the odd surf patrol and the surfers themselves crashing in on the balls of white.

Behind the beach was a vastness, some green, some brown with occasional trees and buildings. The buildings were sparce and quaint, in white or sand colours and seemed to be at home with the landscape rather than at odds with it. In the distance the headland, cliffs of sharp grey rock with steep edges and a harsh ruggedness cut into the sand and overlooked the sea. It was a landscape of contrast, unspoiled by man and as natural and perfect as anything Anna had ever seen.

"Is it how you remembered?" Anna turned to her mother. She had her eyes shut and was inhaling the fresh, clean air, the salt that mingled with the smell of sand, of openness, of nature. It was a unique smell and completely overpowering and Sally was lost in her memories.

"It's better than I remembered. It hasn't changed at all." It still felt like home. It had been years since she had been here but it still called to her like no other place in the world. The sheer beauty, the tranquillity of the place was enough to envelope her in a sense of contentment and that was without the memories. Her eyes sought out the stretch of green up beyond the headland where not one but two of her weddings had been held and where tomorrow her beloved foster daughter and son would finally marry.

She had missed out on so much of her children's lives, so much of her grandchildren's most important moments. She should have been there for Cassie when her marriage to Henk had turned violent. She should have been there to voice her disapproval of their relationship and had she been there when Henk's will power deserted him and he started back on drink and drugs, she might have been able to save Cassie from the violent years she endured at his hands. She should have been there to defend her as she had done against Macca all those years ago and should have been on hand when at twenty five, with the best years of her life wasted and a three year old daughter who was just beginning to understand things, Cassie had left her husband.

It had been Ric though who had been there for Cassie, who had been her rock but Ric too had had his troubles. Married to Matilda at twenty three and with a son and daughter Ric had been happy enough with his job at the garage but Matilda had been trying to forge a career for herself as a high flying lawyer and had found Summer Bay just that bit too slow for her liking. An affair with a colleague had been the straw that ended their marriage and Sally should have been the shoulder for her son to cry on.

With hindsight maybe it was better that Cassie had been that person as Ric had confided that he and Cassie had been growing closer long before his marriage was over. Maybe it was better that Cassie had been there for Ric to turn to, maybe without that they wouldn't be as happy and in love as they were now.

It was still a cop out though. It was easy to hide behind excuses, pretend it had been better that she wasn't round but the truth was that she had failed her children when they had needed her. Anna had flung that in her face the day they had received the news that Cassie and Ric, now 33 and 35 respectfully were determined to finally put a legal stamp on their relationship which had been sealed a year earlier with the birth of Sally's fourth grandchild and their first child together.

Cassie had begged Sally to attend her wedding, had sobbed that she didn't want to be married without her there and Ric too had added his pleas but it had been the home truths from Anna, the blunt realisation that she had let her children down once too often, that had forced her to face her fears and return here.

The memories were all too vivid though and the hurt still so very real. She could barely bring herself to look towards the Caravan Park, where so many of her happiest memories and also worst nightmares had come to fruition. She could still hear the terrible thud that had snuffed out that beautiful life. She could still hear her own screams and sobs and Doctors had fought to save that life. She could still see the look on the face of the one who had caused that pain.

At the time she had been hurting too much to reach out and soothe that guilt, to ease the burden that poor body carried. She had been shut off, detached, unable to grieve, unable to forgive and she had fled rather than face things. Like the coward she was, she had headed to England, to Steven and Selina, to a world away from the grief and the pain. She had done a despicable thing and her actions that day had ended more lives than the one that had been lost.

"Mum that was Cassie on the phone, we have a hen party to get to. Time to get your glad rags on." Anna was already headed, towel and wash bag in toe, in the direction of the shower and Sally hadn't even heard the phone ring. She had been miles away, years away even.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Careful what you wish for :P

I've wrote loads of this recently so look forward to masny more updates.

Thanks as always to my excellent proof reader Eli. :)

Chapter 3

“Anna, I can’t do this!” She had been okay. A shower had washed away the grime from the long flight and she had emerged feeling refreshed. A stunning, classic, little black dress and a coat of expertly applied make up had provided a mask she could hide behind but here, at the entrance to the Caravan Park, the past had all of a sudden returned with a sledgehammer blow and Sally felt the breath leave her body. Her limbs stood paralysed with fear, her whole body just shook with nerves.

Eyes shut the memories washed over her in waves. The very first time she had driven past the ‘Welcome to Summer Bay’ sign she had been just a little girl with an imaginary friend who was still struggling to adjust to life with her new family. It really felt like nothing had changed. If she shut her eyes she could still smell the salt of the sea in the air, could imagine the unsightly view that had been Floss and Neville’s gaudy caravan and when she opened her eyes the sign for the entrance to the Caravan Park would still be chipped and faded.

It was a warm night, not quite the height of summer, but Sally felt suffocated by the heat. The stars glittered against a bare, black canvas almost as if they had been painted there, too perfect to be real. Everything was so still. Crickets buzzed in the neat, well cared for grass, unseen but definitely not unheard and in the background the gentle swell of the waves could be heard crashing against the sand. Sally felt an overwhelming urge to run, to run to that beach, to the sea, to immerse herself in the water, wash away the memories.

“There you are! What are you doing out here?” Cassie’s voice broke into Sally’s thoughts, dragging her abruptly back to the present and enveloping her in a warm hug. Sally clung to her foster daughter, her bottom lip quivering precariously as her hand gentled Cassie’s hair, just as she had always done when Cassie was younger.

Standing back Sally admired her in the half light of the house, almost envious that despite three children, her figure remained as tall, lean and toned as it had the first time Sally had met her. Dressed tonight in a simple white dress, her hair loose about her shoulders and the telling glow of a woman in love on her cheeks, Cassie was stunning.

A beaming smile on her face Cassie released Sally and went to greet Anna with a familiar hug as Sally became aware of somebody else watching her, another familiar face, another tiny, slight figure, almost untouched by age. Her hair though was streaked with grey and her eyes showed signs of aging but as those familiar brown eyes met Sally’s she felt ashamed of herself for staying away so long. Leah’s eyes were forgiving, understanding seemed to pour from their depths and Sally felt her lip go again.

“I’m so sorry Leah,” she whispered and Leah said nothing but merely moved forward to embrace the woman who had been her best friend in a hug. Unable to stop herself, Sally felt the tears begin to fall, tears of guilt, of shame and of loss. She should have stayed, Leah would have helped her through, Leah had felt the loss too, Leah had grieved just as she had and Sally had selfishly left her to it. She had run away rather than be around those she had needed most.

Time and distance had given her new perspective but only being back here had really made her see things as they should be. For too long she had been running but not anymore, it was time to face things.

“Who else is here?” she whispered, stepping back from Cassie’s embrace.

“Nobody you’ll recognise, you’ll know Colleen passed away? And that Irene moved to the City when Barry was released from prison?” Sally nodded as Leah imparted the tidbits of gossip that Cassie had already imparted.

“And Martha?” she whispered, her voice catching in her throat, memories of a face set in stubborn lines that had screamed about how unfair she was being. Martha had always been quick to rile and defend what she thought was right, even to the point of stubbornness and Martha had always found it extremely hard to forgive. The thought of facing her after all these years, it needed to be done but that didn’t mean Sally had to look forward to it.

“She couldn’t get a babysitter tonight but she and Jack are coming to the wedding,” Cassie explained and Sally nodded. Martha and Jack had been a part of Cassie’s growing up, she was Ric’s cousin, only right she should be at the wedding and in all honesty Sally deserved everything that she knew would be thrown at her.

“Come inside, we have lots of drinks and Leah has made the most gorgeous spread!” Cassie enthused, linking her arm neatly into Anna’s. Anna winked reassuringly at Sally and Sally managed to smile back.

“Leah always did make the most gorgeous spreads,” Sally told Anna and Leah blushed at the praise. With a shrug she gestured towards the house and Sally knew now that she could face the house, she could embrace the memories because she had three people she really cared about with her and because Leah had forgiven her. The first hurdle had been a walkover but something told her that the hurdles she still had to face, wouldn’t be quite as easy to overcome.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Two for the price of one because it's christmas and I've left it so long. The first chapter is a bit of indulgent light relief so forgive me for indulging myself. :P

Huge thanks to Eli and to everyone who is still reading and reviewing. I have actually finished this so I'll try and update more regulary. :)

Oh and thanks to Jess for lending me Anna Banana. :P

Chapter 4

“I have never owned a business?” Sally shrugged as she offered up her suggestion and took a hefty slug of her wine.

“No! Rubbish!” the cat calls of the other girls left Sally in no doubt that her take on the game wasn’t quite the same as that of Cassie’s city friends. Next to her Leah was swigging large gulps of her wine and giggling outrageously, like Sally she had been caught out by a lot of the girl’s suggestions and had been horrified by many of them too.

A shiver of excitement frizzled through her body. Stepping inside this house had been like stepping back twenty years and the same old magic had enveloped her in warmth. There was something about this house, it was so familiar, completely unchanged, Cassie still kept the tradition of family photos. The memories here had been stronger than anywhere else almost overwhelming but they were mostly good memories. Sally could still remember ‘wowing’ at every room the first time Mr Stewart had shown them round.

A tightness gripped her chest, like heartburn it ripped through her and she shut her eyes in a desperate attempt to evade the memories. Opening her eyes she caught both Anna and Cassie watching her and smiled fondly at her two beautiful daughters, as different from each other as they were from her but sharing a bond that went far beyond blood ties.

“Okay this one is for Cassie,” Emma, or was it Gemma, one of Cassie’s uni friends anyway, was grinning at Cassie like the cat who had got the cream. “I have never snogged my brother!” she finished with a giggle.

“Ric’s my foster brother!” Cassie protested, “we’re not related!” but nobody was listening, chants of ‘drink’, ‘drink’ were already being cried out and with all eyes on Cassie, Sally quickly took a slug of her wine.

“Woah, woah, woah, Sally drank too!” Laura, another uni friend wasted no time at all in outing her and Sally blushed embarrassed as Cassie, Anna and Cassie’s friends all turned to look at her, their faces all spinning into one as Sally struggled to find words to defend herself. Next to her Leah had begun to sing, in the same old tuneless monotone.

“Sally and Jack, sitting in a…” she never finished her song as she broke into manic giggles and almost fell to one side before righting herself and taking another sip of wine. Sally smiled with affection at her friend, Leah had never been a good drinker.

“Jack as in Martha’s Jack?” Cassie was looking at Sally with a mixture of horror and disbelief and Sally too began laughing, the wine making her head sing with dizziness. Lots of faces were looking at her curiously, amongst them Cassie and Anna and a sea of others that just wouldn’t quite come into focus. She shook her head to clear the images but only succeeded in making the whole room spin.

“Nooo! Foster brother Jack,” she hiccupped finally, “he was my first kiss, in the navy now!” She shut her eyes and Jack’s face swam into the sea of darkness and she felt herself falling. Jerking awake she looked around at the giggling faces and pulled a tongue at them. “I’m fine, I’m fine!” she giggled, knowing full well that she was far from fine.

“In the navy! We will sail the seven seas…” Leah suddenly burst into song, causing everybody, including Leah to burst into hysterical giggles. Sally nudged her friend and Leah fell to one side, giggling and still singing.

“I remember when Leah first got drunk…” Sally began, keen to return the favour for Leah having embarrassed her. “Vinnie took her to a big posh restaurant and Leah had too much champagne!” The giggles almost overcame Sally and on the floor next to her, Leah was almost rolling around with laughter.

Egged on by a clearly keen audience, Sally continued, the story that an embarrassed Leah had told her years ago, as clear in her head as if she had seen it herself. “She got up on a table, began singing and stripping along to the music!” Sally burst out laughing and the other girls were quick to join her, including Leah, who hit her playfully before slumping to one side in a heap.

“I think we should get her to bed.” Anna, ever the sensible one and able to handle her drink better than most, was on her feet and lifted one of Leah’s arms around her neck. Sally stood up to help but promptly fell over so one of Cassie’s giggling girlfriends stood up instead.

“Your Mom’s a hoot!” Sally heard one of Cassie’s girlfriends say and Sally caught her daughter’s eye, pride swelling through her whole body. Cassie returned Sally’s affection, trying to portray with her eyes, just how happy she was to have her here.

Cassie knew just how hard tonight had been for Sally, she had seen the pain, raw in her eyes and the way she drifted off into memory, gripped by an overwhelming sadness. Despite everything though, Sally had come, she had faced her past to be here for Cassie’s big day and Cassie had never been more proud or felt more love for her.

Sally was edging her way over to Cassie and on reaching her, wrapped her arms around her in a hug, almost as if Sally were the child and Cassie the mother. She recalled another time when they had sat like that. Brad had bought her back from The City, explaining that Sally needed her and Cassie had arrived to find her in tears on the kitchen floor surrounded by chaos and broken china.

“I’m so, so proud of you Cass. I know I’m a bit drunk but I know exshactly what I’m saying and I am so, so proud of you. You and Ric, you’re like my children and I’m so, so proud of you!” Somehow Sally couldn’t quite get her words across. In that moment she needed Cassie to know just how much she loved her and how sorry she was but the words wouldn’t come and she heard her voice repeating the same thing over and over again.

Cassie welled up with affection for the woman who had bought her up and had provided her with the first stability she had ever known. She had so much to thank Sally and Flynn for, so much to be grateful for.

“I’m proud of you too Sal and I’m glad you’re here,” Cassie whispered and Sally sighed, satisfied that Cassie had understood at least some of what she wanted to say. Anna had re-entered the room and Cassie looked up to meet her new sister’s eyes. She had liked Anna from the first time she had met her and she had been pleased that Sally had found somebody to reach out to in her darkest times.

“Bed time I think,” Anna grinned affectionately at Cassie and they shared a smile. Both knew what a sacrifice Sally had made in coming here and how much the past was still hurting her. With strong arms Anna lifted Sally up, taking her from Cassie’s arms and propelling her across the room.

“Definitely bed time,” Anna’s soothing tones were like a soft lullaby in the haze that was Sally’s mind and Sally clung to her, drinking in the perfume she always wore, it was so familiar and comforting, so Anna.

“I’m not drunk! The party’s still on!” Sally protested but some deeper part of her was glad to know that Anna was ignoring her and still leading her gently up the stairs. “Night Cassie and Cassie girls! You get married in the morning!” she heard the giggles of the girls she had left behind and smiled, satisfied that she had done her duty by Cassie before falling gladly onto the soft bed that Anna dropped her onto.

Anna planted a gentle kiss on her head and pulled off her shoes, tucking the covers up over her head. “I was proud of you tonight,” Anna whispered.

“I’m proud of you too Anna, banana.” Sally muttered the term of affection, gently fingering strands of Anna’s vivid red hair, her eyes like two blue pinpricks in a haze of the blurred room. “Love you,” she added, pulling the covers tighter around her and shutting her eyes.

“I love you too,” Anna replied but Sally hadn’t heard, she was already fast asleep. For a second Anna sat watching her but then she stood up and reached for the light switch. Sally had done so well to get to this point but there was still so much more she needed to do and Anna knew better than anyone that it wasn’t going to be easy.

Shutting the door behind her, she headed back downstairs to rejoin the hen party.

Chapter 5

“Morning.” Cassie was far too chirpy, far too awake and Sally groaned and pulled the covers back over her head. Her head hurt, as if somebody was banging about inside her skull and when she moved it was like her head and body disconnected and spun on entirely different axis. The covers were wrenched from her and a cup of coffee placed between her hands.

Glaring at it in disgust she grudgingly took a sip and almost instantly felt better. Next to her Cassie was grinning, her hair was already in rollers, her skin shone with moisturiser beneath her towelling robe and her smile bought her whole, beautiful face alive.

“Happy wedding day Cass,” she whispered, tears welling in her eyes as she looked at Cassie’s radiant happiness. The lump in her throat came almost from nowhere and Sally felt almost overwhelmed by it, her joy at seeing Cassie so happy was still tinged with such sorrow. Here, on the morning of her daughter’s wedding day her grief was so close at hand and the thought that she would never see her other baby girl walk down the aisle, was almost unbearable.

Cassie’s eyes were also welling with tears, the sadness in them matching what Sally knew was in her own eyes. “I miss her too,” Cassie whispered back and Sally reached out to hold her tightly. “Not a day goes by where I don’t think about her and wonder what she’d be like now, how beautiful and lovely she’d be.”

“I know, I do the same.” How long they sat there, embraced in each others arms, neither could tell, both were so lost in their own memories, wrapped up in their own sadness until a cough at the door stirred them both.

Anna had been stood watching them for a few minutes, a wistful expression on her face. She didn’t begrudge Cassie her time with Sally and she was far from envious of their bond. Her own connection with her step mother was a strong enough that Anna felt no threat and she loved Cassie as the sister she had never had. There was a huge part of their lives though that Anna was not a part of, people they had loved that she had never met and would never know and that thought made her feel strangely isolated.

“Sal, Ric called to see if you’re heading over. He said something about a tie emergency.” Sally and Cassie both laughed, pulling away from each other as Cassie stood up off the bed and Sally dragged herself out of it. “I told him you’d be over in a bit,” Anna continued.

“Thanks sweetheart, I’ll just jump in the shower and then I’ll head over there and get him ready, I’ll get changed over there I think and then be back here in time.” Sally was reaching for her wash things as she spoke.

“Well there’s fresh towels in the airing cupboard and I am going to go and check on the other girls. You just make sure you’re back in time to walk me down the aisle yeah?” Cassie grinned at Sally before bolting from the room. Anna shut the door behind her and Sally looked up questioningly.

“There’s no tie emergency,” she explained and Sally looked at her, surprised. “I made it up. You need an excuse to leave the house and I just gave you one, there’s stuff you need to do remember?” she looked at Sally meaningfully, “And no it can’t wait.”

Anna had pre-empted Sally’s protest and shut it down.

Sally turned away from her step daughter to look around at the familiar surroundings. This was the room she had slept in as a child, a haunted, lost little girl who had clung to an imaginary friend and had found the first real family she had known in this house, in this bedroom. The covers had changed but all else remained the same.

The walls still had the same faded wallpaper and the chips in the paintwork were still in the same places she remembered, even the cracks on the ceiling were familiar. Sally hugged herself wishing desperately she were a child again with Milko and her own little world to retreat into. Anything but not face the reality she was living in.

Anna was right, this couldn’t be put off any longer, this was Cassie and Ric’s wedding day and she was well aware that people were being hurt by her decision to keep putting this off. She should have done it yesterday but she had been too scared and now there was no place left to run, no more excuses to be made.

“You’re right, I’ll have a quick shower and then I’ll go down to the beach, I want to see the grave first and then I’ll go see him, okay?” She looked up at Anna, determination in the firm set of her chin but Anna could see the fear in her eyes, the all too fresh pain.

“I’m not doing this to hurt you, you know. You need to do this for yourself as much as for Cassie and Ric,” Anna told her and Sally nodded, embracing her step daughter in a hug, clinging to her for a split second longer than was necessary.

Releasing her, Sally collected her bath things and headed to the shower.

Slipping into the jets of hot water Sally let it flow all around her, hugging herself as the water flowed past her face, her eyes streaming with tears that mingled with the water that dripped down her face. With more shower gel than was necessary she massaged herself, cleaning as much of herself as possible, as if somehow being clean of body would cleanse her mind. Free her from the nightmare she was living in.

There was no fresh clarity though, no dawning realisation or a lifting of grief. Just a realisation that she had to face the past. She had hidden from it for too long, made too many excuses. Switching off the shower she stepped into the cold, towelled herself dry and dressed quickly.

It was time to do what she should have done many years ago but despite her new determination, her whole body shook with fear. Straightening her shoulders and ignoring her quivering bottom lip, she left the bathroom, wet hair dripping down her back but ready to face the world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Just one review... guess that's my fault for leaving it so long.

Oh well, here's the next chapter anyway. Thanks to Eli for proofing and a certain mentioned pairing is for her benefit. :)#

This chapter answers a lot of questions and contains UK spoilers. You have been warned.


It had been so tempting to stay in the shower forever, the hot water streaming down her face had been like a cleanser washing away the alcohol of the night before. Water couldn't remove memories though, they were like a cancer eating away inside of her, threatening to take her, just as they'd taken her first precious husband from her, all those years ago.

Shaking the water from her, she turned off the shower and dried and dressed quickly. Back in her room she collected her things into a small bag, her wedding clothes were already safely at what had been Rachel Armstrong's house, now home to Ric's best man Lucas Holden and his boyfriend Geoff Campbell. Thoughts of that house reminded Sally of another wedding, one that she simply hadn't had the courage to go through with. Poor Brad had been devastated and it had taken a long time for her to realise that she and Brad simply weren't meant to be, as much as she loved him.

From the now infrequent phone calls she received, it was clear that Brad was happy in his new life with Heather and with Rachel and Hugh living nearby and Tamsin a frequent visitor, they had a good life in old Tassie. A part of Sally's heart still panged for what she had lost with Brad but it was nothing like the chunk of her heart that still sobbed for Flynn. She had definitely been right to call the wedding off.

Outside she heard a car pull up and a quick glance out of the window confirmed that Martha Holden had arrived. Sally saw Cassie race out of the house to greet her old friend and hurriedly scribbled a note to Cassie and escaped the house down the back staircase. She knew she was being a coward but she simply wasn't ready for the tongue lashing she knew that Martha wouldn't be able to help herself from giving.

The smell of the Ocean was strong in the air and the fresh, freedom of being outdoors was like an elixir to her senses. Sally inhaled it deeply as her feet instinctively followed a path she had known so well and had walked many a time, both in real life and in her dreamings. It was a beautiful path, through vast greenness, across ground littered with sand and drenched golden by a burning hot sun. She and Flynn had always walked down this way, in good times and in bad.

The decision to buy the Caravan Park had been made on this path, the decision to have a baby together and their recommitment ceremony in the run up to his death. Even their wedding had occurred not far from the end of this path and now under a solitary tree, shaded but with a clear view of the beach, this was where Flynn's body lay.

Opening her eyes Sally looked up towards the familiar spot and her heart caught in her chest. The grave was well tended to, flowers placed with loving care and well nurtured, the grass trimmed neat and short, the marble stone clean and as new as if it had just been placed there.

A figure knelt at the ground beside the grave. So much had changed, he had no hair now to speak of and he looked old, weary, worn and bent as if too many trials had put him past caring about life. Guilt burned through every fibre of her body and she knew it was all her fault, she had done this to him. His fingers etched their way across the familiar names imprinted in stone.

Flynn Saunders

Beloved, husband, father and friend.


And below Flynn's name, his fingers gentled the rest of the inscription with such a tenderness that Sally knew he still grieved just as much as she did.

Pippa Saunders

His precious daughter

Together again in death.

He must have heard her footsteps because suddenly he looked around, his eyes meeting hers, the tears pouring from them and such sadness in every line of his face. He looked older than he should be, tired and worn out, lost and heartbroken, unable even to speak to her.

Her breath caught in her chest, words she had planned so long, caught in her throat, grief, memories and bitterness danced across her heart and it took all her strength to speak.

"Hello Mr Stewart."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Its been a long time coming I know so I doubt if anyone is still reading but I thought I'd post anyway. Huge thanks to Eli for proofing. This is the penultimate chapter, the final chapter has been written and will be posted in a few days.


He clearly hadn’t seen her coming. His expression was one of shock but his eyes portrayed strongly his fear and sadness. Sally couldn’t speak, her well rehearsed speeches had disappeared from her head, her throat was dry, as if invisible bonds were tying her vocal cords together.

Tears were running unchecked down his cheeks, his eyes were cloudy and colourless, as if all light had gone from them. Those eyes didn’t belong to him, they weren’t how she remembered, they had no spirit, no life.

He sat before her, changed beyond recognition and the feeling of guilt burnt a hole in her stomach.

This was all her fault.

“I’m sorry.” The words came out in a whisper. Red hot tears of shame, scalded her cheeks, her lip was in its own world once again and she felt unable to look at him.

She fixed her eyes instead on the cold marble of the gravestone where her husband and daughter lay. Every fibre of her being believed they were together and happy but she missed them still so bitterly, it was like a physical ache in her heart. Nobody should ever lose anybody but to love a beloved husband and then a precious only daughter, it had just been too much to take.

Sinking to the ground Sally dug her hands onto the hard, sun dried earth, grasping desperately for something or someone to hold on to.

Eyes shut, her hand found his hand and she grasped it as if it were the most important thing in the world, as if it were Flynn’s hand enclosed in hers. He squeezed tightly and Sally felt as if it was a sign, as if it was Flynn giving her strength, telling her he approved of what she was doing.

She could almost hear Flynn’s voice in her head and Pippa’s laugh in her heart.

Smiling gently, she opened her eyes.

“I’m so sorry I left the way I did, I should have stayed, I know that now but at the time, I just couldn’t bear it.” She let her breath go in short rasps.

“It wasn’t your fault but I blamed you. Can you ever forgive me?” She looked at him finally, pleading with him but still unable to meet his eyes. She hated the hurt she knew she’d see there and hated knowing that she had put it there.

She knew her mouth had been taking on a mind of it’s own, spilling out words in an onslaught, in desperation. But she was desperate, she needed closure. She needed him to forgive her.

“Oh Sal, if anyone should be saying sorry love, it’s me.” His voice was so familiar, a huge part of her past and all of a sudden she realised just how much she had missed him. “What I did… I’ve never forgiven myself.”

He hadn’t moved from his kneeling position but he shifted now uncomfortably, spreading his legs out from underneath him, his movements weary, like those of someone who simply didn’t have the energy to move faster. He let out a long shuddering breath but still stared steadfastly at the gravestone, refusing to look at her. Sally said nothing; she had said her piece. It was his turn to talk.

“I loved Pippa, I loved living with you as part of your family. I can’t believe I just threw all that away. You told me not to move the flaming` Ute, you warned me I could hurt someone but I didn’t listen. Alf Stewart, too pig headed to listen to reason.” He shook his head desperately, unchecked tears flowing down his cheeks.

“Pip didn’t deserve that. She was so beautiful, had such a long life ahead of her. “You left her with me and I failed you, I failed her. I killed her, I took away her chance of a future. I don’t blame you for hating me, I hate myself.” His hands had wrenched into tight fists but his whole body looked weary of fighting, there was no spark left in his eyes. All fight had gone from him and just the grief remained. She could see it etched in every line on his familiar, tired face. She could hear the strength it took his voice to speak and his eyes not to cry.

He covered his face with his hands, long pent up sobs wrenching from his body, wracking every bone in him with almost physical strength. Sally put an arm gently around his shoulders, clinging to him as she had done on so many other occasions. She was sobbing too, the memories were like a non-stop slideshow before her eyes but they were good memories and it no longer hurt to see them.

“I never hated you. I just couldn’t cope.” She squeezed his arm gently, hoping he’d let her speak. There was things she needed to say, things he needed to know. He deserved an explanation.

“After Flynn died I shut down, you know I did but losing Pippa, I just couldn’t take it.” She blinked away the tears and wiped her face resolutely. She gulped in a breath of crisp, clear air, the smell of the Ocean infiltrating her senses, giving her strength. The sun’s warm rays were smiling down on her skin and she could almost feel Flynn’s love wrap like an envelope around her heart.

“I was a coward and selfish. I never blamed you, well maybe at first but I quickly moved past that, I just never told you.” She took his hand in hers, holding it securely, firmly; determined not to lose him again.

“I’d left by then and it was too late to come back, I was too much of a coward. It’s me that needs forgiveness Mr Stewart.” She finally turned to look at him and caught him watching her in an unguarded moment. His every emotion visible on his face and she could read him like a book, just as she always had.

He responded by pulling her more firmly into his arms, the two of them locked together in their united grief. After so many years of bitterness and pent up anger, they were both finally starting to come to terms with what they had lost and comforting each other. It was what they should have done all those years ago, what her selfishness had deprived them of.

“I’m glad you came back Sal, you were like a daughter to me and I’ve really missed you. I’m so sorry for what I did, for driving you away.” He was gentling her hair, just as he had done as a child and Sally nuzzled closer to him, feeling his strong arms wrap their warmth around her.

“I know and I’m sorry too for leaving. I’d forgotten how much I love this place, how much I’ve missed it.” Eyes shut and with the sun warming her skin and his arms around her Sally felt a wave of peace wash over her body like the waves of the distant surf as it immersed her completely.

“I’ve missed so much because of my stupid bitterness. I’ve been a fool.” She bit her lip anxiously and wiped the last trace of tears from her face. Her shoulders felt lighter, a huge millstone had been lifted from around her neck and suddenly it felt as if her heart was singing.

It was as if she was noticing things for the first time, how blue and clear the sky was, how golden the sun and how it lit up some areas of the land and thrust others into shadow. It painted pictures of red and gold on the sand strewn path, the grass seemed greener somehow, fresher and the marble of the stone like a halo of white, pure and innocent, like those who lay beneath it.

Finally she could meet his eyes, blue and glistening with tears she knew the shadow had passed from them. Her forgiveness had bought him back to life and granting it had done the same for her. She still felt guilt, she likely always would and so would he, she knew that but it was a different sort of guilt. It wasn’t the gnawing pain that ate away at her insides, the cancer had gone, been cleared by the power of forgiveness and her conscience was at last clear.

“The sun’s getting higher, I think that means this wedding’s getting closer, aren’t you meant to be walking Cassie down the aisle love?” It was the first words of general conversation they had spoken to each other in so many years that Sally knew she would always remember them and be able to recall them to mind.

“Yeah I am but somehow I don’t think I really deserve that job. I heard you’re not going to the wedding because of me, do you think maybe that’s something we could rectify?” She asked hopefully, needing the final assertion that he had forgiven her, that they were okay again.

“Well I need a shave but yeah, I reckon we could manage that love.” He smiled softly and Sally returned his smile. Above them the sun glowed in the sky and a solitary seagull could be heard. Suddenly everything was once again alright with the world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I don't like this. I've had it wrote for ages but kept putting off posting it because I couldn't get it to a point where I liked it. I've been struggling with my writing of late and nothing I put on paper seemed good enough to end this fic which has possibly been one of my favourites to write.

Your review though made me realise that I should post it and finish the story off because Sally deserves her happy ending.

Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this especially ILM for her critiques and detailed reviews.

A massive thank you to Eli for being my proof reader nad putting up with my long absences.


Sally's hand no longer shook as she rapped loudly on The Caravan Park door. For the past half hour it was as if a smile had been pasted onto her face and she felt six stone lighter, such was her relief at having finally faced her demons.

They had been to Ric's house and he was suffering a tie emergency and had cursed Anna for jinxing him. He had been delighted to see his grandfather though and had hugged Sally so fiercely that she had felt almost as if her body would break with the pressure. It was heart warming though, to see her son so undeniably happy, to see that lost boy she and Flynn had taken in, standing so tall and proud, a man now and a man to be proud of.

The happiness had been glowing from every pore of his handsome face and Sally had felt so proud of him as she had watched him leave for the service. She had taken more than the necessary photographs, determined to capture every emotion on a face that she had missed so much over the years. Now with Ric safely dispatched to the Church she was at the Caravan Park to be with Cassie.

Impatiently she knocked again and the door was quickly opened.

By Martha.

The younger girl merely looked at her, her expression unreadable but her lips pressed firmly together. For a few seconds Sally thought that motherhood had perhaps mellowed Martha and that she was going to let her past without saying what was obviously on the tip of her tongue. Her eyes were flashing dangerously, the warning was there and that unseen flash of temper suddenly burst from her as if she could hold it in no longer.

"I know its Cassie's wedding and you're here for her but I just have to say that I think you have a real nerve coming back here. Do you have any idea what you did by taking off like that? Do you know what you've put Grandad through? You should see him, he's broken, completely devastated, like a shadow of himself and that’s your fault. I know he did an awful thing but don't you think he's been punished enough without you punishing him too? He's even staying away today to protect your feelings..."…”

The onslaught was continuing but Sally had begun to tune out. The tears were already forming at the back of her eyes and her eyes stung with guilt because she knew what Martha said was true. Martha had every right to say it and Sally deserved to let her get it off her chest so she said nothing but stood there biting her lip as the ferocious tirade continued.

"Martha that's enough! This is my wedding and Sally is here because I want her to be so you can just stop having a go at her okay? She's here to walk me down the aisle because I want her to be here, alright?" Cassie stood, hands on hips, looking absolutely heavenly in her beautiful, flawlessly fitted, off white, satin gown, her skirts billowing around her long legs.

"You look beautiful," Sally told Cassie truthfully as Anna reached her side and shooting a glare at Martha, snaked an arm around Sally's waist in a supportive hug. Sally hugged her briefly and then released her to walk past Martha to where Cassie stood, a vision in white. Gently she placed her hands on either side of her daughter's beautiful face.

"I am here as your guest because I love you and I wouldn't miss your wedding for anything but I don't think I should walk you down the aisle." She had rehearsed this so often in her head but it was a struggle to keep her voice even when faced with the look of desperate hurt in Cassie's eyes. Cassie opened her mouth to protest but Sally silenced her with a look and a gentle kiss on the cheek.

"I love you and I'm so very proud of you but I think there's somebody who deserves to walk you down the aisle more than me, someone who's been there for you when I haven't."”

Cassie looked at her questioningly but Sally didn't have to speak as a familiar voice boomed out from the door. "I've spoke to the driver and he doesn't mind doing two runs so are the bridesmaids ready? You look wonderful Cassie and so do you two," he nodded to Anna, who had a sly grin on her face and Martha who looked simply dumbstruck.

"Mr Stewart!" Cassie had crossed the room in an instant and was hugging him tightly. "I'm so pleased you're here, Ric will be over the moon!" she exclaimed and over her head Sally and Alf shared a smile.

"We've already seen him love, he's on his way to the service so we better get moving. I've arranged for me and the girls to go first and then the car will come back for you and Sal," he explained proudly.

"Actually there's a change of plan. I'll be walking down the aisle ahead of Cassie," Sally nodded to her daughter, a reassuring smile on her face and Cassie took her cue.

"Mr Stewart, would you please do me the honour of giving me away?" Her eyes beamed brightly and Alf looked past her to Sally and a look of understanding passed between them. His words caught in his throat and a solitary tear escaped his eye as he smiled at Sally before taking a deep breath and finding his voice.

"Nothing would make me prouder love."”



Sally took her time walking down the aisle. She felt beautiful; the cream dress and jacket combination Anna had picked out for her complimented both her figure and her skin tone. She felt radiant, loved and so very happy that she half glided down the aisle.

She was aware of everybody watching her, a few curiously, others shocked, surprised but Sally simply smiled at them all, ignoring their looks and their whispered comments. Staring straight ahead of her she fixed her eyes on Ric, so tall and broad, just as Flynn had been. He smiled at her with such pride, love from a son to his mother seeping from every inch of his familiar face and Sally smiled back at him.

In her mind's eye, her husband was at Ric's side. Memories of her own wedding, of towelling robes and pouring rain flitted into her mind and Sally remembered not caring because she had been so in love. He was still with her and she knew that somewhere, wherever he was, he was stood at the head of the altar watching her while her beautiful baby girl danced at her feet.

She knew now with a certainty that they would never be far away from her. Pippa's innocent, little laugh, Flynn's loving smile, his warm, strong arms had returned to her. Memories that had for so long pained her now gave her peace and with those she loved close at hand, what did she care what people thought?

Stopping at the aisle she turned to watch as Martha, her short, dark hair loosely curled and with a beaming smile on her face and Anna, with her exquisite red hair and a knowing look in her eyes, came down the aisle towards her. Martha managed a half smile and Anna, ever the minx gave her a saucy, knowing wink and flicked her hair in the direction of a handsome member of Ric's grooms party.

Then it was Cassie's turn and as she appeared at the top of the aisle, her arm in Mr Stewart's, Sally turned to look at her son. Ric's eyes shone with love and pure adoration as he watched Cassie's descent on the arm of a man who walked with straight shoulders and an expression of deepest pride on his face. Ric caught her eye briefly and he whispered two words in her direction.

"Thank you."

As Cassie and Mr Stewart reached the altar she came first to Sally and gently bent to kiss her cheek, her eyes whispering her unspoken thanks. Then she turned and with eyes that practically glowed with happiness and a face illuminated with love, joined her soon to be husband in front of the celebrant.

Mr Stewart turned to her then and gently, respectfully offered his arm. Sally gratefully accepted, taking her seat beside him and just behind a still beaming Anna, to watch proudly as her son and daughter were married.

As the words of the service were spoken by the gentle celebrant Sally's thoughts wandered to her own wedding, her own vows and to her little girl, whose vows she would never hear. Her thoughts were no longer sad though, she knew now that Pippa was at peace, happy with Flynn and Sally was back where she belonged, in Summer Bay, with Mr Stewart.

Finally, after so many years, of grief and bitterness, she was free, they all were. As the celebrant pronounced them husband and wife Sally beamed at everybody in the vicinity and squeezed Mr Stewarts hand tightly. He returned her gesture bestowing her with a ready smile and Sally felt a new found hope wash over her.

She had made her peace with him and in her heart she had finally said goodbye.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.