Somewhere in a mahogany paneled room, a telephone shrieks to life.
Andros balances his cigarette on the lip of an ashtray and reaches for the receiver.
“You must speak with her!”
Andros closes his eyes and pinches his nose. “Why?”
“Ask your precious daughter!”
When the dial tone bleeps, Andros opens his eyes. With a heavy sigh, he drops the receiver in its place. He reaches for his cigarette but realizes that it’s burned through. He doesn’t want to light another; yet his fingers itch for something to do.
He allows them to dance on the smooth tabletop, tapping out a beat that he learned during his childhood piano lessons. His eyes roam across the dim wide space as thoughts tear through his head.
Movement on his laptop screen catches his attention.
Dark clouds hover over an angry sea as animated waves roll forward. They crash against an invisible wall; their foamy spray dancing on top of retreating waves. Andros finds the screensaver hypnotic; the longer he stares at it, the less he finds himself focusing on the subtle warning and its implications.
The council. His brow wrinkles and his frown deepens. A sigh escapes his lips. “Hannah… Hannah. Sweet little Hannah. Why won’t you would follow the rules?”
“What did she do now?”
In no mood to indulge his wife nor her criticism of their daughter, Andros shrugs; his eyes still glued to the screen.
“By Athena! That girl will be the ruin of us all!”
Andros bristles. Looking up from the screen, he glares at the woman at the doorway. “Not now. I need to think.”
Doris stuffs her hands into the pockets of grey and black grecian dress. The soft material skims over the floor as she takes a few steps forward. “The council would not call unless it was urgent.”
He snorts. “You don’t think I know that?”
She wrinkles her nose as he lights a cigarette. “You know I love our daughter. But the implications of going against the council are far too …”
A hand slams on the table, halting both, Doris’ explanation and her feet. “I know what the implications are, wife!” Andros stops to take a long draw of his cigarette. “This race will never be won. Not with the restrictions the council has put on our daughter.” He stops to flick invisible ash. “She needs an ally, and we will support her, regardless of the outcome.”
“At what cost? The business? Our assets? Our safety?”
Andros leans back on his leather chair and snorts. “Money and stature have always been your first concern. And they always will be, isn’t that so wife?” He waves a hand at her before continuing, “Your pretty dresses and your jewelry, your lunches with the other wives… that is all that matters to you, no?”
Doris watches as Andros puffs away. “And why shouldn’t they? Do you think this race can be won without money and influence? What will our daughter achieve without them?” She takes a step forward. “How will we support her if we have no money?”
Andros stands.. “There are other ways.”
“And what are those, hmmm?”
Shaking his head, he turns to face the painting behind him. His eyes roam over the painted mountainside as he measures his words. “It is not wise to question my methods.”
Doris moves her hands to her hips. “There’s a difference between questioning and asking. She’s my daughter as well. I would like to know.”
Andros whirls around to face his wife. Thick meaty fingers pinching a cigarette point at Doris. “Your daughter? Since when have you grown such concern over what Hannah does?”
Doris raises her chin. “I carried her for nine months. I gave birth to her. My blood runs through her. She is as much my daughter as she is yours!”
A nerve jarring sound follows as Andros grinds his teeth. “You shunned her the day she was born. You were scared of what her birth meant! You’ve never nurtured her like a mother does!”
Slender pale arms cross across a petite chest. “Yes, and for the past twenty years, you’ve never let me forget. Not once.”
Silence spreads across the room like a vile plague as Doris and Andros stare at each other.
A warmth spreads across Andros’ fingers. A second later, he feels a searing heat. He drops the cigarette and steps on it. Leaning forward, he slides a drawer open. He lifts a bottle of scotch and an empty glass. After gulping down a healthy measure, he looks up at his wife. His voice is tired. “Why now Doris? Why now?”
She drops her hands. “You are right Andros. I was weak. And I left her in the care of others. But I’m stronger now. Can it be too late to start?” She turns to the door. “She needs me now more than ever.”
“What do you know of the pain our daughter is suffering?”
She turns around just enough to look at her husband. “The day I abandoned our daughter is the day you rejected me. I know enough about the pain she feels.”
Andros falls into his leather chair as the door slams close. He lights a cigarette before draining his glass.
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