Definitely NOT Monica

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Chapter Thirty-Three

Opening the door to her apartment late that afternoon, Jenny couldn’t take the smile off her face. Talk about having the best day in the history of days, she thought happily as she removed her shoes, hung her bag on the hook inside the door and soaked her hands with sanitiser. She was about to walk through to the kitchen when she remembered the envelope that Jonty had given her. She took it out of her bag and walked over to sit at the kitchen counter, where she cautiously opened it and withdrew the card inside. It had a picture of a field covered in yellow daffodils, with a bright blue cloudless sky overhead.

The card looked clean, but she knew where Neil’s hands had likely been and she wasn’t sure how long germs could live on paper (she would google it later), so she’d have to wash her hands with Janola once she’d finished reading. Nodding to herself, Jenny opened the card.

Dear Jenny,

I’m not sure where to start – so I suppose I’ll start at the beginning. Thank you.

Thank you for noticing me, and thank you for talking to me, and thank you for helping me.

I can’t say how much this has meant to me, and you’ll probably never know the incredible ways you have changed my life.

I want to tell you a short story:

You may not know this, but I’m a Dad. Or at least, I used to be a Dad. My daughter, Gracie, is about your age.

Through my own stupid arrogant fault, I lost my job and my house and my family a long time ago. I haven’t contacted Gracie since I started living on the streets – it’s probably been at least ten years since we spoke. How could I burden her with a deadbeat father? I’ll never get those ten years back, and I’ll regret that forever.

When you started talking to me, you reminded me of my daughter – you’re kind and caring Jenny, and you have a lovely smile, just like my girl. And I’ve been thinking about Gracie a lot lately. When I ended up in hospital, I had even more time to think – and then a nurse (your sister) came to see me, and gave me a bag of clothes which she said were from you. She sat with me and we talked, and I told her about my daughter. And I thought that was the end of it. Except a day later, she arrived back in my hospital room with a piece of paper. She had tracked down Gracie’s number, and she handed me her mobile phone to use.

I just looked at her, and asked why she was doing this for me.

She said, ‘if my sister thinks you’re worth helping, then you’re worth helping.’

So I rang Gracie, and at first she didn’t believe it was me. She cried, and said she’d been trying to find me for years. She asked where I was, and then she said she was living in Taupo and was going to get in her car and drive to the hospital straight away. Two hours later I saw my little girl for the first time in a lifetime. And she was so god damn beautiful I cried like a baby. And she insisted that I come back to Taupo with her when I got out of hospital. And so I did, and that’s where I am.

I have my daughter, and I have a home, and I have hope. And I have you to thank, Jenny.

You saw me, when everyone else had turned away.

I wish you every happiness and joy.

Your friend forever,

Neil Johnson (written by Greg, Gracie’s husband)

p.s. Jonty was a regular volunteer at a shelter I used to visit. We spent many hours talking, and quite often we both referred to two special women – me to an angel that I owed a debt of gratitude to, and Jonty to an amazingly brave woman who made his heart skip a beat.

It took us a while to realise we were talking about the same person.

Putting the card down on the counter in front of her and wiping away the tears that had rolled down her cheeks, Jenny had the strangest sensation that everything was going to work out in ways that she could never have imagined.

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