Isaac and Lena had recently returned from their honeymoon and Isaac and I had formed a rather awkward truce. It seemed that we were both willing to let the past go, but our failure to confront it had left us unsure how to act around each other. Still, I knew he was trying. He had asked me to help out on Saturdays with some of the junior local sports teams and even though I had never been athletic, I agreed. So far, I was enjoying it. It felt nice to be out in the community again.
I had continued working on my sculptures, it was wonderful feeling to rediscover my passion for something. I was, admittedly, very out of practise but had recently produces a few pieces that I was willing to let other people see. I even took a couple down to the local gallery. One of the owners had remembered my mother and I was shown one of her paintings that still hung in the gallery. I was surprised with the response I had received, and was told that they were willing to take a look at my other work. For the first time in years my life seemed to be heading in the right direction.
When I wasn’t working on my art or making sure Eden was okay, I had been working out what else I wanted. I knew that I was at least going to have to make some attempt to find Martha. I needed to know what had happened and maybe then I would be able to move on. I had pulled out the box that I had once pushed to the back of my cupboard and then unsuccessfully tried to ignore. I looked through the contents until finally I found the small packet of photos I had been looking for. I slowly looked at the images one by one as the memories they contained returned.
My first love. So many memories, all of them good if you could overlook the unexplained ending. We’d met shortly after the accident, down by the pier.
“Are you okay?” she had asked, her words tripping over themselves. ”You’ve been out here all night. I’ve been checking. I thought I would come and see if you were okay?.” ”I’m alright” I lied, hastily brushing the tear that fell giving her my lie.
“You don’t look okay” She told me.
I looked at her. Sad green eyes meeting her concerned blue. “My parents died. Car accident. Out on Daly Road.”
”Oh” she whispered, “I heard about that. That was your parents? I’m so sorry. ” Her tiny hand slipped into mine. ”My mum died. Eight years ago” she informed me. “It’s hard”
I nodded. “I spent yesterday afternoon trashing my room” I found myself confessing, “I terrified Eden”
“Eden?” she asked, “Your sister?”
“Mhm, she’ll probably want to go and live with Uncle Liam now. I wouldn’t blame her.” ”I’m sure she won’t” she had assured me. “I’m Martha by the way, I live just over there. She had pointed to the house that was behind us.” ‘
”Hi Jonah, its very nice to meet you!” she had responded, smiling at me before quickly checking her watch. “I have to go right now. My Dad doesn’t know I’ve gone” she explained, “but if you ever want to talk some more come back here and I’ll be right along”
Without waiting for a response she had kissed me on the cheek before taking off running. As I had watched her run all the way back to her house still able to feel where her lips had brushed my cheek.
I picked up the photo of the two of us together, arms around each other, laughing. Martha had been true to her word, that first day. After our first meeting whenever I went to the pier she would arrive shortly after. Unlike every one else Martha had seemed to know what to say to make me feel okay. Everyone at school had become unsure of what to say to me and it had felt like I was ruining everyone else’s day just by being there. Martha had never made me feel like that, from the first moment it had been like I had known her forever. Martha had somehow made it easy for me to smile, something I still wasn’t sure how she had done. She had made me happy and I had fallen for her without thinking. My feelings for her had seemed as natural as breathing and at seventeen I thought that I had found my soul mate.
In the months that had followed when I had been around her I had been happy. But then she had left and I still didn’t know why?
“Who’s that?” asked Eden, pointing at the photos I had spread before me.
“That’s Martha. You don’t remember her at all?” I asked.
“Should I?” she asked, before picking up one of the pictures to take closer look.
“I think you met her a couple of times” I said, “it was a long time ago though”
“I can see that…” she said, laughing and pointing to one of Martha and I together. How old were you there?’
“Seventeen” I looked up at my sister, “It was just after Mum and Dad’s accident”
“Oh…….” she looked thoughtful,
“I’m thinking about trying to find her, I think I need to.”
“Why Jonah, what happened?”
“That’s it, I’ve never really been sure what happened” I looked over at my little sister, “but I think I’d like to find out”
Over the following weeks I realised that finding Martha was going to be harder than I had anticipated. I realised that outside the little bubble that Martha and I had lived in, I barely knew anything about her. We had attended different local schools. I had no idea who she had hung out with when she wasn’t with me. I had never been to her house. We had always gone down to the pier and on very rare occasions we had gone to my place. I knew her last name, that she was an only child who with her widowed father and that she was only a couple of months younger than me but besides that – nothing. At least nothing that would help me find her. I knew that she loved the colour yellow, that she loved the spring time and that someday she dreamed of having a large family but this knowledge was not going to help me find her.
After she had stopped coming to see me I had gone to to her home. Unfortunately Martha hadn’t been there and the only thing her father had been willing to tell me was that she had left town and moved in with her aunt. When I had asked why, he had refused to answer and when I had asked if there was someway I could contact her I had also received a negative response. It had been obvious from the start that he didn’t like me but I’d had no idea why.
It was unlikely that he was going to help me this time but I was unwilling to leave any stone unturned. My second visit with Mr Kimball had not gone any better than my first.
Searching for someone wasn’t exactly one of my strengths. For the weeks following I tried to find her, using every method I could think of to track her down. Eden helped, and truthfully she seemed to have more idea of where to start that I had. Unfortunately with Eden’s eighteen birthday drawing closer, followed by the promise of her graduation our focus became less about finding Martha and more about Eden’s final exams and academic future.