Shades of Grey

 Jim stared at the photograph he was holding. The old black and white photo was dog eared and crumpled – at some stage; he couldn´t remember when; he´d screwed it up to throw it away, probably in one of his many fits of rage. He smoothed down the creases of it and sighed. How many hours had he stared at this photo over the years, trying to imagine a life time of happiness and joy, in a face he could hardly remember. He had always hoped that the radiant smile lighting up her face was in response to something his father had said to her when he took the photo. He didn´t even know for sure if it was his father who took it. He hoped it was. He had wished so hard for her to come back to them, to see that smile for himself. But it wasn´t to be. His mother had left them She had, had her reasons. Sometimes he´d hated her for that, other times he just didn´t care, other times he´d blamed his father. But most of the time he just blamed himself.

He knew it was wrong to do that – now – every person had to live their own life, had the right to be independent, no one was accountable for someone else´s actions, no one made his mother walk out. She choose to do so herself. But when you´re a kid, you don´t have the benefit of hindsight. You just keep all the sadness and pain and anger, deep down inside you. Venting it now and again. Mostly on to his father and brother.

Then you become an adult – still carrying around all that excess baggage. Then one morning you wake up and all that pain and anger has gone. Pouf, just like that. Of course. The sadness is still there, along with the love for the mother you never knew, because deep down, she´s still your mother - but its now part of who you´ve become. It´s not holding you back any longer.

Jim absently stroked the photo with his finger. He smiled. In the last year, his life had changed dramatically. He had started seeing his brother again, and had even begun to talk to his father, okay, the conversations were still a little stilted, but at least they were talking and not screaming at one another. They no longer blamed each other for what had happened.

He was going to be seeing his father and brother tonight. Tonight was the annual “Mayor´s Civic Recognition Banquet.’ and Blair had managed to talk his father and Steven into attending. His family would see him accepting the ‘Detective of the Year´ award. His family – Blair; his father and Steven. Everyone, except his mother. This was the reason he´d gotten the photo out of his bedside drawer.

Hearing footsteps on the stairs behind him, Jim stood up and reached for his jacket.

“Jim – you okay?’ Blair asked “Only your father and Steven are waiting for us in the car and I don´t want us all too….’ Blair broke off as he realised what Jim was holding in his hand. “Jim? Honey?’

“It´s okay Blair – I´m ready.’ Jim put the jacket on “I just wanted my mother to be with us all, tonight.’ Jim put the photo in his breast pocket and patted it “That´s all.’

Blair threw his arms around Jim and hugged him “oh……Jim.’

Jim lingered in the embrace for a few seconds and then pushed Blair away. He mock brushed the front of his suit. “Hey. Watch the suit. I´ve got to stand next to the Mayor you know……C´mon – we don´t want to keep him waiting.’

“Who? The Mayor or your dad?’

Jim laughed “Both.’

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