Reliving Your Past
“Happy birthday, Mum!!”
“Happy birthday, darling!!”
Tracy and Eleanor Omrod clicked their glasses together and rank the champagne that was in them as they sat at the table. Today was a special day – Eleanor was 21, and Tracy 50, and as such they wanted to meet up and share the occasion. Really, they were the only family each other had – Tracy had lost her husband two years previously, and there were no other children.
Eleanor looked at her mother sitting opposite her at the table. Her hair was permed into a tight bob, and grey flecks were just starting to appear at her fringe and temple, but sat there in her barrel grey jacket and skirt she still looked the way she remembered her looking all through her life.
“Are you all right, dear?” Tracy asked as she saw a tear come to Eleanor’s eye.
“Sorry Mum – I just wish Dad had been here.”
“I know, Eleanor, but that’s not going to happen, is it? Would you like to go home now?”
Eleanor nodded and placed her napkin on the table. Tracy signalled to the Maitre’D, who walked over and unlocked the brakes on her daughter’s wheelchair.
“Was everything to Madame’s satisfaction?” he asked as he accompanied the two women to the door, pushing the wheelchair as Eleanor sat in it.
“Wonderful, Alphonse, but it has been an emotional day.”
“Of course. Good night, ladies.”
Alphonse opened the main doors as Eleanor wheeled herself down the ramp to the waiting taxi bus. Tracy took their coats and climbed in the back as the driver secured the chair in place.
As the bus set off, Eleanor pulled her camel coat close around her.
“I’m sorry Mum – I just miss daddy so much.”
“So do I dear, so do I – but we need to keep going for him.”
The bus made its way from the town centre into the quiet suburbs, and eventually into a secluded cul de sac where a cottage lay at the end of the road. Pulling in, the driver jumped out and opened the rear doors, allowing Eleanor to disembark in her chair.
Tracy stood by ready to help, watching her daughter, so neither noticed the slight twitch in the curtains in the main room.
“It’s OK, Mum, I’ll manage if you can get the gate,” Eleanor said as she started to push the wheels towards the darkened path through the garden. Tracy shrugged, paid the driver and opened the gate to allow Eleanor to make her way through. Following her, she made her way up the small ramp and opened the front door.
“I’ll go and put the kettle on,” she said as she placed her handbag on the table by the door. Eleanor nodded and took off her jacket, leaving it on a low hook. She made her way towards the front room, turned her wheelchair round and reversed into the door, which opened as she pushed back.
In the kitchen, Tracy placed her own jacket on a chair at the table and took the empty kettle over to the sink to fill with water. As the cold water poured in, she felt the breeze from the window that looked out onto the garden.
“Funny,” she thought, “I don’t remember leaving it open.”
Plugging in the kettle, she called out “Coffee or Tea, dear?”
There was no reply.
“Eleanor – what do you want to drink?” Tracy asked again, and again there was no reply. A strange chill started to grow in Tracy’s stomach as she walked back down the corridor.
“Eleanor?” she said as she pushed the door open. Her daughter was sat in the centre of the room, still in her light blue blouse and trousers, but behind her was a young man with a scarf over his face, holding a large knife against her throat.
Tracy stood there as a memory from years ago hit her full force.
“Not a word , Mr and Mrs Omrod. Just do as you’re told – kneel down, hands behind your head, and no-one gets hurt.”
“I said, don’t make a sound,” the young man said as Eleanor winced at his grip.
“All right, all right,” Tracy finally said as she shook her head, “I won’t do anything, just leave my daughter alone.”
“Good – do you see that settee over there?”
“Lie down on it, face down, and put your hands behind your head. Do it - NOW!!!”
Tracy looked at Eleanor, and could see the fear that was in her eyes. Wondering what she was thinking of, she walked over and did as she was told, turning her head so that she could see what was happening.
“All right,” the man said, “If I take this knife away, will you do as you’re told and keep quiet as well?”
“Yes,” Eleanor cried.
“All right then – just sit still,” the man said as he took the knife away, walked in front of Eleanor and placed it on the coffee table where both women could see it. He was wearing a black leather jacket and dark trousers, with gloves on his hands. Eleanor looked at her mother as she lay there, in her grey silk blouse and skirt.
Reaching into his pocket, the intruder took out a roll of thick white tape. Eleanor looked on as other memories came to mind.
“Please, don’t hurt my mommy….”
“It’s all right, Ellie, you have to a brave girl now and don’t be scared.”
“You listen to your mother little girl – now, give me your hands.”
“I said give me your hands.”
Eleanor shook her head as the man took hold of her wrists and placed them together in front of her, palm to palm.
“What happened to you?” he asked as he used the tape to secure her wrists together, then looked down at her wheelchair.
“Car… a car crash. It paralysed me from the waist down.”
“Were you driving?”
“No – my father was. He didn’t make it.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said as he tore off the tape and smoothed it down over her bound wrists. “I’ll try not to hurt you.”
“Thank you,” Tracy said in reply as the man started to wrap the tape around her daughter’s chest and the back support of the wheelchair, keeping her in place. As he tore the tape off, he stood back and looked at Eleanor as she sat there.
“Just keep quiet now,” he said as he walked over to Tracy. “I’m sorry I have to do this, but I can’t rob you and keep an eye on you at the same time. Put your hands behind your back, wrists together.”
As he started to wrap the tape around her crossed wrists, more memories came back for Tracy.
“Please, I’ll do anything, just don’t hurt my girls.”
“Get him out of here – you do as you’re told, Mr Omrod, and they’ll be fine. Now, don’t try and fight the ropes, Mrs Omrod – you need to set a good example for Ellie.”
Tracy rolled onto her back, feeling the pressure of her bound wrists on her back and watching as the intruder taped her ankles tightly together. Looking over, she could see that Eleanor was starting to quiver and tears were falling down her cheeks.
“It’s all right, Ellie,” she said quietly.
“You haven’t called me that in years,” Eleanor replied as she looked up, her mascara staining her cheeks.
“No, I haven’t” she said as the man raised her legs slightly and started to tape them together below her knees. “I should do it more often.”
“All right,” the man said as he laid her legs flat on the cushions. “Put your lips together.”
“Is that necessary?” Tracy asked as he stood there, a strip of tape held in his gloved fingers.
“Yes – now put them together and count your blessings I’m not stuffing your mouth,” he replied. Realising what he meant, Tracy stared up as the tape was placed over her lips and smoothed down, with more strips placed over the first one.
He then walked over and knelt beside Eleanor, brushing her blonde hair away from her eyes. “Are you going to be a brave girl for your mother,” he whispered, and she replied “Yes.”
“Good – put your lips together and stop crying.”
She looked up as he smoothed the strips of tape over her mouth, and checked the binding around her wrists. Looking over she could see her mother lying on the recliner, staring back at her as the tightly permed grey hair fell around her face.
“For God’s sake,” she thought, “I’m twenty one years old, but this feels as if I’m ten years old again!” As she thought this, the memories came flooding back.
She was scared and hating every second of it. The way the plaster pulled at her skin, and the rope rubbed raw. The fear as the men ransacked the house, and the uncertainty of what was going on. She wanted to cry, to scream, but she couldn’t – all she wanted was to be with her mother…..
Tracy watched the man as he walked out of the room, turning the light off as he left. As her eyes adjusted to the gloom, she could see Eleanor sat in her wheelchair, shaking and sobbing at the same time. When the burglars had struck eleven years previously, she had felt just as helpless, but that time Eleanor had been able to make her way to her mother from the chair they had left her in and lie with her. Now she was paralysed, unable to move, and who knows what might happen.
Shuffling around so that she lay on her side, she looked over at Eleanor.
“Dnt cr, ely – m hr.”
Tracy looked at her daughter, and suddenly she was the ten year old girl in her pyjamas rather than the young adult in her trouser suit. With an effort, she started to sit herself up, the sound of cupboard and drawers being roughly emptied coming from upstairs.
She managed to lie with her head on her mother’s lap, gaining comfort from the warmth there as the sunlight started to shine through the closed curtains……
The man watched through the crack in the door as Tracy slowly managed fall onto her knees in front of the couch. He knew the telephone was disconnected, and he had removed the batteries from the two mobile phones when he took the purses from their handbags, so there was no way they could raise the alarm that way. As Tracy started to shuffle forward, he made his way out of the front door and down the garden path.
Eleanor looked up as her mother made her way slowly over to where she was sat in the wheelchair, eventually coming to kneel next to her and place her head on her daughter’s lap. She lay there, mumbling “ts l rght, bbe, ts l right” and letting her daughter stroke her greying hair as she had years before for her.