John Marsden Writing Topic #299

Write a story in which there’s forgiveness for a terrible crime**

How We Got Here

Chapter 6: Carrie

Dear Mum,

I can’t believe this day is finally here! I’m so happy for you and Travis and I know you’re just going to look absolutely gorgeous, I can’t wait to see your dress!

So with this wedding, you actually get to have family and friends around, a nice outdoor wedding on thankfully a relatively cool day for December, and a proper reception. Not what you got when you married dad. From what you told me, you just got a courthouse wedding with Aunty Elizabeth as your witness and benefactor, when you were pregnant at 17. I know you love dad and you always told me that you were happy that you got to make it official, but I also know that deep down you would have been disappointed you didn’t get the celebration you deserved, because both your parents and Abuelita and Abuelito abandoned the two of you.

Elaine and I decided to take a detour to Madrid before we went to Hong Kong to meet up with Julie, and visited them. They’re both well, they worry we work too hard and they’re happy for you and Travis and they’re sorry that they couldn’t come. As you know Abuelito’s knee surgery was moved up and he’d been waiting for ages to get it done. Your former-in-laws being happy for your impending second marriage, I bet you never thought that would be possible sixteen years ago.

I hope that my bringing the past up doesn’t make you sad or angry, or remind you of a tough time. I’m bringing it up because of how much I admire you for being so forgiving. When I first met them at dad’s funeral, I, none of us knew what to do. You didn’t tell us everything back then, but at 12, I was old enough to know that it wasn’t normal for grandparents to not be in the picture. I never forgot the way that they looked at us, one of lifelong shock with a touch of elation. They told me years ago that the shock was not only at the amount of us, but the realisation on what they had been missing out on, hit them like a tonne of bricks as soon as they laid their eyes on us. They had lost their only son and gained 10 grandchildren and immediately regretted their decision and wanted to make it up to us.

As an adult, I can fully appreciate and admire your strength for forgiving them and allowing them into our lives. I’ve learnt so much about our heritage and what dad was like as a kid through them. I can’t speak for the others, but for me, hearing their stories and looking through all the photo albums, it felt like the pieces of the puzzle that was dad and of me, finally came together.

They shocked me six months after dad’s funeral when they made the decision to move back to Madrid. They spent all this time in Australia building a life for themselves and dad was buried here and they were just getting to know us, I didn’t understand why they would abandon us too. When they told me that it was because the memories and regrets were too painful for them, I understood a little, but when they were just getting to know us and voiced their desire to be a part of our lives, I found it a bit strange. They told me that they felt guilty, but also felt that it might be a bit much for us to have them around all the time after so many years of absence. I also find that logic strange too, but then again I never understood them before and although I love them to bits, sometimes I still don’t.

I’ll never forget the excitement in their voices when I told them that I got the producer job at As Seasons Change. I knew that it was the most popular soap opera in the U.S. but until they screamed at me, I didn’t know exactly how popular it was in Spain too. Apparently they would brag about me working with and knowing the stars, and the set tours I’ve taken them on, almost every day. Speaking of my job, I think I’m going to be promoted to the senior producer position and there’s talk of me taking on multiple producer jobs over the next few years, I’ll see what happens when I renew my contract.

I love Los Angeles and I see my life staying there for a while, but it’s still not home. I do get lonely, but I also know that when I’m on hiatus and Julie and Elaine are in ports, that I can go and see them and Abuelita and Abuelito. With Julie and Elaine travelling so much, I’m the only one who can really see Abuelita and Abuelito on a regular basis, I make sure that they’ve got everything that they need. They don’t like me paying for their groceries or medicine, I’m not sure if it’s pride or years of guilt. I don’t know if you’d like me to say this, but I’d wish they’d forgive themselves, everything would be so much easier.

They told me to bring their gift with me, I’m not sure what it is, usually they tell me what gifts they give you, Travis or us for our birthdays. I know it’s an extra special occasion, but I’m dying to know as they’re usually not this secretive about…well, anything!

I always love travelling home with Julie and Elaine, with all of us getting older and going off in different directions, it’s not as easy to stay close anymore. Ironic, considering how much I wanted to get away from everyone growing up, I guess it comes with age. I know you worry about us, but don’t or at least try not to. It’s always fun when we’re freshening up in the airport bathrooms, cackling away and the look of shock on women’s’ faces when we tell them how many of us there are and what our “rank” is. There are some funny moments to the realities of our large family.

Abuelita and Abuelito wanted me to tell you that they hope that you have the long-awaited big, traditional and beautiful wedding day that you deserve and so do I. After all you’ve been through, after all you’ve had to overcome, you definitely deserve the traditional special day mum.


See you soon and I promise we’ll all behave on our journey home…well I promise that we’ll try to behave, that’s all we can do :p


Lots of Love.

Carrie xxoo.




**Reference: Marsden J 1998, Everything I Know About Writing, Pan Macmillan, Australia.

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