(In which Jack and Molly say goodbye and Jack leaves Jersey and goes home to deal with problems there.)
Molly just sat and waited for me to begin. I was so frightened that I would have to deal with anger or upset but there was none of that coming. Not just yet. In very simple and clear terms I told her what had happened and how I really had no choice. I had to go home.
“But Margany isn’t your place. You sold it.”
“Margany has been my place, my home since I was a little boy. If I don’t go back it will fall apart and turn back into scrub.”
“There must be plenty of other people who could look after it until Clarrie gets better.”
“You’d be surprised. I know Clarrie would have had his stock agent look for someone and he wouldn’t have told Lois to ask me if he didn’t think it was important.”
“Is it going to be expensive to get back?”
“Yes, but it will all be covered by Margany Station.”
There were long pauses as Molly thought up each new question.
“Why can’t Clarrie’s wife run the station? When we were there two years ago it was obvious that the women on stations were all very competent and often it was the wife who did the managing. What’s her name? Lois. Why can’t she do it?”
“Lois is a city girl. She loves the idea of being a station owner but she doesn’t know which end of a cow is the front and which is the back. She’s a very nice lady and a good wife but she couldn’t organise a chook raffle.”
“I don’t know what a chook raffle is but I get the idea.”
There was another pause. She put her hand out and pushed my shirtsleeve back and held my wrist.
“I will miss you. The children and Dylan will miss you. But I will miss you.”
There was another long pause and I didn’t interrupt.
“Well Jack, with you out of the way we can get on with building your little unit. It will probably end up where we are sitting right now.” She smiled. She wasn’t going to argue with me. She saw that my going was necessary. Then she asked one more question. One that was very hard to answer.
“Jack, I’ve never asked anyone this before. Not even Dylan. Why do you love me?”
“Why! That’s a strange question. Most people ask ‘Do you love me?’ I don’t know if there is an answer to ‘Why?’ If I was young and at school you wouldn’t have asked me because I was always the shy boy at the back of the crowd. There would have been all the heroes asking you to go to the pictures. And back then if you had asked me I would probably have said it was because you were the most beautiful girl in the school, or you had lovely hair or I would have blushed and glanced at your breasts and then looked away suddenly. I don’t know if this is an answer but I’ll try. I think I love you because you desperately need to be loved. I know Dylan loves you. He has told me so much. And you deserve to be loved and you make it easy. Besides which you have cried once when I put my arms around you and you told me things you haven’t told anyone else so now I don’t have any option.”
“Will you daughters be jealous?”
“I love them without any reservation. And my grandchildren. But loving someone isn’t measured on some measuring device.”
She looked at me for a while longer and then stood up.
“You’d better come and say goodbye to the children. Dylan is due any minute. He can drive you to the airport.”
“Don’t you want to come and say goodbye?”
“No. No I don’t ever want to say goodbye. I’ll stay here and look after the kids.
Ten minutes later Dylan and I were in the car and heading for the airport. I explained everything to him. He didn’t ask the same questions.
“We will miss you. Jack. The girls will miss you most. Molly will cope. Molly misses you already and she will probably cry when she hears the plane take off.”
When the plane did take off I was a bit inclined to cry as well. As soon as it landed at Heathrow I sent Molly a text asking her to say a lot of nice things to Annie and William because I didn’t have a chance to see them. She sent back a very brief reply.
“Safe trip. Don’t Die. I love you too.”
And it all happened so quickly I almost forgot to ring Lois. In fact I couldn’t ring so I sent her a text message.
‘Leaving London now. Will isolate Brisbane two weeks. Tell Clarrie I’ll look after things till he’s better.’
I don’t remember much at all about the flight home.
The travel agent organised the following for me. It was her first attempt and although I agreed initially I realised that the last leg would get me to Sydney and then I would run the risk of being in two weeks isolation before I got to Brisbane and then another two weeks in Brisbane. So I asked her to try again. The first leg would have been in a hot pink Airbus to Budapest in Hungary that takes nearly three hours. The next part included a change of airline to Qatar Airlines, which involved stopping at Doha in the Persian Gulf. Budapest to Doha was five hours. At Doha there would have been a sixteen-hour layover that I didn’t fancy.
The one I eventually took was with China Airlines, which involved a layover in Taipei of only five hours, but it got direct to Brisbane. It was quite expensive but when you realise that the airline was not fully loaded and wasn’t guaranteed any passengers on the return flight, it is understandable. I was taken from the airport directly to a Covid-19 testing site and from there I went straight to a hotel in the CBD. Actually I don’t remember if the test was before the hotel or at the hotel.
And isolation for two weeks.
……to be continued.